So many who enter the mortgage industry exit when difficult times arise. With the constant industry changes occurring internally and externally – whether they’re a loan officer, manager, or support staff … they may find it a struggle to balance it all – originating, leading, and effectively helping loans close as fast and smooth as possible.
Although this industry has its challenges, the rewards are much greater. It comes down to your perspective, attitude and what you do in response to the events around you. For example, let’s discuss Loan Officers. While this is, on the front, a “sales” role – the truth of the matter is, if all you think of yourself is just a “sales-person”, then you are underestimating your value. You will most likely not stay in the industry long enough to enjoy the big rewards.
Allow me to elaborate. Do you realize how important our industry is? Working in the mortgage industry, we have the power to provide individuals and families the ability to purchase a home that they may otherwise not have been able to without financing. We can help them obtain one of life’s necessities…shelter and memories that can last a lifetime! We’re able to help them leverage the equity of their home(s) to afford such expenses as reducing piling debt, paying for college, paying to make their home more enjoyable, etc…
As you know, the value we provide is incredible, however, when you look at this as just a sales job, you sometimes forget that. Instead, realize that you must brand yourself as a consultant. As an Adviser. As one that helps others!
Once you realize this, then you can start branding yourself as such. By branding, I mean you need to identify your target audience and reach them from all different channels, notifying them that; 1. you provide value, and 2. you’re the solution to their needs!
This isn’t about who has the lowest interest rate … Because you know what? I bet there’s always someone who may out bid you. This is about establishing yourself as an industry expert and an individual who has the courage to hold customers’ hands throughout the process. All while communicating with honesty and providing solutions for any challenges that pop up along the way. Your expertise and quick response will save your customer hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars over the years.
We all know challenges can arise in this industry. Rates may expire, underwriters may need to add additional conditions, borrowers may say one thing, but documentation may show otherwise, the list is on and on. However, if you strive to be straight up to your clients from the moment you say hello, always communicate with them. Educate yourself in as many programs and solutions as possible, so you can make the process easier for everyone. Knowledge is power, but only if you apply what you know.
But what happens if your business has really slowed down? Or, you don’t have any clients right now to communicate to? Well, it’s simple. Again, start branding yourself and presenting yourself as the credible expert. Regardless of whether you work in a Fortune 500 or for yourself in a mom and pop shop, you must present yourself as one who provides that personal touch, willing to hold their clients’ hands if need be.
Now — how do you reach these clients? Again, it’s best to find a niche. For example, do you work with purchases or refinances? Do you work with owner-occupied, secondary, or investment properties? Do you work with first time home buyers? VAs? No Down Payment? The niches are numerous and I’m not saying turn down someone who isn’t in your niche, I’m just saying let’s start on a focused niche to build your pipeline.
Then, you can reach these folks by creating valuable content (i.e. how-to save for a down payment, how-to improve credit, how-to invest profitably, how-to qualify for a loan when it’s hard to document income, how-to improve your existing financial situation, and so forth). With such content, you can then distribute it on such channels as:
- Your own website
- LinkedIn’s article feature
- Social media groups (i.e. those targeted to your marketing zone)
- Guest writing on other Realtor’s (or referral partner’s) email blasts/marketing collateral
- At events
- Taking advantage of targeted social media ads
- Via cross promoting with Realtors and non-realtors (i.e. cross promote with a restaurant in your zone)
- Mailers (i.e. via EDDM)
- Collecting emails and sending out your own email blast
There are so many ways you can reach them! Some cost nothing besides your time and others may cost a bit. But, whichever you choose, it’s about consistency. You must consistently get in front of your referral source and potential clients…and build that relationship. Even if they have not budged yet, one day they may. One day, when they are looking for a loan officer, they WILL remember your name.
You have established yourself. And once they do inquire or become a client, then guess what? You have to nurture this client and leverage it, because it’s easier to keep a client than get a new one. Perhaps they’ll need to refi, perhaps they’ll need to purchase another home, or perhaps they need to refer you out to someone. If you continue to send them valuable info (i.e. birthday cards, holiday cards, community newsletters via email, financial check-ups, etc.) they’ll remember you and be willing to work with you again.
And if you’re now in a managerial role, well…in short, you must be a servant leader. You must coach your team. Motivate them. Lead by example. Be there to help them overcome challenges they may be facing with a file or a customer. Get involved with your team’s activities. Go ahead and attend the Board of Realtor lunch and learn event! Show your support and provide ideas to help them grow their business. In doing so, they will become more confident as loan officers knowing their leader has their best interest. No one wants to work in an environment where it’s dull or un-motivating. This is where your competitors will be able to swoop up your team by providing them with attention and other exciting opportunities to increase their business.
One of the best experiences I had as a producing branch manager is when my divisional VP decided to visit my branch for the day. His action reinforced the Company’s commitment to provide the best support to my loan officers. No leader is too important not to support their employees in the field!
And in terms of the Ops support team, I hope you know what incredible value you bring to everyone in the company and for the customer experience. I think a few of the most important tips I can share here is that you must first be organized, so you can manage a fast pace environment. You must set a process in place and automate what can be automated to keep things flowing effectively. You must not be afraid to ask and learn. Perhaps there’s a new guideline in the mix? Perhaps there’s a new method of calculating something for your ratios? Regardless of what it is, don’t be afraid to ask and put in the steps, time, and initiative to expand your knowledge. And of course, be personable. You are an extension of the loan officer. Therefore, your interpersonal skills matter when you speak with the realtor or the client. You play a significant role for the customer’s process, and you should be recognized and appreciated for all that you do in the company.
Finally, regardless of your role, I want to end this blog on one last tip — YOU MUST take care of yourself! Yes, you are a consultant and a solution for others. But as they say, “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.” Eat right, exercise, sleep, reduce stress, and remain organized. Eliminate your life stressors. Enjoy the moments. And of course, learn to live with gratitude. Most importantly, find a coach you trust to be there for you, guide you, and inspire you through the valleys. You see, not only will this make you a better and healthier person, but your strength will attract more customers and clients thus further adding to your success.
To learn more, please don’t hesitate to contact me as I have so much to share and a single blog just can’t do it justice!