Transformational Mortgage Solutions (TMS)

No one likes delivering bad news. As much we may agree with the adage “Don't kill the messenger,” the first thing we often want to do when we receive a message we don't like is take out our frustration on the person delivering it to us. In the mortgage industry, we run into this problem as much as anyone. More specifically, the loan originator often has to break news to potential borrowers that they may not like so much. How can LOs deliver potentially upsetting news without souring the relationship with the customer?
 
As a loan originator, it can be difficult to keep a positive attitude when vivid memories of disgruntled customers may continue to resurface. But we must remember that not everyone will take the same news in the same way. Just because people may reacted poorly in the past, that doesn't mean other people will react the same way in the future. The fact is that loan originators have a tremendous amount of influence on the reaction they get from their customers—even if they have to deliver what some consider to be “bad news.” How?
 
It's all in the delivery. Have you ever heard the expression, “It's not what you say; it's how you say it?” Well, there's a great amount of truth to that statement. Your attitude, your body language, your vocal inflection, and your general presence can make or break an encounter with a customer. So, the question you need to ask yourself isn't: what kind of news do I for my customer? Rather, it's 'How am I going to deliver the news to the customer?'
 
 


David Lykken, a 43-year veteran of the mortgage industry, is president of Transformational Mortgage Solutions (TMS), a management consulting firm that provides transformative business strategies to owners and “C-Level” executives via consulting, executive coaching and various communications strategies. He is a frequent guest on FOX Business News and hosts his own weekly podcast called “Lykken On Lending” heard Monday’s at 1:00 p.m. ET at LykkenOnLending.com. David’s phone number is (512) 759-0999 and his e-mail is David@TMS-Advisors.com.

 

In any industry, there are basically two ways of beating the competition:
 
1.Offer a lower price than your competitors.
2.Offer something different than your competitors are offering.
 
In the mortgage industry, though, this can get tricky. Of course, you can offer better rates than competitors, but only marginally so. It's unlikely that most consumers really care that much about an ever so slightly lower rate (even though they may say differently). Besides, information is so open in the age of the Internet that there isn't much room left to move on rates anyway. And offering something different can be even more difficult, since we all offer more or less the same product: A mortgage. So, what is the mortgage organization to do in the 21st Century?
 
In my view, there is really only one way to differentiate ourselves in the mortgage industry—and that's through the quality of service that we offer. And, in the end, that really all boils down to one thing: The quality of the people that we hire.
 
More than ever before in the mortgage industry, our people can make or break our businesses; they and they alone can be the difference between whether we or our competitors thrive in the marketplace.
 
Oftentimes, we see ourselves as competing for buyers—but maybe we ought to start thinking about competing for employees. Are we hiring the best people, or are our competitors taking them first? Have we made our organizations attractive enough to bring in and retain the right people? If not, we might want to start moving in that direction. Because, although it may not seem like it, we can actually offer something different to consumers than our competitors do—we can offer different people to them. So, are we doing it?
 


David Lykken, a 43-year veteran of the mortgage industry, is president of Transformational Mortgage Solutions (TMS), a management consulting firm that provides transformative business strategies to owners and “C-Level” executives via consulting, executive coaching and various communications strategies. He is a frequent guest on FOX Business News and hosts his own weekly podcast called “Lykken On Lending” heard Monday’s at 1:00 p.m. ET at LykkenOnLending.com. David’s phone number is (512) 759-0999 and his e-mail is David@TMS-Advisors.com.

 

If you are reading this, chances are you are already in the mortgage industry? But, maybe not. Maybe you're looking for information to help you decide whether or not to give the mortgage business a shot. Or, maybe you're already in the business and you're trying to convince someone else to enter the industry. Regardless, the main question you want answered is the same main question you want answered for a great number of things: “What's in it for me?” Why should you join the mortgage industry?

Well, of course there is the obvious. There a lot of job opportunities as a loan officer, as it's a continually growing field. Also, the industry can be quite rewarding on the financial end of things. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for a loan officer was $63,500 in 2015—nearly twice the amount of the average across all occupations. But, is there more to the industry than just finding a “good job?” Can it be rewarding in other ways?

On the Jan. 23rd episode of my Lykken on Lending podcast, we aired an interview with Bill Cosgrove of Union Home Mortgage. Of the topics we covered, we dealt with this question: Why do we enter the mortgage business in the first place? Bill didn't talk about job availability or income potential. Instead, he focused on the reasons that lead to a more fulfilling career on a personal level:

1.The mortgage industry offers the opportunity to impact a larger number of people—as it is typical to close on around 20 loans per month.

2.The mortgage industry offers a challenge, as the industry is more complex financially and legally than other sales-oriented professions.

Why should you join the mortgage industry? Pick your reason. Whatever justification sounds best for you, I promise that it's worth giving a shot ...



 

David Lykken, a 43-year veteran of the mortgage industry, is president of Transformational Mortgage Solutions (TMS), a management consulting firm that provides transformative business strategies to owners and “C-Level” executives via consulting, executive coaching and various communications strategies. He is a frequent guest on FOX Business News and hosts his own weekly podcast called “Lykken On Lending” heard Monday’s at 1:00 p.m. ET at LykkenOnLending.com. David’s phone number is (512) 759-0999 and his e-mail is David@TMS-Advisors.com.

 

As a leader in the mortgage industry, you've probably interviewed your fair share of job candidates. Chances are, you've played a major role in building the team you are currently managing. You know what to look for in a good candidate ... and what to stay away from in a bad one. In all likelihood, you've spent a great deal of time figuring out what makes a qualified employee. But have you ever thought about it from the other end of the spectrum? If your employees were interviewing candidates to lead them, what would they be looking for in a qualified leader?

There are many ways to gauge the effectiveness of a leader. You could look at the leader's public image—how many prominent community connections he or she has. You could look at it from a purely economic standpoint—and only consider the revenue and profits of the business. But, if you ask me, the single most meaningful way to gauge the effectiveness of a leader is to ask the people that are being led. The greatest leaders are those who are thought most highly of by their own teams.

When was the last time you asked your employees what they thought of you? When was the last time you set down with your team, and they were the ones asking you the questions? It can be in an open forum or in an anonymous survey—whatever works for your organization. But, the bottom line is that if you aren't getting feedback from your team on what kind of leader you are, you can't really know for sure. So, what do you think—would your employees hire you?



 

David Lykken, a 43-year veteran of the mortgage industry, is president of Transformational Mortgage Solutions (TMS), a management consulting firm that provides transformative business strategies to owners and “C-Level” executives via consulting, executive coaching and various communications strategies. He is a frequent guest on FOX Business News and hosts his own weekly podcast called “Lykken On Lending” heard Monday’s at 1:00 p.m. ET at LykkenOnLending.com. David’s phone number is (512) 759-0999 and his e-mail is David@TMS-Advisors.com.

 

This past week, many people in the world celebrated Christmas. Those who have observed the holiday religiously have spent some time remembering the birth story of Jesus. Regardless of your religious affiliation, I think you would agree that there's something remarkable about the story. A tiny baby born in a manger would turn out to revolutionize Western civilization. How many during that time had heard of Jesus? A few shepherds and perhaps some wise men from the east. How many have heard of him today? Billions.

On the Dec. 26 episode of my Lykken on Lending podcast, I got the opportunity to interview Kevin Stitt of Gateway Mortgage. During the podcast, he shared with us that the company has just closed $5 billion in loans for the year. Depending on your perspective, that may or may not sound impressive. But, consider this: He started the company in February of 2000 with only $1,000 and a computer. Over the last decade and half, the company has grown substantially to be where it is today.

To illustrate a point, I've just mentioned two stories here that I've encountered recently; I'm sure you can think of plenty more with a similar theme. Sometime starts out small and seemingly insignificant and it quickly grows into a behemoth. Trees stretching hundreds of feet into the sky always start out the same way: as a single seed. Great leadership means having the vision to recognize where those seeds are in your organization so that you can nurture them to their full potential.



 

David Lykken, a 43-year veteran of the mortgage industry, is president of Transformational Mortgage Solutions (TMS), a management consulting firm that provides transformative business strategies to owners and “C-Level” executives via consulting, executive coaching and various communications strategies. He is a frequent guest on FOX Business News and hosts his own weekly podcast called “Lykken On Lending” heard Monday’s at 1:00 p.m. ET at LykkenOnLending.com. David’s phone number is (512) 759-0999 and his e-mail is David@TMS-Advisors.com.

 

Networking is an important part of building relationships in business. Whether you are just starting or you have been in business for years, making the right connection at the right time can dramatically alter your career. Knowing this, many professionals spend a great deal of time at networking events, trying to make such connections. Certainly, I would agree that this sort of network building is generally a good idea. However, I would also offer a word of connection: Making the wrong connections can also alter your career—just not in a very good way.

On the Dec. 19 episode of my Lykken on Lending podcast, we had the opportunity to discuss the mortgage industry with acclaimed trainer Ron Vaimberg. Throughout the course of the interview, Ron said something about networking that really caught my attention: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” For better or for worse, we become most like those with whom we surround ourselves. When we're building connections, then, it's good not only to make as many connections as we can, but also to make sure we're making connections that will have a positive influence on us.

Take a look at your closest professional connections. What reputation do they have among their peers? Are they people who are admired by those they serve? Do they have the character and integrity that all great leaders should possess? If not, you may want to consider building some new relationships, because you probably have the same reputation just by your association with them. By all means, network as often as you can. But don't just count the connections you make … make your connections count!



 

David Lykken, a 43-year veteran of the mortgage industry, is president of Transformational Mortgage Solutions (TMS), a management consulting firm that provides transformative business strategies to owners and “C-Level” executives via consulting, executive coaching and various communications strategies. He is a frequent guest on FOX Business News and hosts his own weekly podcast called “Lykken On Lending” heard Monday’s at 1:00 p.m. ET at LykkenOnLending.com. David’s phone number is (512) 759-0999 and his e-mail is David@TMS-Advisors.com.

 

On the Dec. 12 episode of my Lykken on Lending podcast, we had the opportunity to discuss sales issues in the mortgage industry with sales trainer Ron Vaimberg. Throughout our conversation, we touched on many different issues faced by loan originators and managers trying to find ways to convert more customers and generate more revenue. However, one thing in particular jumped out at me when we were discussing the motivation of salespeople: If they have a strong enough why, Ron says, they will find a way.

The problem is that the motivation of salespeople is often overlooked or downplayed by sales managers. Leaders in organizations become so fixated on accomplishing their own goals that they often forget that salespeople have goals too. As leaders, we fail sometimes to discover the motivation in our salespeople. We're content with vague answers like “more money” or “better career opportunities.” The key to proper motivation, though, is specificity. Truly motivated salespeople will know exactly what they want and when they want it.

According to Ron, and I've seen it in my consulting and coaching as well, the more specific a goal a person has the more likely the person is to accomplish it. If you're having trouble with your salespeople, you may want to take a look at their motivations. Ask them what their goals are and why they want to accomplish them. What are they in the business for? If they know what they want and are truly committed to it, there isn't anything that will be able to stop them.



 

David Lykken, a 43-year veteran of the mortgage industry, is president of Transformational Mortgage Solutions (TMS), a management consulting firm that provides transformative business strategies to owners and “C-Level” executives via consulting, executive coaching and various communications strategies. He is a frequent guest on FOX Business News and hosts his own weekly podcast called “Lykken On Lending” heard Monday’s at 1:00 p.m. ET at LykkenOnLending.com. David’s phone number is (512) 759-0999 and his e-mail is David@TMS-Advisors.com.

 

On the Dec. 5 episode of my Lykken on Lending podcast, we had the opportunity to discuss marketing strategy with Brent Emler of Velma. One of the most interesting things in our conversation was the emphasis on having a marketing strategy that's “integrated.” It's not enough to just pay for some advertising here and there. The best marketers have a cohesive strategy that brings it all together.

Every organization in the mortgage industry engages in some sort of marketing, whether they know it or not. Brochures are marketing materials. The company Web site is marketing. An employee's e-mail signature is marketing. Basically, any time the customer comes into contact with your company, marketing is taking place.

Companies that realize this fact often develop strategies for different media: They'll have an e-mail marketing strategy, a direct marketing strategy, a strategy for advertising in magazines, and so on. This is, of course, better than having no strategy at all. But is it enough?

The problem with having separate strategies for different outlets is that customers don't care about the media outlet from which your marketing message is delivered. If you have a separate strategy for each platform, then people will be confused about who your company is. An integrated strategy pulls all of these different channels together and aligns the messaging so that it's consistent. That way, customers see only one, cohesive organization. And, more often than not, that perception will lead them to believe that you're worth doing business with.



 

David Lykken, a 43-year veteran of the mortgage industry, is president of Transformational Mortgage Solutions (TMS), a management consulting firm that provides transformative business strategies to owners and “C-Level” executives via consulting, executive coaching and various communications strategies. He is a frequent guest on FOX Business News and hosts his own weekly podcast called “Lykken On Lending” heard Monday’s at 1:00 p.m. ET at LykkenOnLending.com. David’s phone number is (512) 759-0999 and his e-mail is David@TMS-Advisors.com.

 

On the Nov. 28 episode of my Lykken on Lending podcast, we had the opportunity to discuss outsourcing with Emma Monro, chief executive officer of Sales VA and Social VA. Emma's products provide virtual assistance applications for busy professionals, and as we discussed the technology, it got me thinking about my one of my own experiences.

When I first started working in the mortgage industry, I had no business background. My first boss took a chance on me, and working in the industry came surprisingly natural to me. I was a great “people person,” and excelled at building relationships as a loan originator. There was only one problem—I was really bad at math! I just couldn't get my numbers right, and my boss was struggling with what to do about it.

In the end, my boss was given a simple piece of advice that ended up saving my career: Why don't you hire him an assistant? Someone was brought on to work with me to pick up the slack in the areas where I was deficient—and the whole company was made better off for it. That's the power of outsourcing … none of us can do everything well, but all of us can do something amazingly well. Outsourcing is about recognizing what we're good at and recruiting others to help us with what we're not.

How much of your workload do you outsource in your organization? As a leader, do you bring people on to help you when you need it? There's no shame in asking for help. Great leaders recognize that their greatness only exists to the extent that they've gotten great people to help them achieve it.



 

David Lykken, a 43-year veteran of the mortgage industry, is president of Transformational Mortgage Solutions (TMS), a management consulting firm that provides transformative business strategies to owners and “C-Level” executives via consulting, executive coaching and various communications strategies. He is a frequent guest on FOX Business News and hosts his own weekly podcast called “Lykken On Lending” heard Monday’s at 1:00 p.m. ET at LykkenOnLending.com. David’s phone number is (512) 759-0999 and his e-mail is David@TMS-Advisors.com.

 

On the Nov. 21 episode of my Lykken on Lending podcast, we discussed with Erin Dee of Legacy Mutual Mortgage the many different things that go into making the transition from broker to banker. There are legal and regulatory issues, issues in growth strategy, profitability issues, and issues with recruiting and training. One issue that often gets overlooked, however, also turns out to be one of the most important: Leadership capabilities.

Whether it's making the transition from broker to banker or it's making some other major change within the organization, this is the time where solid leadership is needed the most. During major changes, everything is in flux. Processes begin to break down. The workforce begins to become unstable. Goals change. The mission and values of the organization evolve. If a strong leadership team is not in place during such a transition, everything can fall apart.

What major change do you have coming up in your organization? It could be that you're making the broker to banker transition. It could be you're considering a merger or acquisition. It could be that you're launching an entirely new division or product line. Whatever it is, it's important to ask yourself whether or not you have the right team in place to lead your organization through the change. It's easy to lead when everything is staying the same. The real challenge arises when the boat gets rocked. Take a look at your leadership team. Do you have the right people that can steer the ship to come out smoothly on the other side of the storm?



 

David Lykken, a 43-year veteran of the mortgage industry, is president of Transformational Mortgage Solutions (TMS), a management consulting firm that provides transformative business strategies to owners and “C-Level” executives via consulting, executive coaching and various communications strategies. He is a frequent guest on FOX Business News and hosts his own weekly podcast called “Lykken On Lending” heard Monday’s at 1:00 p.m. ET at LykkenOnLending.com. David’s phone number is (512) 759-0999 and his e-mail is David@TMS-Advisors.com.