Mortgage technology and beyond: The quest for the perfect databaseJohn D. SvirskyMortgage Quest, database management, letter writing ACT!, Goldmine, Mortgage Quest...which database to use? We all know the importance of mining our database. By now, we all know how much more effective and efficient it is to maintain a customer for life, rather than having to continually search for new ones. There have been many studies showing the dramatic savings in repeat business versus developing a new client. In my business, I have found that I need to do both. As I've stated in previous articles, the majority of my business comes from repeat business, referrals, and recommendations. I have found that over the past 19 years, this is the most efficient way to go. When I meet with a client who has been referred to me by a previously satisfied customer or one whom I have helped before, the resistance level is much lower. I don't have to prove to them how good I am. So...how do you get clients to keep coming back? One very successful Mortgage Broker from Washington State told me that in his quest to keep clients for life, he sends gifts and letters to all his clients bi-annually. What surprised him was that even clients who were his worst nightmare returned, and when asked why, they said it was because he kept in contact with them on a regular basis. Another secret to his success is that he would call four previous clients each morning just to say hello, see what was going on, and ask if he could be of service. What a great concepta Mortgage Broker who cares and follows up. That is why Stephen Marshall is one of the best of the best in our field today, and I hope he inspires you as he has me. For those of you who are waiting for the answer as to which database to use, I am not going to answer that. The reason is that it's so personal, depending on your style, computer literacy, whether you have an Information Technology department, or do it all by yourself. ACT!, Goldmine, and Mortgage Quest are all good. However, Mortgage Quest offers something that the others do nota phenomenal letter writing and follow-up campaign. Mortgage Quest is more than a database system; it is a database marketing system and an excellent one at that. Mortgage Quest provides the mortgage specific letters and the marketing automation to get them to the target market. For those of you who use ACT! and are happy with it and don't want to change databases, Mortgage Quest has an ACT! interface. I strongly recommend that you use Mortgage Quest for its marketing campaigns while using ACT! as well, as they are compatible. It's also compatible with Calyx's POINT for Windows, which is important to me. Market Focus, Inc. markets Mortgage Quest, and in their literature, they state that you can increase your sales 20 to 30 percent annually by using this program. I think that is a conservative estimate. It's created specifically for the mortgage industry, and the fields are already done the way Mortgage Brokers are going to want them. In ACT! or Goldmine, we have to create the fields that we want. For example, in the borrower fields section, instead of having to configure them yourself, there are drop-down menus for client status, mortgage type, refinance options, and other criteria. The program also asks about lead source and referral information. What a luxury it is that someone else took the time to figure out the important fields and created them for us. Mortgage Quest sends letters out to your prospects, pre-close clients, and closed clients on a regular basis. In addition, Mortgage Quest includes referral thank you letters, shopping letters for both purchasers and refinances, and letters to builders, realtors, and attorneys. It provides status letters to your referral sources, 3-,6-, and 12-month follow-up letters asking for referral letters from previous customers, and follow-up letters to borrowers for up to three years. The average life span of a mortgage is four years, so you can see how important the follow-up is. Imagine...walking into your office on a Monday morning and your follow-up letters are ready and set to go. Thats what automation is all aboutmaking our lives easier. If you are like me, I often start out with the best of intentions, but I just don't get around to writing those letters. Mortgage Quest provides the letters; I personalize them for my operation. I just have to be diligent about entering the contacts into the database. Here are some new features since I reviewed Mortgage Quest in 1998: *I have found the program much more user-friendly; *I can access the toolbar from all of the screens within the borrower and contact databases; *they have added new fields based on feedback from brokers telling them what those of us in the industry needed most; *they have added an automatic "add and remove" to the campaigns, so if a prospect becomes a client, Mortgage Quest automatically takes the specific action; *Rate Watch notifies you when a borrower's desired interest rate is greater than the current interest rate (I look forward to me being able to use that feature when rates come down again); *of course, it prints the labels for when you are sending your newsletters (what I like is that the labels match the order you print the letters in); and *they have really improved the online help systemsimply type the question and relevant topics are displayed. The big change is that the program is now Internet savvy. Mortgage Quest has formed a strategic alliance with Myers Internet Service and will have a module to provide E- marketing capabilities, which will allow you to track incoming requests for information from prospects and follow-up. The module allows you to E-mail letters to your prospects, clients, and others, and contains 78 E-mail letters permitting you to send E-mail to prospects who are purchasing or refinancing, send any loan cycle letters, create timed E- mail broadcast campaigns, and E-mail referral thank you letters. This can save both a lot of stamps and trees. Mortgage Quest is completely integrated with Microsoft Word (all the letters are written in Word). It also imports information from other popular mortgage software providers such as Byte, Calyx, Contour, and Genesis 2000, among others. In summary, Mortgage Quest is a program that is simple enough for the novice Mortgage Broker and sophisticated enough for the seasoned professional. Depending on your company's needs, it's sold for personal, team, office, and workgroup systems. Speak directly to the company to see which option is right for you. Of course, there is a money- back guarantee. After all, in this market, who would complain about increasing their business 20 to 30 percent? Mortgage Quest will help. Product information What it is: A Database and Marketing System that actually works and was created for Mortgage Brokers. System Requirements: PC using 486 or higher, 15 MB of hard disk space, 16 MB RAM or higher, Word 97 or 2000, Winfax Pro 8.0 or higher, Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT or higher, Novell 3.2 How to Order: Call (800) 708-9715 or visit on the Internet at www.marfocus.com Price: $395 for single user. Visit the company's Web site to see other pricing variables. John D. Svirsky is a former Director and Technology Chairperson of the NYAMB, a volunteer firefighter, gardener, avid cigar enthusiast, and has been in business for himself for 18 years. John may be reached at (914) 424-3388 or [email protected].