Old stuff, new stuff, same stuffPaul Burgermarketing tips, database, internet options
I remember lending way back in 1981, which was when I first
started in this industry. A 21 percent prime? Having no reference
point to begin with, it didn't mean a thing to me. Laser printers,
fax machines, e-mail, computers and certainly the Internet weren't
real things. Yet here we are in 2005 and all of the aforementioned
are now necessities in the loan business. With all these great
tools, however, there is no "super fix" for getting and retaining
customer loyalty. Have you ever lost a customer? Of course you
have, and you will again.
While some loan officers are waiting for the phone to ring,
others want to be a bit more proactive in shaping their future.
Let's assume that you have automated underwriting, good pricing, a
great processor and no major drug habit. A racecar without the
proper care won't go very fast for very long. And yes, it's a race
out there there are many loan officers with good pricing and good
service, who are all competing for the same customers. All things
being equal, who gets the deal? Loyal customers are wonderful to
have. Usually, they are less sensitive to price and you may
actually earn a fair commission. An "infinite" source of
advertising dollars could do the trick as well. The national
lenders have that. For the regular "Joe" or "Josephina," you need
to be ahead of the curve.
Modern marketing tools will give you an edge, but nothing will
win you 100 percent of the deals 100 percent of the time. There's
no such animal. Of course, there are "must-have" marketing tools
for professional loan officers. The first is a Web site. I've had a
Myer's Internet site since early 1996, but just because you have a
Web page, doesn't mean that the phone is going to ring off the
hook. There are many mortgage sites out there for customers to
choose from, all of which are fantastic tools for working the
system. Your Web address goes on your business card just like your
e-mail and phone number, and most sites include online applications
and calculators. Who wants to drive to take an application, if they
can get the customer to visit their Web site? In eight years, I've
probably taken 40 in-person applications while tripling my
business. Online applications are a real timesaver. Now I can
concentrate on better service and marketing during the process. You
can also display your rates online so there's no need to distribute
flyers all the time. Customers can automatically track rate
changes, and you can advertise why you are better than anyone else
in the universe!
Do you maintain a customer database? Of course you do, but do
you work it or watch it? How often do you send something to your
customers? If you're not contacting them, then someone else is.
Keeping your name in front of customers is important to maintaining
Do you work your database regularly, including asking your
customers for referrals? Aren't they a big part of your sales
force? How about using automated underwriting for quick answers,
and creating spreadsheets for your customers? I guarantee that most
loan officers don't know as much about it as you might think.
Understanding "mortgage math" is essential. Take apart the numbers
and give concrete advice. Demonstrate after-tax breakeven points,
amortization and principal reduction. Show them the variable vs.
fixed-rate scenario. There are many different software programs
that will give you the answers quickly.
Should you tailor your pitch for different personality types?
You bet. If you have the same pitch for everyone, you're limiting
your success. Do you think that engineers want to hear the same
pitch as your "touchy, feely" customers?
There are various Web sites, including Granza.com, that give loan
officers a competitive advantage. Granza lets you use smaller,
local businesses from the loan officer's exclusive "team" area to
supply "rewards." Granza rewards are one-time, private, best-deal
discounts for customers that close a deal with you or a real estate
agent on your team. Thousands of dollars of best-deal discounts
will entice more customers, both new and existing, to choose you
over the next guy. The bad news is that just like other tools of
the trade, you have to be proactive. Too many loan officers jump
right in and expect that someone will do everything for them. A
miracle cure doesn't exist! This is not a "one-size-fits-all"
business. Is any business? Some approaches work for some and not
Now what? Put a toe in the water. Get yourself some tools and
don't be lazy. Realize that things may not work the first time and
learn to be okay with that. Go through the learning curve. Take
chances and break your own personal mold. If you're already hugely
successful, then this is old news and thanks for reading. If not,
it's time to get to work!
Paul Burger is president and chief executive officer of
Glendale, Calif.-based Granza.com. He can be reached at (818)
243-7063 or e-mail [email protected]