Flavor of the monthLisa Kelly-LothMortgage,niches,sales
Ice cream season is here again! The warm weather provides me
with the perfect excuse to devour those cones and sundaes. Each
month brings mysterious and enticing new flavors: chocolate mocha,
coffee crunch, Madagascar exotic vanilla, rainbow-striped cookie
dough. With all of these choices, it's easy to forget chocolate,
strawberry and vanillathe original mainstays of the ice cream
Are you a member of the Flavor of the Month Club? Do you focus
on a different product every month? Have you lost sight of your
core products and services? Have you made your real estate agents'
heads spin by offering different products each month? Are your loan
officers directionless? Do you jump from lender to lender? Do your
customers really understand the full breadth of products and
services you offer? Or do they just know you as the broker who
chases the latest fad?
New products are certainly critical to the success of any
mortgage broker. As markets change, you must be adept at changing
with them. Whether it's the hottest hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage
or a new stated-income product, you need to respond to the market
As a lender, I'm frequently asked, "What's your best product?
What's your niche?" It makes me cringe. There is no "best product."
If you promote only one product, you won't survive very long. Your
real estate agents or builders will call on you for that one deal,
but not think of you on the other 30. Baskin-Robbins sells ice
cream--but they do it at least 31 different ways.
Figure out your core products--those are the ones that will be
around no matter what--just like chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.
Have you been a member of the Flavor of the Month Club for so long
that you've forgotten your core?
†Review your marketing products--exactly what are you
selling? Do your telephone scripts and direct mail pieces tell the
whole story succinctly? Or, are you offering only one flavor?
†Ask your top real estate agents and builders what
products they need every month.
†Interview your lenders on what they consider standard
products, which sell month after month. Maybe you've focused only
on their flavor of the month. Also check to see how many lenders
you work with each month--working with many different lenders each
month is also a telltale sign that you may be missing the core.
†Rank your shop against others. What are you missing? How
can you be better than the next?
†Assess the training materials you provide to your loan
officers. Ask your loan officers to recite the top 15 reasons for
doing business with your shop. Do those reasons encompass your core
I am fortunate to live in a place with a great hometown ice
cream parlor. I try the new flavors, but still come back to my
favorite, vanilla. It's like the old saying: Make new friends, but
keep the old. One is silver, the other gold.
Lisa Kelly-Loth is president of ESI Mortgage LP, a sub-prime
and alt-A wholesale lender. She may be reached at (800) 765-3140 or