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The sub-prime forum: Increasing your referral business

National Mortgage Professional
Mar 28, 2006

Overlooking the obviousJoe Cornomaintaining relationships in the office, communication The obvious aspect that almost every originator and mortgage business overlooks is providing quality service. Let us take a few paragraphs to describe some of our faults and cycles in overlooking better service. The first one is the bathtub test. To understand how to determine the level of professional abnormality we all deal with, I will fill up a bathtub with water and ask you to choose a tool with which to empty it. (The really abnormal person will scroll down in this paragraph to find the answer, resulting in missing the most important training of all.) Now, I will offer you a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket. Which one will you pick to empty the tub? If you picked the bucket, you are to be institutionalized, because a normal person would just pull the plug. We do things like this each and every day. We ignore the obvious to place our preferences in front of those of everyone else. Let's have some fun with another example. You are an experienced originator. You have done lots of loans that involve agents. You know - the sales and listing agents involved in the deals. Let us examine accepted actions of an originator working with a sales agent. They are very abnormal acts. As the originator, you have just received the automated underwriting system findings and have a preliminary approval status. Whom do you call? If you just picked the borrower, no wonder agents think that they cannot work with you. I realize that the norm of the industry is to contact the borrower directly, but there is a sales agent that has propriety of ownership in reference to the borrower. Why would you circumvent the sales agent's role by informing the borrower of loan pre-approval status? Now, you are still going to the loony bin if you call the agents with the automated underwriting system findings. "Why?" you ask. Because you are unable to answer the very next question that will come from their lips - "When can we close?" The daily abnormal process of doing business has desecrated and destroyed any form of quality service. Speed alone is not service, and offering up an approval when you have yet to calendar the closing of is an example of such. Another example is leaving communication with key people involved in the transaction up to support staff, which is an acceptable practice in our industry today. Yet how would you feel if you could only talk to your attorney's aid and never to your attorney? What if you could never communicate with your chiropractor, veterinarian, child's teacher, insurance agent, etc.? You would feel just like we make all of those key people - the agents, title officers, appraisers, home inspectors and borrowers - feel most of the time. If you have a team of professional staff, delegating duties merits acknowledgement. However, if the staff is being used to shift responsibility away from you, you are becoming a disservice to everyone. You need to communicate and stay in the loop with your key people. I train people under the KWIK program, which stands for "Kill With Intense Kindness." I also train people under LEADS ("Listen, Empathize, Apologize, Do what it takes and Stand by your promise"). The terminology behind these acronyms reminds us how we should react, solicit, market, close and perform our overall duties. The basic idea behind these programs is to learn how to treat people well. Due to the decay of service in our industry, as well as in most industries, teaching others how to treat people properly has become a business within itself. It continues to be a source of revenue for me, along with being a continual surprise to me, how people are impressed by KWIK and LEADS. It is not that I do not appreciate the accolades. It is that I am creating seminars and keynote speeches on how people want to be treated, when you already have most of the answers. How would you want to be treated? If you were the sales agent involved in the deal, would you want to be called by the originator first? Of course you would. So, why does it take a specific training, a motivational speaker and a shake in the industry process to make us aware of it? There are two schools of thought on the matter. The first is that it has never been shown to us in such a way, and that parents, teachers and management have never discussed it, let alone trained us, in this fashion. The other theory is that we treat people in a reactionary manner. If the agent just swore at us for not apprising him of the approval first, then we will swear at the next person who wants something from us. This syndrome is contagious and spreads quickly. Regardless of their origin, the larger impact is that these bad patterns of behavior are taught through management example. Management utilizes fear and vulgarity as tools for communicating with staff. Thus, it is an acceptable level of everyday work when we continue the example established by management. Of course, if you are management reading this article, the question to ask is, "Who started you behaving in the above manner?" It truly does not matter at what level of the chain of degradation and disrespect you are at. What matters is how you react to such methods and what you do to break the trend. If you take a moment before communicating with anyone and ask yourself, "How would I want to be treated during a conversation?" it can alter the vicious cycle. I know why you call the borrowers first. Instead of receiving the very negative response from the sales agent when they ask you when the loan can close, the borrowers will have excitement in their voices. They will be thanking you, adding strength and providing validation for your being in the business that you are in. The manner of communication is overlooked and becomes an obvious reason why we do the things that we do. If you change the way you communicate and treat people, others will change how they communicate with and treat you. I guess this is why I continually receive requests to train and talk on such topics. Go to management, the sales agent and any others that you communicate with and perform the seven-step process for closing a deal. The second step is to set the ground rules and let them know what you will do and what you expect them to do. The day you receive the real estate purchase contract, deliver an introduction letter to the sales agent (day one of marketing agents training). Your letter could state that the preliminary automated underwriting system finding will be communicated to the sales agent first, and that the sales agent's job will be to communicate the findings to the borrowers. What type of conversations would result from such an introduction letter? I think the sales agent would be more civil in his tone. You could establish a higher level of communication from the onset. No one likes hearing that his call will be disconnected if he does not become civil immediately when he is on the phone in a rage. Neither do staff like being placed in such a position due to you ignoring their phone messages - another overlooked obvious standard business practice. In taking a moment to think about how you want to be treated, you will return phone calls and messages as quickly as you can and not let them fall into the next business day. Your staff will treat you well because you just relieved them of a burdensome position. Everyone has the same amount of time. Incorporating the thought process of how you want to be treated reduces the time needed to put out fires due to overlooking the obvious in your position. This author holds no respect for any position or authority in reference to this topic. Management - if you want better production and time management, quit overlooking the obvious. Staff - if you want a better work environment, quit overlooking the obvious. Sales - if you want increased revenue and improved staff and management support, quit overlooking the obvious. Take a moment, take a breath and ask yourself, "How would I want to be treated in this scenario?" Then, go create the scenario where you will treat others in the same manner you want to be treated. The obvious should never be overlooked, and if you follow my instructions, you will be excelling in comparison to industry standards. Joe Corno is president of Utah-based We Be Consulting and Seminars. He may be reached at (801) 836-2077 or e-mail [email protected] .
Published
Mar 28, 2006
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