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Fire the client? You bet!

Apr 26, 2006

Get creative in a challenging marketJoe Amorosomarketing, reaching more clients If I were to ask a few brokers around the country to free associate about the nature of our business, I'm pretty sure I'd hear terms like "staggering change," "cutthroat competition," "contractions" and "roller coaster." The business of buying and financing homes is and has always been cyclical in nature. Among other economic factors, our industry tends to be affected by rising and falling rates. Often, a period of gangbuster business is followed by a squeeze before business picks up again. It's just the nature of the beast. I know from personal experience that when the phones are ringing like crazy and business is booming, people tend to forget that. But when things start to quiet down on the retail side, there tends to be a rather obvious domino effect on business. Since none of us can avoid the natural ebb and flow of the mortgage marketplace, the best strategy and defense is to always remain in long-term survival mode. When the economy gets challenging and sales volume goes down, you'll be in the best position possible. The mantra for our industry should be: "Get creative with marketing and stay focused on building a powerful network." Make it your lifestyle, not your occupation One of the most effective and simple ways for you to build business as a loan officer, regardless of industry economics, is to adopt the attitude that it's your lifestyle, not your occupation. Your job doesn't end at five o'clock. Without going too far, think about every aspect of your life as being part of your career. Think of every social interaction as a potential opportunity to let people know you're in the mortgage business. When you go to the gym or the doctor, get your car serviced or pick up your dry cleaning, make a point of handing out business cards. I never leave home without them. But don't tell people you just sell loan products. Present yourself as a loan consultant, not just a loan officer, and you will automatically have more value to your potential clients. Position yourself as a problem solver and wealth builder, rather than someone who simply sells loan products. Practice your 10-second introduction. Build a good, solid reputation as an expert who is known for counseling your clients about the products that are best for their situations. That way, your clients will be more willing to refer you, and you'll be better positioned to maintain your momentum during slow times. Create a niche market for yourself Another successful way to buoy business is to find your own market niche and cultivate partnerships with others in related fields. Partner with financial advisors and help their clients understand how the right mortgages can help them reach their investment goals. Others may choose to work directly with real estate and divorce attorneys and specialize in settlements or refinancings. After a divorce, one partner will likely need to purchase a new home. One loan officer I know has been able to build a solid business by attending large boat and RV trade shows to introduce himself to unlikely mortgage customers. Since financing tends to be somewhat limited, more expensive and not tax-deductible on these kinds of large ticket items, he targets borrowers who could use funds from home equity loans or home refinancing toward their new boat/RV purchases. Get back to basics It may be "Networking 101," but it still works. When you focus your efforts on continuous networking and self-promotion, you take some of the volatility out of having to rely solely on other lead sources. Be generous with handing out cards - and asking for them, too. Set a goal of handing out 10 cards a day to people you do not know for the next month. It's more than likely you'll generate at least one or two good leads from this approach, and it's free. One of my favorite stories is when a loan officer friend of mine went to a hockey game and threw a box of his business cards in the air at the arena. To this day, he can trace referrals and loans back to that one exuberant gesture. Another creative way to market yourself is to insert a business card with your bill payment. Call it six degrees of separation, but you never know who might need to refinance or take out a loan. Work your referrals It goes without saying that a good work ethic, diligence and a consultative approach to selling will help buffer you from a sluggish market. But don't forget that youve already established a rich network of referrals that can help you maintain your business. A good database of past customers and other existing referral sources will always prove more fruitful than purchased leads. You've worked with this group in the past and have established credibility with them. Plus, I've found that people naturally like to do favors for others, especially those with whom they've had positive experiences. All you have to do is ask. Send your past customers your business cards to share with their friends. Above all, everyone you interact with on a daily basis should know that you are the person to talk to if he needs a mortgage. The financial marketplace will always have its peaks and valleys. It's part of our reality in this industry. If you remain dedicated to this industry and actively market yourself, the results will speak for themselves. Joe Amoroso is senior vice president of Opteum Financial Services. He may be reached by e-mail at [email protected].
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