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Broker vs. loan officer: Whose client is it?

National Mortgage Professional
May 24, 2007

Resolve to exceed your customer's expectationsRyan Florioshortcomings and limitations, profitability, improvements, telephone communication, professionalism It's February, and by now, enough time has passed since New Year's Day for us to easily assess how well we are doing with the New Year's resolutions we signed up for on the first day of January. By the time this goes to print, I will have focused some energy on completing the modern concrete countertops for my new kitchen - something that has been a work in progress for longer than I care to remember. I'm especially motivated, because having a great new space to prepare healthy meals for myself will ensure that I am also moving toward my health and training goals. Of course, writing these words in a public forum does add an element of accountability. But in the end, I am the one who will have to live with the consequences of my action or lack thereof. By the time mid-February rolls around, either I will be keeping pace with my goals or time will have passed me by. Thinking about the possibility of eating takeout for another six months creates just enough leverage to make my commitments non-negotiable. If I cannot find the time to complete my kitchen projects in a reasonable timeframe, I will hire someone else to finish the job. The outcomes of my goals are most important to me, and I will find a way to succeed in reaching them, even if I must outsource a task that I view as a steppingstone. The same outlook can be applied when assessing this year's business goals. How much progress has been made in the first two months of 2007? Taking a realistic look at shortcomings and limitations is imperative if you wish to position yourself toward growth and increase your standards of profitability. If time is getting away from you or your time is too valuable to be spent detailing improvements in your business operations, delegate the necessary responsibility to an individual or business that has a successful track record in the area of your need. Today's business environment offers a plethora of services that are available at competitive rates and may be used on a temporary basis or absorbed into your company's standard operating procedure. One area of customer service that typically suffers with business growth is telephone communication, yet it is an important impression of your company's professionalism that will with either attract new customers or repel them. If you cannot hire a live administrator to greet your customers and handle their requests, then consider implementing a phone system that will allow your customers to reach their salespeople directly. Otherwise, subcontract a 24-hour live answering service to take messages and provide urgent responses. The most frequent customer service complaint by consumers is the inability to speak to a live company representative when dealing with a problem. Evaluating your current telephone protocol may be the first step in positioning yourself toward steady growth. Staying competitive in a changing marketplace is important to any businessperson, but the changing environment can be difficult to monitor. In this case, outsource your market research to a firm that can provide you the information you need to position yourself as a market leader. Perhaps your consumer value is already high, but the public has not recognized your services. If so, consider hiring a publicist to help create awareness. Media coverage can gain instant credibility and help a company to develop its reputation. An important, yet overlooked, area of customer service is accessibility. Your customers want to feel good about whom they are doing business with, and a solid public image helps satisfy this need. Finally, consider whether your company is capable of executing an effective customer follow-up program that will enable you to capitalize on repeat and referral business. If you cannot hire a department to facilitate communications after the sales close, hire a company that specializes in unique customer-retention programs for your specific industry. Staying in touch with your client after the initial sale will increase your profitability by 300-400 percent in just a few years. A seasoned and very wealthy businessperson told me once that the biggest mistake one can make in his business approach is thinking that he must reinvent the wheel in order to be successful. From the beginning of his career, this gentleman surrounded himself with a core group of experts that could assist him in the areas in which he lacked experience or resources. By capitalizing on their expertise, his company bypassed the growing pains typical of most new businesses, and he became a recognized market leader within a few short years. So rather than resist an honest look at our progress since New Year's, let us resolve to re-evaluate our business approach and put a premium value on our time, with a focus that optimizes our profitability. In doing so, we can also align with experts who will pave the road to our success and create a plan to ensure our long-term business health. Ryan Florio is president and CEO of Cleveland-based, a Web-based company that offers automated client relationship programs as a vehicle for client retention. He may be reached at (216) 598-0934 or e-mail [email protected]
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