How do I generate business now?Joel Millerservice, success, productivity, leads In the May issue of The Mortgage Press (TMP), I wrote an article called, "How will I survive this downturn in the mortgage industry?" (Call TMP to get your copy). One of the key issues I focused on was client retention and how to position yourself as a trusted advisor. However, I received e-mails asking about how to get leads. Specifically, one gentleman in Texas was having trouble getting the phone to ring. He was willing to implement the methodologies laid out in the article, but without the phone ringing--he was (apparently) twiddling his thumbs. However, when things are slow, it's the very best time to get organized. When things are crazy, your excuse will be that you don't have time to put the structure in place to take you to the next level. I still highly recommend this: Begin by doing one loan perfectly, if that's all you have, and service the heck out of the client. Remember to always poll your clients. I recommend you ask the client how he wants to be serviced. Then, write it down in front of him, reciting it back to him so he knows you get it. The reason for this is that you may view great service as one update call a week. The client may view great service as one call per day. His perception is his reality, so take good care of his perceptions and needs. This will lead to him to want to refer you and, ultimately, to you obtaining new business. However, let's back up a minute. You have no business to service the heck out of. What do you do now? There is a form we put loan officers on when they are struggling, and let me be honest--it separates the wheat from the chaff. It's called the road to success. This form is designed to balance your efforts for maximum productivity while not putting all your eggs in one basket, such as just targeting real estate agents. So here we go: Monday: three categories -Current real estate agents (10): Most of us have closed a purchase transaction. There was probably a listing and selling agent. There are your first two calls to make. Remember, any journey begins with the first step. Begin to consistently communicate with them. Send them an informative e-mail and make that the reason for your call. -New real estate agents (five): You never know when they will grow tired of existing relationships. Go collect the business cards, send them something to help their business and follow up. Also, don't neglect the value of a personal visit. We all hate this, but sitting on your hands will certainly not bring you any business. -Follow up on leads: Never go more than 24 hours without getting back to people. We run four hours max. Tuesday: four categories -Status calls: The biggest consumer complaint is loan officer follow up. So follow up. If you have no deals, contact past clients and offer to do a free market analysis to see if their homes are maintaining or losing value. This will give you an opportunity to possibly refinance them. It will also open the door for communication with real estate agents, as they will provide you the market analysis. -Listing agents (five): Call to get the details on the home they have listed. Let them know you will share this with your database to help them sell it. Then, keep in touch. The laws of reciprocity will work wonders. Make up flyers for them with your most attractive unique product and give it to them. They may wonder why you can offer things their lender can't. There is your opening to new business. -Selling agents (three): Find out what their clients are looking for. E-mail them the flyers from the homes you sent to the listing agent. If you become the catalysis for this deal coming together, you will have a much better chance of getting the deal. -Follow up on leads: Follow up on leads--period. Wednesday: four categories -Current businesses (five): Is there a self-employed person you did a loan for? Does he have staff? Why are you not offering lunch and learns for his staff? If he is a sole proprietor, why not offer to share databases? Ask him what he is doing to get new business. Most don't have a clue. You offer your services to his clients in return for you introducing his services to your clients. What does he have to lose unless you're horrible at closing loans? If you are, turn the business over to us and we will close it (haha!). -New businesses (five): Follow the same principle as above. The small businesses will also be a great avenue for commercial loans where there is very little competition and the market is not as soft as residential. -Past clients (three): See Tuesday under "Status calls." -Follow up on leads: Do I need to say it again? Thursday: four categories -Annual reviews: Did you know that your past clients just got a Home Equity Line of Credit from the bank? Did you know they need money to send their daughter to college? Did you know they have been at Home Depot looking at new kitchens? You will never know unless you keep in touch with them, because they will not call you. Your call is to update your database, get current e-mail addresses and find out what's going on in their lives. Don't sell--service. Borrowers can smell commission breath, so take a mint, relax and look to service the client. Offer the free market analysis and see if any of their friends or co-workers many need your services. Also, see what services they many need a recommendation for. Then refer them to your business contacts. Also, you may be able to get the name of the businesses they service, such as their doctor, Certified Public Accountant, etc. Think. When was the last time you got a call from the person who sold you your first home? Stand out from the crowd. -Top 50 (five): Identify the top 50 clients in your database that you have the best shot at getting referrals from. Then service the heck out of them. Find out their likes and dislikes. There are a gazillion things you can do to keep your name in front of them, from a gift card to their favorite restaurant or store to an article about their favorite vacation spot. The goal is to stay at the top of their consciousness so whenever someone says "loan" or "real estate," they think of you. -Organizational projects (two): Schedule time to work on your business or you will not have one--period. Do it now while things are slow. This could be as simple as taking the time to identify your top 50 clients. -Follow up on leads. Friday: three categories -Catch up work: Anything that has fallen through the cracks, do it now. -Follow up on leads: Yes, never stop following up on leads. The goal is to make 50 contacts per week. That's 10 people per day. The bottom line here is that if you do the work, you will get the results. The beauty of this system is that it only takes your sweat and time. You can follow all these steps with no money out of your pocket. If you say it's too hard, maybe you need to be in an easier industry. The business will never just fall into your lap. You need to put forth the effort to make it happen. However, if you follow these steps, you will get leads. For more details on the use of this system, e-mail me at [email protected]. Joel Miller is chief strategist with Atlanta-based Wall Street Capital Funding Inc. He may be reached at (770) 760-1001 or e-mail [email protected] or [email protected].