Staying connected and adding services is the new way of marketing and staying in business. Many mortgage brokers (bankers typically aren’t allowed to) are looking for ways to service existing clients or attract new clients with multiple crossover products. If you are a mortgage banker, you too can do this through networking and building a team of other individuals you respect and trust to work together with your clients. As for the mortgage broker, some products you may look into could be tax preparation or tax negotiating services (referred out), mortgage insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, legal services, credit repair, loan modifications, commercial loans, bi-weekly plans and other financial related services. Offer your customers a center for one-stop shopping of all their financial needs. You will need to educate yourself in many of these areas, take a few classes, pass a test or two, but you have now created additional marketable skills and knowledge. Everyone wants to work with knowledgeable people. The idea of “one-stop shopping” is important these days since, as a society, we have become extremely impatient and time-sensitive, so the bundling of services and products is a welcome solution. It has been my experience that if you offer a service of true value your clients will tend to rely on you for your expertise and professionalism. Only market what you have the expertise to handle, unless you team up with another individual or group to market services together. I have teamed up with many individuals in the past. I had a co-worker who marketed legal plans to human resource department heads. They would allow him to come into their company and make a presentation on his products. He always added that a “mortgage expert” would come along with him to answer any questions related to first-time homebuying, purchasing investment property, refinancing, funding college tuition and adjustable rate mortgages. We did presentations with multiple companies and some organizations as well. Through this partnership, I did conduct business that I normally would not have had. He also brought me into a couple of churches as well, a great place to meet people looking to buy homes. Another colleague of mine sold insurance. I referred all clients to him for life insurance and disability insurance. My clients were going to call someone, so why not my colleague? I decided to go to school to learn tax preparation. Why not, I already had a client base and I have seen and worked with their tax returns already. Tax preparation is a great feature to tell your first-time homebuyers that you offer. When you close, you can tell them how to prepare their amended tax return so they can get their tax credit (up to $8,000) now instead of waiting until next year. Diversifying myself actually saved me a client. A past client referred his sister to me, she had been calling the wrong number for days leaving messages I never got. Finally, one of the realtors I work with called and said she had called her and left messages at her office that she didn’t get either. The realtor who made the initial contact found out that she lost the deal and gave me her number. She said she was talking to another loan officer, but I called and there was a chance that I could possibly save the deal. I called her and told her she was calling a wrong number and I was sorry she missed me. I told her it didn’t matter to me if she was working with another loan officer, but to call me when she closed and I would amend her tax returns and get her money now. My point is … what ever you do, simply offer it and don’t push it. If you feel the extra steps of classes and tests aren’t for you, then partner with others who mirror your ethics. We cannot do it all by ourselves, and this is where partnering comes into play. Through partnering, we become stronger by offering a greater array of products and services. In today’s value-based market, the need to partner has become even stronger. There is marketing strength in numbers when you create partnerships. The new terminology for partnering is “the packaging of services and affinity groups.” The salesperson who utilizes partnering becomes a more complete resource to their clients. Learn how to choose a partner who mirrors your ethics and maximizes your strengths, by creating a synergy that increases the productivity and profitability of both parties. A partner is similar to a marriage, so choose wisely. They will be speaking to your clients and you will be speaking to theirs. Make it a two-way street. This opens new doors for both of you … or all three or four. You determine who will be a party to your bundling of services network. Those are new ideas of marketing, now remember the old ways … .it may be painful to remember calling on realtors, builders, businesses, past clients, old clients and yes, the cold call. Today’s market calls for, “Fall Back to Basics” planning. For those if us who have been around for a while, we are familiar with the old ways of marketing, while some newer loan officers are used to relying on technology and rates themselves to bring the clients to our doors. Not in today’s market, you need to bring the client to your door. I have made myself get out and call on realtors. I started hosting “Realtor’s Open Houses.” I got two buyers for sitting in a house on a Saturday afternoon serving cookies. No, it doesn’t always work that easy, but if you don’t do it at all, it won’t work at all. I hosted a “Broker’s Open House” the following Tuesday. Twenty realtors came through whom I never met before. I brought lunch, a nominal cost to meet 20 new brokers who had time to talk and listen to me. For starters, I was invited by one of their peers, so instant respect was received. Second, they wanted to eat my food, so they were nice to me. I showed off some of the products I thought they might not have and I did. Sure enough, most of them didn’t know those programs still existed. I am hoping to get some business from these new contacts, and I enjoyed meeting new people. Sure, you can send e-mail marketing or purchase lists, but this cost was nominal and gained instant rapport. Don’t get me wrong, I send postcards out on a regular basis to my past clients and future clients. I also send cards telling each broker how much I enjoyed meeting them along with a business card. Staying in front of new people is key to a strong marketing plan. They don’t know me, so I would be easy to forget, but not if I don’t let them. Don’t be obnoxious, but subtitle reminders are great. Stop and talk to builders in open houses, as many have an inventory they need help moving. Offer them your services and marketing plans. You are the expert in helping to keep the industry moving forward. Stop being a naysayer, no one needs to hear it any more. Enough is enough. Moving forward is the key and having additional sources of income helps. In marketing to past present and future clients, there are four key referral sources: 1. Past clients 2. Present clients 3. Future clients 4. Your own backyard! Past clients Send a note or monthly/bi-monthly newsletter to every past client. Every time you put your name in front of them, they will associate your name with your business. They will perceive you as an expert in your field. This must be done regularly; as if it is done sporadically, you will lose your impact. Send to all of your clients, past, present and future. It doesn’t matter whether you send e-mail notes, newsletters or postal mail. The Internet, however, is cost-effective and efficient. It will depend on your market and the availability of Internet addresses for e-mail contacts in choosing which method to use. Even if you choose one over the other, I recommend crossing the two. Send thank you cards, birthday cards and other special notes in the mail because it is a tangible reminder of who you are. E-mails are great, easy and get messages across, but are usually read one and then deleted. Some aren’t even read. Future clients I bet you’re wondering how future clients can be a source of referrals? It’s easy: Give the best potential customer service and go that one step above what is expected. They will remember the effort and time you invested. Many times, I have received referrals from future clients. This is the referral you have the least control of, you never asked for it, you never expected it, and you have not cemented a true relationship with the referring source yet. Three important rules Rule #1 If a past, present, or future client refers you, take action now while the lead is hot. Remember, it is always easier to talk to someone expecting your call, warmed up for you by someone they know, like and trust than someone who has not been referred to you.\ You come highly recommended—don't let your referral source down. This is critical for future business. Make sure you take the time to either personally call or handwrite a special thank you note for the referral. Treat them like gold and with the utmost respect because they thought enough of you in their busy day to refer you! Rule #2 Present clients are hot! Ask for referrals now! Right now, they think you are wonderful and want the world to know they made the best choice by choosing you. They will toot your horn. They have a high level of trust in you at this point. No matter what the product or service might be, they made a choice to buy from you. This is the best time to ask for a referral! Rule #3 Be prepared to network with future clients. Always give two business cards to everyone you meet! I always found it amazing that other people will pass out your business cards for you. A personal thank you It is very important to remember to thank the referring party. Keep them in the loop. Remember this person thought enough of you to refer you. This automatically qualifies them for a personal thank you. The first choice is always by phone. A simple: “Thank you for the referral, I spoke with Mr. Smith today. I think I can help him. I just wanted you to know how much I appreciated your referral. Let’s get together for coffee or lunch.” Don’t leave them hanging as to whether or not you ever contacted or spoke to their referral. Sometimes, it is difficult to reach someone. You can leave a brief message on voicemail if available. “Hi, Joe, I received a call from Mr. Smith. He said you referred me to him. I just wanted to say thank you for the referral and for thinking of me. I hope you are doing well. Let’s get together soon.” End of conversation. You made the referring person aware that you spoke to Mr. Smith and that you appreciated the referral. I also follow up with a written thank you as well. These are basic skills that have worked and I believe will continue to work, so won’t you try partnering and falling back to basics? Visit author Laura Lynn Burke’s Web site at www.lauralynnburke.com where she arms you with the information to “Prepare today for tomorrow’s changes, and you will stay one step ahead of the competition.” Laura Lynn Burke has been selected from a nationwide search to be featured in Stepping Stones to Success, a highly successful book series. The book features best-selling authors Deepak Chopra (The Power of Purpose), Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul), Dr. Denis Waitley (featured in The Secret) and Laura Lynn Burke (Networkolog) who are joined by other well-known authors each offering time-tested strategies for success in frank and intimate interviews. Laura is also the CEO and founder of Footprints International d/b/a The Mortgage Institute, a training and consulting company designed with you in mind. For more information, call (708) 692-6199.