As a professional paid to perform mortgage services for your client, you may or may not realize that you are only as good as the team that surrounds you. You rely on your support team to help complete each section of the loan transaction effectively and efficiently, thus each member has a direct influence on your client’s experience. Team members can be anyone from a loan processor to a real estate agent and everyone in between. In order to gain the most momentum for a positive reputation and future referrals, you must ensure that you are working with the right individuals. It’s also important that everyone understands the client is ultimately their employer and excellent performance is required.
Let’s break down teams into two categories: Internal and External.
Your internal team is simply your place of work and those who surround you. This could be your manager, co-workers, assistants, processors, etc. Your internal team is very important because they have the most direct influence on your daily operations and your potential for success. More importantly, they will influence the experience of your client even with any filters you attempt to apply. As mortgage loan originators, we’re in the driver’s seat. If you get a flat tire (such as a delayed closing due to underwriting missing a condition), you must always take the responsibility. Never put the blame on others in front of your client since you’ve made the decision to have them on your team. It’s always the frontline that needs to take the responsibility and make corrections or adjustments when needed.
In recent years, many LOs have been seeking new companies to partner with during our wild industry changes. Remember to carefully consider your team and environment when making any changes. It’s best to avoid changing your business identity too often by doing your homework and truly understanding the pros and cons before you make the jump. The biggest mistake is when people do little research on a company or new opportunity and are artificially motivated by money or fear-based recruiting. It’s great to have opportunities and act on them, but make sure you get to know the people and company you’re potentially teaming up with. Always remember, self-branding is better than company branding if you are a career-minded mortgage professional working by referral.
►Only surround yourself with people who have a positive attitude.
►Only put yourself in an environment that is productive and team-oriented.
►Do your research when selecting a company or hiring an employee/assistant.
►Always work with those who have strong ethics and integrity, no exceptions. If you personally lack these values you might consider another career.
►Avoid and do not participate in steering for financial gain or potential Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) violations.
►Have weekly or monthly team meetings to make sure systems are efficient.
►Always have a plan and system in place from application to closing.
►If you’re not enjoying your environment or not getting along with a colleague, step back and take time to think about changes you need to make or conversations you need to have.
►Protect and shield your clients from any internal issues that could possibly impact their experience negatively, as long as it’s not withholding information they need to know about their transaction.
Your external team members are simply those who offer other services needed to close the transaction, such as real estate agents, escrow officers, appraisers, insurance agents, etc. Your external contacts and recommendations are very important because they also play a role in your image to the client. Take the time to understand others and their work ethic and habits. Make sure your referral partners are reliable and return calls and e-mails promptly. Look for excellence and those who go above and beyond, and not just through the motions. Do they put their client’s interests before their own? Are they driven by the short-term commission rather than long-term wealth?
►Choose your preferred partners carefully, as your reputation is on the line.
►Refer only those with the highest ethics and integrity, no exceptions.
►Work with those who are confident, not arrogant.
►Work with those who are detailed and communicate timely.
►Understand RESPA and do not violate it … never allow ignorance or greed to steer your business and reputation into failure.
►Talk with other colleagues and get feedback on other professionals with good reputations.
►Pull 12-month production numbers on real estate agents to have an idea on recent transaction volume and experience in this housing market and lending climate.
►Experience matters, so check references and credentials.
Get in the habit of updating your database after every closing or at least once per month. The longer you put off updating your database, the harder it will be to play catch up and ensure your newsletters and your drip marketing is timely and effective.
Andy W. Harris, CRMS is president and owner of Lake Oswego, Ore.-based Vantage Mortgage Group Inc. and 2010-2011 president of the Oregon Association of Mortgage Professionals. He may be reached by phone at (877) 496-0431 or e-mail [email protected]
or visit AndyHarrisMortgage.com.