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Developing a Solid Branch Starts With Being a Servant

Kurt Reisig
Feb 17, 2012

In today’s uncertain and highly fragmented mortgage industry, mortgage professionals must continually strive to distinguish themselves. Reforms over the past few years have drastically limited the ability of originators to differentiate based on loan rates and structure, but there are still ways to stand out. Those who have made their mark as successful branches, brokers, loan officers and support staff often have a couple things in common. First, they demonstrate an understanding that their role requires them to serve other people within their branch, as well as their clients. Second, successful lenders and loan officers practice a few old-fashioned sales techniques that are paramount to increasing sales, retaining current clients and getting referrals for new business. Sales training Mortgage rates and loan programs are relatively similar across the industry right now, so lenders and loan originators must develop new ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors. One way to do this is to develop a streamlined, internal process for loan approvals. This positions originators to build relationships with referral partners and ensure that loans are approved for consumers and real estate agents in a timely manner. Originators who provide customers with a realistic timeline and deliver results on time will build credibility. This will help an originator to establish a positive reputation and drive repeat business. Once good internal processes have been developed, loan originators should sharpen their basic sales techniques. There are time-tested techniques, often overshadowed in the age of technology, where many salespeople rely heavily on e-mail marketing campaigns, digital ad buys and other high-tech methods of communication. These campaigns will be even more effective and will achieve a higher return on investment (ROI) if a loan originator takes that extra step to make it personal. Brokers and loan officers should pick up the phone and call potential customers, reach out to current customers and regularly meet with current and prospective clients face-to-face. Conducting a personal phone call or meeting gives a loan originator the opportunity to add value to the services they offer. They can learn more about what a customer’s needs are and can tailor their services specifically to that client. They can offer guidance and suggestions about a loan to a client. This helps make an originator an even stronger service provider moving forward with clients. It shows that they’ll go the extra mile to help their clients make good decisions. Taking a personal approach is a proven technique for success in every type of business or sales, and using it today can be an invaluable tool to stand out. Developing a culture of service During the booming years of the housing market, many mortgage companies got so caught up in making money that they forgot they were in the service industry. There is a difference between being a service provider and truly being servant to customers and clients. A service provider offers a service that their customers need, however, that does not mean that each person who provides a service is a good servant. A servant is one who remembers that they should add value and go beyond the basics. They see their organization as one that serves to benefit their customers, clients and team members, for the long haul. They do not think transactionally. Their focus is on the long-term relationship. An organization with a servant culture is one where employees work as a team to understand and better assist client needs. Not every originator understands being a servant. Building a “servant culture” must start at the top, with management setting an example for loan officers and assistants of what it means to be a servant. Once each staff member embraces the concept of service and realizes that no task is too small (or too big), the company as a whole will benefit. A servant culture is a key tool to generate new business. A client who has worked with a company that provides a necessary service versus one that actually serves well will likely be more satisfied with the latter. In turn, they may be more willing to recommend that specific company to friends and colleagues. Eventually, this will build a group of loyal, satisfied customers who will increase word-of-mouth referrals and generate new leads for new customers. The cycle will continue as these new customers provide additional referrals and tell more people about the excellent service they received. To develop a company culture of servants, many companies have turned their organizational charts upside down. An executive team that serves its staff produces a staff more willing to serve the executive team and more importantly, customers. In this business, every staff member—no matter their position or the office they work in—must realize that they are servants to each other, vendors, and external clients and customers. To act as a servant in the mortgage industry, companies and originators must remember that they first have to earn that role. It takes solid sales skills and a personal touch to find a client or customer in today’s competitive market. If a broker sells a service and can deliver a good product, on time and with impeccable integrity, they have earned the opportunity to serve. This will lead to repeat business and new customers coming through the door simply because of referrals. The number of loans that a branch closes will continue to grow, increase branch revenues and (ideally) increase pay for every branch staff member. Many companies may never become true servants, though the commitment to seek it is most important and loan originators must consistently strive to become better servants. For managers who want to increase revenues and, in turn, their salaries, their work as servants and salespeople is never done. Now, more than ever, the art of service has come into the forefront of the mortgage industry. Those who sell well and provide excellent service to their customers will continue to be top performers. Those who embrace a true “servant culture” will experience this success to an even greater level. Serving is a great strategy! Kurt Reisig is the founder and chief executive officer of American Pacific Mortgage Corporation. He may be reached by phone at (916) 960-1325 or e-mail [email protected]
Feb 17, 2012
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