Ice cream season is here again! The warm weather provides me with the perfect excuse to devour those cones and sundaes. Each month brings mysterious and enticing new flavors: chocolate mocha, coffee crunch, Madagascar exotic vanilla, rainbow-striped cookie dough. With all of these choices, it's easy to forget chocolate, strawberry and vanillathe original mainstays of the ice cream industry.
Are you a member of the Flavor of the Month Club? Do you focus on a different product every month? Have you lost sight of your core products and services? Have you made your real estate agents' heads spin by offering different products each month? Are your loan officers directionless? Do you jump from lender to lender? Do your customers really understand the full breadth of products and services you offer? Or do they just know you as the broker who chases the latest fad?
New products are certainly critical to the success of any mortgage broker. As markets change, you must be adept at changing with them. Whether it's the hottest hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage or a new stated-income product, you need to respond to the market around you.
As a lender, I'm frequently asked, "What's your best product? What's your niche?" It makes me cringe. There is no "best product." If you promote only one product, you won't survive very long. Your real estate agents or builders will call on you for that one deal, but not think of you on the other 30. Baskin-Robbins sells ice cream--but they do it at least 31 different ways.
Figure out your core products--those are the ones that will be around no matter what--just like chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. Have you been a member of the Flavor of the Month Club for so long that you've forgotten your core?
†Review your marketing products--exactly what are you selling? Do your telephone scripts and direct mail pieces tell the whole story succinctly? Or, are you offering only one flavor?
†Ask your top real estate agents and builders what products they need every month.
†Interview your lenders on what they consider standard products, which sell month after month. Maybe you've focused only on their flavor of the month. Also check to see how many lenders you work with each month--working with many different lenders each month is also a telltale sign that you may be missing the core.
†Rank your shop against others. What are you missing? How can you be better than the next?
†Assess the training materials you provide to your loan officers. Ask your loan officers to recite the top 15 reasons for doing business with your shop. Do those reasons encompass your core products?
I am fortunate to live in a place with a great hometown ice cream parlor. I try the new flavors, but still come back to my favorite, vanilla. It's like the old saying: Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other gold.
Lisa Kelly-Loth is president of ESI Mortgage LP, a sub-prime and alt-A wholesale lender. She may be reached at (800) 765-3140 or e-mail [email protected].