You’ve heard the great coaches of our time share their pearls of wisdom on a number of occasions …
►“The only place that success comes before work is in the dictionary.”–Vince Lombardi
►“I’ve never felt my job was to win games–rather, that the essence of my job as a coach was to do everything I could to give my players the background necessary to succeed in life.”–Bobby Knight
►“There are three types of players: Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen and those who wonder what happens.”–Tommy Lasorda
►“There are only two options regarding commitment. You’re either in or out. There is no such thing as life in-between.”–Pat Riley
And while their quotes are aimed at combatants who wage their wars on the gridiron, parquet floors or baseball diamonds, all are applicable even to today’s mortgage professional.
Sometimes, even the most successful loan originators need a little motivation. How did they become the “success” that they are? Did they follow the blueprint of a leader that came before them? Can they call upon a mentor to guide them in times of trouble? Or, did they simply step into luck and now reap the benefits of that charmed path?
Regardless of the path to success, many of today’s mortgage originators are turning to coaches and trainers to guide them and educate them on a better way to increase volume and sales. Whether it be tips on time management, organization or presentation, today’s LOs are benefitting from a number of top coaches who have a found a proven way to get the most out of their clients.
As part of this month’s Special Focus on “Back to School: Education & Professional Development,”
National Mortgage Professional Magazine was able to gather some of the industry’s top coaches and trainers to share their tips and secrets on how they get the most out of today’s loan originators. We hope you enjoy this exchange of ideas and can utilize their methods and apply them to your current business model to take things to the next level.
Roundtable participants …
Founder, The Legion of Loan Officers
Nick Carpenter is the founder of The Legion of Loan Officers, and one of the most sought after thought leaders and marketers in the mortgage industry. He is a “Realtor Attraction” expert, known for helping loan officers add 10 great referral partners within 90 days. Nick is an Eagle Scout and U.S. Air Force veteran, having served in Iraq. For more information, visit LegionOfLoanOfficers.com
The Mortgage Godfather
Ralph LoVuolo is an author, speaker and coach to the mortgage industry. He has more than 60 years in “the business of mortgages.” There is almost no act that occurs in a mortgage company that he has not participated in and in some cases, he was a pioneer. He held in his hands the first GNMA MBS that was issued. He will tell you that story at the drop of a hat. He has started, either for himself or for others, nine mortgage companies. He has told the stories of his interaction with his father that will leave you laughing in disbelief. He extensively writes and speaks about all phases of the mortgage industry both to his coaching clients and groups throughout the USA. For more information, visit MortgageGodfather.com
Adam P. Smith
President, CORE Finance Group & Owner, Just the Tips Coaching
Adam P. Smith is president of CORE Finance Group, a leader in lead-generation coaching, and owner of Just the Tips Coaching. Adam has taught many classes on contact management and marketing to colleagues in the real estate, mortgage, insurance and financial fields. During his lending career, he has helped thousands of clients, both individuals and corporations, in their goals regarding real estate finance, as well as both personal and corporate finance and has personally written billions of dollars in mortgage and finance deals. Adam has also coached hundreds of real estate agents on lead generation, client retention, repeat and referral sales prospecting and zero cost marketing. He lectures regularly, and coaches colleagues on lead generation through his Just the Tips, Zero Cost Marketing for a Repeat and Referral Business and Secret Sauce programs to the real estate, mortgage, insurance and financial fields across the country. He has taught classes for several of the country’s largest real estate companies, countless title companies, and many real estate boards. For more information, visit COREFinanceGroup.com
Art "Ski" Swiatkowski
Art "Ski" Swiatkowski is passionate about developing people and businesses. He has dedicated the past 35 years to serving the real estate finance industry, first as a top producing loan originator and branch manager, then as a corporate executive, trainer and business development specialist. An engaging, entertaining speaker and trainer, he has taught and mentored thousands of sales representatives, managers and operations personnel across the nation. As a former trainer for the National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB) and through other corporate training initiatives, he has appeared as a speaker at many national and state trade conferences. His articles have been featured in numerous trade publications. During his tenure as vice president of business development for the InterBay Funding and Silver Hill Funding divisions of Bayview Asset Management, he played a key role in the company’s meteoric growth and one of the most amazing success stories in the mortgage lending industry. A former collegiate football player and currently active lacrosse player and coach, his leadership and development messages draw on lessons from the athletic field and the conference room in order to challenge people to achieve the results they want in their life and business. He can be reached by phone at (610) 220-2224.
Chief Operating Officer, Actualize Consulting
Kerry Wekelo is the chief operating officer of Actualize Consulting, a consultancy firm specializing in business process engineering and technology implementations for financial institutions. Kerry has more than 20 years of work experience with top organizations in the field of consultancy, management, finance, technology, and research for Fortune 1000 firms. She is also an award-winning author of Culture Infusion, a speaker and a mindfulness advocate. For more information, visit ActualizeConsulting.com
The roundtable ...
How did you first get your start in coaching mortgage professionals?
I was a real estate agent for three years and then on staff at a Keller Williams office before being recruited to open the corporate marketing department for Benchmark Mortgage. That's where I really combined my skillset in real estate and online marketing with loan officers and used these concepts to attract more Realtor referral partners. My partner, Garrett Finkelstein, and I were hosting classes for loan officers every week. Eventually, I heard Jim McMahan give a quote at an event we were doing together in Breckenridge that made me decide to open my own company. Jim said "There are enough people who will do business your way that you don't need the ones who won't." I decided to shift my path and left to work with my own clients in 2014.
I was the parliamentarian for the National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB). It was 1989 and we were at a board meeting in Denver and I had just given a seminar on “Robert’s Rules of Order” to the other members of the board when two of them approached me at the front of the room.
“Ralph, have you ever considered giving seminars or talks about your experiences in the mortgage industry?”
“No,” I replied.
“What do you mean? It seems you have the ability to draw people into the subject you are talking about, and we’ve seen you do this before. You should think about it.”
Needless to say, I was flattered by the compliments and almost immediately engaged in conversation with other board members. I spoke about what I had done, my experiences and the many responsibilities I had assumed. Those conversations produced more encouraging feelings and I pretty quickly decided it was time for me to try my hand at talking to people about the things I could do for them.
Within a week of the meeting in Denver, I was back home. Being a pretty pro-active person, I set myself a list of ideas that I thought would help people who I knew within my scope of business friends and acquaintances. I sent the list out to everyone I could think of and it was titled “What I Can Do for You.” I used that title because I wanted to be positive in my approach and not ask what they would want me to do, but tell them what I knew I could do. What the two-page letter included was, give seminars to your sales team, give your sales team ideas that would make them more successful, help sales managers learn how to make sales meetings more interesting and less a time for the salespeople to complain about everyone on their operations staff. I continued to send this e-mail out to about 100 people a week and followed them up with phone calls and visits to the biggest companies. These methods garnered appointments for me to make the type of presentations I desired to perform. My successes grew, multiplied and led me to help various state mortgage broker organizations by becoming their organizer for their state events. All of these things gave me a name that I have used as a pathway to perform the one thing that I concentrated on and still find fulfillment in—coaching people to become better and more effective at their chosen life’s work.
Adam P. Smith: I have been coaching real estate agents for better than a decade on topics including: Zero cost marketing for a repeat and referral business, contact management, social media, video marketing, etc. Not only did that lend to my coaching business, but it also paid dividends to my loan origination business as the leads the agents were generating were being referred to me for mortgages. That evolved into more focused coaching on lead generation so I wrote and published a book on the subject titled Just the Tips: 365 Sales and Life Hacks to Get You Through Your Year. That content, coming from a mortgage professional, made for an easy transition into coaching other loan originators, insurance agents, financial planners, car salesmen, etc.
Art “Ski” Swiatkowski: Actually, I have been studying the mind and performance improvement since the 1980’s. I am fascinated by people, what makes them tick and what separates the successful people from everyone else.
I initially entered the coaching field around 1998, but not in the mortgage industry. My love of the game of lacrosse led me to start a boy’s lacrosse team at our local high school. I coached there for 10 years. Shortly after starting that program, I really began to appreciate the results coaching could achieve. And so, I decided to go through a business coaching certification program offered by Resource Associates Corporation, which is a leadership development organization. My objective was to expand my management style in the direction of coaching and bring more value to the mortgage people I managed.
Interestingly enough, in addition to coaching my team in the mortgage business, several small business owners in my area asked me to work with them. This provided me with yet another perspective through which to study coaching and formulas for building success.
Kerry Wekelo: My career path includes having worked as a consultant. Because of my experience, I was able to relate to my team and understand the demands required to work as a consultant in the finance industry. I learned how to breathe balance and authenticity into my own life, and people noticed. Individuals started approaching me for help, and that is how I began coaching Actualize Consulting’s internal team, which includes our Mortgage and Fixed Income practice. From there, my coaching expanded into working with our clients in the mortgage industry. I have coached individuals of all levels and large groups.
What do you as a coach bring to the table that differentiates you from other coaches in the industry?
Nick Carpenter: The community and culture are the difference between The Legion of Loan Officers and every other coach in the mortgage industry. Our core values are: Relationships (Come First), Excellence (in Everything), Courage (To Do), Commitment (To Succeed), and Integrity (Always). Our community is comprised of nearly 500 of the best loan officers and mortgage brokers from 45 states around the country, sharing best practices and providing mentorship and support to each other. I appreciate the OGs in the industry for what they did a decade ago and The Legion of Loan Officers has modernized the concepts they introduced for the current social era, while never cold-calling a single real estate agent.
Ralph LoVuolo: My coaching philosophy is very different and much more effective than many of my peers. What I have come to understand is that we need to first concentrate on developing a trust relationship with our referral sources. I focus my efforts to help the MLO’s I work with, the audiences I address, and the voluminous writing I advance to the marketplace, to see the essence of a business bond as a trust relationship built on the advancement of ideas that helps the referral source improve their business. This is done by understanding the marketing needs of the referral source and delivering it. This will produce more business for the source and bind the two people together in a trust relationship.
Focusing, as most all other coaches do, on a few conceptual words that lead the MLO down a destructive path is anathema to me. Explaining products and rates to a referral source is fruitless if they don’t have business. Discussing how wonderful the MLO can deliver unparalleled service is not at all important to a source if they don’t have any business to be serviced.
However, if an MLO can absorb just a few simple marketing concepts that assist the source in developing new clientele is immeasurably valuable. Forming an intellectual partnership costs nothing, but produces just what the referral source needs … new customers. If we think beyond the norm of just real estate salespeople to include attorneys, accountants, financial advisers, insurance brokers and have as our main desire to help them all do more business, the elusive “Trust” relationship is created.
Adam P. Smith: My coaching strategy is strictly tactical and technical. I do not coach people on how to communicate better. I am not a life coach that’s going to help you with relationships. I coach people only on real rubber-to-the-road ideas and strategies to help salespeople generate more leads. I conduct initial office visits, do CRM analysis, help structure social media practices, and dedicate time to individually coaching clients each and every week. I also host an annual mastermind event with incredible content from other coaches and speakers every year, and have my coaching clients come visit my home and office in Denver.
Art “Ski” Swiatkowski: There are some awesome coaches out there serving the mortgage industry. But personally, I subscribe to something my dear friend and fellow coach, Ralph LoVuolo, once told me: “I am unique. There is no one exactly like me in the coaching world.”
You might say the coaching business is like a Baskin and Robbins ice cream menu. We are all ice cream, but there are many different flavors to choose from. People are able to pick the coach they like and think they can work with best.
Actually, I choose the people with whom I’d like to work. My approach is to qualify prospective coaching clients upfront to make that determination. If I don’t think I can help them or if I think we are not a match for each other, I will decline the opportunity and refer them to another coach.
Perhaps what differentiates me most is my drive to work with managers, executives and company owners within the mortgage business. I believe they are the catalyst to creating the greatest change within an individual company and within the industry. Many don’t realize that the change they are looking for in their organization needs to start with them.
Kerry Wekelo: Many coaches start with the end game and work to help the individual achieve their goals. I am different as I start my coaching sessions by focusing on what brings the most inspiration to the individual. I ensure that my clients are taking personal time daily to find or do the things they enjoy. Once they are personally fulfilled, they can serve others. I also draw from the principles in my book, Culture Infusion–Nine Principles to Create and Maintain a Thriving Organizational Culture in which I pull from each of the principles to help to serve my clients.
For example, many times teaching clients how to deal with challenges is the best time we spend together. I teach them my “Three P Method” of pausing to pivot to a positive. Here is an overview of how it works: “Pause” by taking a moment … give yourself and the other person time to think before they react. This helps to diffuse negative emotions and tension. Secondly, “Pivot,” as you are now in a space to pivot to the positive or identify a lesson learned. Try to think of things from a third-person point of view. This can help you gain a better understanding of the situation at hand. Finally, you experience “Positive Possibilities” as you become allies working together to explore a variety of positive possibilities and outcomes for the situation. Shared resolution of an issue helps you to move forward together. This will help eliminate any residual negative feelings.
What are some of the biggest trends you are currently seeing in the mortgage marketplace?
Adam P. Smith: Technology is always a big one. Interest rates are certainly a significant trend today. Broker versus banker is a very hot topic these days. The thing about the mortgage industry itself is that it’s dynamic and always changing. You cannot remain stagnant or you will get run over. Knowing those trends and deciding what is important to the industry, and to your specific business, is something we all need to be watching all the time.
What are some effective marketing methods you would suggest to your clients to generate new business?
Nick Carpenter: Legion of Loan Officers members grow their mortgage business through three pillars of business: Consumer Direct, Referral Partners and Database Marketing. I'll share one idea for each area of focus.
For Consumer Direct Business, you can partner up with a real estate agent and run a single property ad on Facebook. These ads are getting us exclusive homebuyer leads for under $1.50 each in most markets and they are a great way to fill your database.
To get more Referral Partners, host a class and teach real estate agents some marketing ideas. You can bring in a speaker if you aren't comfortable teaching yourself. Weekly e-mails every Thursday to your Database that focus on connecting with the people, rather than showing how smart you are, will create more inbound referrals and repeat business from past clients. Tell them stories from your personal life and client stories from working with you. These will all create a few more deals per month.
Ralph LoVuolo: My clientele is the MLO. There are two main sources of business for my clients: Their family and friends, and people who know that someone is buying or interested in buying real estate and will be helping that person on a professional level.
Let’s follow the first marketing idea I want my clients to follow: Here we first want to brand the MLO. We want to put into a database the name, e-mail address and phone number of everyone they know: Business sources plus friends and relatives, regardless of where they live. Our purpose is to create in the minds of the members of the database that when they hear the word “Mortgage,” they automatically think of the MLO. Be in touch with them regularly. The word “regularly” can be interpreted in many ways, but it is not too often to be sending a simple message, via e-mail to the database every two weeks. Simple messages to remind the recipient of a positive thought, a motivational, inspirational or organizational phrase, accompanied by the words: “Let’s have a conversation.” The repetition of this type of e-mail causes the recipient to be reminded of the senders’ profession. These non-threatening types of messages—constant messages—will secure the professional MLO a steady referral base of business.
From the point of view of obtaining referrals from sources such as real estate agents, attorneys, accountants, insurance brokers and the like, my client needs to understand how to create business for themselves by following three simple steps. I’ll mention them all, then break them down in detail to address the marketing methods to be followed.
Salespeople need to do these three things to be successful: First, they need to give away ideas of value to their referral sources. Ideas that help the referral source be more successful and do more business. Second, they need to be sure the referral source knows that the MLO will be there regularly to deliver those ideas, and thereby, business will emanate from the relationship that the MLO will be looking to help. Lastly, they need to be consistent, persistent, deliberative and unrelenting at all times to be seeing the source on a regular basis. My ideal scenario is to see them weekly. Bi-weekly is acceptable, but not preferred. Weekends, especially Sunday is excellent, especially for real estate professionals.
How can consulting a coach grow one's mortgage business? What tools/tips do you offer that can assist a client?
Art “Ski” Swiatkowski: Success-oriented people, regardless of their position within a company, see themselves as self-employed … the CEO of “You Incorporated.” They create a sense of responsibility for themselves in that role that drives what they think and what they do. They believe that, “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.” This is a huge mental shift that most struggle to make and which is even more difficult to act upon.
A good coach will help you internalize that “Think like a CEO” approach and execution by mapping out a personal strategic plan that: Defines the vision and values of you and your business; articulates your “why;” takes you through a personal SWOT Analysis; identifies the critical areas for success and action plans for them; creates accountability; and establishes an internal and external support system.
This “Personal Strategic Planning Process” is the foundational tool that I offer my clients. It has worked for successful executives of companies in all industries. So, start thinking like a CEO!
Kerry Wekelo: To grow your mortgage business, relationships are key. In our society today, people are starved for others to listen to their needs. I coach my clients on active listening techniques that will help them to develop relationships and ensure their clients want to do business with them. Active listening is a practice that can help you fine-tune the way you show up in your conversations. It is comprised of two simple parts: Listening and Understanding.
When we “Listen,” we should allow the other person to express themselves fully before offering your opinions and do so only if they ask. We should practice empathy by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and trying to see things from their perspective. We should focus attention by listening fully and limiting distractions like phones. We should show that we are listening by providing subtle responses, such as “Yes” or “I understand.” And, we should suspend judgment by resisting making assumptions.
When we are “Understanding,” we are verifying what we have heard as a good way to validate the other person in the conversation. It shows them that we care. We should be responsive by providing direct responses like “Tell me more …” We should ask questions to gather details. We should verify understanding by summarizing what we have heard to verify and validate understanding. And, we should be open and receptive to what the other party has to say.
This article originally ran in the August 2019 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.