Ensure Success in 2007!
The mortgage industry is and always will be a relationship-based business. No matter how much you rely on the efficiencies of technology, you must build and maintain a multitude of relationships with borrowers, real estate agents, lenders and a variety of support vendors.
As 2006 winds to a close and you map out your business plan for 2007, take some time to evaluate all areas of your business and think about the many people on whom you depend. This issue of InformedBrokerTM provides helpful tips and advice on how to get the most from your most important partnerships. And, be sure to read the "Free Stuff" section to learn about some exciting free services that may help you save money as you grow your business!
CREATE BORROWERS FOR LIFE
The relationships you build with your customers are among the most important and highest priority; you must work hard to earn and keep their trust. Borrowers rely on communication, so make sure you have an effective process in place to update them on loan status. Ensure that they never have a chance to become insecure, which could lead them to back out of the deal.
Don't think of your borrowers as the source of single loan originations; instead, think of them as customers for life. They are also one of your best referral sources, each providing a link to family, friends, co-workers and social groups.
- Borrower Quick Tip 1 - The best time to ask a customer for referrals is right after their loan is approved. This is when they're happiest with you and most excited about the mortgage process.
- Borrower Quick Tip 2 - Send a note of congratulations, along with your business cards and requests for referrals, to their place of employment. There they are surrounded by co-workers and friends and can readily share your information.
Customer retention is a common struggle for mortgage professionals. It may be a few years before a recent borrower seeks to refinance their mortgage loan or purchase a new home. However, the payoff for keeping in touch on a regular basis will be well worth the effort. Continuous communication with your customer is key to ensuring that when they think 'mortgage,' they think of you.
Experts say you should reach out to customers a minimum of four times a year by a variety of mediums. Send letters, thank you notes, birthday and holiday cards and e-mails. And if you have important news, such as upcoming changes to interest rates or an office relocation, share that information by phone.
PARTNER WITH INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS
Building working relationships with fellow mortgage professionals, such as local bank LOs and real estate agents, can help you earn a steady stream of referrals. By providing bank LOs access to non-prime products, you help the bank (whose goal is to maintain the customer's other bank relationships) and the borrower. And, since many brokers are too intimidated to call on banks, you should have little competition.
Reciprocity is essential when it comes to earning the partnership of real estate agents. You can provide a service to borrowers by linking them with a good agent. And, agents will think of you when their clients need financing.
- Agent Quick Tip 1 - To get time with a particular agent, build a relationship with his or her receptionist (the gatekeeper).
YOUR LENDING TEAM
For each lender to which you submit loans, you are likely working with an account executive, a processor and their managers. Make sure you get along well with each of these team members and that you are confident with their service levels. Confirm that they are willing to work within your closing timeframe and will get things done quickly and efficiently. Insist that your loans receive personalized attention, with only one processor handling files from beginning to end, so that you have a single point of contact.
- Lender Quick Tip 1 - Many lenders offer mortgage-related services -- such as title and settlement services -- that can save money.
- Lender Quick Tip 2 - Rather than closing a few loans with many lenders, try to bundle loans and services and work with fewer lenders to build stronger relationships.
NETWORK SUPPORT VENDORS
Your support vendor list likely includes those that provide title, escrow, insurance, appraisals, notaries, processing, contract work and inspection services. Ensure your vendor representatives work well with you, your borrower and each other. Introduce reps to borrowers and make sure you stay in the loop. Don't leave it up to vendors to solve issues, as your borrower's satisfaction is ultimately your responsibility.
From the new relationships you create daily, to the long-term business partnerships on which you've come to rely, each person plays an important role in your goal to close loans as efficiently as possible -- while providing great service. In our relationships-based business, the tougher business gets, the more important this becomes. Regardless of your technical capabilities, building and maintaining important business relationships is your first priority.
A slower year-end is the perfect time to nurture your important relationships. Reach out to your contacts this holiday season. See the sidebar, "Stress-Free Relationship Management" for a great tip. And, from all of us at InformedBroker, we wish you the happiest of holidays and a prosperous new year!