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How To Achieve Loan Officer Freedom

Chris Haynes, a loan officer out of Nashville, Tennessee, closed 54 loans in personal production last month, and that’s par for the course for him. He’s been increasing his numbers on a progressive schedule for quite a while now. As rates go up at some point, his numbers aren’t going to go down.

Chris is a branch manager and a leader in our Freedom Club. He’s a believer in the grass being greener where you water it, and he’s been watering it for 16 good years. I sat down with him recently to talk through the nitty-gritty of closing 50+ loans in a month.

A Day In the Life of a Branch Manager

Chris’s alarm goes off at 5:30am. Sometimes he gets right up, sometimes he pushes snooze until 6:00am when his boys (10, 9, and 4) wake up. He walks the dog, then heads to the gym, and he’s in the office by 8:30am most days.

He runs his branch, manages his sales team and coaches his loan officers. He’s done working before 6:00pm, because that’s when he’s getting one of his sons to football or baseball (he and his wife divide and conquer). During basketball season, he coaches. 

On Fridays there’s no schedule to dictate what he has to do, so sometimes he just plays catch-up in the mornings, then takes the afternoon off to hang with his kids—putt putt golf or hit baseballs. He might take a phone call or two on the weekends, usually from people who he also considers friends, but those are quick and rare. 

Not a bad life, right?

He Works Less Hours and Makes More Money

Let’s say Chris gets an average of $2,000 per loan. So, at 54 loans per month, that’s $108k per month. That’s on the north side of a million dollars a year. I asked him what difference that kind of money has made in his life.

He said he just feels very blessed to be in this business, period. “We have the opportunity to live in the United States and to go out and choose what we want to do,” he says. “And we chose a business where we can do things that other people just can’t.” It gives him a sense of peace and security, sure, but his security doesn’t come from money. His faith is central to his life, and he doesn’t put his faith in money. God has given him all of this and he acknowledges that.

He feels good knowing that he can take care of his family financially and get home at a decent hour, because he doesn’t need another three loans. That wasn’t always the case. When he was first building his business, he had to work a lot harder than he is now, and he was closing less loans back then.

He got to a breaking point where he was really burnt out and made the decision that he wanted a business, not a job. He wanted something where he could make money, even when he wasn’t working. That wasn’t an easy transition.

Transitioning to a Team

When Chris stopped processing his own loans, he did more business. He learned that, to do more, he had to do less. The next thing he stopped doing was answering the phone. He had a processor but he’d still answer the phones. When he stopped that, he closed even more loans. When he stopped taking all the leads, he closed even more. 

The next big step was letting somebody else talk to the lead. Then he learned to let somebody else actually meet with some of the clients. He has a high level person on his team that meets with clients, talks to them about loan options, and even locks the loan. Every time he delegates another piece, he closes more loans

As he built his team, he told his referral partners up front. “Hey, I’ve got this great loan partner, Christina, who’s been with me for six years. She’s going to take care of you, and you’ll get faster service because you won’t have to wait on me. Christina’s got you at the front of the line.”

For someone looking to build a team from the ground up, Chris says to hire a processor first. Then an assistant. Then add a loan officer. When Chris’s loan officers get to 7 loans a month in personal production for 3 months, they get their own assistant.

Building a team requires a mindset shift. And it’s the only way to build a business that can run while you’re sleeping or on vacation or hanging out with your kids.

What Chris Is Doing to Keep Numbers High

Rates are low right now and refinances are through the roof, but the refi boom isn’t what got Chris and his team where they’re at, so they’ll just keep doing what they’ve been doing. Some examples:

  • Monday calls using our loan officer scripts for realtors.
  • A Thursday email to their database and realtors about things to do in Nashville. 
  • A monthly Lunch and Learn for realtors to give them value. 
  • An ice cream social coming up for database and realtor referral partners.

He does think rates will stay relatively good for a while, and they do refis, but they really want to make sure they’re taking care of their relationships and closing purchase business loans on time. A lot of companies are struggling, and you can get a lot of loans from loan officers who are neglecting their people. Just closing on time is a big deal in the purchase market right now, and they have the capacity to handle that. 

Knowing that this is a pipeline business, the effort they make in September is actually for closings they’ll have in December and January. So, they’re always marketing, always connecting with their database, always making warm calls.

What’s Chris’s Secret Sauce?

Chris’s number one piece of advice is: learn to embrace imperfection. He said that, when he first started hiring people, he was scared to death they’d make mistakes. And now, he says, you know what? It’s okay. He can train them, coach them, let them be human. They don’t have to be perfect. They made some bad hires in the beginning, but they’re good at it now.

The one thing he wishes someone had told him 10 years ago was: get a mentor. Yes, he made a shameless plug for his mentor, Carl White, and said that I saved him so much time and money and helped him avoid pitfalls. He said a mentor helps you have a different mentality and believe you can do so much more than you think. 

One thing Chris has been working on lately is saying “I get to” versus “I have to.” It’s a privilege to be in this business. It’s just a little word change. It just shifts your mentality a little bit, but in a big way. 

If you’d like to take Chris’s great advice and get a mentor, we’d love to talk to you. It can’t hurt to have somebody take a look at what you’re currently doing from a bird’s eye view. Most of the time, it’s just some little tweaks you need to do to catapult you to the next level and meet all your loan officer goals. We’re here for you.

Flick off that hesitation and take action right now. Schedule a one-on-one call TODAY.