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Business Planning 101 for Loan Officers in 2022

Every January, everyone’s got this list of New Year’s resolutions for how the coming year is going to be different and better. But how do we actually come up with what we want to do? Is there a particular formula or loan officer strategy we should be following when we plan out the year?

I sat down recently with my good friend, Matt Vance. Matt is a mortgage broker owner in a small town in New Hampshire and one of the leaders in our Freedom Club. Matt has been in this particular business for three years, but he’s been in lending as a retail loan officer since 2001. So he’s been around the block a couple times. 

We wanted to share how we each do our business planning, but it’s really not one-size-fits-all. You have to do what’s best for your particular situation, your team, and your own personality. So take whatever advice feels helpful to you, leave the rest, and add your own personal touches.

If I had to break down my plan into three steps, it’d be these:

  1. Know what you want.
  2. Get the people you need.
  3. Have a list of people to call for business.

The important thing is: do something and be intentional about it. Set goals, and make a plan for how you’re going to achieve them, or they just won’t happen. 

Know What You Want

Matt says he forms an idea of where he wants to be and what he wants his business to look like. Then he starts to fill in the boxes to ensure that those things happen. But where do those numbers come from? Matt starts from the premise that his brokerage needs one support person for every five to six closings they have. He’s comfortable with two or three employees right now, so he fills in the metrics from there. 

An old buddy of mine, Frank, taught me long ago to reverse engineer everything. When I’d sit down and do my business planning, the first thing I do is figure out what I want

  • Where do I want to live? 
  • What vacations do I want to take? 
  • How much debt do I want to pay off? 
  • How much money do I want to save? 
  • Is there a charity I want to give to? 
  • What will it cost to do everything I want to do this year?

I have to bring in enough money to fund these things. Otherwise, it’s just a dream. If I actually want it to happen, what will it cost? Let’s say it’s going to cost me $500,000 to make all of this happen. How many loans do I need to close to make that much money? It’s just a math problem, right? Let’s say you make $2500/loan. You’ll need 17 loans a month to make $500,000. Now you figure out how to make that happen.

Get the People You Need

I can’t close 17 loans a month all by myself. So, how am I going to do it? By Matt’s metrics, he would need three support people. What would that look like? What would each of those people do? 

Matt says he would have a front-end person who does pre-qualifications, lead follow-up, and manages his calendar. Then another person would take the application from contract to close. They’d chase conditions, put out fires, make update calls, and ask for more business from the listing agent. They’d take care of communication and keep Matt in the loop.

The third person would be a business development person, somebody to help multiply his efforts going forward, so his presence in front of agents is doubled or tripled. He’s actually in the process of hiring for that position right now. This person will make sure his monthly mailers go out, manage social media, manage events, and set appointments with real estate agents. 

Closing more loans doesn’t mean you’re working harder. It’s just doing a different set of activities. As my team has grown, it’s gotten easier. When it was just me, and I was out sick that day, 100% of the company was out sick. When you’ve got four people on your team, you’re still at 75% when one person is sick or on vacation. Ramping up is different work, and it’s less work. 

Just make sure that, when you hire people, you let them do their job. Don’t micro-manage. My first assistant, Jeanette, would very firmly tell me, “Carl, I’ve got this. This is my job. Go do your job.” We need people who are respectful, but strong, who take charge of their own positions. I hire people that tell me what to do, not the other way around. My job isn’t to tell you what to do. Your job is to tell me how we can do what we’re doing better. Your job is to make me break out with a cold bead of sweat at the thought of you leaving. Make yourself valuable.

It’s not easy to hire the right people. If you hire the wrong person, you’ve got to let them go quickly, so you can find the right person. My obligation isn’t to make sure somebody has a job. My obligation is to give them an opportunity. Their job is to make sure they still have that job next week or next month. 

Have a List of People to Call for Business

If we need 17 loans per month, we need an average of 68 leads per month. So, in our business planning, how are we going to get that? How will we get 68 leads a month, 17 leads a week?

Matt says loan officer lead generation comes down to calling producing real estate agents, having face to face meetings with them, and asking for the business. You also need a budget to cater to those you’re in relationship with—lunches, coffee, things like that. We should also be bringing in deals from clients in the pipeline.

It sounds really simple. So, why do we complicate it? Matt thinks we often let other people’s priorities get in the way. We often jump in and get involved where we shouldn’t. He says a lot of people are unstructured and undisciplined. The top producers are disciplined about making their calls, asking for business, and getting more realtor referral partners. 

Matt is seeing a lot of fear in the marketplace right now. Loan officers are scared, and that doesn’t bring positivity and value to our partners. So, our positive, no-fear outlook is going to be a huge opportunity to set ourselves apart. 

We need to show so much value that they’re not afraid to refer people to us. I’ve found one of the best ways I can bring value to my agents is simply following up with everyone in the loan process and asking for more business from the borrower and co-borrower. Every Tuesday, we update the borrower, the co-borrower, the listing agent, the buying agent, and the title company. On that call, we ask for names of friends, family, or coworkers looking to buy, sell, or refinance. 

So, when you’re sitting down to do your business planning for the year, make sure you 1.) know what you want; 2.) get the people you need; and 3.) have a list of people to call for business. 

And my biggest piece of advice is this: take the word “realistic” out of your vocabulary. Don’t make the mistake of thinking, “I have to think realistically.” Screw realistic. Chuck it out the window. I know loan officers who are having unrealistic success year after year after year. You can too.

If you’d like some help mapping out your business planning for the coming months or year, we’d love to help you do that. We’ll help you figure out what you want, how to get the right people on your team, and how to get all the qualified leads you could ever need. Click HERE to schedule your FREE strategy call TODAY.