One of my favorite ways to get new, creative ideas flowing for my mortgage business is to brainstorm with a genius. Mr. Ralph Watkins, my dear friend and long-time business partner, fits the bill.
Ralph is a mortgage entrepreneur extraordinaire, and he’s the one who got me into the mortgage business 24 years ago. Neither one of us had any idea where we’d be all these years later, but we both couldn’t be happier with how things turned out.
Besides just enjoying every minute we spend together, I always walk away from our discussions with excitement and eagerness to implement the new things I’ve learned from Ralph.
Marketing to Your Database
One of the worst feelings is when someone in your past database goes with another loan officer for their next loan. Why didn’t they come to you? you can’t help but wonder. Ralph says the reason they didn’t come to you is because someone else got to them at the moment it mattered. Someone else was more top of mind with them right when they needed a loan.
The question of the hour is this: how can you make sure you are the one that’s top of mind when they’re ready to buy?
The point of database marketing is not to convince somebody to get a loan when they don’t want or need one. It’s to be top of mind with them when they’re ready to buy. You want to be the person they immediately think of. You’re not trying to talk someone into something. You just want to be primed and ready to enter the conversation that’s already in their mind—before another loan officer beats you to the punch.
So you want to be in touch with them on a regular basis in a cool way, interacting like a friend, not hounding them or annoying them. When your name shows up on their phone, you want them to think, “Oh, that’s my friend Carl reaching out. That dude’s awesome. Let me pick up!”
The Cliff Notes of it is that we want to call them, email them, and snail mail them on a regular basis. Believe it or not, email is the least effective of the three. And these days we throw texting into the rotation as well.
The Big Money is in the Long Game
A loan officer sent me a message at the beginning of December and said, “Carl, I need to build a pipeline to carry me through New Year’s.”
Everybody knows that the holiday season can be a rough time for loan officers. People generally aren’t buying a house over Christmas break. Ralph says the good news and bad news is that what you see happening in December and January is the result of whatever you were doing in September and October. What we do now we typically see manifest 90 days from now.
The big money is long money. If you need to get paid right now, then you can go get an hourly job somewhere. But you’ll be making $10/hour. Anything that’s worth doing takes a minute. What can you do right now that will benefit you most in 90 days or in a year from now?
Success comes from doing simple things on a daily basis. They are all very easy to do. They truly are. You get up and you don’t have to slay a dragon. Get up and do the simple activities you need to do today. Everything we do is always compounding over time. Ralph recommends two books that talk about this concept: The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson and The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.
You might not feel like doing something today, but your 90-Days-From-Now self will be so glad you did.
How Can I Succeed Without the Lowest Rate?
One question I’m getting asked constantly is: how do I defend my rates against the low-ballers? Or this very similar question: what do I do about rate shoppers?
Ralph says let them go. Shoppers are shoppers. Some people will leave you for $25. It doesn’t matter what kind of market we’re in, they’re going to shop. We have to do what the day dictates. We have to do what the time dictates. Right now that means pulling up our bootstraps and doing what’s necessary to do.
We need more prospecting, Ralph says. We need more blocking and tackling the basic things that build our business. We need more marketing to the database in a cool way. We need more Just Ask calls to our pipeline. We need more pre-approved and looking. We need more touches with realtors. We know we need more contacts to put more realtors into the funnel.
We know there aren’t enough hours in the day. We know things are harder than they were a couple years ago. Either we go get more or we settle for less. Or we get out of the industry and do something else entirely.
But there’s nothing Ralph or I know of that pays like the mortgage business pays.
The people who hunker down and do what needs to be done are going to end up on top. When we come out on the other side of this, there are going to be way fewer players out here. Business will be so much easier. Hunker down, double down, do what you need to do.
Don’t make the mistake of teaching your referral partners to refer to you based on you being the lowest rate. I made that mistake early in my career. Being the lowest is not a good business model. It’s not a good marketing plan. The stats say that 79% of people close a loan with the first loan officer they talk to. Not 79% of people go with the lowest rate, but the first person they talk to. Make sure the first person they talk to is you.
Simply answering your phone and making calls is more important than your rate, your closing costs, or anything else.
Be the person who responds quickly and provides excellent service. So much of what we do is word of mouth. Past clients won’t refer you if they didn’t have a good experience with you. Your experience has to be real. Close on time, tell them what to expect, and deliver on the expectations you promised. You want people so excited that they tell their friends about you.
How Do We Find People Who are Willing to Grind?
Someone wrote in and said, “It’s hard to find new loan officers willing to grind. Help!”
Ralph and I decided that, first of all, we needed to define the word “grind.” When I think of grinding, I think of someone miserable not enjoying their job. If that’s what grinding is, I don’t want to do it either. I want to enjoy my work.
I have hundreds of people working with and for me. I don’t want people grinding per se. I want to make sure they’re enjoying themselves while they work. Would I rather be out fishing? Some days, sure. But sitting down with Ralph is “work” and it’s so much fun for me. I get to hang out with (and learn from) one of my best friends in the world. Getting up early to get everything done so I could sit down with him is about as far away from grinding as possible for me.
We decided on this definition of “grind”: showing up and getting things done and making progress in the right direction.
I’ve been getting up every morning for years now, jumping on a bike and riding one of two routes, either 25 or 40 miles. I don’t always feel like it, but I go out and do it anyway. Grinding would be pushing through that and doing it anyway. Once you push through, you realize that you actually like doing it.
Ralph says our job is not to motivate people. It’s to find motivated people. You can’t convince people to grind. So what do you need to do? Talk to more people. Hone your interviews to take less time so you can talk to more people.
Most loan officers actually enjoy the prospecting part once they know how to prospect. Once you show them how to do it, it’s a lot of fun. Once you start to see some results, you love it. It’s the paper chase most of the time that they don’t like. If you love the paper chase, then be a loan partner. If you’re a loan officer who doesn’t like to prospect, you’re in the wrong position.
I got a text from my friend Debbie the other day with a photo of her holding her new grandbaby. She said, “Loving the opportunity to take a day with this little one and his mama while my team handles the calls and holds down the fort. #truefreedom.”
Debbie’s got it going on in her business and her life. If grinding means working your tail off and never taking time for the things and people that matter most in life, then I’m not going to grind. If it means working smarter and making more money so you can have more freedom, I’m all about it.
If you’d like to hear more about any of the things that Ralph and I discussed, we’d love to chat with you. How do you prospect more efficiently in a 32-hour work week? How do you get more loans without working more hours? How do you find those agents and what do you say to them to get referrals and do it all in a cool way? We’d love to map that out for you. Set up your FREE call TODAY.