Rates are on the rise. Of course we all knew this would happen. It’s the nature of the beast. But it doesn’t mean we feel prepared to face this new (and often scary) environment we find ourselves in right now.
I recently sat down with my good friend Steve Kyles to talk about the tools you’re going to need as rates rise faster and faster. Steve (a producing branch manager) and I (a non-producing branch manager) get together often to strategize how we can give the loan officers in our respective branches a competitive edge in the market. With this shrinking loan origination for a period of time, how can we make sure they don’t decrease like the rest of the industry?
This time we decided to focus on Steve’s branch, and he’s going to map out what he’s put together for his loan officers over the past couple years. Now, to be clear, we didn’t come up with this list. We were at a Freedom Club meeting and asked some top-producing branch managers for their thoughts. Then we compiled the best of the best.
So, branch managers, take what you want and implement it into your branch to help your loan officers do more and get better, no matter what the rate environment looks like.
Tool #1: A Loan Partner Program
When a loan officer joins Steve’s branch, they provide them with a loan partner. People ask them how much volume their loan officers have to do before they get an assistant. They’re often surprised when Steve tells them that every loan officer gets a loan partner—an assistant—immediately. Day one, get one.
The loan partner literally takes the busywork off of the loan officer’s desk. When a loan officer locks in a loan and they hand it off to underwriting, most of the time they’re expected to go back and chase conditions—bank statements, pay stubs, employment verification. But we want our loan officers hands-off, out of the file, until it’s time to close. The only time a loan officer gets involved again is if there’s a credit qualifying issue. Then they jump back in and fix that.
The loan officer’s job, once they hand off that loan, is to go out there and get more business. We want them focused on loan officer lead generation. They’re making calls from 9-11am every Monday through Thursday. Those relationship-getting activities and outbound marketing calls are bringing in more qualified leads, which helps them put more loans in the pipeline. We’ve found that, if we can keep loan officers out of the busywork, and more focused on loan-getting activities, it’s a win-win for everyone.
It’s not enough to just have loan partners. You’ve got to have great loan partners that are passionate about keeping the salespeople doing sales activity. Don’t just throw a body at it. Our loan officers deserve A+ loan partners who are winning on every call, keeping loan officers out of the files, and instilling confidence that when they hand it off, it will go on to closing smoothly, flawlessly, and on time, and in such a way that brings in more loans through the process. In this current environment, that’s more important than ever.
If you’ve got three loan officers each closing three loans, they can share a loan partner—as long as that loan partner can chase all the conditions and put out all the fires. Then, as they ramp up business, maybe they’re sharing a partner with one other loan officer. Then they ramp up some more and get their own. But every loan officer starts out with a partner. Zero exceptions. It’s so worth the extra expense. It pays off in spades.
Hire the right people. Let them know you believe in them. Give them support upfront. If your loan partners consistently do the right activity and meet the metrics that ensure they’re asking for business, they’ll be winners. Give them the resources they need to succeed. And as they graduate in volume, give them additional resources. Give them a plan to grow.
Tool #2: An Enhanced Daily Success Plan
Second, give your loan officers an enhanced daily success plan. Not all loan officers are structured by nature (most aren’t), so Steve helps bring structure and a simple, consistent sales process that produces a repeatable referable experience. He offers loan officer strategies and helps them block out their time in manageable chunks. They meet on Fridays to hold them accountable, not to what Steve expects from them, but to their own goals.
Accountability has been huge for us at our branch too. It’s not about scaring people and threatening them with a stick if they don’t perform at a certain level. It’s about holding them accountable in a cool way. They set their goals they want to achieve, and we help them stay on track to get there. You’re at 4 loans and want to get to 10? Here’s how we can map that out, so you can make it happen. And not in a stressful way, but a proven way that works with less headaches and less time.
Tool #3: A Coaching Program
Steve invests money in a coaching program every month for every loan officer. He says that life moves at the speed of relationships, and he’s a better person and loan officer for the relationships he’s formed with mentors and other loan officers. He has grown exponentially, and his branch is scaling at a level he never dreamed possible because he linked up with others who can coach him. He wants that for his loan officers.
It’s tempting to think you can just teach your loan officers yourself, but it really doesn’t work that way. You’ve got to get an outside person coming in and coaching your team. Doing everything inside your own branch just gets incestuous. We have literally hundreds of different companies represented in our coaching program, so we get all different kinds of perspectives and ways of thinking. It’s a game-changer, the coolest group of people, a dream team.
If you don’t join our program, join another program. You know the saying—if you don’t get help here, get help somewhere. Trust us.
Tool #4: Have Your Loan Officers Rate the Processor, Loan Partner, and Underwriter
A woman named Michelle Anderson came up with this one, and it’s the best idea ever. At the end of a transaction, every loan officer is provided with a survey. You’re rating the effectiveness of your processor, your loan partner, and your underwriter using 1-5 stars. It changed everything for us. It created so much transparency.
If your underwriter keeps getting terrible scores, it’s time to get rid of the underwriter. Sometimes they can act like they own the company, and it’s just not true. They need to do a good job and get those 5-star reviews, or they’re out.
We’ve found that the exceptional people step up even more, because they want those five stars. It’s been a great experience for both sides. The loan officer needs to be good to their ops team, and the ops team needs to be good to the loan officer. It’s a win-win. If you want some help setting this up for your team, we’d love to help.
Tool #5: Keep Building Your Tech Stack
Steve’s branch has some technology that allows them to do credit triggers, a credit watch, an equity watch, and get public records info. A credit trigger is when a past client has their credit reviewed from another lending institution, and you get a notification. The credit watch informs you when someone’s credit increases to an acceptable score. The equity watch does the same thing when their equity goes up. The equity watch is a killer as far as potential new loans. Public records info lets you know if someone files for divorce or lists their home for sale.
As soon as a past client has a mortgage credit pull, we automatically send them a loan application via text and email before the loan officer even has a chance to call them. The more automated things are, the better. Of course we encourage personal phone calls, but automation makes it magic. We set up a CRM for our loan officers to make it as easy as possible.
There’s so much we could add to this list, but hopefully this is a good start. We always say “write small checks to cash big checks.” When we write these checks for our loan officers and put this stuff into play, they close more loans. When they close more loans, they make more money, we make more money, we help more families, we get a bigger past database, we meet more realtors at the closing table.
And more closings lead to more closings to more closings.
If you have any questions about how to put this together, we’d love to chat with you. Click here for your FREE strategy call TODAY.