Landi Garcia has been in the mortgage business since 2003, and he’s been a Freedom Club member for three years now. When he first started, he had one assistant, and now he has three loan partners. Like everyone else, he wanted to scale his business without putting in more time.
Through the Axe of Freedom, being able to delegate the daily tasks, he’s been able to achieve those goals. He now spends his time creating relationships and getting loans in the door. Without a good roadmap, it’s challenging to put all that in place.
Inquiring loan officers want to know: What does a solid team look like? How do I find team members? How do I decide who does what? Landi has answers. Of course, he can only speak to what’s working for him and his company, but his numbers tell a pretty incredible story.
How Do You Know When It’s Time to Grow Your Team?
When Landi first started, with his one assistant, he was doing 5-7 units a month. Now he’s averaging 18 units a month. His branch is on track to close $400 million this year. How did he know it was time to add another person? For Landi, it was the delay in responsiveness to agents and customers. When he couldn’t respond to people in a timely manner, because the workload just became too much for him and his assistant, he knew it was time to add another team member. There are only so many hours in the day and only so much two people can do.
Was it scary adding that second loan partner? Absolutely terrifying. When you hire someone new, the learning curve is: how do I get the maximum benefit out of adding this team member? The same thing happened when they added a third loan partner. The second partner was falling behind on building new files and getting pre-approvals out quickly enough. So they needed someone to take over some of the administrative tasks for her.
In Landi’s office, they like to graduate their people up into responsibilities, like a path of growth to the next level. From administrative loan partner to licensed loan partner to processor or loan officer, depending on what path they want to take. They just keep moving people up and hiring someone to do their previous tasks on the ladder.
Another good thing about this is that each person can do the person’s job below them. So, if someone gets sick or takes a vacation, there’s someone there who can cover for them. It’s like an assembly line. Each person is doing a finite amount of tasks for one particular file, then it gets passed to the next person.
How Has Landi’s Job Description Changed Since Adding to His Team?
Landi supervises everyone’s activities using software that tracks what they’re doing that day. It’s called Smartsheet. They use it as a task management system to assign different tasks to different loan partners each day. It’s an app on your phone that you can use to prioritize the things you need to focus on immediately.
So Landi is wearing two different hats. He’s a salesperson closing 18 units a month, but he’s also managing others. How does he balance it all? Landi says he goes through Smartsheet and prioritizes what needs to be done. His most experienced loan partner moves things through the pipeline, and she gives tasks to the other loan partners. He oversees it all, but he’s not there in the daily details.
He has a recruiting firm that has helped with finding talent. His processor is someone they recruited locally. She brought on the other two and trained them—people she already knew—and they work well together. One person answers calls for the purpose of new applications. Someone else answers general mortgage questions. Everyone has their thing.
How does Landi get his partners to take ownership? They structure their branch with compensation per file for the loan officers. That’s a motivator for them to pick up the phone and chase down a condition. His partners give it the same value he does, because there’s something in it for them. Also, there are a finite amount of tasks for each person, so they don’t have the excuse of being pulled in a million different directions, because they’re not. There’s also celebration and acknowledgment when they get to different levels.
Adding to your team really has a twofold effect. Number one—you get help with the work. So you can go home on time at the end of the day—and on weekends—to be with family. The other is that it frees up your time to do the activity that brings in loans in the first place.
What Is That Loan-Getting Activity?
What about having more free time has helped Landi close more loans? How does he spend that time these days? He says he spends his time prospecting his agent network and building new relationships. Their entire team focuses on getting in front of people. He says it’s ridiculous how many leads you get just by stopping by an agent’s office and spending time with them checking in. Take an hour or two for coffee or lunch, and literally the next day, there’s more business coming in the door. Just be present, see what’s going on in their world. It’s simple. You get more realtor referral partners when you invest time in relationships.
If Landi could go back 10 years, he would tell himself to identify what he’s best at and not be fearful of letting go. That took him a long time to do. He and his partner look back nine years ago and laugh at how they felt like no one else could do all the tasks that came across their desk. They were afraid they would have to come back and clean it up, and they should have just done it themselves. The sooner you can understand what your highest and best use of time is, and realize the rest can be done by someone else, the sooner you’re going to double and triple your business.
Landi says his driving force daily is to figure out how to make his business more efficient, to continue to grow at a healthy pace, but get back more time. His goal in the next five years would simply be prospecting and bringing in business, working just 20 loan officer hours a week, and having his business and production stay the same or grow. It’s not necessarily a monetary thing; it’s a time thing. A freedom thing.
If you’re thinking of hiring your first person, just take that step; take that leap of faith. That first person may or may not be the right person. Don’t quit. Keep doing it. Wonderful things can happen. It’s totally worth the headaches at the beginning. The solutions that come out of it will far exceed anything you can dream of.
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