My friend Cindy Ertman is a self-proclaimed Beach Girl located in Manhattan Beach, California. She’s been in the mortgage industry for 32 years, and I sat down with her recently to ask her what loan officers should be doing to ramp up this year.
Cindy decided very early on in her loan officer career that she was going to search out the most successful people in the industry and just do what they did. She figured she didn’t need to reinvent success. She just sought out the masters and built her career around following them and learning how to build the right team. Now she has her own coaching and training company, helping other loan officers develop best practices on their way to success.
First, You Have to Hire a Team
Cindy ran a big branch for over 20 years and managed 32 loan officers, so she knows her stuff. She says that some really successful loan officers had a rough 2020, because it was the biggest year in mortgage history, and many of them couldn’t handle the volume. They lost leads and left business on the table because they hadn’t hired a team that could keep up.
I was talking to a really smart woman recently and I said, “It sounds like you need some more help.” She said, “I do, but do you know how much that would cost?” I did know, but more than that, I know what it costs not to have that person. People think that getting the help is a big cost. Getting help is not the big cost. Not getting the help and missing those opportunities? That’s what costs us.
People are afraid that they’ll hire somebody and their income won’t change, and they’ll have extra overhead. Your income WILL change. We need to hang out with people that show us what’s possible. The biggest thing I’ve found dealing with high producers is that there’s nothing special about them. The super high producers and the normal people are the same people. One’s not smarter than the other. Their actions are just different.
When a client tells Cindy they don’t know how they can juggle hiring people with everything else they have going on, Cindy tells them it’s a non-negotiable. She makes them put in their calendar the hour that they’re going to carve out to write the ad and get it posted. Then she has them run a DISC profile on their teams (and themselves), so they can identify what qualities they need.
“I used to hire people I liked,” Cindy says, “and that was a big mistake. Now I hire people that are meant for the jobs they’re in.”
You Have to Hire the Right People
Success depends largely on the team you build around you. Cindy became great at hiring amazing people by getting it wrong. Through her mistakes, she developed very specific hiring practices and vetting practices to get it right on the front end. She says it’s absolutely vital that you get the right team from:
- a cultural perspective
- a value perspective
- a vision perspective
Cindy had a client who was so frustrated with her loan coordinator because this employee couldn’t get the amount of business done that the client needed every month. She ran the DISC profile and the employee’s C (conscientiousness and detail) was at the very bottom. Cindy told her client, “You are never going to be able to make this person who you want them to be.” She got the right person, and her business doubled. And she could focus on income generating and relational activities.
Another one of her clients recently let her processor go. The processor had complained, “When I accepted this job, we were a tiny company and you didn’t have all these visions of growth. I didn’t sign up for this plan.” She was holding the loan officer branch manager back in a really big way. The branch manager was not growing because her senior processor didn’t want to grow with her.
You can’t let people hold you back. You are the leader. You get to have an expanded vision. If you want to be a successful loan officer, you have to create a team that supports that vision. We have to believe our vision is possible.
Train Your Employees and Hand Over the Reins
Once you figure out who you really need on your team, you do it. Then you get everybody clear on their lanes and get people committed to staying in their lanes. And you let go. It feels really good to be needed and to solve everybody’s problems. But you need to step aside, let them mess up, let them learn and grow. Or you will never grow your mortgage business.
Cindy was masterful at structuring deals. Then she’d lock the loan and toss the ball. Her favorite line when she got finished with a client call was, “Now, let me tell you how my team works. I’m going to introduce you to my rock star transaction coordinator. And Carrie’s going to be your point of contact moving forward.” From that point on, Cindy is hands-off until the loan is approved and she makes a quick congratulations call.
She also suggests planting new employees inside your office, sitting next to you for a period of time, and training them to become a Mini Me (mini Cindy, mini Carl, mini whoever). They hear how you talk to clients, and they soak it up like a sponge. Bring them in on Zoom calls. They’ll learn the necessary loan officer skills so much faster. You want to get them up to speed as quickly as humanly possible. Involve them in important conversations. Let them see how you communicate with clients, and it will shorten that learning curve.
If you have a process that just isn’t working, get your team in the room, and redefine that process together. Get shared vision. People are so much more empowered when they’re part of creating the solution. A shared vision is one that everyone can get behind. People like being part of something bigger than themselves. It’s such a different energy than you just running the show.
Make It About Them, Not You
Cindy is all about building relationships. It’s what she values most, and it’s how she built her business. She’s a naturally curious person and genuinely wants to know more about you. She’s also learned that, when clients come to her with problems, she doesn’t have to fix them all. She can just ask questions, and those questions often organically lead to a solution.
She told me a really cool story about a lunch she had with a realtor years ago. She led this training on “40 Questions to Ask a Realtor” and was testing the questions on him. He started to open up, and she began asking clarifying questions. Basically, she asked the same question in a different way so he couldn’t give the same answer and had to go deeper.
At the end of the meeting, he said, “Cindy, this has been amazing. I wasn’t going to tell you this, but I’m launching my own real estate company. In 30 days, I have 12 realtors already signed up. Would you consider being a preferred lender for my office?”
They hadn’t talked about her company or a single thing she could do for him. It was all about the relationship. “We aren’t in the mortgage business,” she says. “We’re in the relationship business.” Cindy could write a masterclass on “How to Get More Realtor Referral Partners.”
She says that the biggest shifts occur when we understand that it’s all energy. We’ve got to connect on a more human level, share our vulnerabilities, and get real. She always looks to create that moment of connection with her clients, and the relationship blooms from there. Cindy is amazing, and you can find out more about her and connect with her on her website. She has a lot of free resources for mortgage professionals too.
People ask me, “Carl, why would you tell us about another coach, a possible competitor?” Here’s what I say to that: You are who you hang out with. And when I find a good secret weapon, I like to share that. And it always works out just fine for Carl. Cindy comes with my highest recommendation. And, of course, if you’re interested in a free strategy call with yours truly, that would be awesome as well. Click here to schedule that FREE call today.