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How Loan Officers Can Thrive in Today’s Challenging Market

When people face challenging times, the natural human response is to freeze or flee. And loan officers are definitely facing some challenging times right now.

I sat down recently with my partner, Ralph Watkins, to talk about how to persevere through the changes in today’s market. Ralph is the one who got me into the mortgage business in the first place. Years ago, I was in another career and really struggling. I stopped by Ralph’s office and asked him what he did for a living. He told me he was a mortgage broker. I didn’t even know what that meant. I just hated my job and was desperate to do something else. 

Was I scared when I took that leap? Absolutely. But I did it anyway. I kept my eye on the goal and kept moving forward, one foot in front of the other. I didn’t freeze. I didn’t flee. I chose to stay in the fight. If I hadn’t gone through that hard time, I never would have become a loan officer. 

All these years later, Ralph has some great ideas for staying in the fight—and coming out on the other side better than ever.

Hard Times Make You Stronger

You’re a diamond. Do you believe that? Each of us is a beautiful multi-faceted diamond. When a raw diamond first comes out, it’s just a dirty ugly rock. It’s the cutting into it, carving those facets, that gives it a luster and brings the color out. Diamonds are hard. It takes really hard things to cut them, to make them beautiful. The hard times are how you grow and become beautiful and vibrant. 

Said another way, if you don’t put weights on the barbell, there’s no muscle growth. That only comes from overcoming resistance and persevering through difficulty.

So right now loan officers are going through a big change in the market. If you’re going to get through this, you have to make a commitment that you’re not going to freeze or flee; you’re going to fight. There’s no tapping out.

My wife, Maria, and I watch this show called Naked and Afraid. Two people are dropped off by helicopter on a deserted island or the middle of the forest or desert—some really difficult place—and they’ve got nothing. No shoes, socks, clothes, food, water, canteen. And they’ll be picked up 21 days later. They have to become super creative. They have no other choice. They have to figure out how to make this work. There’s no going back, only forward. There’s no Plan B.

If you’re a loan officer, this is where you’re meant to be, what you’re supposed to be doing. Nobody comes out of college thinking, “I’ll be a loan officer.” You got into the mortgage industry in an incredible way, and you’re so blessed. When you figure out how to be successful at this, it trumps everything else.

I hear people say, “Man, if this keeps up, I’m gonna have to go get a real job.” Why aren’t you treating this as a real job? Put together a plan, follow that plan, and you’ll bring in results that bring in more loans. Loans fell out of the sky last year, but this year you need a plan. 

So What’s Your Plan?

The plan, in a nutshell, is this: spend your time on activities that bring in the loans. It’s as simple as that, but you have to put the plan into action. 

There are loan officers out there having their best year ever. I’m one of them. What are we doing that the struggling people aren’t? A better question is: what am I not doing that they’re wasting their valuable time on? I’ll tell you. 

They’re getting buried in loan files, taking applications, chasing conditions, writing letters of explanation, getting statements, and all that other stuff. Somebody else can do that for you. Now, more than ever, we need to be spending our time on the high path activities. Reaching out to realtors, doing database marketing, calling our preapproved and lookings—all the things that make the phone ring.

Here are the 5 things you absolutely need to do as part of your plan.

  1. Hang out with winners
  2. Get rid of negative stuff in your life
  3. Double down on what’s working
  4. Map out a purchase plan
  5. Get help

#1: Hang Around with Positive People

One of the most powerful things you can do is hang out with positive people who are doing what you want to do. They have a plan and they’re executing it. Hang out with these people, and you’ll be energized. It’s never a good time to hang out with negative people. Hang out with winners—people who are passionate about what they do and what they believe.

#2: Turn Off Negative Input 

This is related to the first one. Hang out with positive people and only fill your mind with positive media. Get rid of negative influences, the negative voices, the negative thoughts. Eliminate the negative, accentuate the positive. Think positive, and you’ll attract positive. 

#3: Double Down on What’s Working

Take a look at what’s working in your business right now and do more of that. What activity brought in your last 10 loans? Do more of that. When I ask that question, people often can’t answer right away. After 15 seconds, they might say something like “I close on time” or “I answer my phone” and I say, “Great, but something had to have happened for that loan to come in for you to close on time. Something caused that phone to ring. What was it?”

For most of us, the answer is going to be simply meeting with real estate agents and getting them to refer to us. The majority of our business comes from people who know you, are familiar with you. So it could be the referring agent, could be a past client. A substantial part of my business comes from my past database. What if you called them regularly, checked in, and then asked for business? 

Having conversations with people is our number one money maker. And not just any people, but the right people, people who can refer business to us on a regular basis. 

#4: Map Out a Purchase Plan

What’s your plan for getting more purchase loans right now? For some reason, people don’t want to call realtors because they think all the loan officers are calling realtors right now. That’s actually not true. About 3% of loan officers are calling real estate agents, and 97% aren’t calling them because they think everyone else is calling them. That 3% is making 90% of the money.

Pick up that phone. Call those realtors. Get more referral partners. Get more leads. Close more loans.

#5: Get Help

This is the most important one of all. You’ve got to have help in your office. A lot of people have hunkered down and downsized their staff, but we’ve actually been adding to our team. There’s never been a better time to hire super high level talent. There are great people on the street right now for great prices, because they just got laid off by a company that didn’t learn how to adapt to changing times. 

The people wringing their hands, overwhelmed, feeling like everything’s going to pot, are frozen and not doing those things. I’ve had people tell me they’re down 20% and need to lay off their staff. Think about that for a minute. When you let go of your staff, someone you’re paying $25/hour to do all the fulfillment tasks, who’s going to do them? You. And who is going to do the sales tasks? No one. There won’t be time. Sales tasks pay, on average, 16x as much as fulfillment tasks, but we spend 80% of our time doing fulfillment tasks.

Working on loans is worth $25/hour, and activities that make the phone ring are worth $400/hour. Any time you spend working on your loan files is costing you $375/hour. You think you can’t afford someone to do those tasks for you? No, you can’t afford to do them yourself. In the long term, letting that person go will be far more expensive than keeping them. If you’re really really strapped for cash, then split an assistant with another loan officer until you get more loans and can afford your own assistant.

Let’s say you share an assistant that earns $4000/month. You pay them half of that, so $2000. That phenomenal assistant frees you up to close two extra loans a month. That’s $4000—$2000 for the assistant and $2000 for you. Go to your manager and ask for an assistant to share. Ask for 90 days to prove it will be worth it.

Getting rid of your help right now is the absolute worst thing you can do. It’s time to double down. When the smoke clears here shortly, you’ll be in an amazing position to move forward much more rapidly. You can do this.

If you’d like some help putting together a plan, we’d love to give you one of the exact same calls that we give to our Freedom Club members. There’s no catch and it’s absolutely free. We’ve done hundreds—no, thousands—of these calls and not one single time have we not been able to help someone. 


See what you’re missing before you say no. It’s our firm belief that you can get through this hard time and come out on top. We’d love to help you get there. A lot of times, it’s just some tiny tweaks that change everything. Schedule your FREE call TODAY.