“Mid-year Check-up”

We began this conversation last week and I wanted to follow up with some of the comments and feedback I got from that post. Many of you had no issues with going back to the business plan and reviewing the numbers, but there were a few questions about “gestation period” and I wanted to address it quickly. When I talk about the gestation period of you loans, I am referring to the period of time from pre-approval to contract, or pre-approval to closing. Either one gives you an idea of the time consumed by the process, and gives you an idea of how many pre-approvals you need in your queue at any given time so you are going to close the number of loans you project to close. Example: If you want to close 8 loans a month, and your gestation period is 90 days, you will need to keep 24 active pre-approvals or more in your queue. If your gestation period is 120 days, you will need to keep 32. Keeping track is critical. You can read more about this in the May 17, 2018 blog post.

I was happy to see a significant number of you who are tracking at or ahead of your targets! Great job, and keep doing what you are doing because it is working! However, there were a few of you who wrote to say that you were behind the numbers and asked for some help getting caught up. So here are a few simple steps to getting back on the numbers.

  • Review your numbers every week! Visits, contact, credit pulls, pre-approvals, contracts, and additions to the database.
  • Drill down on your schedule. Are you prospecting a minimum of two hours every day following your business plan?
  • Who and what are not living up to your projections and find out why? Correct it, complete it, repeat it, or delete it!
  • Check the math. Your ratios from contact to closing may be off and need to be recalculated.
  • Why not Wednesday! Pick something out of the “Coaches Playbook” and do it on Wednesday. Take two hours and implement one new strategy you haven’t used and see what happens. Be committed to working the plan for at least eight to twelve weeks!
  • Review all your pre-approvals you have issued this year and see where they all are. You might have lost track of them, or they might have lost track of you. Some might just be sitting on the sidelines waiting for rates to go back to 3%! Share the cost of waiting with them. Buy now and refinance later if rates do go back, because they may not!
  • WORK the summer while others are on vacation! Opportunities are always available; the summer makes it simple because frustration factors and pressure to timelines go way up! Be the solution!

If you have a specific issue or challenge, please let me know and we are happy to work with you on a strategy or a solution for your specific challenge!

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com

You will not want to miss this upcoming event!  Don’t miss CROSSROADS….

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“Halfway Point”

It’s the middle of June and all of us should have a really solid view of our numbers for the halfway point of the year. It’s one of my biggest pressure points with my clients is to do, project, track, and follow the numbers in your business. Using our business plan from last October to project the work year 2018, we should be once again updating our information and really focusing on the adjustments we need to make to exceed our targets and projections.

The first point is to check our math. Has our basic formula held up? Are our ratios in line with projections?

  • Contacts per day to opportunities?
  • Opportunities to credit?
  • Credit to pre-approval?
  • Pre-approval to contract?
  • Contract to closing?
  • Weekly, monthly, and annual database growth?
  • New referral partner additions?
  • Actual referrals vs projected referrals per partner?

While we projected these numbers back in October, market conditions both nationally and locally may have put outside pressure on your projections and may require you to refocus your activities.

We discuss this now, because we all live in an industry that has a business flow to it and a gestation period attached to an outcome. We need to monitor that cycle because if that shifts, we could be doing everything we should be doing and all the other numbers align, yet your closed business isn’t what you thought. So the math is really important!

As we head full steam into the summer, our business shifts significantly as we deal with those in desperate need to move before school resumes; and those who may be absent from the market because of vacations! If you aren’t planning for is, you will certainly become a victim of it!

You also need to drill down on the fact that depending on your business cycle and your specific market, you may only have 120 days or less to meet the people who will become the client, who will close the transaction, who will get you paid, all by the end of the year! Yup, I said it; the middle of June begins the count down to the income you make by the end of the year!!!

So pick an evening and update your business plan and rerun your numbers. Get really clear and specific about where you are and what adjustments you may need to make. For some of you it will be a real eye opening event!

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com

Don’t miss CrossRoads, my Mortgage Seminar event on Sept. 12, 2018 in West Palm Beach.  See below and register…First 100 to register will get in for FREE!white seminar

“Size Matters”

There has been a great deal of conversation about “price compression” and “shrinking margins” in the industry lately. Companies, managers, and originators are seeing increasing competition from all angles, and generally what happens is the weaker will do more for less in an effort to stay around. We are also facing outside pressures that are pushing competition:

  • Originators who were buying leads and pounding refinances are hitting the streets and competing for purchase business. Since they have no track record in successful purchase business, they focus on price.
  • We also see that many large financial institutions are reducing or eliminating retail sales, forcing even more people out into the street. Once again, no track record, price is all they have.
  • The large internet lenders who spend millions on marketing and TV commercials. Since many agents won’t accept their pre-approvals, they must push price.
  • Mortgage companies themselves are spending time and money growing wide instead of deep, putting pressure on their own people.

The next factor is that many originators have chosen not to do the work in their own business and have resorted to hiring assistants to do the very job they are hired to do. While assistants certainly have a place in loan originations, managers and originators need to focus on scale and value. There is only so much money in origination. The breakup of that money between the company, branch, and originator has to be addressed because you can’t lose money on every deal and make it up in volume! So you must get clear on what is the real value in a loan origination and what part of that goes to the originator?

The next important piece is what “work” is required by the originator or originations team to have earned that money? This varies widely from place to place and even originator to originator. In my book, the originator is responsible for all the tasks needed to take the loan from contact to file fully ready to process; then support any communication from the processing/underwriting/closing/post-closing team if needed. That is what “top commission” is worth in any format. Now, managers and companies may want to reduce that obligation to the originator, or the originator may want to hire help so they can go on and produce more opportunities. That is fine, as long as all of that support is being paid for out of the total commission set for the origination of that file. It can’t work any other way. There is only so much money to be paid out!

 

The other key area is when do we look to get help? To me, a fully commissioned originator needs to be able to close 8 to 10 loans a month for a minimum of six consecutive months before entertaining bringing on help. The reason for this is you need to develop your systems and skills over both time and volume. If you don’t, you have to keep hiring people to cover for a poor system. That is a waste of money and doesn’t provide for a great customer experience. So rule of thumb is 8 to 10 loans a month, then you will hire on one assistant for each additional 5 to 10 loans a month in volume depending on the types of loans you are doing and your market.

Many originations “teams” or overloaded with people. Instead of organizing themselves and perfecting their system and schedules, they just hire more people! In the past, you might have been able to get away with an excessive number of people, but as margins compress, companies are going to have to think about how they spend their money.

Size matters! Your system matters! Your income matters! If you want to hire people so you can generate more opportunities, that’s great! But you have to be real with what your expectations are. Growing your team should mean:

  • A better customer experience
  • A smoother loan process
  • Higher quality loan submissions
  • Increased volume!

So look at your process and the systems you are using. If you have a team working with you, do you meet the monthly volume requirements? If you have grown your team and your loan volume isn’t growing at a minimum of 5 additional closings a month for each team member after the first 8 to 10 for the team leader, then your systems need to be addressed as well as your compensation!

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com

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Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com

“The lack of housing inventory; a simple phase, or a new reality?”

In coaching my clients across the country, the common theme for the past few years has been the lack of inventory. Inventory; or homes available on the market currently listed for sale, continues to shrink and total days on market gets smaller.

In many areas of the country, this has been an ongoing battle for quite some time. In certain markets, inventory pressure goes back almost a decade! As we continue to see this happen, I have to ask a few questions that might not have simple answers, or answers that are the same in all markets. I ask the questions so you will think about the questions and maybe have a discussion about them.

Since real estate is really a hyper local situation, your ability to engage in this discussion with your Realtor® referral partners is very important, maybe even critical to you and your relationships.

So here we go:

  • Are there fewer houses for sale this year compared to the same time last year?
  • If so, have total days on market fallen, if so, by how much?
  • Are you experiencing multiple offer situations, and are people offering significantly higher than list price on these homes?
  • If offers are higher than list, are you having issues with appraisals?
  • If you are, does the buyer pony up, the seller come down, or the deals falls apart?
  • What is this doing to home prices in your market compared to national averages?
  • Are higher interest rates slowing down the market?

These are all important questions, but I have one more to think about. What if this is now the new normal? What if the housing market is becoming more “real time supply chain” as other types of businesses? I ask this because despite the “lack of inventory” and higher rates, home sales are higher year over year. So people are still buying homes, even though there is less to see and it’s more expensive than it was just a few months ago.

What if we never go back to a three or six month supply of homes on the market? Could this be the new normal? If it is, how do we change in the way we do business to be in front of those opportunities in the future?

More and more I believe that the future of real estate and mortgage originations are dividing into two paths; the path of transaction sales; where you pay for and filter leads to try to convert them; or relational opportunities that present themselves to you because you have databased effectively and marketed your relationships with outstanding value month after month.

It’s an interesting conversation we need to engage in. I may be completely wrong, but all the math and logic says to me that the new normal isn’t completely out of the world of possibility! What do you think?

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com

“Stop looking for leads, generate opportunities”

It seems like the entire real estate/mortgage industry is heading down a path that is obsessed with lead generation. With rising rates and tight inventories, people are flocking to seminars, webinars, websites, and social media to spend all kinds of time and money to find leads. The issues are numerous with this concept, too numerous to deal with in one blog post, but the pure focus on lead generation is absurd and expensive. One of my clients told me that one of his realtor referral partners urgently called him because there was a popular service zip code now available for just $4,800 a month. She was very excited about this deal. I expressed to my originator that if this was truly worth the money, why did the last person give it up?

Another client I have was generating almost 200 leads a month. He had a team of eight people and converted about 20 loans a month. He came to me frustrated that his days were consumed with chasing prospects and documents instead to spending time talking to those referral partners he really wanted to work with. In the past year he has worked to reduce his lead generation activities and worked on creating opportunities for him and his referral partners to locate and assist the very people they wanted to serve in the first place. In the one year he reduced his overhead by more than $40,000 just in useless credit reports! He was able to eliminate two full time positions and convert another two positions to opportunity generation and relationship management from processing leads that were never going close.

In addition to those cost and staff reductions, the number of total hours worked was reduced significantly at the same time they were able to more than triple the amount of time spent with personally connecting with clients and referral partners. The result has been a real change in his business and quality of life. The contact to closing ratio has gone from less than 9% to more than 30%. He anticipates that by the end of this year he will see that grow to 40%! At the same time they are closing the same or more units each month.

By understanding where your business comes from and the type of people you really want to work with, you can vastly improve your business and not sacrifice results. You don’t get paid to generate leads; you get paid to close transactions. You need to fully understand where your business comes from and the time and money it cost you to make that happen. As I have said before, your process acts like a filter. Share the proper process, you will find the client’s and referral partners that control those opportunities. You must understand that it’s the quality of the customer experience and the value you provide to your clients and referral partners in the execution of your process that generates the opportunities you are looking for.

So compare your business to the “Referral Triangle” to see where your business is coming from. See if the time and money invested into your prospecting is generating the return you are happy with. If the percentage of investment isn’t equal to the return; you may want to rebalance yourself and make the most out of your efforts.

There is real change in our industry. Everyone seems to be in discount mode and ready to give away their money for the sake of closing a transaction. Well, unless you have an endless supply of money, you can’t ever lose money on deals and make it up in volume; that never works! The power is in being an expert. The value is found in the quality of the experience. It’s not about leads; it’s about closed and satisfied customers!

You can get a free copy of “The Referral Triangle” on the website: www.IMTcoaching.com

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com

“Gestation Period of your Deal”

Happy birthday to my son David who is 40 today!

Loan officers are notoriously bad at knowing their real time numbers. Ask any originator how many deals they have and they will likely give you a number that is more than twice the number of loans they are closing in that given month. The perception of what is likely to close is distorted by the total number of people that particular originator is working with in all stages of their pipeline, not just those likely to close in that given month. These inaccuracies are a challenge for the originator and their managers to get a real handle on real time business. It also leads to the dreaded “roller coaster syndrome” where production peaks and valleys from month to month.

One of the ways I teach my clients to deal with this is to have a way to accurately measure their productivity and given them advanced warning of a poor production month on the horizon. You can do anything about a weak closing month you are currently in. It’s also difficult to resolve poor numbers over the next thirty days coming. But what if there was a way to see weak numbers that were two and three months out, far enough into the distance that you had a reasonable chance to engage in some activities to fill that future void? The good news is, by creating a simple set of measurable that you can track, you can set yourself up for success!

It’s called “The Gestation Period of your Deal”. The reason for “YOUR” is that all originators and markets are different. Each needs to be calculated and monitored because it can also change due to outside factors like time of the year, weather, and other market conditions. However, over time, you will find this will accurately become your “canary in the coal mine” to warn you about a pending slump in you productivity.

Here is how it works. We use some very simple math and easy information to track. First, we look at the last 25 or so loans you have closed and measure the time from pre-approval to closing. How many days was it? This number will vary, but it will give you an indication of your market and what the timeline looks like from start to finish. Again, full pre-approval to closing are the numbers you want. There will be outliers in the mix, but they are always likely to exist so don’t worry about them for now, they tend to average out.

Once you know the number of days, you have your Gestation Period for you in your market. Why is this important? Let me show you!

If you want to close EIGHT loans a month and your Gestation Period is 60 days, you will need SIXTEEN pre-approvals out looking at all times! If the period is 90 days you will need 24! Just plug in your targeted number of closings and calculate your time frame and you have a real way to forecast your productivity in advance!

So if you are looking for balance in your business, trying to avoid productivity peaks and valleys, or you are a manager that really wants to tune your projections and be able to assist your people before it log jams or production falls off, working with your team can really help!

Understanding the gestation period of your deals and tracking your pre-approvals is something you can do today that will help improve your tomorrow!

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com

Visit us online at http://imtcoaching.com

“Activities over time equal outcome”

Sometimes people fail because they don’t know what they should do.

Sometimes people fail because they won’t do what they know they should do.

Sometimes people fail because they stop doing what they are doing before they get the result.

In my professional career I know these three things to be true. I have seen it thousands of times all across the country. I have these listed in the order in which most originators will tell you they aren’t achieving the numbers they would like to be reaching. I am not convinced that they are correct.

People will accept poor performance rather than be fully committed to excellence. I know this because most originators don’t have a clear vision of what excellence is!

So this week I wanted to start an ongoing conversation about what an excellent experience is, how it’s delivered, and what that experience is worth to a customer. You see, if your business is fully automated, electronic, impersonal, and focused on lead to commission; you are going to have to prepare for increased competition and lower margins. In other words, many more deals for far less money. You will be replaced by technology and someone in a call center who will work cheaper than you will.

We are granted an opportunity now in our market to see a number of conditions all coming together that will become a significant turning point in our industry. The weaker originators who live on high commissions and low volume are soon to be a thing of the past. The internet and automation will make them extinct in a few short years. In my estimation, by 2020 the almost 70% of the loan originators in this country that close less than four units a month will either be gone, or working as an assistant for someone running a larger team of people, or in a call center.

Those originators who have built or are building relationships with all kinds of people and providing value to those people will be the ones that lead the teams and make the money. The cautionary tale here is that if you fail to manage the relationship, provide exceptional ongoing value to your people, and make the mortgage process as seamless and swift as possible, you may find yourself on the outside looking in!

I am not trying to put anyone in fear of loss. I am trying to share with you now an opportunity to gain. Look at our industry and see what is going on. Understand that the best will survive at the expense of the weak. Just like in nature, you adapt, evolve, or you die! I want to share with you how to adapt and evolve because those who wish to ignore the present will have no future. It’s your activities over time that generates your outcome! You have to know what to do, commit to doing what you should do and keep driving the process long enough to succeed, or know why you didn’t.

Prepare for the next generation of loan origination. Lead generation is not going to be enough. Building and maintaining relationships with exception value and a great consumer experience will be the benchmark for those that will be the next generation of loan professionals! Are you ready? Do you have your plan?

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com

Check out my site at http://imtcoaching.com for more information and helpful programs for your Loan Origination business.