Black Friday Strategy

Happy Thanksgiving to all my blog followers! We are wrapping up a really special year and we should all be very thankful we have the opportunity to do what we do. With that in mind, all of my originators and Realtor® friends, did you have a “Black Friday Strategy” all set up this year? No, I don’t mean planning what store opens when, or where to get that 50” TV for $99. I mean did you have a strategy to do a loan or sell a home this weekend?

Funny thing is that most in our industry look at Thanksgiving as the end point of the year to put together transactions that will still close in the current year. Most will leave the office today and begin looking for all the holiday parties and think about what next year has in store for us. Well, this is really flawed thinking by a vast majority of those in our industry. In fact, for a few really advanced teams of loan originators and Realtors®, this is not the end of anything, it is the beginning.

For those advanced teams, they have a strategy to use this weekend to find any last minute transactions that need to be completed before the end of the year, as well as identifying opportunities that will close early in next year. You see, people who are actually working this holiday weekend are doing so because they have too. While everyone else is shopping or relaxing with their family, a few professionals are engaged in putting together deals that just have to come together. Let’s be honest, not many people out looking at property this time of year are doing so just to look; they are doing so to BUY! They are out looking because they HAVE TO MAKE IT HAPPEN!

So while you are watching football or reaching for that bowl of chips, think about the opportunities there might have been if you had a simple “Black Friday Strategy” like this:

1) Let all your referring partners know you would be working the weekend and will be available to meet with their clients.
2) Schedule some time on Black Friday to go out and visit each real estate office you work with and let people know you are around and maybe share a discount on closing costs for those that are pre-approved this weekend and close by January 31st with you.
3) Work with a few Realtors® to identify their listings where we might engage the sellers into offering a special “Black Friday Price” for their currently listed property and hold a special Open House over the weekend for those properties.

Three simple ideas that help you set yourself apart from everyone else. That is a big part of any business plan, differentiation! Always ask these important questions:

1) How do I help my referral partners do more business?
2) How do I bring value to them during the process?
3) How do I create new opportunities from current circumstances?
4) How do I provide value for my customers?
5) What action do I need to take to get it done!

Having a strategy is important. You can’t develop much of a business if everything that happens is accidental and not planned. Not everyone wants or needs to work a holiday weekend. But for those that do, they need to put deals together and put them together NOW!

Black Friday is a day that begins on Thursday and has people waiting on long lines to save money on things they may or even may not need. Well for loan originators and Realtors®, Black Friday is an opportunity to close out the year with a few needed transactions and start the next one with people committed to getting a deal done.

I have never come across an originator or Realtor® that had great months in January and February that had a bad year. The best way to start the year off well is to have a head start! Your head start is NOW!

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“The Mirror Shows the Way”

We have spent the entire month of October preparing our business plans and trying to prepare for the future. 2014 in just six weeks away and everyone needs to be ready to go when the calendar changes. All the preparation in the world, all the plans, schedules, task lists, and concepts are useless if we don’t get up, get out, and implement the plan. Execution is the key. Implementation is what earns the money. Hope is not a success strategy. Tweaking the plan to get it “perfect” is just as bad as hoping. It is all about execution. It’s all about implantation. It’s all about creating the reality of results.

The person in charge of execution and implementation looks back at you every morning in the mirror. The mirror will show you the way. The person in the mirror is looking at either a weak boss or a lousy employee. The person in the mirror looks at the person who has ambitions but often lacks the discipline to engage and take control. The person in the mirror looks back at the person who controls the outcome. The person in the mirror looks back at the person who must make the choice to stop doing what does not work, and find the path that does. The person in the mirror may just be looking at the next superstar if that person makes the choice to do the work!

Change is once again upon us. New rules, regulations, and requirements are all set to take place and create the fuel for failure. That fuel is doubt. That fuel is ignorance. That fuel is NOT making change and setting forward with a plan to win. A plan to win each and every day; a plan to win each week, week after week; a plan to win each of the twelve months to declare 2014 a success. Many won’t make it. Those that fail will provide for those to succeed at new levels of performance. Those that fail will move along so that those who wish to become the new generation of mortgage professionals will do so at ever higher levels of competence and performance. Those that stay will become better because victory will make them better. Those that gain market share and referral partners will thrive because they have created value and worth. They will succeed because they will master guidelines, put together excellent applications, set proper expectations, and deliver in advance of deadlines not at them.

The mirror shows the way to the professional I want you to become. The mirror shows the way to an entire industry that got the message and is willing to pay the price to become excellent or get out of the way for those that do. It is no longer possible for our industry to tolerate mediocre. It is too costly for companies to support the old “average”. We all must become better because the new reality dictates that excellent is the new normal and that forty loans a year is not the price of admission to excellent.

You may not know how to grow yourself to the new excellence. The good news is that the mirror shows the way. That person in the mirror must make a commitment that what once was the standard, is now woefully short of where we need to go. The person in the mirror must acknowledge that change is needed and now is the time to make that change. We are six weeks away from the beginning of a new level of excellence, or the beginning of the end for some. The mirror looks at the person who has the power to make that choice. Look in the mirror and ask the question, “Are you the one who will do the work to reach beyond mediocre and find the new excellence?” It starts with nothing more than that. Will you commit to a plan, or will you hope it all just works out for you?

“Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Will I rise or will I fall?

If I plan and implement,
Will this time be well spent?”

“In looking back at you, hear what I share.
It is up to you to plan and prepare.

You must work to win each and every day
The success you seek can only come that way!”

“Thank you mirror for this direction,
I will work my plan to pure perfection!”

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“Working the Plan”

We have spent the prior month talking about our business plans. Many of you have had questions and I have been very happy to see how seriously people are taking to the task this year. Maybe it has something to do with the slow-down in refinances; maybe it has something to do with rate fluctuation; maybe people have made a choice to treat their business like a business? Not sure if there is a single answer to the question, but I am happy you have engaged.

Let me share with you what my private clients have been doing and how I work with them to not only get the plan written, but to be sure each task is listed and scheduled. You see, the details and the schedule by which you execute the actions are the key to a great plan. Without details that are scheduled you have little more than a wish-list of things you would like to happen. At this point, you should be close to having all your ideas and thoughts down on paper. Now is the time to transfer those thoughts into scheduled activities. Get it written down and get it into your schedule! Make sure your timing works in reality, not just on paper.

The next six weeks provide you with a great opportunity to get use to the new schedule and the timing of the activities. It may be a little awkward at first and there may just be a few adjustments and modifications you need to make so it all works out, but it will be well worth it! Once you get comfortable in the new schedule, it will make your life much more manageable. Remember, everyone has the exact same amount of time each day, some people just do more with the time they have! Always draw the straight line from action to closing. Be sure you always know the answer to the question, “how is what I am about to do going to turn into a closed loan or generate me a new referral partner?” If you can’t answer that question, than don’t do it until you do!

As you work your plan, be sure you track and score each day. Are the results meeting expectations? Am I completing each activity and scheduling the next point of follow-up? There are always areas to improve or eliminate. Not every idea works for everyone or in each market. You have to be the judge on your commitment of time, assets, and efforts to see if what you are doing is worth doing at all!

You will also need to keep in mind to manage your expectations. Hopefully when you completed your business plan you shared it with one or more trusted advisors to get their take on your projections. If any of your calculations are far outside their comfort zone, now is the time to discuss it and maybe limit your expectations? It is always better to be more conservative with your outcome estimates than the other way around. If you generate more business than you thought, you can always get some help.

We approach the last six weeks of the year trying to test our plan. Now is the time for setting forward the changes you wanted to make, and to see how reality deals with the changes you have made. Making these adjustments now will reap huge benefits as you spend your time working in your business in 2014 instead of working on your business!

For any help or questions you may have regarding business planning, please review the prior posts in October or just email me:

“Turn Aggravation into Inspiration”

Mortgage professionals are no different from any other types of people. We all find certain things in our lives aggravating. In our professional lives it is often simple to turn a source of aggravation into a moment of inspiration. Just like the secretary in Texas who created “White Out” to help correct typing errors, we can often turn the most aggravating aspects of our professional lives into a source of inspiration to find new and better opportunities.

Here are a few examples of what I am speaking of. A client of mine is having huge issues with a file she is working on because of numerous credit issues stemming from a divorce. To make matters worse, much of this client’s income can’t be used because of the way the settlement has been structured. When expressing this frustration to me about all the extra time and energy it took to get this loan to close, and the restrictions it caused for her borrower, it was easy to see an instant source of new opportunities, work with divorce attorneys to help them fully understand the ramifications of actions or inactions in the divorce process. We concluded together that there were many things that could be done starting at the very first contact between attorney and client that could bring the mortgage professional into the mix early, to help avoid some simple mistakes that could cost the client damage to their credit score, opportunities to purchase property in the future, and the stress of a failed relationship causing pain long after the relationship is over.

In a very short period of time, this client was able to get out in front of a number of divorce attorneys and share her message that a divorce doesn’t have to destroy a person’s credit. Imagine that by taking a few small steps, and by following some very simple procedures, we can virtually eliminate many of the items that can destroy a person’s credit profile. It wasn’t long before clients and attorneys were calling asking for an opportunity to work together. This one change has caused more than 100% growth in this originators business in the first year and business is still growing!

Recently another client was frustrated over a file that just seemed to get worse and worse each day. When talking about it she told me that she “hated” working on condominium purchases because of all the extra paperwork and that every time she thought she was done, something else came up to make a whole new set of obstacles. The worst part was that both the client and the Realtors® involved in the transaction thought it was my loan officer and her investor that were causing the issues, not the fact that there was a large amount of investor activity in the complex and that nobody would complete the condo questionnaire completely.

As we spoke more about this aggravation there was a moment of inspiration. Why not master the condo loan process? Why not create a training program to help educate Realtors® about what they can do when listing a condo to help the entire process flow more smoothly? There was the moment of clarity. Create a simple five step process by which any Realtor® listing a condo can follow simply to help provide for a much smoother transaction! Why would the Realtors® want such a thing? Well, it seems as if this particular client was the fifth potential buyer for this one condo, the first four deals had died because the condo couldn’t be financed based on certain information. If this listing agent had done a few simple steps when listing the condo, it is very likely the first buyer could have closed a deal! Does a Realtor® really want to put together five transactions to sell just one condo? Of course not, so why not help educate those agents listing condos so that their transactions will flow much more smoothly, just by working with someone who has mastered the condominium financing process?

Our industry is full of things that can aggravate us. Some of these things are outside of our control, but some of them are well within our area of expertise to correct and convert into just the inspiration that provides us with exceptional opportunities! So what is causing you aggravation? What can you do to turn that aggravation into YOUR inspiration to make some changes that will reward you with an abundance of opportunity?

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