“Halfway There – Living on a Prayer?”

For the full effect of this blog post, please fire up Jon Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer”, I will wait…

It is the end of June and we all are half way through 2014. The sad part is, so many are still “Living on a Prayer”. Without a plan, focus, scheduling, and keeping score, you might as well just be praying that transactions find you, because if your numbers aren’t what you want or need them to be, you either need to plan or pray!

What follows is for those who wish to plan:

We are half way through 2014 – Are you where you need to be? Time is now to look at the results and make adjustments. Let’s get to the year to date numbers:
• Closed Loans
• Applications
• Pre-approvals
• Credit Pulls

Referral Partners – Plug the number of closed loans into your “Referral Triangle” and see if you have balance? Are you tracking as expected?

Starting with Realtors®, do you have?
• 5 “A’s”
• 10 “B’s”
• 20 “C’s”
• Are you keeping a visitation schedule?
• Are you “Finding the Pain”?
• Do you make it personal?
If you are missing pieces, just double up on the next lower level two for one. For every missing “A” partner, you can have two “B” partners to replace it. Same with having two “C” partners to replace any missing “B” partners. Make sure you are keeping names of specific people – tracking each referral – being sure your results match you expectations!

Is your prospecting yielding the required results? Do you know who are the:
• Overachievers
• Under performers
• Need to do more
• Need to replace or modify
If you are not tracking you can’t make adjustments. Now let’s do a Realtor® Activities Review.  Are we:
• Getting all the contacts, both buyers and Listings?
• Using “Help Us Pick Your New Neighbor®?
• Implementing the “Forever Home Strategy®”?
• Talking about the “First time home Seller Strategy®”?
• Have an action plan to maximize “Open Houses”?
• Working with renters?

What is our plan and what will we do? What adjustments need to be made?

The same can be said for working with your OTHER PROFESSIONALS. Do you have?
• One Accountant?
• One Financial Planner?
• One Insurance Agent?
• One Divorce Attorney?
• Twelve Product or Service Providers?

That you are working a SPECIFIC plan of action with? What is the plan of action and who or what is currently missing? Are we using “The Annual Mortgage Fitness Check-up and Identity Theft Screening®”? It is still the single most versatile tool you have after your business card.

Are you protecting credit scores in divorce situations? Are you connected with at least one divorce attorney that sees the value in having you work with their clients at the beginning of the process?

Are you networking effectively? Who REALLY refers you? If you are not tracking referrals and collecting value to share with your database, what is the purpose? So we need to be clear and do an “Other Professionals Activity Review”.   Are you:
• Mining all of your relationships?
• Working within your community?
• Do you make and share connections?
• Asking about and collecting 9’s and 10’s?

Are well focused on Building and working a Database?  Do we check?
• Starting number of contacts
• Current number of contacts
• Projected growth
• Total number of referrals estimated
• Total number of referrals received

We need to schedule monthly Database Activities Review.  Are we doing the:
• AMFC&ITS
• Birthday cards/calls
• Monthly value email or video
• Annual event
• Monitoring grown and referrals

Are we clear about Prospecting from the Process?  Are we:
* Calling both Realtors® about contact info and the appraisal process
* Contacting all of the “sellers”
* Working with the neighbors
* Follow-up Thursdays
* Clear to close calls
* Wire confirmation calls
* Closing cards
* Post-closing follow-up

When are we going to integrate Social Media into our business? Are we using:
* Facebook® Business Page
* LinkedIn® and Twitter® accounts
* Posting your pictures and video
* Video business cards
* Video FAQ’s
* Video Coupons
* Video library or YouTube Channel

2014 is half over. Are you where you need to be? As the song wraps up, you need to be asking yourself, “Am I planning or praying” about my business? These strategies work if you work them! You can schedule the outcome you desire if you just do the work!

Questions or comments: mike@IMTcoaching.com or visit us online at http://improvemytomorrowcoaching.com

“Accidental Outcomes or Intentional Actions?”

It always surprises me when originators and Realtors® go out and execute a plan and are surprised by the results they get. Either good or bad, the results should never be surprising if you have calculated your actions and estimated the outcomes. When you work on purpose and with focus, you have the ability to control the actions you take and measure any results. Tracking and measuring results is every bit as important as doing the work in the first place, maybe even more.

Some people just go through the motions of their known job. That is, the things they think are the actions and activities that generate their opportunities. Every day looks like the other just plodding along and receiving whatever results that finds them as if it were predetermined. To some people, it appears that most of their success comes almost by accident because they have no structure or plan by which governs their actions. All of which makes their business and their results 100% unpredictable. Talk about lack of control?

What if we were measured and scheduled into doing specific tasks and generating specific results based upon a predetermined set of specific expectations? Would not our efforts and outcomes become more deliberate? Would we not have outcomes that were predictable based upon our efforts? So why is it we don’t do this? The main reason I see is that people don’t take the time to connect the dots from beginning to end. They never ask themselves how what they are about to do turns into a new opportunity. They certainly don’t schedule actions and measure results. If they did; they would have a much better idea of what to do and when to do things.

Our business needs to become more structured and specific. With margins shrinking and the requirement that all producers become more productive, we need set ourselves up for success by knowing exactly how and why people choose us. However, that is no longer enough. We also must know and track our conversion numbers from first contact through closing. We need to grow and nurture our database with information and value, to be harvested like crops from the fields. We need to acquire referral partners based on value and joint opportunity generation. We need to target and secure new relationships through the successful completion of each transaction. We need to focus more to produce more.

We need to have specific scheduled activities for prospection and conversion. We need to set expectation for each activity and referral partner so the projected results satisfy our production goals. If we don’t start out with the proper expectations and track the specific results, how is it possible to make important adjustments in our activities so that what we do generates what we need?

I am all about planning and scheduling. I have seen how people with limited talent and resources can dominate a market, while others with everything at their disposal manage just meager results. You don’t have to be the “best” at any specific area of our business to achieve great results. You do, however, need to see how each and every action leads to the result you have planned for. Success can be planned and scheduled if you start with the end in mind.

Some people walk through life and become successful without ever knowing exactly why or how. Sometimes accidental outcomes, like winning the lottery, can happen. But like most lottery winners, in a few short years it all goes away without much chance of ever returning. Intentional actions lead to predictable outcomes. Scheduling and planning when coupled with measuring results and careful adjustments can take you to the top and keep you there. Be sure you a looking at your business like a business and don’t guess, schedule and plan your success!

Questions or comments email: mike@IMTcoaching.com or visit us online at http://improvemytomorrow.com

“The Performance Progression”

Loan originators seem to always talk about reaching that next level of performance but often don’t know what that next level is or how to reach it. Too many originators look toward those at the very top of the performance charts and try to see how they do their business with less than wonderful results. The reason is, the business does not work like that. Just like Babe Ruth could not teach anyone how to hit home runs, top performance is part of a process.

As a coach to some highly productive originators, and a mentor to those that have gone from zero to hero it is important to see what production levels look like and the progression one can follow to get there. I have identified three basic levels of performance:

• Average – originators that close less than 4 units per month.
• Mid-level – originators closing 4 to 8 units per month.
• High performers – Originators closing 9+ units each month.

Now we are talking about consistently closing units, not just peak months but a twelve-month rolling average number of closings. The numbers also indicate that as performance improves, fewer and fewer people reach the higher levels. Upon doing dozens of surveys across a number of groups, I have found that the following information holds true:

• 70% of originators fall into the Average group.
• 21% are found in the Mid-level group.
• Just 9% close 9+ units each month.

Through years of interaction and hundreds of clients, here are some observations on how and why certain people move up the “Performance Progression” and the tools I use to help them.

When you look at the Average group, they largely do what they have always done. They know what they know and their results are just plain average. In order to move someone from the Average group into the Mid-level group, that originator must LEARN to do something or something’s differently. Could be scheduling, could be follow-up, and could be any number of things, but the movement in progression from Average to Mid-level production comes from LEARNING to do something different!

Now as you can tell, very few originators leave the Average group and progress. But for those that do, the rewards are significant. One is the improvement in earnings, but the more significant is the opportunity to move even higher in the progression. Think about it, for every three originators that make the move from Average to Mid-level, one goes on to join the High performers!

The main difference in making that move in the progression is that once they have LEARNED how to do better they IMPROVE the way they do some, or all of the other things they have been doing. Oddly enough, when some people improve in one area of business, it often leads to them IMPROVING in other areas of their business. This improvement takes them into the highest group, or the High performers.

Now even in the High performer group there are those who go well beyond 9+ loans per month. The reason I stop creating groups at this level is because to go much higher in a significant way requires the skill of DUPLICATION. You have to get people to help you by doing what you did so you can focus on doing more of fewer things. The system may remain the same, but in order to handle the increasing volume, once you get past a certain level, say ten to fifteen units per month, it becomes almost impossible to do completely alone.

Nobody has to improve. Most companies are perfectly happy to have a full roster of Average producers. However, the path to higher productivity follows a simple progression:

• Do what you know to do.
• Learn a better way to do things.
• Improve yourself and your systems.
• Repeat the process and duplicate the actions.

Our business is not easy but in many cases it is very simple. Expectations play a large part in results. If we expect more from ourselves we generally do more. When you provide a path and explain the process, it makes it more realistic to set and exceed higher goals.

Questions or comments: mike@IMTcoaching.com or visit http://improvemytomorrowcoaching.com

Processing Timeline

Many of my loan originators and even some of my managers have been talking about the month-end closing rush that seems to happen each month. The stress on the system and the people can be unbearable at times. But why does it have to be this way? A smoother process begins with getting your files cleared to close earlier in the process. Let’s be honest, most of us procrastinate and don’t do things as timely as we could when not faced with a difficult deadline. What I have been able to do with my people is to have them look at their file flow process and create new timelines so that files move much more quickly through the system. We do this by setting a processing timeline with clear check points. While every system is different and each company may have different areas of responsibility for originators and processors, I have a simple flow timeline you can use as a template and just change fields of responsibility or individual tasks. These are BUSINESS DAYS – YOU MUST ACCOUNT FOR WEEKENDS AND HOLIDAYS!!!

Day one: Loan originator prepares file for submission and turns over completed file to processing along with a clear cover letter and proposed timeline.

Day two: Processing team reviews submission, notes deficiencies, orders title, appraisal, transcripts, verifications, and send disclosures to clients with a list of any additional needed documentation.

Day six: Confirmation of returned documentation/track any missing items.

Day eight: File review/note any missing items and post delay message to originator if needed or submit.

Day twelve: Review underwriting conditions and notify originator/client of any needed documentation requested.

Day fifteen: Resubmit/post delay message to originator/manager.

Day eighteen: Clear to close. Notify originator/note insurance requirements and any closing conditions.

Day twenty-four: Order Doc’s/post delay notification.

Day twenty-seven: Review HUD-1

Day twenty-eight: Order wire

Day twenty-nine: Confirm wire

Day thirty: Close

This is a thirty day timeline. You will note that some days may move forward or back during the process with the exception of days one and two, and days twenty-seven through thirty. These are “set in stone” dates that can’t be pushed back for any reason.

Originators, managers, and the processing/closing teams need to sit down and review the process for each office/company. When we have a timeline, we often find the delays earlier in the process so we don’t have a log jam at the end of the process.

Each file should have an established timeline for completion. As you see in this example, we have hard dates built in to check we are on schedule and a process to notify the originator and manager early if there is any kind of delay. A two day delay on day fifteen will appear seamless to the client and referral partners, where as a two day delay on day thirty may not go over so well.

We all want the same thing. Close clean and on time. This can’t happen by accident. There must be a schedule we all can live with so we can each do our job and go on to the next loan.

Questions or comments: mike@IMTcoaching.com or visit us online at http://improvemytomorrowcoaching.com