Forget the Top, Focus on the Bottom!

Coaching people to reach peak performance is all about the numbers. If the numbers don’t improve, the client doesn’t improve. If people aren’t improving, then why would they coach? The issue always becomes, what is that client looking to accomplish? Do they want to do more transactions? Do they want to make more money? Do they want to have more efficient systems so they can work fewer hours and take more time off? Is it a combination of all of these? Knowing the answers to these questions can point you in the direction you need to go. That is why it is always one of the first discussions I have with a prospective client, so I can understand what they want from the coaching experience.

Most of the time, the answer I get is that they want to do more business. They are looking to increase the number of transactions they do every month. Originators, like most other commissioned people, tend to look at the numbers in terms of most units closed in any given month and year. And while I agree that our industry does focus on monthly and annual production numbers, I think I can help my clients more by helping them adjust their focus in a slightly different direction. I want my clients to focus on the bottom portion of their production, not the top!

Here is what I mean by this. Far too many originators try to set personal best closing months. And while this may be one way to improve your overall numbers, there is no guarantee that setting a personal best month will make for a better year in total. Think about that. If you are an originator and have a personal best month of say 5 closed loans. You could work on having a month where you close 6 or more. And while that would be good, it doesn’t remotely mean you are going to have a better year!

So as I am prone to do, I flip this thought process around and have my originators look at the bottom of their production curve. That same originator who had a top closing month of 5 units also had a bottom closing month of zero! In most cases, average originators have one or more poor production months. In fact, you will find that somewhere between 10 and 15% of all originators in any given month has a zero closed loan total. Now it doesn’t have to be zero in order for this to be a problem. Whatever your low loan monthly total is, you would benefit from focusing on raising the bottom!

Try this exercise I like to do. Take a piece of paper and in the margin write the numbers 1-18 from top to bottom. Then look at your month unit production numbers over the last 18 months and from best to worst, list the number of units closed.

Once you get this done, add up the total of all the numbers and divide by 18 to find your average monthly units. Now go down to line #12 and draw a line between line 12 and line 13. Looking below at numbers 13-18 there are likely four, five, or even six numbers lower than line number 12.

Now, on the same sheet of paper, draw a second column of numbers using the same numbers from #1 to #12, but substitute the number in line 12 for all the numbers you have listed 13-18. Once you have done this, add all the numbers up and divide by 18. You will notice that both your total units and your monthly average have both gone up!

Many times we focus too much on peak performance without looking to improve on our poor performances. Sometimes it is impossible for an originator to see a clear way to beat their personal best, but it isn’t hard at all to know what needs to be done to limit the low numbers. Just like a business doesn’t always show a bigger profit when it increases total sales, originators don’t always get better by having a single good or great month. While I am still a big fan of personal best months; I am a bigger fan of being really boring by raising the lower levels of production first!

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Regardless if you are an originator or a manager, you must always have a place and a plan for recruiting. For originators it is recruiting new referral partners; for managers it is recruiting new originators. Depending on each set of needs, the process would appear different, but is really pretty much the same. It’s all about setting the targets and then scheduling the activities needed to execute the plan.

Recruiting for me has always been less about “selling” the company or the brand as much as it has been about problem solving. Instead of telling the world how great you or your company is; it often works much better to identify with a common challenge and provide the solution to that challenge.

When originators are looking to expand the number of referral partners they have, it is important to be sure they know what exactly they are looking for. Are you looking to expand with just anyone who might refer business, or do you have a specific set of needs for the types of referrals? It is simple enough to look at what you are trying to accomplish and create a realistic number of targets. An example I like to use is if you are looking for a referral partner that can send you one new transaction per month, you need to find someone who can send you two or three opportunities a month. You will also need to target three or four people so you end up with the one person you are looking for. It is also important to do a little bit of research into your targets to be sure the people you are targeting are really the people you want!

When targeting originators, you can’t just look for top producers to leave and come over to your side. While it would be great just to target the best two or three originators in your market, reality dictates you need to also look for more average originators that you can help grow into those top producers you need. Again, sometimes it is easier and faster to grow three or four originators with your better system than to pick off a top producer. Helping a 2-3 loan per month originators go to 5-7 loans a month will not only help your business, it will also give you a larger number of potential targets.

Now that we have looked at targeting, we do need to look at the final two pieces of the puzzle which are solving challenges and consistency of contact. Solving challenges is a pretty simple, ask what challenges people are seeing and resolve those issues. In today’s market we have a few issues that come right to the front that cover both areas, one is dealing with TRID. By now it has become pretty obvious the people and the companies that have a handle on TRID and can get deals closed in thirty days or less consistently. You either can or you can’t. If you can, find those that can’t and bring them over. Realtor® and originators alike are  finding that the public doesn’t care what the process is as long as they close on time. Those who can still close in thirty days or less have a huge competitive advantage; use that advantage to secure new relationships or acquire new originators.

Last but not least is being committed to the recruiting process. You must have a plan and schedule the time to act on that plan. For both originators and managers, it is important to create a consistent long term strategy for connecting. It may take, days, weeks, months, or years to get the attention of your target. You must not give up until that target tells you to leave them alone. Even then, calling them back once a year to see if they are still happy is a good idea, just remain consistent and courteous. Schedule regular days of the week and month to make recruiting calls or visits.

I will have much more on recruiting in this month’s coaching call. For those of you who are clients, you will get your invitation to that call shortly or you can just replay it from the website after January 27th. For those of you who are not clients, now may be a good time to think about investing into “ACCESS!” With “ACCESS” you enter the world of the client’s site that contains all the information. Every webinar, training, all the podcasts, e-books, scripts, fliers and support materials are always available 24/7. One small monthly fee with no long term contracts gets you all the ACCESS you will need to take your business to the highest level.

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“Be careful what you wish for!”

So here we go again, people are getting themselves all worked up over how hard it is to get a mortgage and how hard it is to buy a home. Yes, even those who should know better are looking for ways to lower standards so more people can qualify for mortgages. Are you kidding me? Has anyone forgotten what happens when you lower standards? Did we not just get through an entire era where everyone thought it was a great idea to lend people money that had no chance of repaying it on some misguided effort to grow percentage of ownership in this country only to find out that this was a bad idea and almost bankrupted the world?

We do NOT need to lower standards; we need to TEACH fundamental financial management in our schools at a very early age. We need to teach SAVING. We need to teach people about CREDIT, DEBT, and DISCIPLINE! We need to stop sending kids to colleges and universities who are borrowing huge sums of money in pursuit of a degree that won’t get them a job that pays enough to repay their obligations. We need to provide more opportunities to train our children in a skilled labor and technical trades that can provide great incomes for far less money than college cost and reduce the demand on these institutions so the cost of that education will go DOWN due to less demand. We need to understand that there are people in this world that will NEVER be in a position to OWN a home because it isn’t the best situation for them. We also need to understand a few basic concepts.

  • If you want to buy a home and can prove you are in a position to repay the money you want to borrow, there is no shortage of mortgage money.
  • With such a shortage of available homes for sale in many markets across the country, why the sudden need to find MORE BUYERS to fight over that limited supply?
  • In most of the country, renting is more expensive than ownership; shouldn’t we be looking into generating more rental opportunities?
  • As more and more people conduct their business outside a tradition office setting, and even some work many miles away and rarely if ever make a trip to a traditional office location, why aren’t we moving out of the cities that are too congested and find or grow new or smaller areas of the country where it is far cheaper to acquire land and build?

As a country we need to take a breath and stop over reacting to everything. Everyone needs realize that so much of the self-absorbed behavior and the almost constant victimization just need to stop. If you are offended, then get over yourself. Grow up and realize that being offended by everything is YOUR PROBLEM, not anyone else’s problem. You’re NOT entitled to own a home in this country. You are not entitled to an equal outcome. You are not entitled to be offended. You have freedoms and liberty and the choice to do with that the best you can to suit your own personal needs. That’s it. No guarantee, just opportunity. And while I am at it, let’s get rid of all the participation trophies. We need to go back and teach winning and losing. It feels good to win and it really stinks to lose. If you don’t like losing than practice and get better or quit and go find something you can win at.

So as the government begins another push to “level the playing field” by lowering standards and making it “easier” for people to borrow money. Maybe we need to take a step back and ask ourselves if this is really a good idea since we have already seen what will happen? Stop lowering the standards and spend your time making better people!

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“How will YOU spend your New Year’s Weekend?”

For those of you who are taking off this weekend, have fun! When you think about it, it’s kind of silly to even say that because if they are taking off this weekend they aren’t likely to have read this post, and if they read it later, it won’t matter.

For those of you who want to continue growing your business then Saturday and Sunday represent a clear opportunity for you to be out and about with little or no competition! Why focus so much on this particular weekend? Well, a couple of reasons:

  • Most of your competition is gone.
  • With the long holiday week and most of the action on New Year’s Eve, bored people will hit the streets looking at possible new homes!

It has been my experience over the years that when New Year’s falls on a Friday, the real estate traffic is pretty robust if the weather cooperates. When there is a great deal of traffic, and only a few people working, the opportunities to capture business, even from people who have never referred you before increase dramatically.

So here is a fairly simple plan to engage this weekend without having to work all day but to take advantage of this unique situation. Take your normal two day Realtor® visitation schedule that you follow and work one route on Saturday and the other route on Sunday. If you are following our “normal” procedures, just take the “week one” of your visitation schedule or whichever one was “next” in your existing schedule, and run it Saturday and Sunday. You follow the same exact procedure, making sure your voicemail greeting reflects the times you can return calls:

  • Printed information in an envelope
  • Write the name of your target on the envelope
  • Put the envelopes in route delivery order
  • Go make your five to seven stops
  • Drop off the envelope at the assigned office
  • If the agent IS THERE, talk to them about your availability
  • If they are NOT there, call each agent you dropped envelopes for at that office from the parking lot to let them know you were there and that you are WORKING!
  • Complete your route and send an email to each person and make your normal post on your social media outlets!

Once you have completed your route you can go home and enjoy yourself. If you are a classic over achiever, or you want a more advanced plan, you could have also added:

  • Make a list of three or four Open Houses that are easy to go to from your route.
  • Prepare a Mortgage Coach Total Cost Analysis® and an Open House flier for each of the properties.
  • Visit the Open Houses and share the information with the agent, seller, the visitors, and the neighbors!
  • Place tour information on your social media outlets and be sure to tag each listing agent and provide the location of other helpful information you have like your website, YouTube® channel, or instructions on how to download your HBM® app on their phones!

You don’t have to work this weekend. I have plenty of clients who are taking this weekend off and will hit the ground running on January 4th 2016 executing the business plans we have been working on, refining, and scheduling since last October. They will be fine because they are established, prepared, and focused on what they need to do and are ready to execute. But some people are just anxious to get the jump on their competition, and for those people, here is one way to have some fun and get it done!

Have a Happy New Year and be safe!

Questions or comments: or visit us online at

Rising Rates May Not Cause Rising Rates!

We have all heard the quote “Give a man a fish he eats for a day, teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” Well, rather than just write a post that delivers some numbers and information you can quote back to referral partners and clients, I felt that in the spirit of giving, and from the position of coaching, I would write a blog post that would be informative as well as instructive so you could learn a few skills that will serve you into the future.

Much has been made about the Federal Reserve raising interest rates. Many are already reading and spouting information about rising interest rates. So instruction number one is:

  • What rates does the Federal Reserve control and why do you think that a rise in those rates have anything to do with mortgage rates?

What you will need to do is go to the internet a do some WORK and research what rates the Federal Reserve controls and locate a chart of those rates over the last twenty years. It is very important that you look at the big picture and see what rates were and when and how they have moved.

The next instructions you need to follow is:

  • Locate a chart of 30 year fixed rate mortgage loan rates over the last twenty years. Once you have both of these charts printed out, use a highlighter to mark specific points of highs, lows, and movement both up and down. Also take note of HOW MUCH each movement was.

Once you have these charts and the information you will quickly see that having the facts and the written data makes it much easier for not only you to understand the relationship, or maybe lack thereof a relationship, and have the knowledge that will help you engage in a much different conversation with clients and referral partners. This is a teachable moment, and you need to become a teacher.

Oh yes, one other thing, you will also note mortgage rates have moved significantly both up AND down over the last few years WITHOUT the Federal Reserve moving rates at all!

As mortgage professionals, you need to know the numbers and the relationship of what is perception and what is likely the reality! You must know where to locate information and how to keep yourself informed by multiple sources. No one person’s perspective, even mine, is always right! You need to formulate opinions based on securing the information. You also need to be able to show where your information comes from so that others can locate the source and come to their own conclusions.

Last but certainly not least, KEEP VISIBLE! You must keep up your visitation schedule. Not just attending office parties, but by going to offices and leaving information, talking to people, offering to help, and following up by phone of those who were not there when you stopped by! It is easy to put off prospecting this time of year. But be careful, you will NEVER get this time back! WORK through the finish line and push yourself to engage the public. The people you run into now are the serious people that need to get deals done and are the likely people that can refer you opportunities that will close in the first quarter of 2016!

Questions or comments: or visit us online at

“The Last Thirty Days – Part 2”

By now we have accepted the final few loans into our pipelines that will close by the end of the year. I know from the responses I have been getting, many agents, managers, and brokers were shocked that you were still able to get loans in that will close this year because they had been told by a number of people that it was “impossible” to take a TRID loan after Thanksgiving and close it before the end of the year. Imagine the surprise on their faces when the loans close as promised before the end of the year?

Differentiation is the key. Everything we do is designed to differentiate ourselves from what people have come to expect from the mortgage industry. That difference is all that it takes to set you apart. In this case, that difference isn’t a small one, it is a huge gap between those companies and originators that prepared for TRID and were ready for it in July (remember, it was supposed to start in August) and have taken loans by the thousands and closed them in thirty days or less, not 45 or 60 as most in the country have been out talking about!

We have just two more weeks before Christmas to be working hard and sharing the message that we are working if they are working. Now I know many have “packed it in” for the year and have focused on the party scene, but there are those who are still engaged and still working hard to put together deals that will close in January. We need to remain visible and available for those people. Referral partners and those referred clients need our help. With so many people already out of the market until next year, this opens the door for you to find those very dedicated people who are working and need to work. The very people you want and need to be in front of!

Terri Murphy and I put forward our Lunch & Learn this month that goes into great detail about working with our real estate referral partners on their business plans. While many can’t be bothered or will never take the time to actually generate a plan, many you will see working now will be very interested in how to put one together and be grateful for the tools to get this done. Terri is a proven leader in the real estate community and someone who listed and sold one hundred homes a year for more than twenty years! How many times do you think your agents get a chance to learn a fundamental piece of the real estate business from such a highly respected and proven Realtor®?

The webinar is on the website for you to use and share. Some people are doing these one on one, while others are putting together small groups. Either way, you have the 35 minute webinar and the PowerPoint® presentation already on the website to help you. No excuses, you just have to share the information and if anyone has any questions, you can just email us and we will walk you through it.

Nobody ever had a bad year with a great first quarter! Working right through the end of the year and keeping your momentum growing through December will help you generate the transactions and referral partners you will need for that fast start!

Questions or comments:  or visit us online at

The Last Thirty Days – Part 1

This week our message on the street is making everyone aware of the last day and time you can accept complete loan applications that will close in 2015. It must be in writing and must be on paper and delivered in person!  That means getting up and out of your office and hitting the streets!

In December it is critical you are out and visible! You also must follow our visitation protocol, something in writing on paper hand delivered to the office! Then, if the person you are targeting is not there, and it is likely they won’t be, you MUST call them from the parking lot BEFORE you leave and let them know you left something for them at their office. DO NOT TRY TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT!!! Creating a visitation schedule on your terms allows you to cover many more people and visits on your schedule, not their schedule.

You have only a few days left to use your advantage. Most lenders stopped taking deals that needed to close in 2015 more than a week ago. Getting this point out is a key differentiation point and a HUGE competitive advantage! Don’t miss this key opportunity.

We also have posted the link to our last Lunch & Learn with Terri Murphy on the website. This webinar covers Business Planning for Real Estate Professionals and will be a great tool to share this month once you close the books on the year!

December is the most important month of the year to be seen and heard. Sure, many people have nothing on their minds but shopping and parties; but you need to be out in the streets talking with those people who are still working. They are the very people you can build your practice on!

All the support materials are on the website. If you don’t have ACCESS to the client’s portion of the website, you are missing out on taking your business to the next level. What a great stocking stuffer for any mortgage professional!

If you would like more information about our ACCESS Program, visit our website at or email me

Looking at the CFPB’s “Toolkit”

First and foremost, have a great Thanksgiving with your family and friends! We all have a great deal to be thankful for, and please take a moment to reflect on those who won’t be home to celebrate as they serve us around the globe. I for one am very grateful for our men and women who serve our great nation.

The CFPB has published a workbook called “Your home loan toolkit” and everyone needs to take the time to review this and understand the issues and challenges presented when a government agency with no practical experience in the lending arena decides to tell people how to go about preparing to buy a home. The words “I am from the government and I am here to help” should scare the hell out of everyone!

This publication is 26 pages of just enough information to get the average consumer in real trouble. In fact, if you follow this plan, it is likely you will have a long, drawn out home buying process, full of setbacks, delays, and certainly you will never close on your home in less than thirty days. Clearly the CFPB didn’t bother to ask anyone how real life people go about buying a home, and how the very people who are there to serve them are now further handcuffed by silly regulations that clearly won’t improve the buyer experience!

If you go to my website, you will find a link to this publication, as well as my 45 minute webinar where I explain my issues with this publication. To be fair, there are some good things included in this publication, but the process given for people to follow is not only absurd, but when was the last time anyone had a loan rejected on a front ration above 28%? On what pricing sheets anywhere can you buy down a 30 year fixed rate loan for .375 points in cash for a .125% change in interest rate? It also contains one of the worst rate lock explanations I have ever seen.

The process given on how to go about getting a loan will certainly result in “The guess before the mess” and NOT “know before you owe”. Leaving the client to figure out how much they qualify for, finding the correct loan program to fit their needs, comparing product scenarios, determining pre-payment benefits, and certainly warning the public about pre-payment penalties and balloon payments are clearly best left to a licensed mortgage professional and not for a customer to go figure out for themselves.

I also don’t appreciate the “TIP” found on page 10 that warns the public “A loan officer is not necessarily shopping on your behalf or providing you with the best fit or lowest cost loan.” This is outrageous and the CFPB should be ashamed of itself for publishing such crap! The fundamental job of a loan officer is to work with the customer to find the balance between cost and comfort. In fact, if there are loan officers out there not doing this, why hasn’t the CFPB and the NMLS gotten  together to suspend, fine, and/or revoke the license of the offending loan officer?

The CFPB has really missed the mark here. In fact, TRID will not accomplish its intended goal of “know before you owe” because people aren’t going to do this work themselves, read all the disclosures, and yes, they will either lie about themselves or not really know the truth about their income, assets, employment, and credit history to make any of this possible. The fact is, had the CFPB sat down with real professionals and asked a few questions, they would have realized that it is the consumer that is its own worst enemy, and if they made a few simple changes to the process, everyone would have benefitted. Adding more paperwork and time doesn’t solve anything. People who want to borrow money will do or sign anything if they want the money bad enough!

If the CFPB is reading this, please feel free to contact me and I will be happy to come to Washington and spend as much time as needed at my own expense to explain to you the realities of the mortgage industry and how to take a few steps that would change the market in a real fashion while providing the consumer with real information so they could make an informed choice.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Questions or comments:

Tracking Time in the TRID Era

TRID has brought us so many things it’s kind of the gift that keeps on giving. Yes, I called TRID a gift! For all practical purposes, TRID may not work as the authors had intended, but as the laws of unintended consequences play out, for some, TRID will become a goldmine! How do I see that? Well, TRID makes some requirements that will either be dealt with in a professional and competent manner, or it will be handled poorly with delays and a great deal of drama. TRID will also not care who is the “bad guy” for not doing their job properly; mortgage professionals, Realtors®, title companies, attorneys, builders, insurance professionals, and just about everyone that comes into contact with a residential transaction, including the buyer and seller, are likely to become the target of blame when a transaction fails to come together. And trust me on this; it won’t be long before each local community will know who can, and who can’t close on time!

I have spent the past year or so getting my people ready for TRID and speaking around the country to anyone who cared to listen that TRID requires a plan and the ability to execute that plan to a timeline. When you begin with the end in mind and back out the timeline necessary to meet that closing date, it allows the originator to orchestrate the process and keep everyone on track and on time! This key function can only happen if you have mastered the art of setting expectations and holding everyone accountable to their timeline.

As the first TRID loans are closing, or not closing, across the country, people are starting to already take notice that some seem to be operating flawlessly and efficiently, and others are struggling to get their deals done. I am happy to say that many of my people have already been acknowledged by their local markets as experts and have had people they have never worked with before calling them to find out how they can work together to get deals done on time. Remember, you either know how to get deals done in thirty days or less, or you don’t. You either can get a deal done or you can’t. Either way, your market will sort it out and people will know!

My point is it might be very beneficial for you to start tracking your numbers. How long does it take you in the post TRID era to go from contract to clear to close? How long from contract to CD? What are your turn times at each step of the process so you can do a better job setting expectations and managing the timeline?

I already have people tracking these numbers and the average has been 22 days from contract to clear to close. The average turn time on issuing the CD from clear to close has been less than two business days. I expect that those turn times will continue to improve as everyone gets more repetitions in and gets more comfortable with the new process. One of the key areas that we have found is to be certain that the client acknowledges the CD the day it is sent. A few borrowers had to be reminded to open that email and acknowledge receipt!

My feelings are that tracking these numbers will be a great benefit to the originator and their team. Tracking the time frames of what is happening and when it happens can not only help the process and refine procedures, it can serve as a great tool to differentiate you and your process from others who may be having challenges navigating TRID through a thirty day or less timeline. And believe me; people still want to close in thirty days or less! Nobody wants to hear that TRID requirements are now demanding forty-five or sixty days to close. It just isn’t true. Many originators working for different companies in different markets all across this country have already successfully closed in less than thirty days. You should be one of those, and everyone around you should know it!

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“Your systems serve as your filters”

One of the key points I try to make with my clients is that our business is pretty simple, it’s not easy, but it is pretty simple if you have your systems in order and follow the equation: “Process + Timeline = Outcome”. If you have a clear process on how you do your job, and how each contact goes from contact to closing and beyond, you have your system. When you put that system to a timeline, you are setting a clear expectation of what will happen and when. You also will know what didn’t happen and why, which may be even more important information!

Your systems act as a filter for your business. You either have a good system or you don’t. People either understand your system or they don’t. Your clients and referral partners either see the benefit to your systems and your timelines or they don’t! That is exactly the point; the people who like and understand your systems will enjoy them and share them with others. People who don’t aren’t likely to be your best clients or referral partners! The systems will serve as a filter for both prospective clients and referral partners. They will separate out who you should be spending time with and who you shouldn’t. Not everyone will like what you do and how you do it, that’s fine, because enough people will see the real value in having a clear system and a coordinated timeline process that those people will more than offset the ones who don’t. Remember, you don’t need every deal in your market, just the number of transactions you want the way you want them!

It works like a good movie or restaurant. People who really enjoyed it will tell others. Once hearing the glowing review, they will flock to it if they are interested in either going to a movie or a good restaurant. Even if they don’t, it is likely that they will recommend that movie or restaurant to a third party that may want that information. It’s like with me; I don’t like sushi. My kids love sushi. I know the really good sushi place near my house because it’s where my kids want to go when they visit. Even though I won’t go there, if someone asked about a good sushi place, I would be happy to recommend this place just because my kids have had a great experience and they love sushi!

The same thing happens in the mortgage business. We set an expectation for the customer of the full document pre-approval. We share with them the value in getting this done before they go looking for a house. Some people see the value; others just want a quick pre-qual so they can go out and shop. If my Realtors® won’t show them property without my full document pre-approval, they run the risk of that customer going someplace else and using a different agent. However, they know that not having my full document pre-approval means this customer may not qualify for a loan, or their offer may be seen as weak, or lose a house to a stronger offer. So while they may lose a customer from time to time, the transactions they do put together go much smoother and result in higher customer satisfaction. The same holds true for setting the standard of the full document pre-approval, you might lose some people, but the people who see the value in your system, will have a better transactional experience and are much more likely to refer you to other people who want that level of experience.

So let your systems serve as your filters. Have a great system the works every step from contact to post closing. Be certain you set forward the timeline to be sure everyone has the same set of expectations. When you do, your clients and referral partners will have a much more positive experience and refer you more opportunities of the very people you are looking for!

Questions or comments:  or visit us online at