“Peak of the Season”

In most markets across the country we are in the peak buying season. More people looking, listing, offering, and putting together transactions than at any other point in the year. With graduations, schools letting out, and vacations on the way, it is really important that you are clear about your process and your timeline. The more people you have to handle, the more important it is that you have consistent and clear process. You and your team need to have great communication and set proper expectations for everyone you need to manage, because each client and every transaction is important.

We have spent a great deal of time talking here about how your systems and your process act as filters for the clients and referral partners you want to work with. At the very peak of the season, when you have the maximum number of pre-approvals looking, and transactions working through your system, if you and your team are not really clear, you are going to disappoint people and lose business. So take a moment and really drill down on the details and the timeline.

I have shared many success stories about clients who have learned to master their workflow. Since no two people or companies function exactly alike, it is important that regardless of how you are set up, you tie certain actions and activities to your timeline and certain times of the week to review and make adjustments. I don’t want you having meetings every day for the sake of managing your pipeline or to just have a meeting; but I do want everyone focused on the process and clear about turnaround times!

Everyone on the team needs to be a “check and balance” for the other members of the team. As a team member, it is your job to “own” your work and your part of the transaction. It is also important that you don’t interfere with the other team members while they are trying to do their job. Just like in baseball, two fielders can’t catch the same ball. Know and respect each other’s schedule and blackout times. Don’t overload team members with call after call or email after email. And yes, remove the “reply all” thought from your brain. Nothing is worse than being bogged down clear fifty versions of the same email.

Originators, be clear about setting specific times of the week to carry out specific actions. Things like referral partner visits can be put on a “route” and run each week so that you develop consistency in your prospecting. Funny how it is generally prospecting that becomes the first victim of improved production. People get a few transactions racing through the system and right away they become too busy to get out and prospect for new business. So sad; people work hard to generate some momentum and the first thing they do is cut off the very activities that created the opportunities.

Take a few minutes and be clear about your process. Make sure your prospecting is consistent and that you are keeping connected with your pre-approvals to be sure they are looking at property and to show them that you still want their business. Out of sight is out of mind. You disconnect and they will too!

So be grateful we are in our peak season, interest rates are reasonable and people want to buy homes. Purchase inventory is stretched thin, so be sure you work the plan with your agents to help generate a few new listings! Be certain you work your full document pre-approvals so that when they do find that special property, they have a competitive advantage over someone with just a quick online pre-qualification.

Use your tools to be the expert in your market. Set proper expectations and be sure you communicate the way the client wants!

Questions/comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com or visit us online at http://imtcoaching.com

“Think About the Buffalo”

Mortgage origination is an opportunity business. You can’t originate a loan without having an opportunity. While doing a training in St Louis, I tried to explain to the group about taking advantage of all the opportunities that present themselves during each transaction using the story of the American Indians and their relationship with the buffalo.

In the 1800’s, the American Indian followed huge herds of buffalo across the Great Plains. Indian braves would go out in groups a hunt and bring buffalo back to the village. When they were successful, it was cause for great celebration. The buffalo was the source of so much to the tribe and nothing went to waste. The hide was used for tents and clothes. The meat was prepared and a prized staple. The bones were used for tools and the very sinew on their bows. Nothing went to waste, nothing!

As loan originators, we need to be thinking of our purchase transactions just like the Indians treated the buffalo, let no opportunity be wasted! It is not good enough to just do a great job closing the loan, each transaction needs to be looked at for all the potential referrals and referral partner opportunities that are contained inside. Here are some thoughts about what you may be overlooking.

Clearly the clients themselves are the first opportunity to be harvested. Have we collected their 9’s and 10’s?

Then we look at the file itself. Is there an accountant on the tax returns? Do we have a financial planner involved? Who is the insurance agent? Are we connecting to any of the Realtors involved? Did we remember to contact the seller?

Your transactions contain a wealth of opportunities. Just like the buffalo was to the Indians, your purchase transactions can be just as important to you as a source of opportunities!

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com or visit us online at http://imtcoaching.com

“Open Houses Still Mean Opportunity”

Open Houses are still an excellent opportunity to work with your Realtors® and generate transactions. Far too many people take them too lightly or dismiss them as something that is somehow “beneath them”. To me, mastering the strategies of working an Open House is an essential part of any originator’s toolbox! I have originators using these strategies every weekend to serve their referral partners and generate awareness and opportunities. My Realtor® Coach, Terri Murphy and I, did a webinar for our monthly Lunch & Learn that brought about a huge response and a great amount of interest. Some of those on the call have already used a few of these tools to generate opportunities and build new relationships.

Open Houses aren’t about you buying some food and sitting around for a few hours hoping somebody shows up and needs your help. Open Houses require planning and a strategy. Taking the time to look at all the different options and creating a plan can mean big rewards, but first you have to think about what you need to do.

First thing we need to do is plan. Some important planning questions are:

  • When are we planning to hold the house open?
  • Where is the property located?
  • What are the details of this particular property?
  • What are the likely competitors on the market?
  • What are the trade-up or trade-down possibilities already on the market?
  • What is the marketing game plan?

There are likely more questions you can work into your plan, but without these six, you are leaving the door open to lackluster results! Let’s quickly look at each of these so we are clear. Without knowing the target date for the open house, it becomes impossible to do anything else. Failure to properly plan is certainly planning to fail!

The location of the property will dictate what type of plan you will be able to use. A gated community and certain HOAs may have rules regarding Open Houses that you may have to follow. The location will also dictate the ease or complexity of people to find this property.

Property details are very important. You must not only know the price and taxes, you need to know the story of the house, neighborhood, and community! People buy the story; know the story!

Taking the time to prepare a “competition work sheet” so you are clear what else is on the market and what other properties you are going to be compared too! You must know your numbers!

Trade-up and trade-down properties are essential in not missing an opportunity to connect with those people who are looking to buy, just not this particular home! If you can’t sell them this house, sell them the one they want!

The marketing plan is you game plan for success. How are you going to get the word out about this event? Are you going to go door to door and invite the neighbors? Are you going to advertise in the local paper or your local MLS? Will you have a social media plan to connect with those looking on the Internet? Will you have used “sticky technology” so when people are attracted to your message, you know that they looked and how they found you?

Open Houses can generate real big rewards with the proper planning and execution. Using all forms of communication to get the word out and to provide valuable information to prospective buyers is critical! Person to person, paper, electronic, phone, video, text messaging, email, and even snail mail can play an important role! Don’t underestimate the possibilities of a properly executed open house!

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com or visit us online at http://imtcoaching.com

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!

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com or visit us online at http://imtcoaching.com

Recruiting

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.

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com or visit us online at http://imtcoaching.com

“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!

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com or visit us online at http://imtcoaching.com

“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: Mike@IMTcoaching.com or visit us online at http://imtcoaching.com