Welcome the New Year!

Welcome to 2015! What will your year look like? Has all the planning been done and targets set for acquisition? The journey that is 2015 begins with a clear assessment of what 2014 was, and what you brought forward into this new year and the things that must change in order for you to achieve the greater results you  likely seek.

It has been said that everyone is exactly where they are supposed to be, no better or worse, just as they are as a result of all the things that have happened along their journey to this exact point in time. If that is true, then the only way to experience any form of change in results would be to make a change in the actions that have led to the result.

So why don’t we look at some of the fundamentals we can slightly alter in the coming year so that we might experience a different result? Why not look to a few small and simple steps we can do right away that could cause a dramatic result in the number of opportunities we generate in the course of the year. Even if we don’t improve our conversion rate at all, just simply getting in front of more opportunities should improve our final results.

Here are a few things you can change today. It won’t take much time or money. It won’t likely be anything you haven’t heard before. Nothing will be complicated except for the fact that you must make these changes and that they must become habits because without doing so, you will quickly revert back and the results will remain as they are!

#1: Understand that there is nothing more important in your professional life than a minimum of two hours of focused prospecting every single work day. No exceptions.

#2: When you are working, turn off your cell phone and email alerts so you are not distracted. If you change your voicemail greeting and let people know when you are available to return their call, they will gladly leave a message. If they don’t, you are likely better off not working with them and letting them annoy your competition.

#3: Grow your database every day. Even if only one new contact. As your database grows and you nurture it with value, the number of opportunities it will provide you will grow as well.

#4: If you are going to work with Realtors® you must spend some time being committed to working their listings. You can’t just keep asking for buyer referrals all the time, you must put forward the effort to help your Realtors® secure, sell, and replace their listings. By doing so, you secure that relationship, generate more mortgage opportunities, and become a true referral partner!

#5: Actively try to replace every file with either a new file or a new referral partner generated for that transaction. Spending just a few more minutes looking for those ignored opportunities can grow your business exponentially!

#6: Set the proper expectations with yourself, your coworkers, your clients, and your referral partners. If you aren’t clear about what needs to be done and how it gets done, it isn’t likely it will happen as you would like it to.

#7: Never end any action without knowing what is next to happen and when you are supposed to check or act on it again.

#8: Remember to say thank you! Our business is a service business. Remember your only function is to serve the clients and referral partners you find in front of you.

Clearly there are many more things we could discuss here or other simple things you could do that would improve your opportunities. Even if each one of these things could save you an hour a day and find you one transaction a month, you could grow your business by almost 100 units a year and save you 220 hours or more than five weeks of work. What would your business look like if you could grow it by almost 100 more units and save you more than five weeks of work? And what if it was only half of that? What if only a quarter of that? Would you make these changes if all you got were two deals a month and saved just one hour of work a week? And if you did make these changes, could anything make things worse? What do you have to lose?

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

“Strategies for the Holidays”

For those of you who are still engaged in the work of being a mortgage professional, here are a few strategies you can use over the last few days of the year that could provide an additional deal or two for the coming year and maybe find you a few new referral partners along the way.

Holiday parties: You are certainly welcome to partake in the festivities, just be careful not to overdo it. A drunken originator is not a professional. Be sure to consume all in moderation. If you are going to an office party, be certain to acknowledge the host with a gift for all to share. Food is always a good thought because adding more alcohol may only add fuel to the fire!

Be social and network but be careful not to “sell”. As a professional you are always sharing and never selling, especially at a social function like a holiday party. You can always make appointments to follow up with business related conversations at a later date. Always be sure to follow up with a “Thank You” note the following day to the person that invited you and the host of the event.

Expired Listings: December 31st and January 1st see a large number of expired listings hitting the market. Talk to all of your agents about their plan for these opportunities and be certain to share your thoughts on how you can help engage and support an expired listing.

Mailing HUD-1 statements: Now is a great time to print out a copy of every HUD-1 from every closing you had this past year. Then get them in the mail with a note telling them that their accountant will likely want this document to help prepare their tax return. It never hurts to remind them that you are available to help or answer any questions.

Volunteering: Always great to help a group, organization, or charity during the holidays. Being someone people learn to count on to get things done is never a bad thing for your business. It also makes you feel good to help those in need of your assistance during the holidays.

Accountants & Financial Planners: As they get ready for tax season and rebalancing portfolios, it is always a good idea to remind them about the “Annual Mortgage Fitness Check-up and Identity Theft Screening®”. You never know who is thinking of moving, needs to move, or would benefit from a refinance.

Queue up that database: Who is over 4.5% on a fixed rate loan and who may have an ARM recasting in the coming year? How about we refinance out the old with a new loan that saves them some money and helps them pay off some holiday debt by missing one mortgage payment when they refinance?

December 26th – 30th and January 2nd – 4th: What are your plans? If you are working, be sure you know who else is working as well, and locate who is covering for those that aren’t. There will be buyers looking and sellers selling on these days. Don’t miss out a chance to make connections and put together some transactions but have a clear contact plan for these days. If you are thinking about working, have a clear plan to get out and get engaged! Visibility rules!

I wanted to thank all of you for keeping connected through this post and I look forward to a great 2015! Have a Very Merry Christmas and a Healthy, wealthy, and safe entry into the New Year!

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

Quality will lead to Quantity

As this year comes to an end and as people are planning for 2015, it is time I shared the one thought I wish all of you would take and run with; the knowledge that Quality will lead to Quantity.

In the loan business we are faced with three tasks, prospecting for new business, processing the opportunities generated from that prospecting; and managing the communications created and needed from the first two things. We all have seven days a week and twenty-four hours each day. So how is it that some people get more done than others? Before you say they have assistants, or work for a better company, or have better referral partners; try and look at yourself and the time you spend doing your job and ask yourself, “If I did a better job doing this, would I have more time to do more of that?”

You see, time is the investment we commit to take action and generate an outcome. How we use that time makes all the difference in the total time spent getting the job done. The old carpenter’s saying, “Measure twice and cut once” comes to mind. How often do we go back and revisit areas of a loan that could have been dealt with sooner and with fewer consequences than what we encountered? How frequently do we fail to finish something or double check something we have to go back and deal with later?

Higher producing originators develop great systems and build in redundant accountability to be sure they work every time, and if they don’t, someone catches the issue before it causes a major meltdown! How many times do you hear the phrase, “putting out fires”? What are these fires? How did the fire occur? Is there anything we could have done to prevent this fire or detect it before it got out of control?

Taking the time to get things right upfront is an investment in your own future. When you get things right at the beginning, you spend less time “fixing” things down the road. In fact, many of the so called “fires” we deal with on a regular basis were detectable had someone bothered to look. The time it takes to review a contract, pay stub, bank statement, tax returns, or other documentation BEFORE you move the file along can save you hours or even days down the road. It isn’t good enough to put the paystub in the file, you have to review it and check the numbers! It isn’t good enough to upload the contract of sale into the system; you have to read it to be sure everything matches what you have. I just had an originator tell me today that a deal blew up at the closing table because the name on the contract of sale didn’t match the name exactly as it appeared on their driver’s license and the loan application. Everyone missed it. Everyone! It is the originator’s job to check the documentation and do the math and check the spelling. As long as the originator makes the most money from closing a loan, I will maintain it is their job to double check the documentation in that file to be sure it matches what they wrote on the application and that the math works!

Taking a quality application and setting a proper expectation makes for a better client experience. It also makes for less time spent in total getting the file closed and makes the referral partner happy to have referred you which leads to more referrals! Doing a better job by focusing on the quality of your work will lead to more opportunities and a higher quantity of loan opportunities and closed loans! It’s not an “either/or” situation; one will lead to the other!

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

“Four More Weeks”

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday and spent some quality time with family and friends. I also added my 58th birthday to the festivities so it was a grand four-day weekend for sure.

Early results from the “Black Friday Housing Sale®” are pretty interesting; some were highly successful while others didn’t seem to make an impression. For those that followed the plan and generated real value to the consumer the results were pretty significant. For those who just marketed a small discount off closing costs, the effort was less than satisfactory. Like everything else I suggest you need to follow the plan. If you try and “wing it” with less than 100% effort, the consumer ignores you and may even move away from you because you were clearly using a “Sales Approach” not a “Value Approach”. You can’t differentiate without clear value no matter how much you hype something, if it isn’t a significant value, people don’t show up. Nobody gets up at 3am on Black Friday to save ten percent on a $50 item. You needed to present significant value.

We have four more weeks until the end of the year and we need to focus on more than just where the next holiday party is tonight. Attend all the parties you want, but you have to keep working while the others ease up and coast. Besides, there aren’t many parties going on between 8am and 3pm so you have no excuses to get up, get out, and do the WORK! Share the message of WHY it is important to be working now. Talk about the needs of the people who can get into contract today, close in January, and make their first house payment in MARCH!

People looking for a house in the next four weeks have a real need to make a deal happen. They also are likely to find less competition from other buyers who have decided to put off the search until after the first of the year! Think about it; is it better to shop for a home when more or less people are looking? After the beginning of the year, you will have many more people out looking at the same houses YOU are interested in. Would you rather be the only offer or part of a multiple bid situation?

The same thing also holds true for sellers. Many listings expire December 31st or January 1st. In fact, it is the single largest number of expired listing of the year! What happened when those expired listing relists or change to an agent with a more aggressive marketing plan? What about all the new inventory that will hit the market after the first of the year once the holidays are over? Would you rather show off your home fully decorated for the holidays with little competition, or when all the new inventory hits the streets? Wouldn’t you like to just get the deal done and move on? Sometimes less is more. Less buyers = less competition but by more serious buyers. Less inventory means your house can stand out as the best of the small group instead of one of the many.

So keep your buyers moving. Keep your sellers open to showing their properties. Keep your eye on the agents who want to work and NEED to work to get those final deals put together for January so they can start the year off with some closings and some commission checks! Also, work with your better referral partners to identify all the pending expired listings and get to work coming up with a plan to get in front of them as soon as the agent is allowed. Have the plan in place before the listing expires will lead to a greater number of listing appointments. You can help your agents by working up the numbers for them. What does five or ten thousand dollars really mean to them? In most cases, it’s only a few dollars a month on their next mortgage payment.

Four more weeks left this year to work. Four more weeks to keep active and in front of your referral partners, working the strategies that lead to closings. 2015 will soon be here and all the numbers will reset to ZERO! If you haven’t done the work, January and February closings won’t look so good! You can’t just coast to the finish line, you run right through it!

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com

“A Home for the Holidays!”

We have just a couple of weeks left to put deals together and get them closed before Christmas and New Year’s. All calls and visits need to remain focused on the fact that there is still time to get deals done and that getting a deal done before the holidays often means you will be paying less for the home and competing with fewer buyers because of those “waiting” until after the holidays to make something happen. Seriously, will prices come down or will there be less demand in January? I really don’t think so. So making sure your referral partners and clients know that you can still get it done is the message you need to bring to the streets. You need to bring that message hard for the next week and be certain you push right to the last day!

We also need to be aware that as we come upon Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday party season, that we remember to be social and not sloppy! Enjoy yourself but be careful to manage the merry making to a low roar! You can’t afford to be the life of the party or to over enjoy to the point of no return! You need to remain professional at all times and helpful to those that may have overdone it. This is not the time burn bridges; it’s the time to build them through respectful and professional celebration. You also need to be sure you make appearances at all the functions that you are invited too, and be certain to keep RESPA in mind when you are planning gifts. If you aren’t really clear that what you are doing is compliant, be certain you ask someone to review your plans that knows the rules and follows your company protocol. Different companies have different rules. Just be careful.

This is also a good time to support your referral partner’s charitable efforts or work within your company framework and support one as a group. I know from past experience that working with charitable organizations during the holidays can be very rewarding and they all can use the help. Be certain you are the one doing the work, nobody needs more queen bees; charitable groups need worker bees! Do the work and help, the reward is in making the effort!

There will be no blog post next week because of the Thanksgiving holiday, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to coast! The “Black Friday” weekend can be a great weekend to put loans together and I know many of you are working the “Black Friday Home Sale” idea we have talked about here in the past. These last few weeks of effort will all come together resulting in a few extra deals and a number of new referral partners because you have executed a plan based upon providing exceptional value following a sound strategy. These benefits will reward you both short and long term. While many originators have already packed it in for the year, you have been doing the work and will see the rewards of those efforts all through 2015!

I thank you all for taking the time each week to read and share these posts. I am also very thankful to those of you that took the time to visit www.forever19.org and like us on Facebook®. It means a great deal to my wife and I and to those of you that took the time to order tee shirts, dog tags, and bracelets; or who made generous donations, we will keep you in our thoughts and prayers and thank you for helping us help remember all those who have served!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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

“The Final Push”

The election is over and the ads will finally stop. Yes, we are already hearing about 2016 but how about we focus on something that will affect us right now? The clock is running down for the end of 2014. Like it or not, the calendar waits for nobody. If you haven’t had the year you wanted to have, now is the time to push the last few weeks to get deals in and closed before the end of the year. If your systems and tools are not what you need, then you have a limited amount of time to get your business plan together and put those systems in place and try them out before the ball drops in Times Square!

Concede nothing! There is plenty of time to put deals together that will close this year. Depending on whom you work for and the types of loans you do, you have a minimum of two, and likely more like four or five more weeks to get a deal together and get it closed in 2014. Get up, get out, and get talking about how it can and will happen this year! Get the conversation off the holiday sales (unless you are doing the “Black Friday” home sale event) and talk about how we are still in a position to change the outcome of 2014.

Many mortgage people and their Realtor® referral partners work on a “tiered compensation plan” which dictates how much you get paid per closed transaction. In many cases, Realtors® carry forward the end of the year pay scale into the next year. Sometimes just one deal can make all the difference between tiers, which change how much they get paid on future closed transactions. So what if you were the person that helped make that happen?

For those of you that work for companies that have a distinct speed advantage, then you need to set the tone and draw the distinction between your ability to close new deals into December, and those lenders who pretty much have to stop accepting deals that will close before year end by the middle or end of November. By drawing that distinction, you can get in front of people who might not ever thought to refer you. Even if they don’t have a transaction to share with you, they will remember that you were out there working to generate more closings while the other people where focused on the holiday party schedule! Not everyone takes the last six weeks off! Some people have to work. Some need to put together deals as much as there are people who need to get them done.

I am not just talking about Realtors®. Financial planners, accountants, and a host of other professions will have people that NEED to close or HAVE to close for a number of reasons BEFORE THE YEAR ENDS! Who is in an HR department that needs help with a new transfer? Who has a tax obligation or financial commitment that needs to be met? You never know who might need you if you aren’t out talking about how you are ready, willing, and able to get deals together and CLOSED in time before 2014 turns into 2015.

Know your limitations. Under promise your timeline and be sure to over deliver on the results. You know your situation and its limitations. But if you have the ability to get the job done, you can build a bunch of new relationships that will help grow your business in the years to come. There will be plenty of time to attend the parties and have fun during the holidays. Just don’t rush to shut things down because somebody else may out work you to the finish line!

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