Is GREAT service still enough to grow your business???

By
Mortgage and Lending with Fairway Independent Mortgage

I have been in the mortgage business for over 8 years.  When I started it seemed that if you answered your phone and closed deals smoothly... the sky was the limit!  These days things have changed and I am not sure if it is for the better.

It seems to me that great service just isn't enough anymore.  Now, that is not to say that great service isn't important because it is.  If you don't have good service you aren't even in the game.  Great service can still give you a solid foundation, but it doesn't seem to actually grow your business as much as it used to.

As the market evolves it is becoming more important to market yourself well.  Five years ago if you had some innovative system/program and added value to a Realtor (books, training, etc.) you were the man!  Now the bar seems to have been raised a little higher.  Now it seems to be moving to a market that rewards people who can produce and share leads.  I am not saying that is all bad but it is definitely different.

With more and more Realtors asking for referrals back to them and/or money for co-marketing agreements, it has changed the basic dynamic of what makes a loan officer successful.  My question is what has actually become of service?  What is typical in our market? 

Do most lenders get closing packages out early?  Do most lenders attend their closings?  What has become the norm?

Olan Carder

Charlotte NC Mortgages

www.mycharlottelender.com

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Anonymous
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"BUT Realtors will always play a huge part in my business and I am always trying to network to new ones... I guess the best way to ask my original question is: "Is GREAT service enough for a Loan Officer to get new Realtor Partnerships?"

My best Realtor partners don't ask me to pay for a thing and value the service.  I just feel like Realtors like that (in this market at least) are getting harder to find.  I am finding more that are looking for the cash or for referrals from me... "

 

Such a lack of response by ANY REALTORS concerning ABA's.  Sad.  I KNOW many belong to partnerships, yet most (none?) will justify how the ABA is IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CLIENT IN EVERY CASE.

 

Olan - I wish you the best.

Mar 08, 2007 07:30 PM #39
Anonymous
Anonymous

Olan,

Thank you so much for the post.  I'm happy to  have found your post tonight because the questions you've asked are questions I've been asking myself for the last month or so.  Especially when you wonder why the mortgage individuals who you know is not very good, professional, and are all about the money are getting all the referrals, not showing up at their closings, not returning phone calls promptly.....  It boggles my mind...  I've always approach this business with the mindset is that if you exceed their expectations you will succeed in business.  But in today's business marketplace is that still true???  Is it more of "what can you do for me" or "what's in it for me"?  I look at my realtors and other business partners as an important part of business and I work each day knowing my actions also reflects on them especially when I'm working with any of their referrals.  Hopefully, there are still realtors out there who do value good ethics and professionalism when their look to work with a good mortgage professional rather than "what's in it for me".

Very good post and I've subscribed to your blogs. 

Mar 08, 2007 07:50 PM #40
Rainer
30,786
Olan Carder
Fairway Independent Mortgage - Charlotte, NC

Marcus,

I think you hit the nail on the head.  The problem is that as people in our industry take shortcuts and seek the fast money over long term success through service - it hurts us all.

If you do work your butt off, and invest money in hiring assistants (like I do) to provide next level service... it is discouraging to think you have to give up even more money to earn the referrals even when you offer the superior service.  My thinking is that in most cases no one is giving up anything but that these marketing fees get passed on to the consumer in higher rates and fees.

My business model has always been to keep my costs low, I build through referrals and service.  I have invested my marketing dollars in hiring an assistant and developing systems for better service.  It sounds like market forces are telling us to forget service and spend our time and money getting bodies in the door... but my heart won't let me!

Mar 08, 2007 08:18 PM #41
Ambassador
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Jeff Belonger
Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc - Cherry Hill, NJ
The FHA Expert - FHA Loans - FHA mortgages - USDA loans - VA Loans

Olan.... back again. I had talked about target yourpast clients more so also.....  as F.P. Profit mentioned, if you attacked your past clients...  as I stated, spend your money on newsletters and anything else that you could do to be in front of them. This is the part that should multiply. As stated, focus on this. The realtors?  Ask yourself this question.... how more do you actually want?  How many do you have now, that you get steady business from?  Some people think you need 15 realtors.... not true at all. What you need is 4 to 5 very good ones. Then break off from there and go after financial planners, lawyers, etc etc....  you need to branch out.

Not to sound negative Olan, but you are dwelling just on realtors. They shouldn't be your prime source. Especially in todays market. Just my opinion though.... 

Mar 08, 2007 11:25 PM #42
Rainer
30,786
Olan Carder
Fairway Independent Mortgage - Charlotte, NC

Jeff,

Thanks for commenting again... I value your opinion.  I don't just focus on Realtors, although (listen up Realtors!) I do believe them to be the cornerstone of my business and the market.  They are still in control of the majority of homebuyers, and I want a great relationship with as many of them as I can find.

Now, I also have a builder account, a financial planner and a huge database that I get business from.  However, I don't spend a lot of time pursuing new builders becuase in this market they all have their own lender or just want to send you the loans no one can do.  I don't pursue new financial planners because I am loyal to the one I have and we refer business back and forth.  I already send a ton of post-closing marketing to my database....

So, that leaves........ Drum roll please, Realtors.  I like to constantly prospect for them because I work with some good ones now, but they tend to retire, take vacations, change industries, etc.  The man that trained me in this business told me long ago, "Son, everyone out there will tell you to run from Realtors, let them run from them and you just keep running to them!" 

I think this post, with its comments, has gone the way of most rumors, debates or discussions.  It is has gotten off track.  I NEVER said I didn't have enough business.  I NEVER said I only got business from Realtors.  I NEVER said I didn't get referrals from past clients.  THE original question was: Is GREAT service still enough to grow your business???  

Even if you have a strong business don't you want to keep growing it???  IF yes, then my question stands... is GREAT service enough?

Mar 09, 2007 03:47 PM #43
Anonymous
Anonymous

I understood the question Olan. 

Sometimes in AR, when there is no black and white answer, you are left hanging. (I'm still awaiting the responses about ABA's from multiple threads. :^) )

Mar 09, 2007 04:14 PM #44
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Jeff Belonger
Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc - Cherry Hill, NJ
The FHA Expert - FHA Loans - FHA mortgages - USDA loans - VA Loans

Olan......   you wrote  .... "I think this post, with its comments, has gone the way of most rumors, debates or discussions.  It is has gotten off track.  I NEVER said I didn't have enough business.  I NEVER said I only got business from Realtors.  I NEVER said I didn't get referrals from past clients.  THE original question was: Is GREAT service still enough to grow your business???

First off, you lost me when you said this post has gone way of most rumors, debate, or discussions. Can you elaborate on this?  It's the only way, to get clarification, in order to give more direct answers and or responses.

2nd... yes, you never said that you never had enough business, but you can't tell that by what you said....it was up in the air.

3rd.... you didn't add in regards to where you get business from. Hence the reason why I said I thought it would be a good idea to add that into the comments, when you replied next time....

One lesson about comments in general. Not everyone reads them. Not everyone reads the whole post written either. Hence why some comments might seem off track. Overall, as much as you think this got sidetracked, I think most of the comments give were  given in lieu of the general topic at hand. Many answers were round about ways of talking about what service means to them. Also...  trying to give other ideas, because certain things weren't mentioned in your post. 

Please...don't take this the wrong way, as Rich Jacobson mentioned, this was a good thought provoking post. And when you do a post like that, it will bring out other thoughts that might generalize or be off the beaten path.... but not really. It might not always answer your one main concern, but others surrounding it. 

From what I got from this, for the most part... the answer was that most people have lost control. It's not all about the service upfront. Yes, they say it is... but look at the percentage of people going to lenders and or loan officers before they get to a realtor....  these were answers not exactly relating to your question... but they still had added value. At least that's how I took it.


Mar 09, 2007 05:01 PM #45
Rainer
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Olan Carder
Fairway Independent Mortgage - Charlotte, NC

Jeff,

Thanks for the comments!  Don't get me wrong either... I am having a BLAST with this thing.  I love the way the comments get off track because it brings out interesting ideas.  I didn't mean what I said in a negative way at all - remember that rumor game when you whisper something in someones ear and by the time you finish you get something completely different...  its FUN!  I think Blogging is similar to that game in a way... you start on a topic and then it seems it branches out...  

I just though it would be good to bring it back in a little since we have all shared so much.  I think the discussion got held hostage by the whole lender-Realtor relationship for a little while there and I was trying to explain (for me) why that is so important.

But in general, thanks for your schooling.  I am very new to this, but I am absolutely having a great time sharing ideas with everyone.  I have been telling a lot of people about Active Rain and inviting them to join us!

Mar 09, 2007 05:14 PM #46
Rainer
30,786
Olan Carder
Fairway Independent Mortgage - Charlotte, NC

Rob,

Sorry to leave you hanging... GREAT comment.  I agree that in most cases the customer comes up on the loosing end of those... but are we really here to help the customer?  (I'm being sarcastic here people)

I think the lack of response you mention is the fear of some in the industry to ask the tough questions of themselves.  How much is enough?  Why am I doing this?  Where do I draw the line?

Thanks for bringing it up!!!

Mar 09, 2007 05:18 PM #47
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Todd Clark
Keller Williams Realty - Beaverton, OR
Broker - Beaverton, Oregon Real Estate Expert - (503) 524-9494

I wish customer service was enough. It is to get referrals from past clients, but to get the new clients, personality and marketing seems to be king. People have to meet you and like you, then you have to show the customer service side of the business.

 

Mar 11, 2007 11:04 PM #48
Rainer
30,786
Olan Carder
Fairway Independent Mortgage - Charlotte, NC

Todd,

I think you are 100% right!  I don't the reputation for quality service will grow your business anymore, at least not in this market.  It really used to in Charlotte, but now I think we all need to be cutting edge on our marketing. 

I think we have to plan on getting a little less out of everything we do (compared to past years) and so plan to do a little more... more marketing, more networking, etc. 

Mar 12, 2007 01:48 PM #49
Rainmaker
72,936
Larry Morris
HomeServices Lending - Newberg, OR
Larry Morris, NMLS 150073

I do try to make it to every closing that I can. I once asked a Realtor friend of mine what I could do that would be most appreciated by a Realtor to thank him/her for being a part of the transaction. He indicated that I could attend the closing and not force him or the escrow agent to answer my questions.

I took that to heart and have been very pleased that I did. It has helped cement relationships with borrowers and several Realtors. It takes time, but as the adage goes, it's easier to get more business out of a past client then to develop a new client.

Mar 26, 2007 12:50 AM #50
Rainer
4,425
Ian Fregin
UCM - Virginia Beach, VA

One thing I've noticed is that a lot of Realtors are very wary of lenders that offer referrals. I've had networking meetings with agents and several of them have said that they are always hearing LOs talk about building "mutually beneficial relationships". That particular phrase tends to send agents in my market running for the door! I am really up-front w/ agents that I meet with. I tell them flat-out that I may not be able to refer as many clients to them as they refer to me, plain and simple. Most borrowers come to me with an agent already in tow and, unless I know that the agent is bad, I leave it alone. I don't want to alienate the agent or my client by suggesting they go with another agent...its just bad business in my opinion. What I also tell agents is that I don't expect them to send me business because they expect freebies, etc. I will help them with marketing if they want, open houses, rate sheets, the works but I absolutely will not take business from an agent when there are other "strings" attached. Its shady, unethical and it leaves me open to bad things down the road.

I think most agents understand this and really just want good service for them and their clients. If you can deliver a smooth closing, good communication and a "warm fuzzy" on one or two deals in rapid succession, most agents will remember you.

 

Apr 15, 2007 03:02 PM #51
Anonymous
Anonymous

I believe "mutually beneficial relationships" do NOT mean 'if you give me one, I'll give you one'.  I believe the relationships I build within my circle are extraordinary and do NOT have to provide and end game of business.  Of COURSE that would be terrific - but not necessarily the reason to offer help/advice/assistance/etc...

http://activerain.com/blogsview/75625/Do-you-REALLY-offer

I am ALWAYS more than happy to offer my personal and companies resources to others.  The MUTUAL BENEFITS are often EDUCATION.  Learning something about another's part of the overall industry. 

Education in this context often has no price-tag.

 

Apr 15, 2007 08:24 PM #52
Rainer
4,425
Ian Fregin
UCM - Virginia Beach, VA

I completely agree that the relationships should be based on mutual success and education, helping each other even when you don't necessarily get a referral out of the deal. What I was getting at is that I think so many agents have been "taken" by lenders that promise them referrals, take the agent's referrals and then the agent finds out that the LO has been sending their referrals to another agent that they've known for years.

I think its just that so many LOs are out there hustling for business and are willing to say anything to get business...they don't realize that agents will figure it out eventually and send their business to someone where they might at least have a shot at getting a few buyers.

I personally do a sort of "round robin" type of thing w/ my buyers if they come w/out an agent. I get a feel for the type of person they would work well with and then match that w/ one of my agents. I try to make it as even as possible, but I like to make sure the client meshes well w/ the agent.

Apr 16, 2007 11:52 AM #53
Rainmaker
88,555
Frank Harris
Keller Williams Realty Centre - Columbia, MD
I am located in Maryland and the Lenders I use, attend at least 90% of their closings.
May 16, 2007 06:16 PM #54
Rainmaker
110,459
Lewis Poretz
Meadowbrook Financial Mortgage Bankers - Annapolis, MD
- Mortgage Branch Opportunities - Nationwide

Olan - Fantastic blog!  Welcome to AR

 

Lewis Poretz 

May 16, 2007 10:38 PM #55
Rainer
30,786
Olan Carder
Fairway Independent Mortgage - Charlotte, NC

Frank,

Thanks for your comments.  Most lenders in our market do not attend their closings.  I find it remarkable that most in your neck of the woods do.  That is impressive.

Lewis,

Thanks and I am glad to be here.  I am inviting new people all the time!

May 17, 2007 01:37 PM #56
Anonymous
Anonymous

Howdy Olan

Thank you, for this very good blog post you have done here.

Jun 22, 2007 05:37 PM #57
Rainmaker
26,442
Scott Dovala
Ascent Home Loans - Santa Rosa, CA
Santa Rosa Mortgage and Home Loans

Olan,

After readinfg all the posts above and your comments my input is this. You seem to have a system that every Realtor would love.  You provide continual updates, inform the client's, go to closings,etc...

The most important thing you or any of us who provide great service to our realtors and borrowers is that there will be lenders who will pay for co-advertising, and spend more time getting the realtors leads then getting their own, but in the end will these lenders provide the service you do? When all is said and done,  these realtors will realize that co-advertising with a lender whose service is mediocore will end up costing them further referrels. Even though sometimes it feels as if our services are being bid on as if we are on Ebay, there are those realtors who realize a good thing when they have it. Those are the ones to concentrate on, because they will be the ones to refer you back to the " You bring me leads and you'll get my business."

Jun 23, 2007 12:35 PM #58
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