As published in Scotsman Guide's Residential Edition, June 2006.
Mortgage professionals are discovering that key, deep relationships are the ticket to survival in this rollercoaster industry. As we level out while waiting for the next refi boom, it's important to develop meaningful relationships that feed your business on a constant basis. These relationships go past vendor/supplier-type transactions. They come from years of cultivating a professional work history and are seen as key to each of your successes.
The key steps to this relationship-building process are research, prospecting and maintenance.
Research your prospects
Research is the most important step in this process. You must research your existing client database, your marketplace and the key prospects with whom you want to do business.
This determines your long-term success. Take the time to understand your clients' market. Are they brokers, Realtors, builders, etc.? This approach will work for all of mortgage prospects. You must become an expert and educate yourself in their line of business. Your ultimate goal is to become a trusted adviser in their overall business structure.
Your research must help you determine who you want to do business with and how you can make their careers more successful.
Now you must start prospecting your potential new clients. When approaching prospective relationships, set yourself up as a welcome visitor and not an annoying hindrance. To do so, you simply must become a resource in the relationship.
Find something you can do for that client that no one else can provide. Think of ways you can help your clients become more successful and profitable. These can include offering industry resources and magazine articles or by offering training classes to their staff. The sky is the limit here, and the key is to stand out so that your prospects notice.
As soon as you assume your relationship is bulletproof, your competition will be knocking on your best client's door.
The easiest way to maintain a business relationship is to always treat it as if it were your top prospect. You should treat all your clients with white-glove service.
If you adopt this mind-set, your clients will only want to do business with you. Thus, the "doing more business with fewer clients" theory is born. They are so pleased with the overall experience that they want you to handle all of their transactions.
When a relationship ends
Whether it's because of illness, career change or relocation, you will lose one or more of your key relationships over time. How do you survive if you are focusing on just a few accounts and you lose one?
To ensure you don't skip a beat in your production, have a solid prospecting system in place. You should always have a list of "B" relationships. These are clients who send you some business regularly, but who are not yet exclusive clients.
Successful implementation of this system can lead to an incredible career in the mortgage business with fewer clients, less stress and more income. Good luck, and let me know how it works.
Brian S. Wallace is senior vice president,
director of training for HSBC Mortgage in Buffalo, N.Y. He can be reached at (716) 651-1524 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.