As published in Scotsman Guide's Residential Edition, July 2008.
The mortgage industry in recent years is much like the 1999 movie "The Matrix." The science-fiction movie's plot centers around a virtual world that characters are led to believe is real.
Its main character is given the opportunity to take a pill that will keep him believing that the virtual world is reality or another pill that will help him escape and face what the world is really like.
What would you choose?
Most people don't want to face reality. They really don't want to understand the truth and would rather pretend.
In the mortgage industry, these people lament over the thousands of mortgage-industry jobs lost. They shake their heads regarding the more than 250 mortgage lenders that have gone out of business since late 2006, not to mention the failures of large investment firms and the large increase in foreclosures.
The reality, however, is that our industry is changing. Here are five ways you can work to secure a profitable future:
1. Think like an owner:
Be the owner of you. Ask yourself the following questions: Would you invest in yourself? How much would you pay? Are you a winner or a blamer? Do you focus on obstacles or solutions? Do you see opportunities in this market to grow, change and use your talent?
Owners think big. Start with a professional business coach who can help you see your business without blinders. This can be a real eye-opener.
2. Understand and work in your strong areas: Most brokers are originators, processors, assistants and couriers. Some are even shrinks and counselors. This does not lead to a productive business; it leads to mediocrity.
Business coaches can help here, too. They can help you find clarity and help you have that "a-ha" moment.
The process of finding your strengths is about how you think and relate to others, how you process information, and how you see details and goals. This will be a catalyst for using your skills in a way that will help you and others.
3. Become passionate about growing: Many mortgage brokers tried to provide instant gratification for their clients. Many are now out of business.
To be successful, you must offer more than products, features and benefits. Start by educating yourself. Read every business and self-improvement book you can get your mind around.
Find out what your customers want to know and learn how to share it. Read as though your life depends on it. In a way, it does.
4. Master productivity: Today, speed defines you. Are you productive? Can you answer 150 e-mails? Are you managing your next steps, or are you just busy? Do you have a predictable way of doing business in which you create loyalty?
When it comes to productivity, most people are used to just putting out fires.
5. Get in the new economy: The old way of doing business is gone. Recent college graduates are working four times faster than you and are getting 16-times-more opportunities than you. They don't know that they're supposed to wait in line for the gold watch.
More than ever, mortgage professionals must adapt their thinking to a new level. Many used to get by just by being mediocre. Those days are coming to an end.
Mortgage brokers in the new economy must be able to add value, know how to present that value effectively, and have systems and processes for maximum productivity.
Last but not least, they must have something to say other than, "This is your good- faith estimate; sign here."
Ultimately, pretending that things are fine will no longer do in the mortgage industry. It's time to face reality, be honest and take action.
Jeff Payne is a
speaker, writer and executive business and branding coach. He is chief branding officer of AscendWorks, a company that teaches entrepreneurs, sales professionals and business-owners how to start and grow a business in the new economy. Payne resides in Dallas, is married and has a son who attends Baylor University. Contact Payne at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit AscendWorks' Web site at ascendworks.com and its magazine site at advice.ascendworks.com, or call (800) 878-2152.