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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Commercial Edition   |   August 2018

Remain Relevant in a World in Flux

Developing a strategy to adapt to change represents an opportunity, not a burden


The reality is that “shift happens.” You can fight it, but you cannot win. You can deny it, but it will encompass you. There is but one logical option: Embrace the shifts in life, including those in the mortgage industry. A forward-thinking commercial mortgage broker will work to embrace the change and make it a strength.

Change does not come easy for most of us. It is disruptive and requires acceptance of new concepts and ideas. It can be time-consuming and, at times, expensive to stay ahead of the curve. In many cases, we are removed from our comfort zone. As a result, we generally delay, remain indecisive and put off as long as possible the reality and need for accepting and reorganizing our lives and businesses.

Although probably oversimplified, there appear to be three somewhat common negative reactions to change. The first is denial: “Change is impacting others, but we are different, right?” The second is postponement: “Things will settle down. Don’t panic. There’s plenty of time to figure it out.” The third
reaction is rejection: “We simply need to do what we have been doing and just try harder.”

These seem to be common attitudes that emerge when it comes to dealing with change. They are all wrong, however. They are not productive strategies that can help turn change into an opportunity.

Pursuing strategic flexibility

In a time of exponential change, both risk and opportunity multiply. To thrive in this type of environment, a mortgage broker must recognize the opportunities that develop and take thoughtful action today, not tomorrow. Continued success is predicated on staying relevant.

This process should start by asking one simple question: What is the business objective? If the answer is a “promising future,” “grow financially stronger,” “become more efficient,” or “to drive forward,” then the strategy employed should be focused on developing action plans that build your capabilities, improve customer satisfaction, and expand your products and services relative to your competition. Stated differently: Become better, faster and offer more competitive products in order to stay relevant.

In developing a new market strategy, mortgage brokers and their companies should incorporate the concept of “strategic flexibility” into their planning. This process helps to more effectively prepare for future changes that cannot be predicted with any degree of accuracy. The guideposts for developing such a flexible market strategy include anticipating the various possibilities and framing tactics for each strategy; getting the right resources lined up to implement the tactics; pursuing the tactics that are most likely to work; and quickly moving to alternative tactics if the desired results are not achieved.

Taking action

One way to ensure you stay relevant in the market as a commercial mortgage broker or company is to undertake an effort to reinvent your business. This process of reinvention should be designed to help build name recognition, attract new customers and distinguish yourself in the marketplace.

Imagination and resourcefulness will always pay big dividends. If one strategy does not generate reasonable success, try something new.

The first step in such a process of reinvention is to determine the overall objective, the desired benefits and the participants, and to then set up an organizational meeting and adopt some strategies. The objective should define the purpose and desired outcome of the effort, such as the following: To establish an aggressive long-term vision and a plan to execute it — a marketing strategy that is measurable and quantifiable.

Next, outline the desired benefits, or how the changes will contribute to your success and the company’s success. These benefits might include increasing name recognition, expanding your client base and enhancing the profitability of each client relationship. Once that is in place, you must determine who will be involved in the process and have responsibility for the overall execution and success of the initiative. This step might include the company’s board of directors, management and staff.

At the organizational meeting for the initiative, which should include key stakeholders, the program’s objectives should be introduced and written details provided to all attendees. From there, the details of the implementation process should be discussed and duties assigned to individuals as appropriate. In addition, feedback from participants should be solicited and incorporated into the larger plan where appropriate.

Now you are ready to adopt a plan of action that outlines some specific steps to be taken to advance the initiative. Part of that plan, for example, might be to develop a list of the 10 “most wanted” potential clients along with specific action steps, such as the following:

  • Develop a database of each potential client.
  • Inform all staff members of the program.
  • Identify at least three potential loan types to introduce to the prospective clients.
  • Establish measurable and quantifiable goals.
  • Send letters of introduction to the targeted clients.
  • Arrange one-on-one visits with each of the most-wanted clients.
  • Document results and feedback for the board and management regarding recruitment efforts.
  • Building business

As part of the reinvention process, a number of areas can be targeted for improvement, including client outreach, referral opportunities and community involvement. On the customer outreach front, for example, a strategy could be adopted — with management and staff buy-in — that establishes a minimum bar for the number of monthly sales calls made by brokers.

A similar strategy could focus on developing new referral sources, targeting professionals such as attorneys, accountants, lenders, contractors and even internal staff — who might be rewarded for generating referrals via some kind of incentive program. With respect to community outreach, action steps could involve fostering more involvement with local chambers of commerce, business organizations, economic development groups and even schools via direct engagement, writing articles and teaching classes.

In addition, a series of market-update meetings could be planned that are co-hosted by other industry partners, such as title companies, appraisers or Realtors. The goal of these breakfast or after-work meetings, which would include existing and potential clients and referral sources, could be to leverage contacts in order to expand the company’s commercial mortgage business opportunities.

Marketing punch

Another key area of focus for commercial mortgage brokers seeking to expand their client reach is marketing. In developing an action plan designed to leverage marketing opportunities, several target areas can be pursued, including direct mail, media announcements, and print and online media. Suggestions for action steps include the following:

  • Direct mail. Develop and expand a database of key business and individual contacts; establish ongoing monthly or quarterly mail campaigns.
  • Media announcements. Develop a list of contacts at local newspapers, magazines and on-air broadcasters; submit press releases to these contacts regarding events, products and staff changes; establish yourself as a subject-matter expert for stories and broadcasts; make use of print advertisements that promote the company’s products and services; and target specific audiences by running ads in niche media outlets such as industry or other business publications.
  • Online efforts. Create a website or blog that focuses on company products and services, as well as market insights; develop periodic e-mail newsletters that discuss loan products and market trends; include contact information and free offers to encourage user engagement.

Each of these marketing efforts can be reinforced or augmented through feedback at weekly sales meetings, which can be kept short, fun and to the point. At these meetings, marketing strategies can be discussed, progress reviewed and individual success acknowledged.

Of course, not every strategy outlined above will fit every mortgage broker’s marketing needs. It does not matter whether the brokerage is a one-person outfit or has 100 employees — where there is a fit, give it a try. Imagination and resourcefulness will always pay big dividends. If one strategy does not generate reasonable success, try something new.

•  •  • 

Remember, few objectives or plans should be cast in bronze. As previously discussed, by incorporating strategic flexibility into any action plan, you can quickly initiate an alternative if positive results are not experienced. Stay relevant when shift happens. 


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