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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   January 2006

Start off the Year with Success

If you play your cards right, January can be your busiest month of the year

r_2006-01_Sawyer_spotIn my 14 years as a loan originator, I consistently heard the same comment around the holiday season: “January is always the slowest month. There’s just no business going on.”

There is a way, however, not only to make January the busiest month of the year but also to set the stage for a higher-producing, higher-income year for every loan officer willing to work just a little harder.

One of the most-essential things you can accomplish this month is to have formal Realtor planning meetings. Select about 10 to 12 Realtors who currently send you business or from whom you would like to obtain business. In January, take each to lunch individually.

Explain in your lunch invitations that this is a planning meeting to discuss ways in which you can help their businesses grow. Let them know you are working on your marketing strategies for the year and that you have some ideas to help them, too.

Here are some things to discuss with them:

  • Thank them for past referrals: If a Realtor already sends you referrals, express your appreciation. Give the Realtor the number of referrals and closed loans you have done together. Many Realtors think they send all of their referrals to an originator, and they are surprised to learn how few they actually gave.

  • Joint advertising: If you conduct joint advertising with Realtors, let them know you are looking for referrals out of this arrangement. Discuss current costs, future advertising costs and ideas.

  • Rule of five: Most consumers who are shopping for a large-ticket item such as a home will make a decision after five contacts. This is especially true of buyers who are not presold on an originator. Have a system in place that guarantees five marketing “touches” to each potential borrower. Explain to Realtors that you will reinforce them as the clients’ Realtor as you do this. In your e-mails, phone calls, faxes and snail mail, you can mention the Realtors and include their contact information.

  • Neighborhood letter: At closing, ask buyers for their permission to send a letter to their new neighbors introducing them, as well as introducing you and their Realtor. This is a fantastic way to show that you are trying to give back to the Realtor. Show the Realtor a sample letter with that includes pictures of you and of the Realtor.

  • Ask questions: Spend some time at lunch trying to see where you could help the Realtor’s business most. Ask questions such as, “What do you need most from your lender? How can I help the home-buying process run more smoothly? Would you like help with open houses, parade of homes, financing options, etc.?”

  • Business cards: Ask Realtors for their business cards and give them some of yours. You have already let them know that you will be giving their cards out as much as possible. Now you can give them the opportunity to do the same.

As an originator, I received many calls from past borrowers looking for their settlement statements at the start of each year as they prepared to file their tax forms. Although it was provided at their closing, you can use this opportunity to send the past year’s clients an additional copy of their settlement statement, along with a letter.

The letter should express your thanks at being able to assist them with their financing. It also should mention that you and their Realtor work primarily on referrals. Let each Realtor you worked with know that you have sent this letter to your mutual clients with both of your business cards enclosed.

Another great use of your time in January is to make phone calls. Contact your past clients to see how they are doing and to ask if they have any concerns or questions regarding their mortgages. Then ask if they know of anyone who may need financing information. This reminds your clients that you know them personally and that they aren’t just another name on a mailing list. This phone call also primes the pump for a positive response to future mailings and referral requests.

As you prepare for another great year as a mortgage originator, remember this: You own your own business. You have control over most everything you do, from your hours to your marketing budget and of course, your success. Take the time to develop an annual budget and marketing plan that will help to ensure your success.

The reason most people fail at marketing is because they do not plan effectively. Working with Realtors and touching base with past clients are just a few of the steps you can take to begin your new year the right way. Brainstorm with your team to see what other marketing strategies you can develop to help you make January your busiest month of the year.


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