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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   June 2016

Find Value in Your Values

Mortgage companies that clearly define their identities can create stronger connections with consumers

Illustration by Dennis Wunsch

The Greek philosopher Thales said, “The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.” Defining who you are and what you represent can often lead to defining your success.

Do you know what sets you apart in this commoditized business of vanilla-only product delivery? Companies that can clearly define their core values and apply them effectively to everyday decision-making — even in the cyclical mortgage industry — can succeed in any economic climate.

Successful originators may cite many reasons for their success, such as consistency, great service, great pricing, speed or next-generation technology. When you analyze the commonalities among those successful originators, however, you find an extraordinary awareness of their core values, and how they apply those core values to everything they do in business. It’s their ethos.

Those who are most successful in their field do not accidentally make decisions that lead to their success and contribute to their profitability. Instead, they have set values to measure decisions, and they have practical benchmarks to apply their own daily actions in carrying out their business.

Define your values

Think about the current presidential campaign. In this election season, if nothing else is clear, it is that Americans have widely varying values that drive their decisions. Competing parties and candidates cause people to evaluate their own values and decide whom they want to support. This is not all that different than customers deciding which businesses or professionals they will support.

Candidates openly declare their values, but businesspeople often keep their values secret, forcing customers to decide who to do business with based on the commoditized elements of an industry. Many people seem to vote against their own best interests in the political arena, economically speaking, but they vote based a broader set of personal values. Similarly, borrowers will often choose to do business with lenders and originators based on a values judgment. The decision becomes less about price, and more about feeling good about the experience.

It is often said that adhering strictly to core values can erode profits in the business world. Many examples, however, prove otherwise. In fact, if authentically applied and adhered to, a solid set of core values can be leveraged into a significant profit center for any company.

So how can those in the mortgage industry convey their values to leverage them as a profit center? It starts with clearly defining those values. They must be documented with an explanation of how they are applied practically.

Every employee must fully understand what each value means and what is expected of them to conduct business based on the defined values. Company leaders must execute a business plan and daily actions in accordance with the core values.

The bottom line is that values must permeate throughout the company. They should be written, broadcasted, discussed and cherished so much that every employee adopts them and exudes these values in all their actions and interactions with each other, vendors and customers.

Apply your values

The practical application of a company’s values must also be defined. The practical application is not a restatement of the values; it is the essence of the values as they are delivered. — and it is the recipe for a company’s success.

Companies should perform a self-evaluation process
and create clarity on their core values and how to execute them.

Successful companies will discover what their customers want and deliver their vision. In doing this, they define how to practically apply their values in a manner that will create an extraordinary customer experience. This will result in exponentially increased profits.

For example, look at Google, which has clearly defined its core values with its list of “10 things we know to be true,” which it developed early in the company’s existence. Among those values are the following: Focus on the user and all else will follow; you can make money without doing evil; fast is better than slow; the need for information crosses all borders; you can be serious without a suit; and great just isn’t good enough. With each value proposition comes a more detailed description, along with ways the company can implement it.

Google clearly defined its values and provided a narrative of how to execute them. Not surprisingly, the American Customer Satisfaction Index consistently shows Google commanding the top customer-satisfaction rating among all major search engines. Google also has garnered the greatest market share, top-line revenue and profits of any search engine. If Googlers, as they call themselves, did not have a defined set of values and practical applications defined, they may not have created the same customer experience, and they may not have the same economic success.

Consumers have a choice of search engines. Although they have nuances, they all have a similar product. Google has set the company apart by clearly defining itself with its employees and customers. People know what to expect with Google, and many people have a positive impression of their experience when using Google.

Mortgage companies have the same opportunity as Google. Companies should perform a self-evaluation process and create clarity on their core values and how to execute them. Doing this can cause customer-satisfaction ratings to skyrocket and can lead companies to expand, even in a stagnant or shrinking market.

Consider some of these values: integrity, commitment and fun, along with others that may be important to you and your company. Companies also can develop methods of teaching their employees how to deliver this vision and how to incorporate these values into every aspect of work — from meetings to all forms of communication. Finding the right way to do this will help attract employees and customers who share similar values.

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Companies should be careful not to become commoditized in selling mortgages. Leveraging core values as a profit center translates into success for everyone. By following in the steps of Google and many other top companies, lenders and originators can define who they are instead of being defined by what they sell. In turn, you can leverage your values as a profit center.


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