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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   December 2016

Time to Reflect and Set Goals

Focusing on small changes can reap big rewards over time

As 2016 draws to an end, it is time to reflect on your performance for the year. Did you meet or exceed your goals? More importantly, were your goals too far out of reach or too easy achieve? Did you even set any goals at all? Everyone needs a road map, plan, blueprint or whatever you label it. Setting goals defines your direction and helps you get where you want to be with respect to yearly production and income.

If you didn’t reach your goals in 2016, you may need to rethink your process for achieving those goals to make them more obtainable. If you were funding two units per month and set a goal to fund five per month, for example, that is a big leap that requires time and effort to achieve. Did you perform the necessary steps to make that leap?

Did you talk to enough borrowers who were qualified to purchase or refinance a property? Did you connect with referral sources in your sphere of influence to drum up new business? Did you e-mail Realtors in your database to see if you can assist them with their buyers? Did you advertise to veterans to tell them about Veterans Affairs (VA) loans or to first-time homebuyers about Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans? You need to be proactive, not reactive, when looking to increase your funding units.

Perhaps you already were funding as many units as a single loan originator can handle, but you set a goal to increase your volume. If you were funding $1 million per month and wanted to double that number to $2 million, what steps did you implement to increase your dollar volume without increasing your units?

Did you think about changing your focus and marketing to borrowers who needed larger loans? Did you connect with new referral partners, such as Realtors, CPAs, divorce attorneys, financial advisers and other professionals who work with clients who can afford larger loans? Just setting the goal isn’t enough if you don’t follow through with a plan to reach that goal.

Focus small

As you plan your 2017 goals, start with small, focused goals, and do not start another goal until you have a plan in place and are actively working toward the first goal. Multitasking often makes people lose focus, which can lengthen the time it takes to meet all of your goals. If you focus small and take on one goal at a time, you will be able to put your plans into action and knock out each goal in turn.

If you’re looking to fund more units, for example, call past clients and professionals in your area to let them know you are looking to assist  teachers, police officers, veterans or some other group that works for a major employer your area. This can lead to referrals as well as more connections within that organization, which can turn that small goal into a new niche area for you. By putting all of your focus on that one goal, you can achieve big gains.

Focusing also allows you to dive deeply into complex goals to ensure success. If you are trying to increase volume tenfold by shifting to jumbo loans, for example, you will need to be certain you can compete in that arena and spend time learning the guidelines that impact jumbo products. Small changes also can make a big impact on your volume, however. If you take your loan average from $250,000 to $275,000 — by working to get referrals in slightly more expensive neighborhoods, for example — and fund just three units per month, that will add $75,000 to your monthly volume, or almost $1 million to your annual production.

With goals and a plan in place, you will have no
more excuses for not achieving higher numbers.

This example illustrates that focusing on small steps can produce huge returns. Simply by working with real estate agents who are focused on buyers can make a big difference, for example. Realtors who list homes for sellers more often than they sell homes to buyers simply won’t provide as many referrals. You do not want to be the loan originator who is looking to cross-qualify buyers. Stick with agents who work primarily with buyers to build a solid referral partnership that is a two-way street: They refer buyers who are looking for loans to you, and you refer past clients who are looking to make a move to them.

No more excuses

Goal setting as a business tool has been around for a long time. Unfortunately, too many mortgage professionals fail to set goals, and those who do often fall victim to misplacing their roadmaps for success. If you want more closings, higher average production and more income in 2017, you need to start with a plan and stick to it throughout the year. Starting this month, you need decide what you want to accomplish in 2017, and then create rules for yourself that will help you make that happen.

Begin by figuring out what worked in 2016 and what didn’t work. Get rid of any goals that did not work this year and do not place them on your 2017 list. Instead, concentrate and expand on the productivity goals that earned you the most income. Removing nonproductive processes from your routine will open more doors for expanding on what did work.

Start small and on something that makes you happy. If you enjoy connecting with past clients to catch up with them on their jobs, house or family, then start calling. Do you like talking to real estate agents about your products? Then make appointments, and tell them all about your new downpayment-assistance program that can help their buyers afford to buy a house.

Be sure to set realistic goals, and write them down along with the processes you plan to use to implement those goals. This will be your blueprint for going forward in 2017. Then focus on one goal at a time. Don’t be afraid to tell your referral partners about your goals for the year. If they see you working hard on those goals, they will know you are a serious professional who follows through. With goals and a plan in place, you will have no more excuses for not achieving higher numbers.

If you ever wondered why other loan originators in your office or market consistently seem to produce higher numbers, it is likely because they set and worked on goals years ago and developed processes that have now become habits. These habits might include getting to the office early, connecting with the right referral sources, and reaching out to potential clients and referral sources in their databases several times throughout the year — with e-mails, newsletters, phone calls, birthday cards, property tax questions, etc. Whatever they are doing, it is working, and it can work for you as well.

To begin creating new habits, block out a regular time in your schedule to work on your first goal. Mornings are often the best time because your mind is fresh. Plus, by mid morning the office workflow will be in full swing, and you will get pulled in all directions. That can be a goal killer. If you work better at night, when it’s quiet, then do that. The more you stick to your schedule, the better chance you have of completing your first goal so you can start on the next one. The important point is to start somewhere, and turn that time into a routine that works for you.

•  •  •

Setting personal goals is something best done by you. If your branch manager creates goals for you, you will likely fail because they are not your goals. They belong to your manager. With 2016 drawing to a close, now is the time to get your goals in order for 2017. So, take control of your business. Set some goals, and choose one to focus on until that task is completed.


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