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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   December 2018

Arm Yourself With These Lifesaving Tools

The only way to thrive in this mortgage climate is to streamline day-to-day operations

Arm Yourself With These Lifesaving Tools

Brewing storm clouds can be seen everywhere in the housing market. High interest rates are hitting the refinance market hard. Low inventory is putting a pinch on the purchase market. What can mortgage originators do?

One approach is to become as efficient and productive as possible. Fortunately, there are some relatively inexpensive tools for bolstering efficiency and productivity that will give the astute originator an edge in these foreboding times.

Businesses rely on efficiency and productivity to grow. Those keys are especially critical for today’s mortgage companies, which face new and complex challenges.

From rising interest rates to the pressures of a housing shortage, even the most successful industry players are feeling the heat. Only those businesses that find a way to create more time to spend on marketing and business development will steadily weather the storm.

The good news is it’s not only feasible, but it’s even easier than many realize. There are a number of tools that are easy to use, inexpensive and remarkably effective at streamlining day-to-day operations, maximizing efficiency and bringing productivity to a whole new level in the mortgage business. Once implemented, these tools can make a measurable impact almost immediately on mortgage originators and their companies.

E-mail tracking

A great deal of time is wasted by mortgage professionals each and every day simply tracking down e-mails. With an automated e-mail tracking tool, such as Yesware, every message sent out — whether it’s from Gmail, Outlook or a branded platform — can be automatically tracked.

This technology provides a real-time glimpse into when e-mails are opened, when attachments are viewed, etc. This is a massive indicator of interest and allows mortgage professionals to follow up immediately.

With e-mail tracking, mortgage originators can identify exactly where prospects are in the borrowing process. This enables them to better tailor the timing and content of messages so that they’re more impactful. Furthermore, e-mail tracking provides valuable insights, such as whether people are viewing pre- approval letters, looking at documents or forwarding messages to others.

Knowing exactly when messages have been opened can be a huge time saver. No more waiting around for a reply or wondering blindly whether something urgent is being tended to, such as with a processor or an underwriter.

E-mail tracking also can help to optimize the sales and prospecting effort. Metrics such as delivery rates, open rates and click counts, for example, can help determine areas where improvements could be made for better results. The e-mail-tracking tool also has a function that gives users the ability to create templates and plug them into Outlook or Gmail.

E-mail tracking also enables mortgage professionals to maintain a more organized business operation by categorizing and classifying messages and contacts appropriately. Tags and lists can be utilized to segment and prioritize prospects, for example, enabling more targeted messaging. The cost of an e-mail tracking tool is about $15 per month.

Virtual call center

There’s nothing worse than knowing that for all of the time you spent marketing, a phone call came in and no one answered it. That’s wasted time, money and energy and can do some serious damage to your referral partners.

As everyone knows, calls are like gold. Calls to businesses are 10 to 15 times more likely to generate successful follow-up activity or a sale than digital communications, according to marketing company BIA/Kelsey. Simply put, a good portion of today’s clients still prefer making calls over sending e-mails or submitting web forms.

The problem is most branch managers or mortgage originators operate on limited resources, which means having a dedicated receptionist on the payroll isn’t always an option. Thanks to cloud technology and advances in telecommunications, however, even a one-person-show can enjoy the benefits of having their own receptionist.

Employing a virtual call-center service such as PatLive may be your answer. Here’s how it works: If a call isn’t answered immediately by you or one of your team members, it then flows over to a call-answering service where well-trained agents answer your missed incoming calls.

The agents follow a script with answers to some frequently asked question that you provide to them. Instead of training one receptionist how to handle your incoming calls, you’re essentially training a powerful team of people.

After taking the call, the answering-service agent fills out some general information and then sends that information to you. This is an excellent tool for offering after-hours customer service, as well as making sure that your clients always get a live person, no matter when they call or where you are located.

You or your team gets the message, and then you can rest assured that they’re capturing all the leads that are coming into the company. Even for larger operations that can afford in-house receptionists, a virtual call center can be used as a backup for overflow calls, ensuring that incoming communications are handled in a timely, professional manner.

Far cheaper than a receptionist and open 24 hours a day, it’s an excellent option for mortgage operations that are growing quickly or that want to scale efficiently. The cost of a virtual call-center service starts at around $150 per month.

Online scheduler

Playing phone tag in an attempt to get an appointment on the schedule is not only a huge waste of precious time, but it can also decrease the likelihood of closing the deal. With so much competition in the market today, prompt, professional and convenient service is the most important factor for success.

Intelligent appointment-scheduling technology addresses this by enabling prospects to book an appointment at the exact time of need. Not only does this provide a better experience for prospects, but it can dramatically improve the chances of conversion as a result. Additionally, its more efficient for you, taking you completely out of the process.

With an online scheduling tool such as TimeTrade, new and existing clients can view availability online and select the time and date they’d prefer to receive a call back or schedule a meeting. A confirmation is then automatically sent to the mortgage originator and to the client via email.

As a bonus, this tool also can be used by virtual call-center agents, making the appointment-booking process simple, efficient and effective. The cost of an online scheduler starts at about $12 per month.

Pre-qualification app

These days, everyone has a smartphone and people use their mobile devices for everything, including online banking, shopping and starting the mortgage-loan process. Now, thanks to advanced technology and tools such as PreApp, interested individuals can fill out their online mortgage applications right from their mobile devices.

Mobile pre-qualification apps typically offer a condensed, short application that will enable borrowers to begin the mortgage-loan process. Clients also are able to upload documents directly to the pre-qualification app, and the system can be set up with triggers that allow the application to automatically send out requests for customers to upload pay stubs, W2s, etc.

The app works as part of an e-mail signature, can be hosted on a website and, best of all, the entire system can work on a mobile platform. With a cloud-based online application like this, everything is covered — from obtaining credit and calculating ratios to collecting required documentation and issuing pre-approval letters. It’s not only convenient for the prospective borrower, but it’s also a huge time-saver for the mortgage professional.

Furthermore, the use of a pre-qualification app also can help originators develop and strengthen valuable business relationships with referral partners. By targeting borrowers before they find real estate agents and getting them loan-ready, mortgage producers can be in a position to provide pre-approved hot leads to their preferred real estate partners.

Referral partners will close more deals as a result, the clients will enjoy a more seamless homebuying process from start to finish, and the originator will receive more reciprocal leads from the real estate partners. The cost of a pre-qualification app is about $40 per month.

•  •  •

Being more efficient so you can be more productive isn’t an impossible feat. It just takes the right strategies. As the mortgage market continues to shift, it becomes even more important to streamline operations, boost productivity, maximize efficiency and facilitate consistent, sustainable growth.

Working smarter doesn’t happen by accident. By implementing the four tools listed above, you’ll get more done with less stress, close more sales and increase your production, both this year and in the future.


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