Residential Magazine

Burst Past Your Production Plateau

These simple steps will help you overcome what’s holding you back

By Michael Sunnaa

As a mortgage originator, your success is often measured by a single number: how many loans you’re closing in the current month. For better or worse, this number rules your thoughts, and it often reflects how you are treated by your company and the operations staff that is meant to support you. 

You might look around and see loan files for other originators with higher production numbers getting pushed to the head of the line. You also might see loan concessions being given to others who have had more success in the past, allowing the originator to win the deal when there is a competitor’s quote involved. 

All of these things occupy space in your mind and prohibit you from unlocking your true potential. But there are ways to get beyond these self-defeating thoughts and get back on track. Here are some simple steps to unlock your potential and drive yourself to the next level.

Work backward

All good originators continually evaluate their referral partners, as well as other systems and methods for prospecting new clients. By doing so, the originator is hoping to find time to produce more efficiently.

Originators too often fail to ask themselves, “What is stopping me from doing more?” Each person has a mental and physical capacity that, when reached, they cannot move beyond. The average loan officer closes between 18 and 25 loans per year, according to ConsumerDirect Inc. which equates to a couple of loans per month. Are these originators not capable of averaging three, four or even more than that? 

The answer lies within your own mind. Before you establish a goal, make sure you know how many calls it takes to set an appointment, how many appointments it takes to get a referral and how many referrals it takes to get a live loan. Work backward and make your goals attainable.

When you have reached a peak and cannot seem to break through to the next level, even though you put in a solid 40-hour workweek or longer, you often will come to the realization that the reason you have hit this ceiling is that your attention and energy are being spent on the current loans you are trying to close. Your goals are not tied to loans currently in the pipeline. 

Dedicate time 

When examining any top producer, the common thread is that they have made time blocking part of their day. They have a system in place for file flow and they have at least one assistant, which allows the originator to take an application, consult with the client on the best available loan options and then place the transaction in the hands of their capable team.

Finding and building a team can seem like a daunting task. Oftentimes, you will be told that, “Once you hit five loans per month, we’ll get you an assistant.” The problem is that you may not be able to get to this level without these things in place. 

Equally important at this juncture is to understand the life of a loan. You need to be the expert in the process flow so that you can walk away while recognizing when something has gone off track.

Invest in yourself

The challenge is to find the right organization that will support the needs you have. When interviewing a prospective employer, ask the questions that pertain to you. This will help you decide if they are willing to make the same investment in you that you are making in them.

These questions include whether the company prioritizes purchase loans over refinances. How do they handle a competitor that is beating them on price? What marketing assistance do they offer to their loan originators? If you bring your database to the company, what happens to it if you leave? Ask to speak to one of their top producers and to one of their average producers.

Don’t stop there. You must be willing to have skin in the game. This can come from reducing your compensation plan to help offset the cost of a loan officer assistant. It also can come from investing in your own growth by hiring a coach who can help you organize your time, or it can come in the form of time you are willing to spend with a mentor inside the organization. 

Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. If someone is doing more than you, ask them what their secret is. You will find that, in nearly all instances, their secret sauce is that they are committed to their personal and professional goals just as much as they are committed to a target number of fundings per month.

When your mind is less cluttered, you have written yourself a check for more hours in a day to do the things you want.

Declutter your mind

When you can master having a system to follow and utilizing assistants, you free up space in your mind, which allows you to expand your capacity and reach the next plateau. Ultimately, this results in higher production numbers, more vacation time, or the ability to go back to school or spend more time with family. 

When your mind is less cluttered, you have written yourself a check for more hours in a day to do the things you want. These may include soliciting new business, growing your relationships with your current referral partners, attracting new partners, working your sphere of influence and investing in yourself. 

Once you adopt these philosophies and implement this structure, there is always a next level and you are always within striking distance of reaching it. Your production growth likely has not been stifled because you simply cannot do more. It’s more likely you’ve been stifled by the presence of current challenges that you have little to no influence on. 

Your future in the mortgage industry is not subject to market conditions — it is subject to the conditions of your mind. Unlock your potential, give yourself freedom and do great things by simply allowing yourself to focus on tomorrow’s goals. ●


  • Michael Sunnaa

    Michael Sunnaa is CEO of Viewpoint Lending and managing partner at Lending 3. Sunnaa is a 25-year-plus veteran of the mortgage industry with a master’s in business administration who is currently working on his doctoral degree. His experience ranges from broker to banker to direct lender. Sunnaa has trained and managed more than 2,500 loan originators and continues to grow in changing markets. 

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