Residential Magazine

The Right ‘Who’ Delivers the ‘How’

Make smart choices when building your team to close more loans in less time

By Carl White

Next week, you’re taking a trip to visit your daughter. While you’re gone, the loans will go on. If you’ve hired the right team — and the rightsized team — they’ll be capable of handling everything without you.

Without a dependable team, your vacation would be interrupted by you being on your cell phone all week while ignoring your daughter, or you’d be spending time with your daughter while ignoring your clients. But if you’ve hired the right team, you can truly have it all at once.

Productive focus

Mortgage company leaders hire people for their team because it makes them more money and frees up their time to do the activities they wish to do. Originators engage in two categories of activities: “A” activities, which involve bringing in the loans, and “B” activities, which include everything that needs to be done to close the loans.

The activities in the first category are proactive while those in the second category are reactive. “A” activities are sales tasks, such as building relationships, bringing in leads and converting them. The most productive originators spend all of their time on “A” activities and hire people to do the “B” activities for them. 

Many originators are scared to make the first leap into hiring help, so they try to do it all themselves. If you’re waiting for it to not be scary, you’re never going to make your first hire. Don’t worry about what will happen if you hire someone and work slows down. Stop planning for failure or you’ll fail by design. Get the help, ramp up, and your business will keep growing.

Meeting challenges

When it comes to hiring, all sorts of questions will pop into your head: What are you looking for in a new hire? Who is this person and what are they made of? How do you recognize them when you find them?

Think about it this way: The right “who” brings the right “how” with them. You want a team of go-getters and problem solvers. When you hire someone or delegate a task, you don’t want to micromanage. You don’t want to control them during every step of the process. 

You don’t need a person who comes in and says, “Tell me every single thing to do.” Of course, you’ll need to train your new hires and help them learn everything they need to know to be successful. But you want them to have independence, use their minds and figure out their own ways of meeting challenges that arise on a daily basis.

You want people who can grow into other jobs. You want to hire a receptionist who can put in the hours and learn, and if you’re very lucky, eventually become a partner. You also want someone who knows how to make money. When the market crashes like it did in 2008 and you lose virtually all of your loan production, this person will walk in the door the next day with a stack of books on making a website for your mortgage company to widen your net and stay afloat. The right “who” will bring the right “how” with them.

Setting expectations

Be clear about what you want and when, but leave the “how” up to your employees. Give Bob a project, tell him how it should look, and that you’d like to have it two weeks from today. 

Here’s how you can show respect to your team members. You can say, “Bob, do you foresee any obstacles that would keep you from meeting this deadline? If this date doesn’t work, what’s a date that will? By the way, Bob, it’s OK to tell me your plate is full. I’ll stop giving you work. What’s not OK is if you don’t tell me and then you don’t get it done.”

  • Explain the project and the desired end result.
  • Suggest a due date and get the employee’s buy-in.
  • Be sensitive to their existing workload.
  • If they agree to the deadline and don’t get it done on time, that’s on them.

You’re giving your team members decisionmaking ability, ownership and responsibility. You’re empowering them and making sure they’re equipped with the resources they need. You’re not asking the impossible, but you’re stretching them and giving them the challenge of figuring out how to do it.

It’s OK to admit that you don’t have the right person for the job. Some people aren’t cut out to take the journey with you.

Wrong hires

Not many mortgage originators have a perfect hiring record. Your record can certainly improve over time, but sometimes you’ll hire a person you think is the right “who” and they’re not.

It’s OK to admit that you don’t have the right person for the job. Some people aren’t cut out to take the journey with you. There are three key qualities you need in a team member: attitude, effort and effectiveness.

If they’re effective but struggling with attitude or effort, then the decision to let them go is an easy one. They might be bringing in the money, but they also could be bringing down the rest of your team’s morale. If their attitude and effort are good but their effectiveness isn’t, it can be tough to fire them, but they’ll find a better fit somewhere else. 

You simply need to keep articulating what needs to be done and casting the vision for your team. With the right people, the “who” will deliver the “how.” ●


  • Carl White

    Carl White is founder and CEO of Mortgage Marketing Animals, a successful mortgage marketing training program. White is also a branch manager at one of the top mortgage branches in America and the host of the No. 1 podcast for loan officers, Mortgage Marketing Animals teaches the strategies that originators in White’s own branch use today to close more loans in less time. Learn more by visiting

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