Many people think that it’s never good to say no to a potential partner or client, but in reality, you need to choose who you deal with carefully. As an aspiring loan originator, this is critical and Jennifer Otto, a Certified Mortgage Planner, joins Jen Du Plessis in this episode to explain her methods for choosing the best fit for you and your business. She gives away what she believes to be the secret sauce behind her success as a loan officer, and that’s getting yourself the right coach that will resonate with you. She talks about the different benefits of having a coach in this field and why it should be the first step you need to take. Learn why you don’t have to chase after every realtor’s business and how building the right relationships is much better.
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A Guide For Up And Coming Loan Originators With Jennifer Otto
I am delighted because joining us is Jennifer Otto. She is a loan officer at the mortgage division of F&M Bank in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I’m excited because Jennifer is one of my clients. She is receiving this opportunity to have this interview on the show because of her involvement with me as a client. We’re going to talk about that. We’re going to talk about what podcasts have done for your business and some other things too. Jennifer, welcome to the show. I’m excited to have you.
Thank you so much, Jen. I am excited to be here. I have been an avid follower of your show well before I ever met you and became a student. This is fun.
When we look back at that time you gave me a phone call and we spoke one evening before I was having a big retreat and the whole thing. It was an exciting time. One of the reasons I wanted to bring you on is because you are dynamic and a go-getter. I love go-getters. Anybody who has been reading for a while, you know that I’m an action taker. It’s definitely one thing that Jennifer has done. I want to start with you telling us your story. You’ve been in the business for quite some time but there’s a hook in it. Stay tuned, there’s a little hook in her tenure. Tell us a little bit about you.
I’ve been in the mortgage business for years and this is all I’ve ever known. This has been my only big girl job. I stumbled into mortgage and it’s been years. I started as a receptionist and was part-time. That’s a whole other story. I got into processing and I processed for about twenty years. I was in North Alabama. I moved to Tennessee trying to get out of the mortgage business and going to court reporting school, but I also was doing contract processing from home. This was 2004 or 2005 before all of the craziness happened in 2008. I went back to work as a regular in-house processor and moved over to sales. I realized I love that after underwriting, closing, shipping, insuring, all of the fun. I dot the I’s, cross the T’s, stuff on the back end.
I finally moved my way to the front. I was a production manager for a team that did well. In July of 2019, I went to my manager at the time and said, “I’ve had this license for a long time. I would like to move over and begin originating on my own independently.” That’s when I found your podcast and listened for quite some time before I ever reached out to you. I was trying to learn as much as I could. It took from about July of 2019 until January of 2020 for me to help acquire, train and get that team on a good footing so I could move over. I’ve been originating since January of 2020 independently. In March of 2020, the pandemic hit and we’ve all been quarantined in our home. This will be the story for this century of how to become a loan officer. That’s my claim to fame.
It’s funny because there are a lot of people, both you and I, having been in the business for so long, that you’ve said, “What a time to start” several times in those many years. Now you’re looking in the mirror, calling the kettle black. I want to talk about the journey that you’ve had. You started on January 1st. That was the day that you started originating and it was quite interesting. I knew that that was happening for you. From your perspective, how do you think your history plays a role in where you are at now as an originator in your experience?
We’ve had a couple of new originators come on with my company, in my office specifically. With the background that I have, what I tell my clients is, “If I was a pizza maker, not only can I sell you pizza, but I also used to make the sauce. I know every ingredient in the sauce, what we do, and how long it has to boil.” I feel that I have a unique perspective as I’m talking to my borrowers as a certified mortgage planner to dig into some of those details and answer those questions that they have like, how long does it take to get a verification? How long does it take to get an appraisal? I don’t have to give the salesy answers because I know and I have done it. I have sat in that seat. I feel that it gives me a unique perspective even with my clients and dealing with my realtor partners.
It’s not only the fluff. I know you have a lot of originators in your audience, but I’ve sat in those seats and done those jobs. I know exactly what it takes to get a verification, title and appraisal in. That makes me a little bit unique for most originators. Especially for someone starting out, this business has changed so much in many years. To think about having to learn all of the ins and outs of the business, how to be relevant on social media, how to network, etc. I’m grateful that I’ve had the experience in the business for as long as I have to know at least the mortgage piece. I am 100% confident in my ability with the mortgage piece. That’s when I reached out to you. I was like, “Help me put together all of this stuff.” I want my business to look at yours. I want to be able to quickly accelerate and get my business up and where I want it to be in a few years.
The thing that was cool about talking with you originally was that we come from the same cloth as far as our history. I jumped into origination a little sooner than you did. I started off as a receptionist/setup clerk. I was full-time but it was something more. I remember that I got into this business and I realized that you can’t have lunch or dinner. I remember every single day I was taking Tab Coca-Cola at the time. It was popular then. That was my coffee in the morning. I still don’t drink coffee but that was my coffee in the morning.Getting with a good coach is the secret sauce for new loan officers. Click To Tweet
I would drink a Tab on the way to work and that would get me ready to go, so I can be charged up and equal to all the other people that were in the business. At the time, I worked for a branch manager loan officer who all he did was build the business and that was it. He had the whole builder locked up. Rates were 18.5% and we did GPM mortgages. If you don’t know what a GPM mortgage is, you have to reach out to us because we’ll be able to tell you. I already know I can tell you. We did GPM mortgages and GEMs. It was a pretty interesting time. I thought that was cool.
You decided to get into origination and you’ve been in origination. Tell us what you have been doing that has provided you with some quick results? If a new loan officer is reading and they’re saying, “What do I do?” I was on a webinar for NAMMBA, National Association of Minority Mortgage Bankers of America, and one of the questions someone asked me was, “I’m a new loan officer. What should I do?” There are plenty of new loan officers out there that are wondering what Jennifer Otto is doing that’s making her hit the ground running, particularly if they don’t have an experience like you do and understanding guidelines.
This is going to sound super cliché but getting with a good coach has been the secret sauce. Jen, you’ve been my coach and it’s overwhelming. There are many different directions you can run in at any given time. Having someone to help you cut through the static and the noise and say, “You are good at this. Let’s do this. Let’s get this going.” It’s also digging into the intro to income and learning how to be a great interviewer of realtor partners and a good network partner, to be able to figure out, where is this person going to fit in my sphere? How can I benefit that person? That’s why I clicked and resonated with you so much. It’s because you have this heart of, “Let’s make sure it’s a win-win-win for everyone.”
I told you this. I was listening to one of your podcasts and you started talking about dancing. I know you like dogs. My husband and I were sitting there like, “I love this woman. I have to meet her.” That’s when I looked on your website on how to reach out to you. This is no smoke and mirrors. Everybody needs a coach in life. Even coaches have coaches. That to me is the thing, and not only that because I’ve worked under loan officers in the past who had coaches. It’s not just having a coach. You have to find someone that resonates with you that isn’t going to be like, “Because you work there, what I teach you doesn’t work so now you’ve got to leave your company.” “I want to stay at my company.”
It’s finding someone who resonates with you and who’s going to also be a partner in, “This is what you want to do. Let me help you reach your goals.” You’re not trying to create Jen Du Plessis clones. It’s about me building my business. Jen didn’t ask me to say all of this, but that to me would be a big thing for a new originator. You’ve got to get either with a mentor, a coach or someone that can help you cut through the noise, help you get in a direction, and start chewing through things instead of being like, “I like this and this,” and you don’t do any of those things. That’s the biggest thing. It’s that shiny object.
The shiny object syndrome and we’ve seen that over the years. Lots of people do that and it’s frustrating. I’ve had my years of doing that as well but I learned a different way and path. Thank you so much for saying that. You didn’t have to but thank you.
I did it, but that was the perfect question.
I appreciate your answer very much but I do want to get back to, what are you doing? Having a coach, definitely but what is it that you’re doing that’s creating the buzz around your business right now?
I’ve been pretty active and consistent on social media. I’m also learning how to do that Intro to Income. When I meet new people and being able to ask the questions to figure out, “Are we a good fit for each other?” I don’t want to waste their time if I’m not a good fit for them. I don’t want them wasting my time if they’re not a good fit for me. Being able to say that out loud and say, “I don’t want every realtors’ business,” that is a game-changer for most loan officers. They think they want every realtors’ business and I don’t.
That’s probably been the biggest thing to my success and events. We can’t do events right now but you’ve helped us to learn how to pivot and to do this differently. I do have workshops that I do on a semi-regular basis and more workshops coming out. I’m retooling and constantly looking to get better with who I’m looking to talk to on social media. Those are the biggest things, social media, and being able to figure out if these referral partners are going to be a good fit for my business, then being able to go the next step.
The key thing there is sooner than later. Many people are like squirrels. They run around with business cards. They accumulate people and there’s so much in their mouth that they can’t chew or swallow. They’re just in their mouth. Two or three years go by and they’re like, “I don’t even work with this person.” Get in, get out, and figure out if they’re going to be a good fit. Since we’re talking about that, you’ve had a couple of situations where you thought they were going to be a good fit and they are not. It’s good that you found out sooner. Tell us how that came about so if someone’s reading, they’re saying, “I have to interview them properly and figure out if they’re a good fit.” What are some of the measures that you have or when your antennas were up to say, “I misgauged them?” That’s okay. It’s better to know than wonder is what I always say.
In the first meeting especially, there is a lot of mirroring that happens when people meet each other in person. I have learned to not only ask the questions that you have suggested, put out and teach. I go a step further and ask them what is their niche and listen for their answers. You always say this, “Be curious.” When someone says something, instead of me assuming I understand what they mean, I may probe that a little bit further. Even if I don’t get through my questions because I want to know when they say something like, “This lender this. This lender that.”
I’m learning to say, “Help me understand that situation. What about that situation that made you feel that way?” I’m thinking in my head that’s a good window into what their expectations are. If they’re going to be super drama realtors, I am not about super drama realtors. I’m not about jumping in being the beck and call girl and those types of things. I have had some situations. At the beginning of 2020, I quickly went through some of these interviews. I had to go back and redo, and when I did I was like, “They want to do luxury jumbos on the beach for investors.” At the time, I was working with first-time homebuyers. I’m like, “This isn’t exactly a match made in heaven.”
I was able to then have that conversation and go, “I am glad that you shared that with me. Let me share with you where I am. It’s not that I can’t work with you on a jumbo luxury whatever, but we’re not going to be working together in the same spheres. We’re not going to be putting on the same types of events or looking and fishing for the same types of clients.” That was cool to get that clarity around. If I’m linking arms with people and wanting to do business with them, having someone who understands the avatar of the person that I’m going after as much as I do is great too. Two, three, and four heads are better than one. Let’s get all of the people, insurance or everybody that’s going after that client and we can mastermind. You get a mastermind when people are on different planes and going after different things. That’s been helpful for me to hone in and ask those questions, to be curious and dig whenever I see or hear something. You don’t have to decide on the first date.
You don’t have to decide to get married right away.
Many times people feel like, “I have to decide this one.” If I’m having great conversations, I’ll be like, “There’s still so much here that I want to learn about you and your business. I never had a chance to share with you so let’s schedule another time.” That allows you that opportunity to see, are they going to show up on time the next time? They may show up on time the first time, but will they show up and didn’t forget to go, “I’m so sorry. I’m in a car on the way to Florida?” You didn’t put me on your calendar. It’s all of those little things. If we are truly building relationships, which is what you teach, it’s not a one-time thing. It’s not a wham-bam, figure it out and move on. It’s slowing down and knowing that it’s going to be 2, 3, 4, possibly one-on-one appointment to figure out what that person is all about. It doesn’t have to be in the first one.
You had the opposite situation. It was when you met with them and didn’t think that they would pan out and they keep sending you business.
Good business. I did the same thing. I asked her, “What do you focus on?” She worked with investors and I told her, “That isn’t my thing. You’re fantastic.” She honed in on the CMPS certification. She was a CPA in her former life. She liked the fact that I could go that extra mile with my clients, even the first-time homebuyers. The people she sent me were people who were a little bit more financially savvy, who had a little bit more net worth. One of them was an investor so I learned some things there. I found that we worked together well because she’s unemotional and isn’t high drama. I’m unemotional and not high drama. We do work together well on those deals that come up that do tend to work well. Even the ones that aren’t in my wheelhouse, I’m willing to make that exception because I enjoy working with her. It may not necessarily be exactly the rules, but it’s about having that relationship with someone that I like and trusts me. It’s an easy, smooth relationship with the buyers and with her so it’s worked. We’ve done a few deals together now.It's not just having a coach. You have to find someone that resonates with you. Click To Tweet
That’s okay too. You have your niche but you can always sell everything else. One of the things that we’ve been talking about is getting you on this show. In the meantime, while we’re talking about this, lo and behold, you get a phone call from someone locally saying, “Would you be on a podcast?” You’ve been on a couple of podcasts. Tell us how that’s changed the perception of your credibility in the marketplace and what it’s done for you personally?
I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me on LinkedIn, and Facebook especially because that’s where I try to be more consistent. A lot of my friends that I run into are like, “You have so much going on.” I’m like, “That’s amazing how that is the perception of what’s happening.” Not that I’m downplaying it or anything. The first one was a binge podcast. I was interviewed because I’m a binge podcast listener. The very next week I had someone call me because I use a virtual assistant for some of my staff and she has a podcast. I had a mortgage podcast reach out and your podcast.
What it’s done is it’s helped me to elevate my credibility. People are like, “You’re on podcasts?” People want to hear what you have to say. At first, I downplayed it. I was like, “I’m talking about listening to podcasts.” They’re like, “There are not a lot of people who anybody wants to hear anything that they have to say. The fact that you’ve been on this has been cool.” It’s been awesome to have something to share with people and I’ve had people reach out and go, “How did you do that? How do I get on podcasts?” That’s been fun.
It’s totally different. It’s like being on the radio. Everybody thinks you’ve arrived. It’s a cool thing and it’s also good for your realtors and your clients to see that you’re out there. They get to see another side to you. If you’re sharing, “I have been on this podcast and here is what I have to say.” They get to see a little under the covers behind the scenes about the practice and what’s happening in it. That perspective draws people closer to you. That’s cool and now, you’re talking about doing a podcast. You’re talking about, “Maybe I should consider doing something like this too,” to bring it out. One of my other clients in the same program you’re in started a podcast. It’s interesting and it’s cool. I never thought talking about podcasts to all my clients, but maybe I will start adding it in there.
There are many that are out there but it’s a fun aspect. For you, it’s different because you’re talking about you and your business. You could go down the road of serving consumers. Before I started podcasting, I had a little internet TV show. All it was videotaping and throwing it up on Facebook, which was Getting Real with Realtors with Jen Du Plessis. For me, it was interviewing a bunch of realtors because I thought that’s cool and I’ll go, “Look at me.” That would help my business and of course, it did.
There are different ways that can be initiated and it’s powerful. If you’re reading this, it’s powerful. If you can put a podcast together, it’s cool to be able to do it. It’s another medium for you to get out there to spread the word and highlight what you do. What does the future look like for Jennifer Otto? You’re still in the early stages of doing this and you’re still trying to figure out a few little things. Largely you’re out there, you’re communicating with people and doing loans. What does the future hold for you and your hubby?
I was going to say the future is going to be a little bit different. That aspect has changed a little bit from what we started as a joke of, “You should get your real estate license,” to now he has his real estate license and wants to pursue that. For us, we want to continue growing my business and his business. I would love to get to the point where I’m working with that perfect client and more frequently than not. I love teaching and that’s something that you and I have talked about so much. My life’s motto was honed in through your program, guidance, and corrections along the way. It is, “To whom much is given, much is required.” That’s something that has bubbled up in me over the last few months. It’s something that I can apply to anything. I know it sounds kind of, “Why?” I have a heart for teaching and educating the public because it’s all face Google and it’s all somebody’s opinion.
Also, because I’ve been so long in the backroom and I know how the sauce is made, I want to be able to share that information with the public. I don’t feel that mortgage should be that smoke and mirrors and, “We don’t know how this works.” That is going to be something that is big in my future. I’ve been thinking about how to do that and maybe a nonprofit type of way or whatever. I love teaching it, whether it’s my partners or consumers. I love being able to share the knowledge and experience I’ve gained. Because I’m generally a curious person, I’m always like, “Why? How’s that? Why does it work that way? How do you get that?” It’s figuring stuff out. That’s how I am. To be able to share that information with other people is the future for Jennifer Otto. I’m going to be somewhere teaching somebody something about mortgage, credit or all of that stuff because that’s where it’s at. It’s helping people and doing loans along the way. My true passion is educating people.
If a loan officer wants to get ahold of you and say, “How did you get to this success so quickly?” or a new loan officer is saying, “What should I be thinking about?” or a real estate agent saying, “I want to work with Jennifer Otto.” What is the best way for someone to reach you?
The best way for someone to reach me is on my cell phone. My cell phone is (615) 810-1277. They can check me out on my company website, JenniferOtto.net. There’s my bio up there and they can reach me that way. I would love to connect with anyone. I am definitely not someone who keeps all of the information close to the best. If you are a new loan officer or someone thinking about becoming a loan officer, we need new loan officers. You are going to be good and reach out and try to learn the ropes. We want people who are helping people. I would love to pour into you and share things with you. Some of the people that we met at the workshop in Orlando are still reaching out to me and things. For anybody, I would love to help you. That’s how I conduct life in general.
When we had the workshop and in Orlando right before COVID, that’s what you were doing. You were being the leader and all that relationship. I love that about you as well. I wish you continued success. I want to say thank you for coming on and sharing your insights and your opinions about what’s going on and how to get started. I wish you the best and I’m sure that once this is released, you’re going to get more phone calls about being on podcasts so hold on tight. There’s going to be a row. Your coach is going to say, “Are you a podcast girl or a loan officer?” I wonder who that’s going to be?
Thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it. I want to thank everybody for reading. If this is your first time reading, welcome to the community. If you’ve been reading for a long time, thank you so much for being a longtime reader and supporter. Don’t forget to go to MortgageLendingMastery.com and become a member. Be part of our community so you can continue to learn from my clients and myself, and everybody that I bring in all the time. Also, don’t forget to subscribe and give us a great rating and a quick review so we can keep those going in all of the avenues that we’re in now. I want to say thank you for reading and taking time out of your day to learn something, and hopefully get an a-ha out of this. I’ll catch you next time.
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About Jennifer Otto
Growing up as the oldest daughter of four with successful parents as role models, Jennifer Otto has always understood the value of hard work, dedication, and leadership. With a 25 year long career in the mortgage business serving in various support roles, Jennifer brings a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and skill to her loan officer practice with F&M Bank. As a Certified Mortgage Planner, Jennifer brings an ability to think through even the toughest situations while also making her clients and partners feel at ease with the process. Jennifer, a mother of three – Rebekah-24, Victoria-21, and Walker-17 – and her husband of 9 years, Michael, spend their vacation time setting sail on the seven seas on a cruise. While she’s not busy helping her clients or on a cruise, she enjoys relaxing at home with her three dogs Missie, Kaiser, and Maia.
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