There is an extent to which we can solve problems in our businesses. That is why it is never wrong to seek counsel from other great minds to help give you a new perspective on what you’re facing. This process is referred to as a mastermind, where you gather with like-minded individuals in the marketplace to help each other grow. In this special episode, Jen Du Plessis invites us into a mastermind panel where she talks to a group of entrepreneurs offering counsel for each of their businesses’ challenges. They went in and explored Roxann Hayes’ struggle of figuring out how to do it all to go to the next level as a leader; Whitney Anderson’s challenge with the lack of interaction with her clients; Libby Forrester’s inquiry on prioritizing one’s workflow, specifically for a loan officer; and Scott Davis’ dilemma on how to set boundaries that keeps one sane in the business while also allowing people to feel valued. Join in on this engaging conversation and be reminded of the fact that we don’t have all the answers ourselves. We also need the guidance of other people in order to grow.
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We are excited because we are having a mastermind. I have a couple of great guests on our show here. We have Libby Forrester from Atlanta, Georgia and Whit Anderson from Northern Virginia. We have Scott Davis from Northern Virginia/DC or otherwise known as the DMV, DC, Maryland and Virginia Metro Area. We have Roxann. Where are you from?
I’m from Southern California.
We’re happy to have you all on here for our mastermind. Without further ado, we’re going to go ahead and get started. For our readers, I want to say thank you so much for joining us and giving us your time on this show. If you’re a brand-new reader, you’re in for a treat because this is not our normal. We do a monologue. We do a solo episode where I might share some things by myself. We do guests and then we also do panels. That’s what we’re doing is a true mastermind to learn a little bit about some people that are out in the marketplace, and how we can help each other grow.
The whole purpose behind this is one, to demonstrate what a mastermind is and two, to demonstrate what my coaching is like because this is how I do all my coaching calls. Most importantly, for you to learn how to do a mastermind so that you can start a mastermind with your referral partners in Zoom, and then in-person when the time comes. It is very powerful in helping their business grow. I’m acting as a facilitator. I’m going to be the timekeeper of all of this but I want to get started by asking Roxann to go first.
How this is going to work is Roxann has two minutes to tell us about her and her business, what are her challenges and/or what’s a goal that she’s trying to meet. We’ll then take two minutes of clarifying questions by the rest of the panel. We’re going to take about 4 to 5 minutes to give her counsel and ideas on how to solve that problem based on our experiences. Roxann, go ahead and introduce yourself and tell us how we can help you.
Thanks for having me, Jen. My name is Roxann Hayes. I’m a loan officer in Southern California. I have been an originator for a few years. I’m at a point in the industry where I have a consistent business. I’m getting some relationships, but I’m now at a turning point where I feel like I need to go to the next level. My question is, how can I do it all? How am I able to find the time to create content for social media or for another stream? How am I able to still be engaged with my clients, my files, and then my relationships with realtors? That is my question and struggle.
Thank you so much for sharing. I’ll start with the clarifying question. What is your average funding per month now so that we have an understanding of what this level is, to what level you want to go to?
I am in a little different situation because I still do both with originating and I have a loan partner as well so I do help with his loans. We do about $4 million a month between 11 and 17 units. It’s probably where we’re at.
What’s your mix of business as far as purchase to refis of the $4 million, 11 to 17 units?
At this point in time, we are 30% purchase and 60% refi.
Is that a consistent 30/60 over the last few years or is that just in 2020?
No. We’d be more 50/50 prior to COVID.
Any other clarifying questions that anyone has for her? Scott?
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When you talk about your loan partner, is he a senior or more experienced loan officer that you’re working with and you’re learning from? Is that the general relationship?
Yes, that is the general relationship. He is seasoned in the business. He has a book of business, and some of his relationships as well as mine collectively, but he’s been in the industry for many years.
What is your understanding with him and yourself as to what your trajectory is going forward?
Everyone here knows an LO has a lot of responsibilities, we took that LO role and we split it up. He’s the make-it-rain and I’m the make-it-close. That’s not longevity for me and I need to continue to make it rain for my own business. I have stability with his clients, and although we’re partners and it’s under the same company, I need to be generating my own business for the longevity of myself.
Libby, do you have a clarifying question for her?
Do you have an arrangement with him as far as how long you’re going to stay in a partnership, and do you have an idea of how long you want to stay in a partnership with him? How long is that going to serve you versus going out on your own at some point?
We don’t have that established but the point is to have it continue on. If he were to not be the rainmaker, I would then be the rainmaker. Having the experience with his past clients and relationships, that I would have been able to continue on with that, if it went that way.
Your idea is to stay with him long-term so that when he decides to retire or move on, you are then there to step up into that role?
There’s no timeline on that.
No. Not that I want to focus, I’m still gathering mine because at the end of the day, we don’t know what will happen.
How do you cultivate your business?
How I cultivate my business is realtors that I’ve worked with in the past and my book of business.
What do you mean your book of business? Is that from past clients?
Yes, from past clients whether they refer me to other clients or me checking in with them for refi business.
Time is up on that. Let’s give her some counsel. What are some suggestions that you would give to her based on the other questions that were asked, as well as your questions? Scott, why don’t we go with you first?
To fast forward and you answered one of it. The goal is to stay together. Those are the conversations you and your partner have to have about how to transition your goal or grow role away from the operational side or the get-it-closed side more to the sales side, and what does that look like. It was a huge year for all of us. There’s some money sloshing around. What does that look like as far as, do you bring on a third person? You listed in the beginning some important things that no loan officer who’s doing this amount of business has time for.
The social media and all of that is a third person if you want to keep the partnership. That’s a conversation to have with your partner. A lot of your answers rely in what the two of you understand. Make sure you have a clear understanding. My LOA, for the first four years that we worked together, we both told each other that we were grooming him to be an LO because that’s what we thought the other wanted to hear. Finally, we were close enough and he’s like, “I don’t ever want to be in it.” I’m like, “This is the best thing that’s happened to me.” Making sure that you and your business partner are on the same page and being very honest with each other about what your expectations are from each other and where you want to go. That will then answer some questions and open up a lot of other questions.
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If you want to double your income, you have to double down on one of the ideas. If you want to 10X or 11X your income, you can double down on eleven of these ideas that you can do inside of every single transaction that you’re working on. Turning one loan into multiple loans rather than one and done. You can do it from your desk if you decide to step back and take that secondary role. You still can double your income for the team and yourself, and get your volume up by exercising some of this momentum multiplier ideas. You can get with me later on that.
Let me say this, when you’re in a mastermind and someone starts going, “I’ve got this tool for you.” What are those eleven things? In a mastermind, we can’t go through the eleven things so you say, “Let’s go ahead and meet afterward. I can give you some more information about that.” Round one is done. Let’s go to round two. I’m going to go to you, Whitney. Introduce yourself. You have two minutes to tell us who you are, a little bit about your business, and what we can do to help you overcome a challenge or achieve a goal.
I’m Whitney Anderson with MGIC. I’m an account representative in the Washington, DC Metro Area and also I cover areas in West Virginia and Western PA. My biggest struggle is the lack of interaction with my clients. We all are experiencing that. There are the benefits of having virtual meetings such as we’re doing now, but there’s a lack of that. My clients are busy. They don’t have time for me. I used to always say when I started with the business and a lot of my clients, “The MI is coming.”
It’s going to be a note, a pen and a pad, and a rate sheet. That’s not what I’m about and that’s not what I signed up for with working with MGIC. We’re about value-added resources and earning our business through providing our customer service. My complications or challenges that I’m inquiring at this moment is the lack of face-to-face. With that, we’re all in it. I would say it’s a meaningful context with the virtual environment that we have, and how to hone in on the importance of why they need to meet with me. I may be hitting my head against the wall not figuring that one out because I’ve exhausted almost every resource, so this is a perfect opportunity. I might have missed something.
Eliminating my limiting beliefs that I have too, and it’s the same that I get a lot. I have to do what’s best for my borrower. That’s why I can’t pick you for MI. As lenders, you all experience this. It’s not about you trying to get away from rate, but total pricing. I’m trying to get away from two basis points that earns me the business for what I’m providing. I have to earn that. I do the due diligence work to do that, but how do I get avoiding that? Right now, it’s a difference of one basis point that can eliminate me from 5 or 6 deals. I will present it at that and ready for your feedback.
We’re going to go with clarifying questions first. Who would like to go first with some clarifying questions?
The newbie has a very simple question. MGIC, break that down for me.
Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation. The inventors of the private mortgage insurance industry in 1957 and the business through the recessions and many of them. We paid $15 billion in claims over the Great Recession to still stand now and provide our clients with the best service possible.
Anybody else with some clarifying questions?
I know your problems. I don’t know that I have clarifying questions because I understand exactly what you’re saying and I’m trying to think of helpful answers.
We’ll let you ponder your counsel as we go to Roxann. Do you have any clarifying questions for her?
With regards to the lack of interaction outside of stepping into an office, what would be the difference from interaction? Is this prior COVID or because of COVID?
It’s because of COVID. It changed the landscape of what I do. I’m an outside salesperson so I don’t work inside. This is almost a year now of me working inside and working with my clients. That is the change, COVID. I have to be honest, most of my offices are considering whether or not to even reopen because they’re so efficient. Who knows? This could be my new norm, but I need to start landscaping what that is so that I don’t die at the vine of not getting business by not having meaningful connections because I don’t just want to dial for dollars. I want to dial for connections that turn into dollars.
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Dialing for deeper relationships and things like that. Is what you’re asking is how to get the attention of loan officers who are super busy, and don’t feel that you have any value to give them now? The subsequent part of that is the result is they’re searching for rates and delivering rates to their clients.
It seeks to understand. We use a Socratic selling method with MGIC which is asking questions to dive into the understanding of what somebody needs before dumping everything in the kitchen sink, “What specifically do you need? Do you need a fork? Here’s a fork.” The challenge that I’m inquiring now is because we are a value-added company, we want to provide value beyond price. I’m great with getting the price, but that doesn’t do anything for me long-term. As you said, are you venturing out to get those refinances or are they happening to hit your desk?
That’s a situation that I want to make sure. When I’m able to get back out, it’s not trying to grind getting back into the offices and reconnecting with my clients. It is, “It’s good to see you, finally. Let’s keep going. What else do you need? Now that
I’m here, I’m here,” instead of, “Let’s start from ground zero and try to build it from there.” It’s a twofold. Zoom calls, phone calls and text messages, I rinse and repeat a lot.
Let’s move on to the counsel. Let’s move on to some suggestions that we can give based on the experience that we have about an MI rep coming in, or how we price loans, how we’d make decisions on MI, or where it comes from a sales perspective and reverse engineer this. How are you trying to get the attention of real estate agents that you’re not being able to go in, see and have coffee with? Let’s give her counsel on this. Who would like to go first?
The first thing I’ll say is I very much understand. Whit is one of many MI reps that I work with. Her style and technique is human and personal. I can very much empathize with what you’re feeling and your inability to get together. We were able to have lunch not so long ago, and that was the first time in a long time. I understand that. That’s impossible to duplicate in our environment. I do think you have stronger relationships with people than you realize. Relationships that can be communicated through Zoom, phone and whatever because there you have that foundation that a lot of other people don’t have.
A suggestion would be not to feel so alienated. You’re not so far away. We all know who you are and a lot of us care about you as a person, as well as a strong MI rep. As far as changing our mindset, that’s the part two. I have spent time on this because I want to choose MGIC. There are a little out of the market right now in a lot of buckets. The message has to be something along the lines of the buyers aren’t going to know. I will say there was a time, pre-COVID, where it was so competitive among lenders that I had to compete on rate, I had to compete on the lowest MI, and everything. It’s not that these things don’t matter anymore. You should know that we’re not being shopped the way we used to be.
When you’re talking to a loan officer, you don’t come out and say, “We’re not being shopped, pick me,” but you can go into it with the idea that it’s not as crucial as to whether we’re going to lose that transaction or not. The trick is to remind us that we can break that old habit because that’s that old habit of always picking the lowest. We don’t need it anymore. If we would choose it, I would choose it for you. No one will know the difference. In where we are now, I’m done.
I appreciate that.
That’s good feedback. Thank you so much. Anybody else has some feedback?
As a loan officer, I don’t know about your market. I don’t have a whole lot of MI reps come in. As a loan officer, some of the lenders that do offer the lower, it’s already in their pricing, it’s not a matter of being able to select MI company. With that being said, when I am with a lender that lets me give the options of an MI company, I look for the MI company that gives me the rate with less hassle. When I go to different websites and they want all this information, I’m like, “Give me the percentage. I’m just giving the quote, give me the rate.” Hopefully, you guys offer something very easy for LOs where that will take over the price. An LO, it won’t matter how cost-efficient if you make their life easier for sure.
That’s a key point. The barrier to entry to get a quote regardless of what the quote is.
If it’s easy, they won’t have time to shop for another rate because you make it so easy to get the number. The only reason why they would come back is because a borrower went somewhere else and said the MI was something else. That’s the only reason why you would get shocked for LO. As far as the interaction piece, Scott knows you more on a day-to-day or personal but grow the relationships you already know. If you have LO that are already using you, they know other LOs and let’s get you introduced to knowing those LOs. If you’re easy to reach or your website is easy to access, that’s the number one key. If you’re making it difficult for LOs, we don’t have time for difficulty. I don’t think in this market. Whatever is easy and streamlined, I would do that over. You would win all day with those methods. Even with the lack of interaction, grow the ones you already have. That’s something I would do.
That’s good. Thank you.
Whitney, let’s connect.
I’m happy to. I know you’re fantastic LO in Atlanta.
You’re going to love her to pieces. She is so fun. I met her a gazillion times.
She’ll be great.
I have a couple of suggestions for you. One of the things that I encountered quite a bit with my speaking, coaching, and all that good stuff is that a lot of loan officers are very hesitant to get onto Zoom just to even have a conversation. That has become a mimicry behind realtors who don’t want to get on Zoom. What’s happened is I’m hearing loan officers say, “My real estate agent don’t want to get on Zoom and I don’t want to get on Zoom.” That’s part of leadership. Leadership is not pushing a rope but pulling, leading from the front. That’s something that I’ve seen from a lot of loan officers. It’s the non-willingness to get on Zoom themselves.
One of the things that I would recommend for you if you’re going to be giving value is to give a class on Zoom. It’s one thing to come on Zoom, be on here, and be a participant, but it’s another to lead it. I’ll tell you that one of the things that I’ve done is I’ve offered for my clients that I will give a one-hour Zoom webinar on the subject that they think their real estate agents or clients, or whoever that is that want. I do the Zoom meeting so they can see how easy it is to do a Zoom meeting. When they’re the leader in a Zoom, they start freaking out. One of the things that you could do in this market to give more value is to offer to have Zoom meetings on their behalf to allow for them to be the Oprah and bring the expert in.
You could be teaching home buyers. They could get a lot of their clients who are prospecting, who they have pre-approvals. You could get those people in and explain mortgage insurance to the consumer once for and on behalf of the loan officer. Making sure that the loan officer also has an expertise that they’re presenting so that you don’t leave being the expert. They are the expert and they’re the Oprah who brought you on. The other is doing it for their real estate agents. It’s having your loan officers invite some real estate agents into a PMI and profits, or mortgage and MI and profits or something like that, where you do some teaching alongside of them to give them the empowerment. You’re empowering them to do more of them because the bottom line is this is not going away. Even when we are born free, we’re still going to be doing a lot of these types of meetings because everyone has figured out how efficient it is. Bring value from there.
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Thank you. I appreciate that.
Libby, tell us a little bit about you, what your question, challenge, or your goal is, and then we’ll start asking you some clarifying questions.
My name is Libby Forrester. I am a loan officer in Atlanta and I started this new career for me. I left my last career being more of an experienced mentor style in what I used to do. Having a new career shift at 40, it’s put a lot of my mindset and a lot of my personal development to the test because I used to feel like I was a pro before. I had all the advice that could help others and newbies in my previous profession. I am doing a decent job with habits, consistency, starting my day out, taking time for myself, journaling and meditating, things like that.
I was told getting into the mortgage industry to get ready. It’s very busy and hectic so that’s important. I’m trying to do a good job of that. A struggle that I’m having is I’ve set out my day when I get into the office prioritizing what is most important. What I’m learning in this industry is it never stops. I would love to clean out all my inbox and make all the calls follow up immediately. Communication is so essential. That’s my bread and butter but I would have to work until 1:00 AM some nights to do it all. I can’t get it all done and do it well. I would love to know the top three things you do in your day to prioritize your workflow specifically for a loan officer. Everything is coming in at all angles and I do not have an assistant. I’m doing everything from sales to all the way through.
Let’s ask some clarifying questions.
Do you have a daily routine?
Yes. As far as I wake up, I go to the gym, I get home. On the way to work or from work, I listen to a podcast or a book. When I pulled in the parking lot, I meditate for seven minutes. There are things. When I walk into the workplace, the first thing I do is categorize all of my loans, where they are in the process, who do I need to lock, where are we in the process of the loan, who do I need to follow up on, then from there, it gets wild.
Any other questions?
Do you have one specific processor or do you have many? Do you have a close team?
I have worked with many of our processors.
How much business are you doing right now or your nets utilized?
The first month that I started originating and I closed my first month, I close ten and then the next month was five, and then it’s going to be ten again. Ten percent purchase, the majority is refi.
Where are you getting the business from?
From my company.
They are feeding you past loan officers who have left.
They have marketing materials so we send out mailers. We also do radio advertising with a talk radio show here in Atlanta which is a great resource.
Do you have systems in place for the different types of business that you are getting whether it’s a lead from a radio station, mailers, emails, or filtered leads? I’m asking a system questions to specifically ask those people that don’t lead you down the track of having a two-hour conversation with the borrower that you can’t do a transaction with.
I have a flow of the questions that I ask. I have a filter system as far as I know where the lead is coming from.
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This is a part of the mastermind because we have a tendency to want to go in and help. We want to get some more clarifying questions before we go in. This is how you’ll lead your mastermind.
One of the other questions are the generated leads from the company. What are you doing to go and get your own book of business or referral partners and generate additional leads outside of what’s being provided?
Using my gift, talking, communicating and relationships in my community.
Does the company have an expected turn time or process you’re supposed to follow when you get a lead or respond within many hours? Is there anything like that in place?
No. We’re very self-motivated.
Any other further questions to clarify?
One more question. When it comes to how involved are you when it is an actual loan, is it passed onto processing and you’re ready to let it go, or do you still need to be involved all the way through?
I’d let it go. I set up the expectation on the frontend about what our process looks like for all of my clients. Anytime there’s a point of contact with an underwriter or when we move into another department, I do try to keep that communication going with my clients, so they know. It’s a longer turn time right now than what most people are used to. I try to communicate that.
Are you making an effort? Do you have a preferred IU? When you get the lead, is it a phone call you’re making or is it an email you’re doing? What’s your general way of communication?
Any other questions? Otherwise, we can move into counsel. I know Whit has some counsel to give you.
I’m getting my notebook ready.
That’s good. I would rather somebody tell me there’s a sword before I fall on it. I’ll let Scott go because he has some similarities between the two of us.
First, you’ve found a fantastic way to get into the business. You’re learning how to do a loan with leads already given to you. That’s a great gift so cherish it. Learning on refis is fantastic. My first piece of advice would be move away from phone calls with these leads and email them with some general questions. Email them and say, “I’ve got your info. I’m with so-and-so mortgage company and I am looking forward to helping you. Could you please send to me your most recent mortgage statements. If you have a second mortgage, that statement also. I’ll take a look and crunch some preliminary numbers for you.”
You’re having no conversation. They send it to you. You google the property to get an idea of what it’s worth, you can run a scenario. You can see, does this makes sense for them or not? Right off the bat. You’ll weed out some that you’re going to email them back and say, “Rates are low but you’re already at three.” That’s the first thing. On all of my refis, that’s what I asked to do. It cuts out a lot of back and forth. There are some people you’re going to need to talk to on the phone. I always say, “I’m happy to chat if you’d like to.” The majority of people also want the information. That’s my first piece of advice. I’ll stop and let other people have other advice for you.
The reason why I asked about time management is the business time management. You get to your personal daily routine but when you go to the office, it hits the fan and your intention was to clean up this and do this. I know Jen doesn’t like to say time management or time blocking. I like to think about prosperity planning. It’s what I call it. It’s finding prosperous ways to plan my day that is most effective to me to get me the best return on my time investment. To Scott’s point, he brought up a great thing I had it written here was templates. I still script so that I practice it one time on the phone if I’m talking to somebody, then I have templates.
When I get an inquiry about MI basics, I go to my template, I copy and paste, I modify where I need to, and then I send it off. Those templates help me to eliminate the 15, 20 or 30 minutes however long it takes you to get that email out. As Scott was saying, get those systems in place. I do love his approach. If you’re getting these leads, you don’t know how hot they are. They want a loan. So does everybody and Rocket Mortgage, they want your loan, but if you’re able to mitigate that and see exactly how earnest they are in getting that, then you can start venturing into the other avenues of those hot leads where you’ve talked to a realtor who has a client that’s looking for a mortgage. I’ll stop there.
I’m going to steal the nugget that Jen gave me on my counseling session and that is decide your priority. Prioritize the green time is what we call it. Make sure you do that first because that’s the most important part.
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Thank you for saying that. I’m going to head into that because this is my mastery, priority management and it includes time blocking. Time blocking is not a bad word. I don’t like time management because you can’t manage time, but you can manage your priorities. You’ve got it down for your miracle morning. When you come into the office, it turns into Driving Miss Daisy. You get in the back seat and everybody else gets to tell you where you’re going to go. To avoid that, it is segmenting and taking some time.
Because you’re new in the business, it’s good to have three columns of finder, minder, grinder. Anytime you’re doing an activity, does it fall in the finding business or finding silo? Does it fall in the minding of the business? They’re getting documents, communicating, etc. Does it fall into the grinding piece of things? That is the exact order that your day should go. Finding, minding, and grinding. Never grinding during the day if you can avoid it. It’s certain grinding. Minding is doing a loan analysis. It’s doing all of those things. That’s not grinding necessarily.
As your business grows and you have a team, that becomes someone else’s grinding business, it doesn’t become yours. Finding out where you’re spending your time is critical. The number one thing you should be doing to make sure that your business is sustainable for years is doing your finding activities in the morning. Doing the phone calls to nurture your database. Doing the phone calls to get new business in. It’s not calling a borrower and saying, “I still don’t have your pay stub.” Those are the things that you’ll do later on in the day. What you want to do is make sure that new businesses are always coming in.
I love Scott’s idea of having a template for these incoming calls. I know what’s going through your mind, “I have to call them now. I have to talk to them because I might lose the business if I don’t.” Make sure that the formulation of your template and signature that Whitney is talking about is done in a way that helps them understand that you’re here to serve and help them, and it’s not canned to that extent. You’ve got to personalize it a little bit. I would caution you on prejudging anybody based on the interest rate that they have. If someone has a 3.38% interest rate that they got twelve years ago, and now they’ve got a ton of equity, and you decide that their rate is low enough that it’s not worthy refinancing, then you’ve lost an opportunity.
People were refinanced because of life events. They could have refinanced a year ago and got 3% and now they’re getting a divorce. You don’t know. Make sure that you’re asking the right questions that it’s some of the canned things but also some ancillaries. What is the purpose behind your refinancing so that you’re not prejudging that. I would also add to that email. I’m letting you know what to add to the email. I’m not scripting here, “If you don’t mind, please send me your statement, your second mortgage, and allow me to run the numbers so that when we meet, I’m more prepared to answer your questions.” Add that little part there so that they understand that there’s a reason behind this and it’s not, “I’m too busy and such, so give me your stuff.”
Also, not just collecting numbers to be another data entry for them.
“I’m respecting your time,” is how I positioned it so that we have a meaningful conversation. That conversation is on point and we don’t end up talking about things that don’t matter to you. When I send the numbers back, I do a little analysis for them. I will say, “Your closing cost is this. This is the cost of the loan. This is your savings. This is your repayment. Prepaids are this.” I give them a little bit. As Whit loves to talk about, you’re always giving value. You’re sending them the numbers, but I’m giving them the value they need to make an informed decision. This thing is value-added. My thing is, “I want to give you the information you need to make the best decision for you.” People like that. When you’re having conversations, they know that what I’m talking about is how to make their life better, not mine.
Also, giving them options so if you have purchase, it’s not a one-time transaction deal. I’m going to speak on the MI side. You can have them on a monthly premium or you can have them on a single premium. The payment structure is depending on how much they put down or how it’s allocated. What is most important to you? Is it rate or is it total payment? Everybody thinks you’re going to be in the home forever. Is it longevity? What’s the longest you’ve lived in a home, had a loan, or rented a place? If you ask those questions, you tend to find when you give them more than one option instead of, “Here’s your rate, see you, let’s close your loan,” then they don’t do the shopping, they don’t go elsewhere or they don’t value what they’re giving to you because you’ve given them the consideration that, “Here are your options. Let’s discuss it.” What Scott was saying, “What’s best for you?” I’m looking at what’s best for you so that they’re not just looking at one silo. I only bring that up because it’s something that’s a challenge for a lot of lenders.
The other thing I want to say is do not work on loans first. If you can have that as an entourage, work on your business first. That can include sending out rapid emails because that is lead generation. Here’s the trick on sending out rapid emails in a time block in the morning that’s for finding activities. Do not send the actual email. Set it as a draft. Hit send on all or set it up as a timer that you’re going to be done at 10:00 with your lead generating activities. At 10:00, all of those emails are going out at one time.
Do not send them because when you’re in that time block, as soon as someone receives an email, they’re going to get it back. They are going to send it back to you, now you’re distracted again, and now you don’t finish your lead generation. Hold all of those emails in a draft, send them all at once or set up a timer and send them all at once when you’re finished, so that you’re not distracted while you’re in your lead generating time. When you’re finished with lead generation if you want to, in this environment during COVID, is to go into your minder activities. Now you can respond to those emails, have the conversations, and do the analysis, etc.
In the future, that next step will be getting out of the office, going, and doing more lead-generating activities by meeting with your partners. If you can meet with your partners right after your lead generation in the morning, that’s even better, and now get to your minding activities around 2:00 in the afternoon. I know it sounds scary but I promise you, my business doubled when I did this. If you’re communicating with them, you aren’t getting those phone calls anyway, they know what your expectation is, the expectation that you set for us for that. They know that you’re going to get back to them in the afternoon. It’s not a lack of communication, customer experience, or service. It is a method in which you communicate with them.
If you’re doing proactive milestone updates all the time anyway, there’s no need that they’re going to be calling you. There would be no reason that they wouldn’t need you until later on in the afternoon. It stands one thing, loan threatening. If it’s loan threatening, divert. Don’t erase it, replace it. Move your lead generation to the second half of the day but don’t ever delete it. Don’t ever erase it, just replace it, but only for a loan threatening. It’s not, “I want to play with my loans.” There’s my counsel on that. Scott, last but not least. Tell us about you. What can we help you with?
I’m Scott Davis. I am an originating branch manager in Washington, DC. I serve the DC Greater Metropolitan Area. What I am finding most challenging, and I’ve been trying to think about how to express it in a way that is defective, is boundary setting. Through all of this where the office has gone, you’re at your desk at your home whenever, and we went through this all hands on deck, whatever it took to get through. That was very exciting and exhilarating. All of a sudden, everyone seems to think you’re available all the time, which of course you want them to think you’re available all the time.
I’ve built a career out of people thinking I’m available all the time, but I can’t be available all the time. I’ve got some old man mentalities around some of the newer technology because I’m all about email and not so much phone. I wasn’t able to move away from the phone to email. Texting is a challenge for me because in my mind, a text is an immediate thing. Text is something I want to handle immediately. That used to be what text is before but it seems like people are communicating now like, “This is how I’m going to reach you.” I need to recalibrate my sense of urgency.
I hear what your problem is but what is your question?
My question is, how do I set boundaries that keep me sane but also allow people to continue to feel that I value them?
Any clarifying questions from anyone?
I’m going to be faulted in this because all I do is call you, so I’m out of the bucket of the text. Do you set any parameters? Do you send an out-of-office during times in which you’ve dedicated that that is your time for X saying, “I am unavailable at this time. If you need immediate assistance, please text me,” or voicemail?” Should you get this voicemail, “I need immediate assistance, please text me for urgency. Otherwise, I will return your call as soon as I’m able?”
No. I have been of the mind that that’s off-putting and I want someone who reaches out to me to feel that I value them however they reach me. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m unavailable. I was on a short vacation, I did set an out-of-office, and that’s the first time I’ve set an out-of-office in years.
Any other clarifying questions?
How big is your team or how is it perceived that you have people available to answer your questions? Is it aware that you’re one person or is it perceived that you have a whole staff that would be able to answer?
It’s perceived that I have two people. The real estate community knows of Hamilton who’s my assistant. He’s a very high-performing assistant. The joke is he’s the brains and also the good-looking one so that leaves me nothing. The perception is that we’re a pair. I am definitely the lead, but there’s always Hamilton.
Let’s go ahead and give him some counsel on how he might be able to establish boundaries so that he doesn’t feel like a cat on a marble floor every day.
I go back to the change in our environment where as you said, people do expect us because we are working from home to be available. I also think there’s more of understanding now of respecting the fact that people do need to disconnect at some point in this environment because we’re not commuting into the office or commuting back. I always used to say C-squared, which is clarify and confirm. To always let somebody know, I want to clarify that I am not available at this time, and to confirm that if it’s a dire need, you can reach me with this communication. I’ve done this to you before. The best form of communication for me to reach out to you is, “If you need me, text me. Otherwise, I’m going to return at this time.” I’ve seen that a lot more often when I’m sending out emails and correspondence is that is their response. I’m going, “You’re out of office for lunch.” I don’t do that so I’m a subject to what you’re talking about is I will answer it in time. That would be my comments. I think that might help but I’ll take everybody else’s word or thoughts.
Anybody else, counseling?
I work the same way. I don’t like to not be available but the reality is we are not available all the time because we are on calls and we’re doing whatever it is we’re doing. I don’t have a receptionist or anything like that. When people are calling my cell phones and if I’m on the other line, I do an auto-text on the other line, “I’ll call you back once I’m available,” or I do my auto-texts, “I’m in a meeting, I’ll call you once it’s over or shoot me a text, maybe I can help you.” That goes a long way. Another thing too is I try not to look at the texts because if I look at the texts, that signals to the person I’ve read it.
I try to display it so that way I can get a little snippet of what it is they’re asking. If it’s something I can attend to and I know it’s something I can answer right away, I’ll answer it. If it’s something that I don’t even know the answer, it depends. Sometimes, I’ll tell them, “I’ll look into it.” That’s what a lot of people want. They want to know that you’re still checked in and they’re not being forgotten. That’s exactly what Whitney is saying. They have to know that you’re working on it, but if you haven’t looked at it, then they know you haven’t looked at it. Most people have the delivered, seen or whatever messages on their text message and they’re aware if a person has been able to review their message. The auto-text and letting people know you’re not available. They don’t have to know what you’re doing, but let them know you’re not available. It goes a long way because people like that.
I’m thinking out loud, you are a manager and you are closing a lot of units each month. I can only imagine how many times your phone is dinging with texts. Is there a way to prioritize like what you were saying to me where you’re not going to look at your phone for so long and deal with this? Is that even a possibility with how you run your business?
Everything is possible.
I’m loaded with all kinds of things here. I do a lot of comparison words. Prepare yourself because this is the best way that I can explain things. One of the tendencies that we have in this industry is to be in reactionary mode. That is a scarcity versus abundance mentality. It is like, “If I don’t get back to them, then they’re going to go someplace else.” It works for a while but it’s not sustainable for a long period of time. It’s certainly not sustainable if there’s ever scalability that you’re trying to do because eventually you just can’t. It’s changing those boundaries.
Looking at what your core values are and saying, “These are my boundaries that I have to set for myself.” That’s what you want to do is to set those boundaries. You have to constantly revisit those boundaries and say, “What are those boundaries?” It’s not just setting some boundaries. It’s recognizing what boundaries you’re not willing to do. For example, are you willing to have phone calls late at night for everybody or is that only for the top echelon of people that are working with you? Are you only willing to have evening calls for clients twice a week, not every single day? You have to recognize what the boundaries are that you want to set up, and then you have to increase your awareness of them so that you can phone a friend like, “Is this a boundary that I need to be looking at?”
Going from a scarcity to abundance mode then takes us into the difference between being on-demand versus being in-demand. We can go to an emergency room where everything is an emergency or we can wait to get the counsel and advice of the expert and specialist. That’s why I said something to Libby about loan threatening. If it’s not loan threatening, then it doesn’t have to be emergency. Just because someone calls you, it doesn’t mean that it has to be your priority. It may be their priority but it’s not your priority. The real easy question that you can ask somebody is, “When do you need this information?” That’s a perception that you are an in-demand person.
That responding text might be, “I’m currently with another client or with a partner or with another person right now. When do you need to have this information?” I love that Libby said, “If it’s urgent, let me know and text me again or something.” I’m not even sure that I would open up that Pandora’s box because to everybody else, sometimes it is urgent. I’ve asked people, “When do you need it?” I’m thinking, I’ve got to get it to you now. They’ve said to me, “Next week is fine.” Let’s ask the question. That’s number one.
If the boundary setting is with your team, then it’s a difference of learning to empower them versus enabling them. Because you’re dealing with a lot of loan officers who are high D personalities and high A personalities, they just want the answer. They don’t want to go look, they just don’t want to deal with it, they want the answer now, as Roxann was saying for PMI. A little pushback to people saying, “What have you researched? Who have you talked to if you talk to a peer of yours? What have you found out?” The last important question is, “What do you think you need to do?”
The tendency is to run the daddy to get all the questions answered. If it’s happening with your team, think about how you can empower them to be more self-sufficient. In doing that, they will grow and you will be freed up so you can grow. If it’s with your clients, one of the things that I always did, remember I said minder is in the afternoon for me, is a little texts back, “Thanks so much for your call. I can’t wait to meet you. I’m looking forward to helping you in any way that I possibly can. I will give you a call back between 3:00 and 5:00 this afternoon when I’m in front of my computer and I can dedicate 100% of my time and attention to serving you.” I’ve never had someone say, “No, thanks. I don’t want your time and attention to serving you. I want you to be distracted.” I’ve had people say, “Can I be the 3:00?” “Yes, you can be the 3:00.”
Giving yourself a time block to respond to people instead of 4:00 because then 4:10 comes, you’re on a call and you’re freaking out because you’re not getting back to them and not paying attention to them. You’re not present. It’s not making any sense. Calm all this stuff down and take back the reins of your time and your priority. The other thing I want to say on this too is we have a tsunami of technology that’s about to come into us. We’re going to be switching to voice technology. We won’t even be writing emails anymore. We’ll be dictating all of them.
Whether you like it or not, you’re going to have to get yourself ahead of the wave in order to be able to keep up with that. Here’s the question when you talk to a client. What is the best way for me to get back to you during that 3:00 to 5:00? You are doing what is called the Platinum Rule. The Golden Rule is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If they want the text, text them. If they want the email, email them. If they want the phone call, do the phone call. That’s the Platinum Rule, “Treat others as they want to be treated.”
You’ll find that your response time will be better. They will feel that you’re more part of the teamwork that you’re doing with them when you take back a little bit of control on your own business. Those are some tips that I would consider looking at and figuring out how I can do that. I do have a client who was scattered. She said it now. As matter of fact, I’m on the call before and she was saying that it’s amazing how she has tripled her income and volume. She has more free time because I helped her understand to do an auto-responding email that said, “Thank you so much for your email. You are so important.” Never “I’m sorry, I’m not available” on your phones but, “Thank you so much for your message. I look forward to working with you and I will return phone calls between 3:00 and 5:00 when I’m in front of my computer and I can dedicate 100% of my time and attention to serving you.” It’s been a lifesaver. I want you to consider it. Try it with a few people. Try it with your refis and with your purchases. That’s my counsel on that.
Do not neglect yourself thinking that that is going to turn your business around. Click To Tweet
Anybody else? Any other counsel?
Jen, I have a question on incoming calls. You don’t know what it is. If you are in the middle of your finder section, let’s use that example. Usually, if I’m in the middle of something that I’m dedicated to, can you give me however long I know that I’ve timed out or it’s going to take me ten minutes or whatnot? Is that an acceptable answer to say, “Jen, I’m in the middle of something right now with a client, do you mind if I give you a call back in fifteen minutes or is this something that I can email to you?” How would you respond to that? That could also be a time suck as well. You want to respond and you want to get the call.
I wouldn’t answer the phone because if I’m in a time block of lead generation, I have to be focused on lead generation. It’s intentional. That’s why we don’t get to lead generation because we don’t focus our attention on it. One of my favorite sayings is, “Work on purpose so you can go play with passion.” Not work sort of so you can say that you can’t go out to dinner or spend time with your kids. Be intentional, get in, get it done, and then move to the next block. If you’re good at doing that and you get good at doing that, you can get in and out, it’s so much faster, and then move to the next block.
Returning the phone call is good. It’s still succumbing to, “I am available 24/7 and I’m your beck and call girl or guy because I can text you too.” If I’m sitting with a client, I’m never going to text them. “Sorry, client. I need to do an auto-responder to this guy.” Be as good to yourself as you are to your business. Turn the phone off, turn it around, hash it out, knock it out in that segment, and then go to that segment of knowing that you’re going to be in that time block that you’re going to have to respond to emails, then go ahead and respond to emails, phone calls and texts from there. If your time blocks aren’t seven hours, you’re getting back to them in an hour.
Thank you. That clarifies it. I appreciate that.
Let’s talk about some feedback and then we’ll be finished with this. What do you think about masterminds? What did you learn?
I feel like there’s such knowledge in this room on many levels so thank you all. It’s great listening to all of you and learning. Iron sharpens iron. It’s new, lots of ways to do things and learning the most efficient way for yourself.
Instead of it being an island out there, you got ideas from everybody else. Whit, what about you?
I want to say to Libby, you’re always going to be a freshman in this world at some point in your life. Somebody taught me that. No matter where you turn, you leave something and you’re the senior. You start your freshman year over again in some channel and avenue in your life. Welcome to your freshman year. You will get through it. It’s going to happen. What I learned is a lot of the trials and tribulations, we all have some very similarities. What I take from this too is not neglecting your business and yourself for the betterment of thinking that that is going to turn you more business around. That’s why I’m on this big mindset of eliminating limiting beliefs. It’s stop defeating myself to think or letting those limiting beliefs drive me that it almost limits me to be able to achieve the things I want to achieve. Some of it is coming back down to basics which I’ve grown up in my career to enable. Sometimes, it’s hitting the restart. Let’s do that over again this time and that’s okay.
Roxann, how about you?
I enjoy this mastermind setting especially. You can see the difference. You do this for a profession as far as the feedback, and then there’s still the feedback of people who are continuing to doing it day-to-day. I appreciate the setting. Since you mentioned the limiting beliefs, you’re 100% correct. We limit ourselves because it’s something we wouldn’t do. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a consumer out there. I was watching an episode of Undercover Billionaire where the lady opened up a boutique where she sold candles for thousands of dollars. She literally said, “There are people out there who will pay thousands of dollars for candles. You may not be one of them but there is a consumer out there that will.” Focusing on that, but you’re right about the limiting beliefs. Thank you so much, Jen. This was a great panel and having a taste even of your feedback and coaching. This was great.
Thank you. Scott, how about you?
Thank you, Jen, for the invitation, first of all. I’ve never done anything like this before. I appreciate the feedback from everyone. Even when you’ve been doing it for many years, you can see things in new and I do think technology and stuff is changing. I was happy to hear younger voices give me their attitude towards the technology and everything. I love to give advice. After this year, all the business and all the refi business, what a great opportunity for people to get on their feet financially and everything. My best advice is there are a lot of realtors out there right now whose loan officers didn’t treat them as well as they should have in 2020 because they were swamped with refis. What a fantastic opportunity for a newer loan officer to get in front of an agent and be different.
Make them feel important because they’re going to be important to you, and they’re going to feel that they’re important to you. What a fantastic opportunity. My own purchase business grew exponentially in 2020 because people realized that I was always prioritizing their purchase business, that I wasn’t going to let the refis get in my way. When I look at my peer’s volume, my purchase volume is higher. Their overall volume is higher than mine, but it’s in refis. I picked up a bunch of new agents and a newer LL can do that. This is the time to do it.
That’s extremely powerful because everyone was thrust into momentum. You’ve got to see what it’s like to be a top producer. The question is, are you going to sustain it when the rates go up and when the purchase stopped? That’s what my emphasis is for everyone. My hashtag this year is #GetItDoneIn21. You have to put the foundational tools, the time management, the blocking, the strategies, and the systems into play so that when it falls down, you don’t lose that momentum. I will tell you that I have been coaching real estate agents longer than I’ve been coaching loan officers and they are terribly concerned about the momentum. Introduce this opportunity to bring in a mastermind of people, vendors, insurance agents, and other partners that you work with, and have a mastermind to help everyone continue to keep that momentum going.
That’s why I wanted to do this. I wanted to show an example of it so that you can take it to your markets and create masterminds in your markets so that you become the deliverer of those types of situations. Maybe not now because I’m talking, but I played a role as a facilitator. That’s what’s so powerful about it. If you want to be a market influencer and a market leader, this is one of the best ways for you to start doing that. I would suggest doing it now. Thank you all so much for opening yourselves up, for your contribution, and your collaboration. For those that are reading, I hope this show has opened up your eyes and your mind. I am so grateful and appreciative of each one of you spending this time with us. We’ll catch you on the next episode. Thank you so much, everybody.
- Roxann Hayes – LinkedIn
- Libby Forrester
- Scott Davis – LinkedIn
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