Nurturing and Creating REALTOR® Relationships

Nurturing and Creating REALTOR® Relationships

As you probably learned in Marketing 101, it costs less and takes less time to retain the customers you have than to go out and get new customers. The same holds true with your REALTOR® relationships. The more REALTOR® relationships you can retain as referral sources the more successful your business will be.

REALTORS® are humans and like all humans, they want to know that you value them. Keep in mind that other lenders are targeting them as well. The most important way you can show that you value them is by staying in touch, especially after they have given you a referral. Staying in touch doesn’t mean simply a “how ya doin’” phone call or email. You should schedule regular meetings with them where the sole purpose is to discuss how you can help support their business. I know it sounds counter-intuitive that you’d want the meeting to be about supporting their business when you really want them to support yours. There is a saying that givers get. So start by giving. The business will follow.

 

Lunch and Learns

A great way to stay in front of your referring REALTORS® is by hosting regular lunch and learns. To be successful, make sure you select a topic that is relevant to their business and that you practice your presentation before you arrive. REALTORS® refer to people they can trust. If you don’t come off in your presentation as a professional who understands the business and the challenges they face, then they aren’t likely to trust you or refer to you.

Here’s an easy recipe I use for organizing and presenting a lunch and learn.

  1. Choose and research a subject
  2. Create your guest list
  3. Choose a venue (your conference room or a meeting room at a restaurant)
  4. Create and send an invitation, evite, or Facebook event
  5. Follow up with phone calls for RSVPs
  6. Prepare your PowerPoint and handouts
  7. Order lunch and drinks
  8. Hold the event
  9. Follow up after to obtain feedback and ideas for the next one

 

New REALTORS®

 

My guess would be that you currently don’t have enough referring REALTORS® to reach your goals. Don’t worry – you’re not alone. I break REALTORS® I want to add into two categories: Prospective REALTORS® and Targeted REALTORS®.

Prospective REALTORS® are either listing agents you had a successful transaction with or agents that you have just met. Targeted ones are those that you haven’t done business with or met yet. You have either heard good things about them or were referred to them by someone else. You can also target REALTORS® by their production as well.

The first step in deciding which agents to go after is to identify your ideal agent. Look at your existing list. Which agents refer most often to you? What markets do they specialize in? How many years of experience do they have? Identifying your ideal REALTORS® will ensure that you only pursue those that you will enjoy working with.

Listing Agents – by the far the easiest to convert since they’ve already worked with you on the sale of a home. When you make your welcome call to them, tell them if you meet close or escrow date you’ll be asking them to commit to meeting you for coffee or lunch.

REALTORS® who are personally referred – also easier to book meetings with since you have credibility as a result of the referral. I always ask the person who referred me to email an introduction explaining why they are recommending me.

REALTORS® at open houses – this can be a great way to add Prospective REALTORS®. It’s easier than cold calling. Just be respectful if there are potential buyers or sellers in the home.

REALTOR® office meetings – are a good way to meet multiple agents at the same time. Not all offices are closed.

There are many ways to approach new agents but coming up with your own unique recipe will make it easier and replicable. I recommend letting them talk about 90% of the time at your first meeting. Encourage them to share their goals and how they typically do business. Ask what is important to them in a lender. Knowing this information will allow you to formulate the unique value proposition that you bring to the relationship.

 

Goals

I like to believe that everyone’s ultimate vision is to lead an extraordinary life. By that I mean doing what you love and loving how you do it. And I’m not talking about just what you do for a living but what you do in every aspect of your life. You give your vision and yourself a roadmap to achieve the life you want when you write goals. These are the things that will propel your vision forward. These are the things that will let you be heard. As you achieve them you will create more joy and ensure you are living in alignment with your life vision. Only about 5% of all loan officers and real estate professionals write their goals down so it is no surprise why average productivity is so low.

When you write out your goals, you’re creating an external representation of your internal desires and reinforcing their value. Setting tangible goals allows you to break the big dreams of your vision into bite-size, achievable steps. But more importantly, goals hold you accountable. They get you out of that “if only” rut that so many of us fall into: if only I had this or if only I had that, I’d be happy. You can’t allow “shoulds” into your vision and you can’t allow “if onlys” into your goals.

Part of goal planning is becoming that person who is joyful and happy today even though you haven’t yet achieved your total vision. Goals allow you to celebrate your successes along the way. Celebrating is important. Celebrating reinforces your commitment. And more importantly, it re-patterns your brain to strive for more successes. To be effective goals should be S.M.A.R.T.

Specific – get exceptionally clear about what you are going to accomplish. The more specific you are the easier it is to accomplish a goal and celebrate it. So rather than saying I’m going to lose 20 lbs. this year, you could say I’m going to stop drinking soda today.

Measurable – set goals that you can measure. If you can’t measure it, then it isn’t specific enough. You can’t celebrate what you can’t measure. Don’t assume because one of your goals is a feeling, i.e. I want to feel more gratitude, that it can’t be measured. It can. All you have to do is assign your feelings a scale where maybe 1 is I feel no gratitude and 5 is I feel gratitude for everything around me. Each day you give yourself  a number based on how you feel.

Action Oriented and Realistic – nothing gets done if you can’t take action. Make sure your goals are realistic and within your control. If you have to wait on someone else to do something before you can accomplish your goal then you’re back to relying on “if only.”

Time Sensitive – is something is going to get accomplished is must have a non-negotiable deadline. Set it and hold yourself accountable to it.

Your vision encompasses your entire life, so your goals need to do so as well. You’ll need to balance your goals in four categories: Business, Financial, Health, and Family/Relationships. Make sure that the goals in one category are not in conflict with the goals in another.

So create a couple of short-term (3 months) and long-term (12 months) goals in each category. Next identify the top action steps you’re going to take to accomplish them. Then finally, you need to identify what you want to avoid the most – these are your away values. To make it easy for you I’ve included a goal worksheet that you can use here (insert link here.).

Away values are the things you are patterned to do that no longer serve you. They are the things that will cause you to self-sabotage and not achieve your goals. Examples of away values might be passivity, perfectionism, or judgement. Write these down next to your goals so you don’t lose sight of them. It seems like it would be easy as figuring out what we want but we also need to keep sight of what stands in our way.

Every day I recommend that you review your goals so that they are set deep into your subconscious and conscious mind. At the same time review your away values. Were you able to keep them from interfering in the action steps you needed to take today to achieve your goal? If not, how will you keep them from interfering in the future? It is only when we are vigilant that we are able to re-pattern our brains to lead an extraordinary life and actualize our full potential.

 

Vision

Before you can fully develop your goals and plan, it’s important to discover what you really want. What is it that would truly make you happy? What is it that would allow you to live an extraordinary life and have a successful business? The dictionary describes a vision as an aspirational description of what you would like to achieve or accomplish. I would add to that definition a description also of what you would like to feel. The clearer your vision the easier it is to choose the right things to do now and in the future.

The key in this definition is YOU.  Your vision must be a reflection of what you desire for your life. It is okay to be self-centered when defining your vision. It cannot be made up of “shoulds.” You know, I should do this, or I should do that. Shoulds are things that others want you to want. They may or may not be what you desire for yourself.

Your vision must be in alignment with your core values. This too may take some self-examination. Often the values we hold are the values that have been instilled in us by others. We may have outgrown them, they may no longer serve us, and we might just have to let them go.

So before deciding on your personal vision, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who do YOU want to be?
  • How do YOU want to feel?
  • What are YOUR core values?
  • What do YOU want your legacy to be?

Then:

  • Understand deeply why you want these things
  • Make a commitment to achieving them

The keys to creating a compelling vision statement are to dream big and use concise language. It is a living, breathing testament to how you will live your life so it should be written in present tense. There is no right or wrong way to write a vision statement. It just has to be in alignment with the overall life you want to lead. It must resonate with you. If you don’t get excited every time you read it, then it isn’t truly your vision.

Don’t short-change the process when it comes to describing your vision. Take your time. You may need to revisit old triggers, traumas, or disappointments before you will know exactly what your new life-purpose will be. My suggestion is to write the first draft of your vision then put it in a drawer. Let the words percolate around for a few days. Then bring it back out and read it again. Does it still resonate or has your subconscious brain shown you some new enlightenment? Revise it if needed, then put it away again. Do this as many times as required until you get that feeling of excitement when you take it out again to read.

I have a form that I use when I am working on my vision statement. You can find it HERE. Once your vision statement excites you, once you can clearly see yourself living this extraordinary life, it is time to commit to making it happen. It is so important to take control of your own business destiny or years will pass and you will regret it later.

Mindset and Core Beliefs

If we want to be more successful in our business and personal lives, and sustain that success year after year, we must constantly and consistently be aware of our mindset. So what do I mean by mindset? I define it as the core beliefs an individual has about life and business.

Uncovering Your Core Beliefs

Core beliefs begin in childhood and develop over time. They are the essence of how we see ourselves, other people, the world, and the future. Our core beliefs often stem from the values of our families and the communities we grew up in. They can be so deeply rooted as to be rigid and inflexible. This inflexibility leads us to focus on those things that support our beliefs and dismiss or ignore evidence that contradicts them.

Many of us don’t know what our mindset is because we’ve lived with our core beliefs so long that we are no longer consciously aware of them. But you can shift your beliefs. You can challenge your thinking and replace it with thoughts that serve your greater good.

One of the easiest ways to begin to uncover those core beliefs that no longer serve you is to pay attention to the words that come out of your mouth or the unspoken thoughts you are having. Are you always complaining? Are you quick to place blame? The more you pay attention to the negative things you say or think, the more you can ask, “Why am I feeling this way?” Emotions and the feelings behind those emotions are the keys to discovering what you truly believe. When you understand what you believe and why you believe it, you have the ability to change that belief for the better.

What Makes Up a Successful Mindset?

Mindset is a major component in determining success. Identifying and changing the core beliefs in our minds can eliminate the uncomfortable emotions and sabotaging behaviors that we’ve used as compensating strategies all of our lives. You can either control your emotions or they can control you. I’m not saying that it’s easy. It’s not. But if we show up differently and be committed and intentional every day about staying in our new mindset you will have success.

Here are some of the attributes of a successful mindset that I’ve discovered can make a significant impact to your success. Concentrate on these and watch your business start to bloom.

  1. Growth minded – nothing is fixed, nothing is hard-wired. As far as your business is concerned you can do better, you can become stronger, and you can manage your thoughts and emotions so that they serve you instead of you serving them. You can grow through any problem or roadblock and know when it is time to avoid certain things or set new boundaries.
  2. Purpose driven – you know your “why?” Why, out of all the occupations you could have chosen, did you decide to be a loan originator? If your why is because you want to make a lot of money then you won’t sustain success. Money motivation is not long-lasting.
  3. Value driven – you know what your values are and they are unshakable. For example, if integrity is one of your values and someone asks you to do something wrong, you won’t do it no matter what. Your plan is made in alignment with your values to ensure you have your priorities straight and will feel good about what you are doing.
  4. Business minded – You must have goals, a business plan, and the discipline to work the plan. Without a plan you will miss out on opportunities and have no idea how to replicate or increase your success. You need to have a budget and understand your return on investment (ROI). You have to be accountable. You should wake up every morning and do what you say you’re going to do whether you feel like it or not. Discipline not motivation is what makes for a sustainable business.
  5. Priorities are straight – you know what is most important. You know if you keep your priorities in line then you will be happy in your work. When you look at your calendar and checkbook is it reflective of your real priorities? Are you spending time and money on the things that are most important to you?
  6. Focus is on abundance not scarcity – The freedom in this industry can lead to a mindset of scarcity. A person with an abundant mindset says the pie is just going to keep getting bigger for me. I’m always going to have everything I need. If I lose a client, I’m going to get two more. Unless you are in a mindset of abundance you will attract things that may make you worry and suffer.

 

Defining Success

The dictionary defines success in many different ways: the accomplishment of an aim or purpose; the attainment of popularity or profit; a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity; the outcome of an undertaking.

But whose aims, whose purpose, whose prosperity is it that we talk about when we talk about what success means to us? Most people define success through their accumulated life experiences, by comparing themselves to others, or by listening to friends and family tell their versions of success. If we define our success by what other people think or feel, if we tie our success to their aims, their vision or popularity or prosperity, we are setting ourselves up for suffering, a loss of joy, and failure.

Tangible Result or Feeling?

What constitutes success for each of us is as different as our fingerprints. But in my experience there are basically two types of individuals when it comes to defining success: those who define it by tangible results and those who define it as a feeling.

If you’re a person who defines success by tangible results then you may say things like: “I’ll be successful when my paycheck is x amount, or I’ll be successful when I close x number of deals every month, or I’ll be successful when I make top producer.”

Conversely, a person who defines success by a feeling might say things like: “I’ll be successful when I no longer have to worry about money, or I’ll be successful when others are envious of me, or I’ll be successful when I’m not anxious about when I’ll get my next referral.”

The one common denominator in both definitions of success is that they take place sometime in the future. There is no appreciation for the successes of here and now. Why is that? Why don’t we celebrate our successes every day? The answer lies in our brains.

Self-Definition

Our brains could actually be working against us when it comes to being successful and recognizing that we are. Fortunately our brains aren’t “hard-wired” as neuroscientists once thought. They can evolve and change as the information and sensory date we feed to them changes.

What typically happens is that once we’ve achieved “success” our brain immediately kicks in and says – nope, not good enough you have to do better, etc. The brain moves success further and further out because that’s the behavior we’ve taught it in the past. Maybe we’re always comparing ourselves to others. Maybe our family and friends do the comparing for us. Maybe we’re trying to live up to others’ expectations. Maybe we’ve been made to feel “not good enough” on more than one occasion. By allowing others to define success on our behalf, we’ve taught our brains not to celebrate success in the here and now but always be reaching for something more.

A Harvard study in 2007 proved that the brain can’t distinguish what is real from what is imaginary. That’s why our dreams can often feel so real. By learning to control our thoughts we can rewire our brains and how they handle success. Simply thinking and seeing ourselves as successful is the first step to eventually allowing ourselves to celebrate success in the present moment and not constantly put it off to the future.

Rewire Your Brain for Success

This isn’t something that will happen overnight but here are a few things you can begin to do today to rewire your brain for success:

  1. Resist the urge to use self-defeating language. You know things like, “I’m so stupid,” “What an idiot,” etc. Find one positive thing you did every time something doesn’t go according to plan and tell yourself that instead.
  2. Control your environment. Surround yourself with people who are positive and supporting, not negative or demeaning.
  3. Get used to using superlatives. For example, instead of saying, “I’m fine,” say “I’m awesome!”
  4. Don’t say “I am busy,” or “I am overwhelmed.” You can’t feel successful if you are complaining.

If you take control of your thoughts, if you are conscious and consistent in thinking positively and proactively, then you will begin to experience success. The quicker you can start to celebrate the small stuff, the faster your brain will rewire itself toward success as a natural part of your life.

 

Giving Thanks – Happy Thanksgiving!

I am so grateful for all the opportunity that the mortgage and real estate industry has provided for me. I am truly blessed getting to work with so many people that are committed to making a real difference in the world. I hope that you and your families have a wonderful day celebrating today! I appreciate all your support for FTSS and hope to bring you more wisdom in the upcoming year!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Non-Negotiable Activity Plan

Run Your Business like a Business.

In the mortgage origination industry if you want to create a sustainable model, one that will provide a steady stream of income regardless of the circumstances, you must approach the business as a business. Gone are the days where you took orders from someone else – now you’re the one calling the shots. It’s the kind of power and freedom you’ve been dreaming about. But with great power and freedom comes great responsibility. To function effectively as a business you must devise a comprehensive business plan. You’ll need to have a vision, and a purpose. You’ll need to set goals and identify who your ideal clients are going to be. And you’ll need to know exactly what marketing and operational processes you’ll need to have in place.

Non-negotiable Activity Plan

Developing your business plan is a big step. But it actually means nothing if you don’t also develop a non-negotiable activity plan as well. These are all the activities you absolutely must do, whether you feel like it or not, in order to build a sustainable business.

The items that go on your non-negotiable activity plan are the tasks you need to do in order to execute your strategy – whether that’s in marketing or database management. This is where you add all the tasks, no matter how small, in an executable and measurable format. No matter what, you’re going to execute this winning formula every single week of the year that you work. You create a foundation that regardless of how busy you get, no matter how frustrated, you know that these activities are your blueprints for success and sustainability. You can have a weekly plan or break it out by the day.

The most important thing to recognize is that these activities need to be done regardless of how many loans you take or loan level problems you face. If you have never read the Compound Effect by Darrin Hardy you should. He has taught me it is the things you do every day that add up to long-term success.  Here’s an example of a non-negotiable plan.

Monday:

  • Email/text/call to agents – buyer updates / loan comparisons from weekend and see if they have open house prospects
  • 5 calls to Prospect or Database
  • Facebook / LinkedIn Post about weekend open houses or market updates
  • 5 REALTOR® Calls

Tuesday:

  • 5 calls to database
  • Process Prospects for the following week: Mail thank you notes, schedule follow-up, add to social media and your CRM.
  • Follow up on Refinance Prospects
  • 1 REALTOR® Meeting
  • 5 REALTOR® Calls

Wednesday:

  • Add contacts to database – buyer / new contacts you have just met
  • 5 calls to database
  • 1 REALTOR® Meeting
  • 1 Sphere of Influence Meeting
  • Review pre-approved database for credit expiration dates, updated docs and make calls to anyone who needs updated info
  • Call REALTOR® that have new listings to target open houses

Thursday:

  • 5 calls to database
  • 1 REALTOR® meeting

Friday:

  • Facebook / LinkedIn: update weekend availability
  • 5 calls to database
  • Call pre-approved and prospective buyers
  • Call REALTORS® with pre-approved buyer updates (rates, programs, etc.)
  • Email/Text/Call REALTOR® with weekend availability

Regardless of the metrics and activities you put into your plan, it won’t do you any good unless you know the results. Once a week it’s important to look at how you performed in each of the activities you set and critical that you evaluate the results from those activities. Give yourself a report card. It’s really the only way to see if your plan is working. If it isn’t you’ll be able to make adjustments each week to do more of the things that create the results you want. You won’t be left at the end of the year wondering why you didn’t meet your goals.

To get a sample copy of the Activity Plan Report Card that I use click on this link:

Laziness

IS LAZINESS UNDERMINING YOUR MORTGAGE BUSINESS?

In my recent blog about sustainability I talked about discipline being one of the cornerstones to consistently building and maintaining your business. Discipline is hard work. It takes having a plan and working it even when you don’t want to. It takes self-control and the ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel even when you’re surrounded by darkness. But what if you can’t? What if the sheer quantity of what you need to do overwhelms you?

LAZINESS: A FORM OF SELF-SABOTAGE

That’s when laziness rears its ugly head. Laziness is often defined at the quality of being unwilling to work or use energy. But that’s not how it applies as a sabotage mechanism in the mortgage industry. Laziness in this context actually results because people have too much to do. They know what they should be doing but aren’t doing it. They feel like they can’t get anywhere. They don’t know where to start so they don’t. And the longer they wait to start, the harder it is.

They sabotage their business by distracting themselves with Facebook, LinkedIn, other social media, television, or unimportant tasks. They begin to make excuses. They have an “I’ll start again, tomorrow” attitude only tomorrow never comes. Oh sure, they’ll take care of the things that absolutely have to happen – the loan closings, the doc preparation, taking applications from referrals that drop in their lap. But doing the tasks that need to be done, the ones with long-term rewards, the ones that will sustain their business, get shut out by their distraction of choice.

COMBATING LAZINESS

If you feel like laziness may be one of your preferred methods of sabotage I would encourage you to ask yourself these questions: what are you trying to avoid, and what do you think you’re going to gain by avoiding it and distracting yourself? Then step back and look at all the time you spent watching television, surfing the web, texting, etc. and make a list of all the things you’ve created from those activities. My guess is you won’t be able to put anything on that list. There is no sustainable joy or progress that comes from those activities and there certainly isn’t any sustainable business or financial success that comes from them.

I’m not saying that you have to be working on your business 24/7. We all need to time to relax and regenerate. But I am suggesting that you need to build those activities into your plan after you have done your daily disciplines. The goal is to remove conflict and not beat yourself up for relaxing. Yes, you’ll say, but the reason I’m not currently doing my daily disciplines is because I’m overwhelmed by them.

Often the feeling of being overwhelmed stems from a plan that is too broad in scope. Perhaps your plan says that you’re going to contact 15 people in your database every week. That can seem like a lot if you’ve got closings and applications to process. But what if instead your plan said I’ll contact 3 people each day from my database. Three doesn’t sound like much. Three is maybe a twenty minute activity. Three is doable. So stop looking at the enormity of what needs to be done and instead break each goal or project down into small pieces. Start tackling each of those small pieces and make sure to celebrate your success when you’ve accomplished them. Before you know it, the big project will be complete too and laziness will no longer be an issue.

Creating Sustainability

WHAT IS SUSTAINABILITY?

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines it as:  the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level; continuing for an extended period or without interruption.

When I talk about sustainability in the mortgage business, I’m talking about having a consistent, reliant stream of new loans and subsequent income regardless of what is happening around you. There are several factors that affect your ability to attain sustainability. The most important of which is you. We’ll delve into that in later posts. For now, let’s start with some of the outside factors.

MARKET CHANGES

If you’ve been in the mortgage business for any amount of time you know the one thing we can always count on is that the market will change. Interest rate shifts often have the most dramatic effect but other things such as inventory, the overall economy, and consumer confidence drive market change as well. So how can you possibly create a sustainable business model with all of these variables at play? Simple – stay focused on the right thing.

The right thing in almost every circumstance is to focus on the purchase market since it is less likely to be affected by interest rate swings. Refinances on the other hand have high volatility. When interest rates go down, generally refinances go up. When interest rates go up, refinances drop. Focus includes being creative and innovative in how you reach and communicate with today’s purchasers and agents. Gone are the days when using a telephone and face-to-face meetings were the only ways to acquire business. Now you need to be as educated and online savvy as your younger potential clients in addition to still providing a “high touch” approach for the older generations.

RUN YOUR BUSINESS LIKE A BUSINESS

You’ve likely entered the mortgage business because you see the opportunity to earn “uncapped” income. I’m guessing you also like the freedom that mortgage origination allows – the idea of being your own boss. What many originators fail to grasp however, is that when they become a lender, they also become a business owner.

If you want to create sustainability, then you must think and act like a business owner. You need a business model that defines goals and activities. You need to have the metrics in place to measure the efficiency of what you are doing. You need to understand the return on investment of your time and resources.  And if you don’t know how to put these things in place, you need to hire a coach that can help you get there.

CREATE A PREDICTABLE REFERRAL MODEL

Referrals are the lifeblood of this business. You must be actively focused on earning partner referrals from the very beginning. Working by referral does not mean you accept referrals when someone sends them to you. It means developing referral partners and referral pipelines that will consistently send business your way. You’ll need to build a plan to get these referrals and work that plan consistently day in and day out in order to create sustainability.

TAKE MOTIVATION OUT OF THE EQUATION

Motivation is doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done when we want to do it. Motivation is a “nice to have.” But it doesn’t get us where we need to be in terms of building a sustainable business. The majority of people don’t wake up in the morning excited to do the nuts and bolts work that needs to be done to build their business. Those are boring tasks – cold calling agents, booking appointments, entering information into the database, etc.

Building sustainability is about repetitiveness. It’s about doing the same things every day that you know will make you successful, even when those things are mundane. It takes discipline.

Discipline is doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done when we don’t want to do it.

Plan your work and work your plan – every day whether you feel like it or not. That’s what top performers in this industry do. That’s how they ride out the highs and the lows. That’s how they build a sustainable business. And that’s how you can too.