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The question that keeps most loan originators awake at night is: “Where will
my next loan come from?” The answer is often: “Continue to build referrals
while providing great service and value to existing clients.”
For managers, the late-night questions are: “How can I increase produc-
tion?” and “Where will I find my next new mortgage loan originator (MLO)?”
The answers to these questions are usually along the lines of: “Devise and
follow a coherent plan,” and “Recruit consistently, openly and honestly.”
Each day a myriad of companies vie for the attention of loan originators, offering ways to improve their production with ideas ranging from lead generation to closing gifts. To effectively improve production numbers, however,
branch managers should make sure MLOs start with a firm plan.
A robust business plan is one of the first tools a manager should obtain
from every MLO. This plan is the roadmap to success, and the manager’s role
becomes that of a guide, providing “guardrails” to keep originators in the
office on track toward their goals.
There are numerous business-plan templates managers can obtain, but
the best choices often come from peers or other managers. Components of
an effective plan should include goals, marketing strategies, new business
targets and skills to improve. Once a plan is chosen, review it with the loan
originators in the branch and get them on board.
During reviews, ask MLOs who will be accountable to keep them on track
to meet their goals. Make sure any originator who wishes to take sole responsibility for their goals has had success doing so in the past. For those
who ask for help, this gives the manager the authority to get more involved
with tracking progress.
Revisit and adjust these plans regularly — at least two times per year.
It also can be effective to enlist other MLOs to provide feedback during these
review meetings. This can promote internal teamwork and an exchange of
ideas. Don’t let veteran originators slide on setting goals, either. Regardless
of how many years of experience they have, even weathered MLOs need a
plan and a manager who takes an interest in their success.
Once goals are established, look for ways to remove obstacles to production so MLOs can move more efficiently through their days. Managers who
find answers to unique scenario questions or resolve nagging issues with
upper management will earn the gratitude of their originators. Originators
who are more satisfied with their jobs and have more time to make sales will
reward the manager with stronger production numbers.
It also is important to lead by example. Managers should make a plan and
set goals for themselves as well. Attending referral-partner meetings and
industry events shows everyone in the office the importance of these activities as well.
Finally, continuing education and training are a must for sharpening sales
skills. Managers can impart tips from their own experiences or find external
training and educational programs, but all of these options have limits. In
challenging markets, especially, reaching further for new information is necessary to stay ahead.
Luckily, there are multiple resources available for expanding training beyond conferences and online courses. Look to vendors and referral sources
such as private mortgage-insurance companies, title and escrow agents, real
estate offices and even other branches for ideas. All of these entities are interested in building their business and often offer valuable training.
Another angle is to check out competing mortgage companies or even
successful companies in other industries. See if it makes sense to employ
sales training or production concepts used in their sales departments. Perhaps they have some amazing customer service ideas or improved ways to
connect with clients.
Recruiting and production
Recruiting analogies are endless — recruiting is like dancing, fishing, dating,
advertising, etc. Take your pick. The key is often consistency, but consistent at
what? One strong strategy is “give to get.” Give information first that helps potential recruits gather valuable information. If recruits see a management style
of readily providing helpful and timely information, they get a glimpse into the
support they can expect to receive if they decide to join the new team.
Hiring the right MLOs to grow the team is a balancing act. Just as originators must identify the right referral partners to work with, branch managers
must determine the ideal characteristics of MLOs that will fit into the team