Michael DiMaggio (NMLS# 457855) is a branch manager for Stearns
Lending LLC. Since the early 1990s, DiMaggio has focused on
improving his skills to help those around him. As a top-performing
originator, wholesale representative and manager, his recent accom-
plishments include forming lending teams intent on delivering
value, and implementing and enhancing strategic alliances between lending and
large real estate companies. He currently leads a well-performing and growing team
in Northern California. Reach DiMaggio at firstname.lastname@example.org.
<< Cultivate continued from Page 36
Use the current team as a starting point. Use that template to narrow
down prospects. If the company has a lot of training opportunities, for example, perhaps recruits who are new to the industry will work well and flourish. If the company is not set up to train raw recruits, taking on this larger
project will be a disservice to all involved.
A branch’s track record and success will speak volumes for the team and
the manager leading them. In turn, a team that is productive, successful and
visible in the market usually helps recruiting efforts. So planning activities
that expand the branch’s local brand not only help increase production, they
can increase exposure to recruits as well. Consider hosting:
■ n Networking gatherings with Realtors and referral partners;
■ n Training seminars for local professional associations; and
■ n Holiday or charity events that promote the company brand.
Invite recruits to these events to see the team and manager in action, and
be sure to utilize social media before, during and after the event to promote
it. Many of these activities also improve team retention, which is critical to
stability and growth.
Promoting the branch will only get a manager so far, however. In the end,
a manager’s word and reputation are the critical elements to successful long-term recruiting. It is important to be honest about the company’s strengths
and weaknesses. Recruits know that companies cannot excel at everything.
No one has the lowest rates, best service, highest compensation and best
support. Therefore, discussing the challenges facing a branch, while difficult,
is critical to building the right team.
Trust and honesty are obviously important to the conversation, given
everything at stake for the parties. Overpromising does not help anyone
when recruiting and lessens the manager’s credibility. That being said,
if company weaknesses can be controlled or influenced by the manager,
be sure to explain the plans for overcoming those weaknesses to recruits.
Many MLOs often make moves due to false expectations, however, so it
is important not to embellish the truth. Exaggeration usually ends in
unrealized expectations. Given the cost in time and dollars of hiring and
onboarding a new originator, it can be detrimental to expansion efforts
when new MLOs end up leaving shortly after being hired.
Originators who depart soon after joining a branch also send an unflattering message to the local market about the company they left, regardless
of the circumstances. Competitors, future recruits and even referral partners
may simply fill in the blanks for why someone left.
By being open and honest during the recruiting process, however, both
sides can come to a fair assessment of whether it is the right fit. It is unrealistic to think that any organization will have no turnover. The key with any
departure is to learn from it. Understanding why it happened can help managers avoid the situation in the future.
The final question a manager must answer when recruiting is where to
look for new talent. The answer is: everywhere. In addition to regular sources
— such as company recruiters, industry events and local real estate meetings — professionals in related trades can be great sources as well. Ask for
recommendations from contacts at escrow, title, home-warranty and insurance companies. Account executives at local lenders are another excellent
source for locating recruits.
Managers should look internally as well. The MLOs in the branch may have
recommendations, but don’t forget that operations centers are filled with
experienced mortgage professionals. Some team member may be ready for
a new challenge or might just know a qualified MLO at another company
who is looking to make a change.
Keeping MLOs motivated and productive while building a balanced team
that retains a positive culture is no easy challenge for any branch manager.
It is, in fact, hard work. In each of these endeavors, however, one key is to
stay consistent, because discipline often makes the difference. n