It’s the end of the year and time to reflect on your successes and failures in 2016. What lead to improved sales and customer satisfaction in your business, social media, and marketing plan? What did you do in 2016 that had little or negative effect on your business? Before you create your 2017 business plan, keep in mind your successes and failures during the past year. Your plan should include: previously successful and new routines, goals, weekly to do list, outline of a monthly and annual plan, and your desired income. A business plan is a plan of action created to ensure all avenues are being used for success. Many business plans start with the end goal. For instance, the goal may be $300,000 in sales revenue. When creating the business plan, you must carefully consider your strengths and weaknesses, time, and financial resources you have to achieve your goals. Building upon your last year’s sales and income, as well as understanding the current market situation, should play an important role in creating your business plan. Success in the mortgage industry will require hard work, dedication, perseverance, and the belief that you can positively affect your customers’ lives. Never lose sight of your value as a loan officer, and constantly work to improve your performance.
Below are some suggestions that you may want to incorporate in your 2017 business plan to improve your overall impact and success as a loan officer.
• Find a Mentor or Be a Mentor – Establishing the mentor relationship creates firsthand knowledge of what it takes to become successful. Instantly applying these traits and activities to your business plan will eliminate sales by trial and error and increased the odds of success. Newly licensed loan officers assisting their mentors with daily sales functions will increase their knowledge of the mortgage profession and teach the necessary information to become successful. Guidance and advice from the mentor is an invaluable commodity.
• Hard Work (Building Your Business, Taking Risks) – Determination, hard work, and perseverance are key to long-term success in the mortgage profession, but the profession may allow you to do more than most other occupations. Many loan professionals have a strong belief from their upbringing that hard work equals success. It is important to understand that sales is a numbers game; you have to follow a plan to reach so many potential clients to achieve your desired numbers.
• People-Friendly Personality – You need to like people. If you do not like people, then the mortgage industry is likely not the career for you. Have the attitude that your clients’ interests always come before yours. Your customers know if you are putting your interests before theirs.
• Education (Knowledge, Ethics) – The importance of education in the mortgage industry allows you to stand out from other loan officers. Knowledge will make you an expert and the go-to person for specific loans in your market.
• Balance – Managing your time effectively between your work and family (time management, own your schedule, stress management, empowering yourself). Mortgage loan officers are typically commission-based; therefore, their time is money. Developing a system that efficiently uses time will not only increase income, but will also relieve other pressures that accompany employment based on commission income. Effective time management will allow you to maximize your time and increase your accomplishments. Planning your day by creating a priority list of tasks that need to be completed will allow you to focus on activities that must be completed. Creating a list of other tasks that need to be completed by a certain date or that could be delegated will allow time to be focused on more important activities. Prioritizing your tasks will create focus and proficiently. Balance is the key to having a long-term successful career.
• Advertising/Marketing – Success as a commission-based loan officer requires a plan that uses your best characteristics and traits. Once you have decided how to market yourself based on your best qualities, developing a business plan and deciding how much you can financially devote to your business is your next step. As your business grows, you should increase your marketing budget accordingly. Your budget should include all your marketing activities, education, and other expenses, such as office assistants. The difference between success and failure may be as simple as following through on your plan. If your sales are less than expected or if you are busier than expected, pausing your investment in yourself and marketing efforts will only create ups and downs in your business. Ensuring a steady flow of business will require a continuous investment in yourself and your marketing plan. Commitment to a continuous marketing plan and personal investment is key to your business’s success.
• Customer Service – Great customer service involves being responsive to your real estate agents and customers and keeping them informed of their loan statuses. A happy customer is your best advocate and is the best source to new quality leads.
• Building a Referral System – Your past customers are the lifeblood of your business. It takes far more time and money to gain a new customer than to maintain a relationship with a past customer. Connecting with a past customer on a regular basis through phone calls, e-mails, and mailings is a great way to maintain a relationship. A follow-up call when his or her house transfers and a mailing just to say “thank you and congratulations on the purchase of your new home” will increase referrals from past clients and will let your customer know you will be around to help him or her after the transaction is completed. Building a file on each customer, such as: birthdays, the anniversary date of the purchase of the house, the number of houses that he or she owns, and his or her occupation may all be helpful in keeping communication open with your past customers. Maintaining a regular communication line with your past customers (for instance, once every four months), possibly calling them to see if they need your expertise or if a new program or a rate update for possible refinancing, is the foundation to a lead-generating system. Create a sense of loyalty with your past customers; it is the fastest and least expensive avenue to referral business.
Keep in mind that your business plan is a living document. An outline of action ensuring that all avenues of success are being utilized. Many business plans come with an end goal in mind, such as how much income you want to generate in a calendar year. Determining how many realtors you need to call, how many emails you need to send, and how many potential buyers you need to qualify will all affect the number of hours needed to meet your annual goal. To maximize opportunities, your business plan will need to adapt to market conditions and regulatory changes. Building your business requires hard work, perseverance, and a strong belief that what you are doing is worthwhile.