This is Part 3 of a 4-part series where I’m answering frequently-asked questions from my fellow loan officers. These are actual questions that were asked in our Loan Officer Breakfast Club. If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, be sure to check them out.
Now is not the time to slack off as a loan officer. It’s never been more important to sharpen your ax, and I’m here to help you do just that.
How Do You Trust Your Team Not to Make Mistakes?
I’m going to be totally transparent here. I don’t trust my team not to make mistakes. We all make mistakes. My father always said, “If you don’t skin your knees from time to time, you’re not running fast enough.” If people on my team never make mistakes, they’re not doing enough. We don’t set the bar at “no mistakes.”
Now, we don’t want to see repeat mistakes, the same people messing up the same things over and over. But making a mistake, then learning from it and doing better? That’s expected, and it’s how you grow.
For me, it comes down to what happens after the mistake. Do they admit to it, step up to the plate, and say I need to fix this? Do they try to hide it? How you handle your mistakes says a lot about you as a person.
Will your team make mistakes that cost you sometimes? Sure, but I’ll tell you a bigger expense. Trying to do everything yourself because you’re afraid people will make mistakes if you delegate tasks to them. If you’re doing everything yourself, you’re not going to get very much accomplished. That’s more costly than any mistake your team might make. Even if they make a mistake that costs you a loan.
I was at four or five loans a month when I got my first assistant, because I was tapped out. I couldn’t handle any more than that. Now our team closes hundreds of loans each month. If I wasn’t willing to trust in my assistant, and then more and more people as we grew our team, I’d be back at five loans a month. That’s not a bad living, don’t get me wrong, but hundreds is even better. Focus on what it’s costing you not to get help.
Even if you lose a loan because someone made a mistake, you’ll get the next 10, because you have a team. Make sure you hire excellent people, and you’ll be good. There are a lot of excellent people available right now, because a lot of loan officers didn’t go out there and prospect and their assistants got laid off.
I’m Overwhelmed at Work—What Do I Do?
We have an exercise we run our loan officers through called The Axe of Freedom. You look at the activities you’re doing, the activities your team is doing, and make sure your loan officer has as much prospecting time as possible. We want to make sure you’re not doing a hundred different things a little bit well. We want to do one thing really well. What’s the one thing that really matters? Do that really well.
Maybe it’s more than one thing, maybe it’s two or three, but you should really cut it off there. In my day-to-day, I probably do three sets of activities that move the needle for us the most.
I’ve found that, when people tell me they’re overwhelmed, it’s really more a case of being under-helped. If you’re closing less than four loans a month and you’re overwhelmed, you’re probably working on a bunch of stuff that doesn’t need to be done. If you’re closing more than five loans a month and feeling overwhelmed, you’re probably under-helped.
Ask yourself what activities brought in your last 10 loans and do more of those activities and less of everything else.
How Do I Commit Time to Realtor Calls and What Do I Chat About?
The answer to the first part of that question is simple but hard. For the first two hours of your workday, from 9am to 11am, dedicate that time to making calls to realtors. It’s as simple as that. Set that time aside, get your butt in the chair, pick up the phone, make those calls, and don’t let anything distract you during those two hours. Not inbound phone calls, not your buddy coming in to chat, not your brain telling you to go check your emails.
If you need some accountability, I mentioned the MMA All-Stars in my last post, where the members of the Mortgage Marketing Animals join a big Zoom call every Monday through Thursday morning where we take 10 minutes to chat, answer questions, and run through a couple of our Mortgage Marketing Animals scripts. Then everyone turns their mics off and leaves their cameras on, and it’s like a whole bunch of people making calls with you (but without the distractions).
What do you chat with these realtors about? The first thing to chat about is frankly them. Who doesn’t love to talk about themselves? So you just ask them questions and listen to them talk about themselves. We have an acronym we use called FROG (family, recreation, occupation, goals). I wouldn’t go right into the family thing, since that’s more personal. Get to know them first. Ask them about their realtor business (occupation).
I like to go into Facebook groups for realtors. What kinds of conversations are they having? What are their questions and comments? This is a great source for the videos I send out to realtors. I see a question that gets a lot of response and just reword that for my video, “Hey, a lot of realtors are asking about x, and here are some things to consider…”
Don’t get sucked into these Facebook pages though and hang out there all day. You have phone calls to make, Get in and out in 15 minutes once a week just to see what they’re talking about. You’re on a mission. Make it quick and get back on the phone and chat with realtors. Those 15 minutes will give you content to talk about in the calls, to put in emails, and to create videos.
How Do I Manage Difficult People Without Letting Them Suck Up My Emotional Energy?
This is a good one, and I’m going to answer as if we’re in a perfect world. Because I really believe we can create a perfect world. Twenty years ago, my friend Lee told me, “Carl, you’re in a movie. That’s what life is. The good news is we choose the script, the location, and the supporting actors. I chose you, you chose me to be a supporting actor in your life. You’re the director and we only have on the show the people that we want.”
Look, we’re not going to get along with everybody. It doesn’t mean we don’t like someone. We just don’t get along. For me, if someone is a difficult person, I just get them out of my life as soon as I can. Now, there are exceptions—family, spouses, kids—which is another subject altogether. But even family members aren’t exempt from this.
If there’s someone in my life that’s consuming my energy, and their withdrawals are more than their deposits, then I’m going to stop hanging out with them. One caveat—if they’re just having a hard time in the short term, that’s different. You can stick by your friend.
If your processor is draining your energy, get a new processor. If your branch manager is draining your energy, go work at another mortgage company. If you need to have an honest conversation with someone first, do that. If the relationship isn’t worth it to you, don’t. Life is too short to be hanging around with people who suck all the energy out of us.
But even if you have a long history with someone, you might be a different person today, and that relationship has a shelf life. It might be past its expiration date.
Just understand that you have complete power and control of who’s in your life. I choose to have certain people in my life. And I choose not to have certain people in my life. Even if it’s a sibling or a parent, if you’re not in a good situation, remove yourself in a cool, respectful, loving way.
When I was 23, I was hanging out with a group of people, drinking and smoking all the time and going nowhere in life. One night around a campfire, I had an awakening. I knew I had to remove myself from this toxic situation, and I did. It changed the trajectory of my life. A few years ago I reconnected with some of them, and their stories were so sad. I thought to myself, that would have been me. We get to decide who we hang out with, who moves forward with us, and who doesn’t.
How Can I Help My Team in Operation Be More Efficient?
I would put this right back on my team. I don’t help my team and teach them how to be efficient. Sure, I make sure they’re trained, but it’s not my job to make sure the team is more efficient. I hire people who are going to help me be more efficient. My job isn’t to fix them; their job is to fix me.
If I have to constantly monitor my team or keep them on track, then I might not have the right people. I need to empower them to make decisions, take chances, even make mistakes. My team feels empowered to make suggestions, to bring new ideas to the table, to come in with a new set of eyes. They’re huge assets, and they make me better.
Once a File Comes in, at What Point Do LOs Hand Off to Their Processor?
This person went on to say, “I feel like so much time is wasted chasing documents and not selling.” That’s not a feeling; that’s a fact. The sooner you can hand a file over to somebody, the more time you can spend prospecting the next loan.
Some loan officers don’t even call the lead once it comes in. Some people have a loan manager (a loan partner, assistant, processor all rolled into one) that handles everything from the minute the phone rings, taking it from beginning to end. I don’t stop prospecting to answer the phone.
It depends on your current volume. Getting help costs money. But getting help also makes you money. If you’re closing less than five loans a month, you can take the application, structure and sell the deal. Then once the borrower says they’ll take the deal, you hand it off. Once you’ve sold the deal, any work you do on that is not a good use of your time. That’s where your assistant comes in. When you start closing 5-8 loans a month, you have to hand it off sooner. The more free time you have to sell, the more deals you’ll close. Even though you have to hire people to help you, they don’t cost as much as the money you’ll make from those extra loans.
I cannot overemphasize how important it is right now to make sure you’re doing prospecting activities. Over the past couple years, we almost didn’t need to prospect, right? Fish just came flying into the boat and landed on our laps. We got spoiled. But now we need to prospect. I read recently that 50% of all loan officers are going to be out of business in the next six months. It breaks my heart, and it’s happening because some people never learned how to prospect.
If you’d like some help learning how to prospect the same way members of our Freedom Club are prospecting, we’d love to map that out for you, day by day, step by step, so you can close more loans. Click HERE to schedule your FREE call today.