Written by Joshua Shein, as originally published in The Reverse Review.

Finally, at least for those of us in the eastern half of the country, the snow is over (we hope) and we are all starting to thaw out. It has been a long, cold and snowy winter, but the sun is making an appearance and we are re-energized for the spring and summer.

We all experienced the challenges and changes this past winter in our business and industry. Our business models, projections and plans have been modified and updated in light of these changes from HUD and in the overall marketplace.

Now it is time for spring cleaning.

As the nice weather approaches and we are finally getting into our groove with the revisions to the HECM product, it is time to take a fresh, clean and new look at everything. A top-to-bottom analysis of your business, your performance and your future plan is overdue. Whether you are an individual loan officer, a branch manager or a company owner, it is essential to set aside time during your busy day to not only reflect, but to crunch the numbers and tweak your business for success.

Our days are often hectic and the weeks—and months and years—can fly by. Then one day, you wake up and realize how quickly time has passed. So set aside an hour or two, sit down at your desk and try these five tips for helping you determine what has worked for your business and what has not worked over the past year. Most importantly, assess how you need to change to make the most out of 2014.

1. Database cleanup (leads) -- Go through your CRM database and clean it up. Purge the old, stale and dead data. Cross-reference how often and how recently your clients have been contacted. Decide how much of your database is still clean and usable, and establish a marketing plan to reach out again to potential clients. A customized, personal letter could be a good start.

2. Database cleanup (loans) -- Go through your adversed loans and your closed loans, and search through any on-hold loans you may have. Give the adversed and on-hold loans a fresh look. Have the property values changed and increased in that market? Could the other factors that prevented these loans from closing in the past now be overcome? For the closed loans, reach out again to these borrowers. We all know that the follow-up on closed loan borrowers is essential, but we often do not do it enough or at all. There

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3. Marketing -- Do a firm analysis of your marketing over the past year. How much money did you invest and in what types of marketing? What were your conversions as a percentage and in real dollars? With UPBs lower now, the math may not add up the way it did last year. Reassess whether your approach in the past was truly effective and profitable, and analyze how it will work in 2014 and beyond. Many of the old rules are changing in our industry and a new approach may be needed.

4. Look at your own success -- Do the math on your success and on your loan officers’ success. How

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much time is being put into the business? Is your time managed efficiently? What is the best use of your time to produce the best results? How much did you spend on your marketing and was it profitable for you and your company? Often, when loans are closing and everyone is busy, this analysis is overlooked. What is your funnel to closing more loans? How many leads, referrals or appointments do you require to close more loans? How much of an investment is that and what return will you get from it?

5. Refresh your operations and back-office flow -- Re-examine the flow your loans take from

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top to bottom. From the proposal to the package of documents for the borrower’s signature, look at it all with a fresh eye. How does the presentation look? Clear your head and look at it as if you were a senior. Does your presentation look professional? What could or should be added or changed? Likewise, when your loan goes into processing, how is that flow? Efficient? Are the roles and responsibilities of your loan officer, assistants, processors, etc., clearly defined? Is there a clean, clear and updated checklist, and is it being followed on each file by each person who touches it? Updating and reviewing these items can and should help you close more loans in less time.

In any business, time flies and we often find ourselves swamped with emails and calls. Schedule the time, ideally in limited blocks, every few days to do this top-to-bottom review. Set a goal to have it done over a set timeframe and stick to it. It can only help you and your business. It will help you work smarter, with better service, which means you have a better chance of closing more loans and earning more income—a win-win all around!