For the first time since 1981, our industry is experiencing a rising interest rate environment. During the refinance era of the past years, we had a few increases, but the market largely saw declining interest rates. Today, we are in a completely different era. Leaders are facing shrinking margins as the cost per loan has gone out of control. They are having to make difficult decisions, looking at exactly how much staff they need in order to operate and what luxury expenses they must cut.
Additionally, they are leading a salesforce who is adjusting to a new market, one driven by purchase business and more reliant on digital technology than ever before. In short, the headwinds of the industry are strong, and leaders are facing them head on.
If anyone knows me very well, they know that I believe challenging times are a huge opportunity. Some people may assume that the current market shift means their business will take a downward turn from which they will never recover. I don’t buy it. The way I see it, challenging times force us to refine our processes and practices. Leaders must be more focused, more intentional about business growth than ever before.
When they begin to reevaluate their business, and emphasize the things that truly matter, I believe that they can lead companies that thrive, not just survive.
START BY ASKING QUESTIONS
As leaders turn their attention inward to find what will drive production forward, they should begin by asking themselves some powerful questions about the way they are running their business. These questions should challenge the current status quo and open executives up to looking at new strategies for leading their organization. Here are a few examples:
1. What are my minimum standards?
2. How am I empowering my people to meet these standards?
3. What is my leadership style?
4. What kind of culture do I want to drive?
5. How am I going to cultivate this culture?
Leaders, closely examining your business is the vital first step toward succeeding in today’s challenging market. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself challenging questions about how you can better serve your organization!
DON’T BE AFRAID OF NEW TALENT
I understand why an executive today would say, “This is not the time for rookies.” I recently asked a group of industry leaders about how long they expected to wait before meeting their breakeven point for a new loan officer. I was astonished to hear them say one to two years. If this is their expectation, hiring a rookie would surely seem like a risky proposition in today’s challenging market.
However, I want to challenge this viewpoint. I believe there is never a bad time to hire a great sales person. I realize new LOs are an investment. They don’t enter the industry with a pipeline ready and waiting.
That being said, leaders do not have to wait a year before their rookies become contributing team members. How do I know? At XINNIX, the students who go through ORIGINATOR, our program specifically designed for professionals entering the industry, are experiencing an average of 4.3 applications within their first 30 days in the market. And we get them to market in four to five weeks.
So why are most managers not seeing results like these for their new LOs? They are not following this simple, three-step process for hiring successful new talent:
Even if someone is new to the mortgage industry, they should still possess the skills that make them a good salesperson. Leaders need to have a clear screening process in place, designated questions that will drive important conversations, and an assessment that will ensure they have strong, predictable sales skills.
Also, remember that “new to the industry” doesn’t have to mean “new to the professional world.” Currently, the average age of our ORIGINATOR students is 32 years old. These are people who are on their second and third career, and they already have experience that will serve them well.
A comprehensive training program is vital for rookie success. Each associate represents that brand of an organization. Leaders do not want to send a someone into the marketplace who will be a poor representation.
New loan officers still need to know their stuff! Their training should give them the knowledge, skills, and disciplines they need to do great business and be a positive brand ambassador for their company.
A trained loan officer does not necessarily mean an immediately successful loan officer. Once they have the skills, they need to have the fire that motivates them to keep pushing for success. Get them into the marketplace as soon as possible so they become addicted to the lifestyle, income, and transformative opportunities for people’s lives that this career offers. A successful LO is an active LO.
Hiring new LOs should have benefits for the entire organization. Every time a XINNIX-trained rookie joins a team, everyone around them experiences an immediate lift. New hires bring new perspective, and besides, no one wants to be beat by the new guy. When you effectively source, train, and assimilate, the fresh talent you bring in will energize your entire team.
INVEST IN TRAINING ACROSS YOUR SALESFORCE
As parents, we want our children to get the best education possible. We do our best to send them to the best schools so they can get into the best colleges so they can one day get a great job and have the most successful life possible.
But why does this focus on education stop after college? Learning and development are never done. The minute we enter into the workforce is the minute our true education begins.
Leaders, how are you equipping your loan officers to be students of their profession? In a challenging market, it can be easy to overlook training as a non-essential expense. I believe this mindset is deeply flawed. Training is an investment in your associates and the success of your business.
The disciplines and strategies mortgage professionals learn through mortgage training will lead to a predictable outcome. Whenever everyone else is falling behind, they have the foundational knowledge and practical skills to thrive.
Education needs to be more than something a few people in an organization are serious about. It should be engrained throughout a company’s entire culture. When every associate is constantly working to improve their business, the organization they work for will be at the top of the industry, no matter how challenging market conditions may be.