Main | January 2007 »

Holidays contact

Happy Holidays everyone! I wanted to jot a few notes to you about this time of year in our crazy mortgage world.

First is that there are obvious dead days in these weeks that should give you the perfect opportunity to either take quality time off with your family(best), get totally organized in your office and retool your system for the new year, or take a day and review your business for the past year. You should have been reviewing your business for the past year already when you were looking back at your production to see where it came from so you could create a "naughty and nice" list. If you did I bet you were probably surprised at where the business came from. In particular, you probably noticed that the people who you hear from the most or request the most (highest maintenance), you don't close the most deals from. It is time to either sit down with then to see how they actually refer you, how they "prequalify" the lead to you. Or its time to prune them altogether.

After you have done the post-mortem on the year (and this year may need a mortem), you can tighten a plan for 2007. Think of all the areas you want to work on or emphasize and grow; cast the net wide. Then start prioritizing the list; take the 1st 3 on the list and see how you can integrate them in your calendar for the 1st quarter. Bake them right into your daily/weekly routine right thru March. If on Outlook use Task list as well. (see previous blog for more detail). If you have a team they should be creating the plan with you. If you are alone, you need a peer, manager or spouse (preferably all) to own the plan as well and keep you honest.

A note on cards and gifts....I see many folks out there running around and sending out generic holiday cards with signatures on them, nothing personal attached. I don't see the value. I know I get these from the people who deliver my paper and milk, do my plumbing or lawn cutting. Do I want to be included in that bunch? We should be personal advisors, a partner and advocate. If a generic card, there should be a personal note in each. If you have many laughs with your client, make it a silly card or one with a great picture inserted. Or make it based on a cause you support like Rebuilding Together or Habitat or a local hospital. Your gift could be a donation to that cause. Not doing one at all and sending Thanksgiving or Valentines cards instead saves you Holiday Madness and separates you. I have sent to my Realtors in the past a 3D pop up card from . They are unique, many are housing related and people remember them. In fact, I have found that many collect them as ornaments year after year, hanging them on their tree or setting them up around the desk. Now that's brand building!

Your gifts should be the same. I made the mistake of trying to give something to everybody instead of recognizing the key people well who do the most for you. Take the time and make it special and unique to them. If it is something that can help them have a better quality of life or helps grow their business even bigger. That is how you want to be remembered by them. In that vein, giving calendars in November for the New Year is a great way to bake ‘you’ into their life. If you do that be sure to plant notes on certain dates. Have fun with it...make up holidays, add your birthday, an anniversary of when you started doing business together, ball team schedule, local town big dates, call you with referral date, etc

Make a note for next years plan to review your approach to the holidays. Shake it up. If people really love what you have done in the past they will call and let you know. Find away to make your letters and gifts truly represent you and have staying power. Happy Holidays!

Business Plan 2007

For those of you who attended Business Plan 2007 in Vegas, I believe you witnessed an absolutely first class event that was timely, practical and inspirational. That is a hard combo to achieve but Tim and his folks pulled it off. Kudos also to Dave Savage and the good people at Mortgage Coach for the MC Summit on Monday. I enjoyed immensely speaking with the powerful group of speakers representing all ranges of experience and business approach. The creativity and professionalism was motivational for all at a time when we all really needed it.

Watching many of the speakers, I was reminded of how only the personal brand of the individual survives through all markets. As only a Tony Robbins can bring home, the power is in all of us to fully tap into our talents and share them with the world. Looking at some of the giants of our industry like Bill Dallas, Tim Braheem, Dave Savage and Steven Marshall, you see individuals with vision, passion and integrity. Frankly it is amazing that with all they have published and created that there so many have chosen to do the complete opposite. As large as LTB07 was (and it was a sight), it was still about 1% of the industry attending. So the fact that you are even reading this obscure blog from a guy you don't know, proves that you are driven for higher knowledge and personal satisfaction. I believe your rewards may be slow for this approach but will compound exponentially over time.

The technology in the market (especially what was represented at LTB07) now allows the strong in vision and diligence to compete with ANY size company. You can be faster to market, retain more of your clients, and your efficiencies will allow a better quality of life that washes all over your business. Tim's business plan approach and structure of implementation is brilliant. I can tell you much of it is based on the same ideas of Professors Flamholtz and Randle (their book Growing Pains is a great read for owner/leaders) that Countrywide uses for the Executive Development. Tim just did a great job of bringing it down to the producing manager/small business owner level; therefore giving you no reason to not implement, especially given a peer coaching format.

If you didn't attend Vegas, it doesn't preclude you from writing a business plan for 07. The key is to grant yourself the time to take a day off, go to a library, hotel room, anywhere out of your daily world, and begin the process. Cast the net wide open; let your imagination and your dreams be free to explore your whole world, business and personal. Then start chunking it down into focuses, prioritize them, and then strategize how you can implement them. First choosing the highest priority to be implemented in the first quarter and ignore the rest till a date in mid March when we take another day or 1/2 day if impossible, to review your progress and set your 2nd qtr goal.

Frankly any plan is better than no plan and any day is good to start. Just take the time to pull back and take a good look at yourself and the world around you. Be honest and be fair. The good folks out there are always harder on themselves than any boss or coach could be. If you would like an opinion on your plan I am happy to review and give honest feedback.

One last note, it was amazing how Bill Dallas gave such a passionate and honest talk knowing that his baby, OwnIt was being killed by its backers, Merrill and Chase. OwnIt, like First Franklin he started before, were true innovators in an ugly business, subprime. He took the high road always trying to find a way to make Main St and Wall St happy, while creating new efficiencies in an antiquated business. Bill and Richard Branson of Virgin are my entrepreneurial heroes creating and innovating at break neck speed in diverse ways but with deep underlying quality. I am sad to see his baby die but am excited to see what he gives birth to next.


Welcome to my first of what I hope will be many entries.

I thought it would be good for you to see where my head is at so you can see my biases right out of the gate.

As you may know I have recently left the corporate world of mortgage banking to join a smaller $4B wholesale/retail lender, Mortgage Network. They have been around since 1988, licensed in 33 states, and they have long term goals to become a $20B player with a more national presence. But, only by hiring the right people, presenting the right product, to the right customers, for the right referral sources, all at the right time. No pressure to do the wrong things in a rush because you have to meet a quarterly number for Wall Street. MNet's reputation of delivering to Wall St is stellar; and that matters more to me. A company that serves Main St and Wall St equally; screwing neither, and assisting each to get what they need.

Our business has become a wayward home of free agents, crooks, and sales hacks with brutal short term views. I am eager to be able to assemble an organization based on core values of professionals who do the right thing everyday. This company will be remain a flat structure because we have only allowed the quality people in who don't need baby-sitting, only coaching and support to be the best they can be. No layers of management are required, which will speed up decision-making, keep those decision-makers close to the field, and keep costs down. Also given the selectiveness of the team building, the team police's themselves not wanting to ruin the good thing.

I'm also looking forward to spending the majority of my time NOT managing who is in what territory or who can have what expenses reimbursed. The big brand leaves everyone fighting for 'what will the brand do for me'. In a revenue sharing model where the brand to be built is the individual all the friction melts away. The internal brand is the company's personal identity it takes on, and that is recognized by the industry; becoming a beacon for those individuals who are disenfranchised elsewhere and looking for a company who shares their core values.

The access directly to the markets for commodity product is crucial. There is no margin on the investor side, why should the field expect a better margin? You need access to a clean low-cost commodity product while being able to be paid for the harder to produce loans which the investor makes the better margin on; you need to look at what you are worth per hour and match the cost to produce that loan while overlaying market inequities. The business is changing and technology is allowing more folks into the game, allowing them to look smarter, earlier (like Mortgage Coach). You have to define your USP but continue to evolve as well.

This is a great time to be building a business if you have the patience, vision, and reserves. I look forward to your thoughts that I can share with your peers.

I'll be adding more notes after Vegas....