The Diversifiers:Eileen Crosbie

by |
Broker, Dominion Lending Centres, the Mortgage Source
Smiths Falls, Ont.

Mortgage brokering may be their focus, but these players are winning with a host of sidelines. CMP is shedding light on those alternative revenue streams

When eating a fancy dinner would you be satisfied with just a big piece of steak, regardless of how delicious, seasoned and filling it is? Of course not. Because it should be complemented by sides; mashed potatoes, green beans, a salad, gravy.

Well, these industry leaders view their business in the same light. 

Most may have started in the mortgage broker industry, but they have each branched out into other areas of financial services to complement their business. Whether it’s insurance, bank products, syndicate mortgages, lending or financial planning; each one has found a unique way to diversify and include alternative revenue streams to help boost their bottom line. Of course, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all diversification strategy. That’s why we’ve rounded up a number of unique perspectives to see how and why they chose a specific diversification approach. And we have even caught up with two of the diversifiers featured last year to see what sort of progress they have made.

So sink your teeth into the insights of your fellow brokers. Who knows, you may find some inspiration for the next stage of your own business.

Which areas have you diversified into?

In addition to our core offering of DLC mortgage products, we’re primarily focused on providing our clients with the opportunity to apply for DLC Visa cards, MPP life and disability insurance. We also offer a comprehensive leasing service.

Is being a one-stop-shop the key to diversification?

Being a one-stop-shop is not necessarily the key to diversification. If you spread your focus around too much, you may not be able to provide the kind of quality product or service you can be proud of. I think the key is to diversify into one or two areas closely related to your core offering so that your field of expertise is cohesive and the services you offer are all interconnected.

What advice would you offer brokers wanting to diversify?

I would advise anyone who wants to diversify to begin slowly and to pick products they believe in and are comfortable with. The more you know about your products, the better able you are to provide your clients with the kind of service that will turn them into repeat customers. Focus on one or two things and get really good at those things before you move on.

How do you generate leads and service the client to meet all their needs?

We generate leads by maintaining a strong community presence – we let people know who we are and what we do. We also rely on word of mouth and mutual referrals, but we ask for those referrals by encouraging our clients to send us their friends and family. We try to stay in touch regularly with our client-base through emails and newsletters. We’ve discovered that reaching out to our clientele frequently is the best way to make an impression on both established and potential customers and we do this by attending a lot of local events, tradeshows, festivals and by sponsoring local teams.

How do you deal with compliance?
The Mortgage Source has an established protocol which we follow to ensure compliance.

Do you have a specialist devoted to that non-brokering area?

At our DLC location we have a small team and we’re all specialists in each of the services we offer. 

What are the potential pitfalls in diversifying?

As I mentioned above, I think that diversifying into too many areas or into unrelated areas means risking the integrity of the services you offer. It’s better to do one or two things really well.

What have you learned?
I’ve learned that diversification can help to grow a healthier business but also that the needs of the client must always come first. One thing that makes it easier for us is that we believe in our DLC products. Our DLC Visa Credit Cards, for instance, have some of the lowest interest rates in the country. It isn’t difficult to diversify into an area like this when the product you’re offering is genuinely a good one, especially compared to some of the other options available. We simply offer the card to everyone and allow the great rates to speak for themselves.

What are the benefits to servicing more of the clients’ needs in-house in terms of building relationships and ownership of the client?

Offering more services in-house builds a better and more trusting relationship with clients and this, in turn, leads to more repeat business. It’s nice to be able to offer to help clients ourselves rather than having to send them elsewhere for the kind of services they want. In the rare circumstance that we cannot help a potential client right away, we try to followup with that potential client and work with them in order to get them into a home.
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