Top independent brokerages take a bow

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What is your strategy for generating new business?
We wouldn’t recommend that a “newbie” become independent.  Aside from a good business and marketing plan, you really need a solid client base to draw on.  Then, using a good Customer Retention Management (CRM) system, you can farm your client base for referrals, refinances and new purchases.
What is the most important thing a broker can do to grow their business?
It’s an old business adage, but location, location, location is really important.  We recommend getting a retail location in a high traffic area where clients can come to you.  While we do not understand all the sales psychology behind it, we close 95 per cent of the (qualified) business that walks in our door.  
What trends have you noticed this year? Have you had to adapt your business strategies to the market conditions?
Although there is a lot of “buzz” about rate sites, we have avoided this strategy.  If your strategy is to be the Tim Hortons of mortgages, that’s great.  Our strategy, on the other hand, is to be the Starbucks of mortgages. While they’re both coffee, people are willing to pay just a little bit more for first-class service and leave our office with a better taste in their mouth.

What are your goals and strategies for the years ahead?
Our near-term goals are to double our volume and the number of quality brokers we have here in Nova Scotia. This will enable us to take advantage of some economies of scale, volume bonuses, and greater market presence overall.  Our goal over the next two years is to have brokers in all four Atlantic provinces.

Have you diversified outside of mortgages? If so, how have you incorporated this into your business?
We are currently exploring various mortgage-related investment programs for our clients including Syndicated Mortgages, GIC Investment Programs, and investment opportunities with private lenders.  Offering your clients Life & Disability Insurance is not only a great source of income, it is a great way to protect your clients during a difficult time.  We recently had a client pass away unexpectedly and their Manulife MPP Life Insurance paid off the mortgage, leaving the husband mortgage-free.  
Our brokers also participate in our unique profit-sharing, residual income model that enables our brokers to earn more than 100 per cent of their gross commissions from helping us acquire new mortgage brokers.

As an independent, what extra pressures do you feel surrounding volume bonuses? Is there any loss of diversity of product as a result?
While we do not do the same volumes as the “superbrokers,” we really have not lost any of our lenders.  Therefore, our product offering has remained the same.  I believe we have a very good reputation with our lenders and we offset volume with efficiency and top quality clients.

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