Canada's top broker shares his secrets

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After narrowly missing out on the first place spot on CMP's inaugural Top 50 Broker list last year, Peter Kinch has shot to the top. But if you ask him, 2008 wasn't a year to brag about.

"I set a goal of $250 million to $300 million in volume, so I'd say we failed miserably," says Kinch. "But I also think it speaks volumes to the fact that sometimes people have to set a big, scary goal and not limit themselves."

Kinch is quick to point out that volume is not the only mark of a good broker and attributes his success to building three strategies: a niche service, a recognized brand and a loyal team, he says, downplaying the importance of customer service and databases.

"People get too focused on having the perfect system," he says. "You can spend your whole life perfecting the best CRM, but if the phone doesn't ring, who cares?"

About seven years ago, Kinch says he started focusing his efforts on servicing real estate investors, who he noticed had very different needs from the average homebuyer. He has since become a favoured broker and teacher for members of the Real Estate Investor Network (REIN), co-authored a book called "97 Tips for Canadian Real Estate Investors" and released a six-CD instructional set called "The 5 Year Action Plan for Real Estate Investors." His next book on the topic (which is still untitled) is set for a November release date. Kinch says it's his expertise in the real estate investing market has set him apart from other brokers.

"I'll be the first to say we don't have the best or most prompt customer service, but the customer is extremely loyal simply because the value-added proposition is evident - you're providing something they can't get anywhere else," he says, adding it's about "getting to the point that you know that you're the absolute best at what you do, without a doubt."

Another area of business Kinch has focused on is his brand, which he says he developed by focusing on education over self-promotion and paid advertising. He started a radio program, The Mortgage Minute on News 1130, five years ago and is working on having it syndicated across Canada in 2009. He has also appeared on CityTV's Breakfast Television and CTV Newsnet and has written numerous educational articles, which he says lend to his credibility as a mortgage broker and allows him to build his name without having to sell himself.

Kinch has a lot in the works for 2009, including a roll out of five "PK Approved" offices across Canada to coincide with his book release. The offices will be franchises of Dominion Lending Centres - Kinch joined the network earlier this year after being with The Mortgage Centre - and staff will be trained by Kinch on how to help real estate investors structure their portfolios and obtain mortgages. By outsourcing some of his business, he hopes his office in Port Moody, B.C. will become more locally focused and he'll have more time to do what he's passionate about - educating people.

"I want to take on more speaking engagements so that I'm not just a mortgage broker who speaks, I'm a speaker who owns a mortgage brokerage," he says.

Despite all his achievements in his professional life, Kinch says spending more time with his family was his proudest accomplishment in 2008, including coaching his 10-year-old son's hockey team and being named Coach of the Year by the Port Moody Hockey Association.

For someone with so much on his plate, it makes sense that one of Kinch's favourite sayings is "if you knew you couldn't fail, what would you do?" It also makes sense why he says a perfect work/life balance can't always be achieved and that a business takes time and patience to build.

"Success doesn't happen overnight," he says. "You have to have a vision, you have to work at it and you have to build upon that year over year."

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