You have to invest money to make money—a cardinal rule that perhaps every broker should follow if they want to their clientele to grow.
What should brokers and brokerage owners spend their money on? CanWise Financial’s President and Broker of Record James Laird recommends focusing on marketing, technology that can improve customer service, and internal efficiencies so that a greater volume of customers can be attended to.
“From a customer service perspective, we built our own in-house documentation upload area for consumers,” said Laird. “They’re now able to log on in a secured way and can drag and drop the documents they need to pass us to complete their mortgages. Our service level is higher and consumers appreciate secured upload zones, as opposed to unsecured email, and it’s more efficient for us as well, because docs come into where they’re supposed to go and our agents can both serve customers better as well as more of them.”
CanWise also built its own CRM, which allows its brokers to stay organized.
“They know who they talked to, what they said, what the next steps are with those customers, and whether they’re at a lead stage, deal stage, or pass claim,” added Laird. “We have a lot of customers coming through our doors on a daily basis, so we track and organize them, and it makes us more efficient. If we tell our customers that we’re calling them three weeks from now, we do, because we’re organized in that manner.”
Marketing is arguably the trickiest investment channel for brokers because returns aren’t always trackable. However, in addition to lead generation platforms, brokers need to measure their traction.
“Some marketing is more about brand awareness, and it’s very hard to track what you got,” said Laird, adding that magazine ads are still efficient.
“If I’d do that advertising, I’d put a unique phone number in there so that we could track how many calls I got from that ad. Don’t put your regular phone number; put a different one that connects to your normal line.”
As any broker will tell you, referrals are imperative to growing one’s book. A new customer always presents a challenge, but Laird stresses the importance of not only repeat business from one customer, but doing an exceptional job so that they recommend you to their network.
“It’s imperative that the one closed deal turns into three or four other transactions,” said Laird. “That should mean two things: One, they have such a good experience with you that when they need a mortgage in the future, they’re definitely going to come back to you; and the second thing is you treat them so well that they want to tell their friends, family and colleagues. If you can get two or three referrals in the first couple of months after you close that first transaction, you can justify investing a lot more in marketing to get that first client.”
Jason Singh, a broker with Broker Financial Group, recommends diversification and working one’s database.
“Knowing more products, having multiple referral partners, spot openings and diversifying your mortgage business,” said Singh. “The other one is working your database. It’s one of the most important things mortgage brokers do not do. Courtesy calls, annual mortgage and anniversary calls. Work your database because that’s one of the number one things you can do to grow your business.”