When Derek Loose and his business partner opened Mortgage Excellence in 2007, there was one thing they knew for sure: Their top priority was taking care of the brokerage’s staff and agents. Loose had a vision of running a brokerage built on transparency, quality of life and robust relationships with lenders and clients.
“Our main focus has never been on volume or numbers,” he says. “Our philosophy was that financial success will come on its own if taking care of our people was always at the forefront.”
The idea started when Loose was an agent. He was walking with his young family through Universal Studios when he had to step away to take a mortgage application, too afraid of missing out on the deal. At that moment, he realized there had to be a better way, one where success didn’t mean sacrificing what matters most.
“We realized there’s a point in every mortgage agent’s career when success comes at the price of a deteriorating quality of life, whether it’s time with family, fitness or hobbies,” he says. “We wanted to operate differently.”
Thirteen years later, Loose is able to look back on a journey of trial and error that put in place all the building blocks of a brokerage he can be proud of. Aligning with good people was something Mortgage Excellence got right from the start. The brokerage’s honest and upfront business model meant that agents were always aware of the commission splits, the perks of the job, bonuses from lenders and their pay structure. Over the years, this transparency has resulted in low turnover and a happy team that continues to perform at its best.
The biggest challenge was finding the right systems and processes. Loose’s goal was to create a seamless deal flow that would allow agents to stay motivated and spend time where they are most needed, backed by a support team that could expedite the process while maintaining the customer experience. After a couple failed attempts, the brokerage finally landed on something that worked. Loose discovered that agents were needed most during the strategy and planning steps, in the early stages of the deal. Once the transaction was rolling, the support team could step in to help make things more efficient.
“We have specialists in pre-approving and strategizing, then a specialist to submit to lenders and closing out the deal,” Loose says. “We got rid of the bottleneck during a step where the client felt a sense of urgency, which improved the customer experience.”
Once that process was in place, feedback from Realtors, lawyers and clients went through the roof and agent volume increased. Mortgage Excellence focused on employing a team of quality professionals to help close deals and provide unparalleled support to brokers.
A happy, positive work culture always top of mind, too. Loose says agents and staff have complete autonomy, working out days off amongst themselves and taking as much vacation time as they need. There are just a couple of ground rules: It’s up to each person to make sure the work gets done, and when on vacation, you must totally unplug.
“Happy people who feel appreciated and in control leads to better results,” Loose says. “Our agents became happier and more efficient, and the customers got a better experience. We do not micromanage; we trust our team to do what is required.”
This autonomy and flexibility also meant that Mortgage Excellence was well prepared when the world went into a tailspin due to the coronavirus pandemic. The brokerage has been running Zoom meetings for years, as agents are scattered across Canada in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia. So when social distancing rules were put into force, not much changed at Mortgage Excellence, Loose says. Cybersecurity was sufficient, team members were equipped with all the tools they needed, phone calls were rerouted, and business continued without a hitch.
This willingness to adapt, along with a true understanding that there’s always room for improvement, is something that’s always set Mortgage Excellence apart from its competitors. Over the years, Loose says the brokerage has attracted some of the best individuals in the mortgage space, who have stayed for the long haul because of the environment and the culture that Mortgage Excellence provides.
“If our agents expressed that we could be better, we’ve been quick to adjust,” he says. “We were never stubborn in our ways. We have the best people and could not accomplish anything without our team. That’s been the greatest measure of our success.”