If you ask a real estate agent, “What’s the difference between loan officers?” you’ll consistently hear the same response, “Nothing,” or “They’re all the same.” Yet, when you look closely, there are lots of differences between them.
There are loan officers who get 98% of their loans closed on time, and then there are those who get 2% of their loans closed on time. There are loan officers who return phone messages to agents within the hour and then there are those who haven’t returned phone messages to agents from last month. There are loan officers who solicit referrals for their agents, and then there are those who don’t know how to spell the word, “referral.”
So if there are differences between loan officers, why do agents struggle to notice? Why, when it’s glaringly obvious, that you’re better than your competitors, agents can’t see it?
Chances are, it’s in your marketing, particularly with what it says. For instance, grab your brochure. Read it. What does it communicate?
Does it tell the reader the length of time you’ve been in business?
Does it list the different type of loan programs you offer?
Does it say you’re a proven, experienced professional?
Does it comment about fast & friendly service?
If your brochure says these things, guess what…Agents have heard this before, so much so, your message is being ignored. Plainly speaking, your brochure – ink and all – are getting no attention from agents.
Difference is Everywhere
The brochure’s headline blares, “We make the difference for you,” or “feel the difference,” or “experience the difference,” and one of a hundred other variations of the same theme. What doesn’t make sense is, what’s actually the difference? Every mortgage company is bragging about how they’re different, which makes everyone appear the same, and leaves agents to figure out what that difference is specifically.
If the difference is your main selling point, then articulate it. For example, if you have a track record of closing loans early, don’t communicate that you offer great service, in fact, don’t even say that you close loans on time. Instead, factually state how you close loans early, i.e. “For 3 straight years and running, we’ve proudly closed 99% of loans 5 days prior to escrow.”
Your Service Point of Difference
Commonly, agents will tell you the typical issues they have with loan officers’ service points involve:
Poor Communication During Loan Application Process
Loan Doc’s Not Arriving to Escrow Before Closing Date
Lack of Accountability When Matters Go Upside Down
No Reciprocity of Leads or Referrals
Herein lies your opportunity. Services are similar from one lender to the next, so the more similar the services, the more important the details. Your marketing should accentuate the trivial, because when services are alike and meaningful differences are difficult to spot, prospects look for trivial matters to make judgment.
Quantify Your Service Points
To uncover the trivial within your differences to stand out from competitors, begin with quantifying each service point. Quantification makes it easier to document your points of difference, providing the reader, through your brochure, numbers, facts and data.
Let them decide if your factual statement is a compelling difference. If they know your competitors, they’ll recognize your factual statement as a claim of difference. And if they don’t know your competition, and your factual statement resonates, they may pursue your services first.
Here are some examples:
Close of Escrow
“Can you afford to lose good clients over loans not closing on time? In 2005, our motto has been about consistency - with 99% of loan documents arriving to Title a minimum of 5 days prior to close of escrow date. Your loans don’t just close on time, but ahead of time.”
“Tired of poor communication with loan officers? Our returned call policy brings back the ole days of good customer service. If your message is received between the hours of 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., your call will be returned within the hour, and messages received after 5:00 p.m., your call will be returned before 10:00 a.m. the following day.”
“Are you stuck attracting new clients? Agents, who work with us, average 7 sales annually from the referrals produced by our client retention program. Clients receive over 36 pieces of communication from us throughout the year that generates nearly 2.5 referrals from each client.”
“Losing sleep and growing weary from lousy service? We put money where our mouth is. Any loan that doesn’t close on time, due in part to our mistake, we’ll credit the buyer $500.00 toward closing costs.”
Be sure to check RESPA laws in your area. Offering some type of personal guarantee can be an incredible way to differentiate since it’s so rarely done.
Hopefully, as you can see from these examples, ideas on how you can tell the difference. So what’s the next step? Begin measuring your service points. And if you can’t quantify anything, don’t fix your brochure – fix your service.
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Go to www.loan-officer-marketing.com to get a free copy of Jeff Nelson's Marketing Planning Guide, a 20-page workbook designed to help you outline a strategy to become an Agent Magnet.
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