Market Makeover – Getting Customers

Editor’s Note: This month, a novice originator seeks guidance on increasing his customer base and earning his first paycheck. Our contributors are Vicky Frontiere of United Capital Mortgage and Michael Brown of Atlantic National Mortgage.

I’m a junior loan officer who has having difficulty getting customers. I have
gone to open houses, mailed fliers, and handed out my cards to everyone
I meet. How long does it normally take for someone to get their first
paycheck? I’m trying to be patient.


VICKY FRONTIERE is a loan originator with United Capital Mortgage, Las Vegas, Nev.,

I am relatively new to this business myself, and I know it can seem almost impossible to get going. I have a strong belief in just showing up every day and learning all you can about your field prepares you for when the phone does start to ring, and it will happen if you just stick to it. It took me two months to get my first paycheck, but I’m sure it differs for everyone. Working for straight commission can be a scary thing but having no limit to.
How much I can actually generate each month is the exciting part.
In our office, we have “floor-time.” Three days a month it’s my turn to simply receive any calls that come into the office. It is a great way to get business, and I constantly tell the receptionist that I am available in case the loan officer whose turn it is doesn’t show up.
I have tried all the different things you have, like going to open houses, mailing fliers, and constantly handing out my cards. All are good ways of bringing in business. However, finding Realtors who will do business with you is the one key to getting a flow of constant business, and getting those big paychecks. There are thousands of Realtors out there and four or five is all you need. I know it can be difficult walking into real estate offices. Most have preferred lenders and getting past the receptionist seems next to impossible, so start out with some of the smaller offices that seem much more appreciative when you walk in carrying a box of doughnuts.
Make sure you let the agents know you are available by cell phone on weekends to pre-qualify their buyers. Realtors appreciate that since they advertise in the newspaper and get calls to show property most weekends. They want to know from a lender that the buyers do have some chance of receiving a loan before they waste their time. When I would find a Realtor who would talk to me, I would offer to split some advertising costs with them. This not only impresses the agent that you are serious about getting business, but shows other agents where to find you.
When my first loan was approved, I took the time to call the selling agent and relay the good news so she could tell her clients. That alone was an impressive move since it is not common to put anyone on the selling side in the loop. She ended up becoming my second Realtor because of that one phone call. When the final docs were drawn I brought them to the title company and stayed for the closing. I learned a lot just being there and it really impressed my clients.
I have a quarterly newsletter that I send to past clients and Realtors that seems to generate more business. Last year I even purchased a billboard for myself that has brought my name and face out to people daily.
When I finally got my first loan, I spent a lot of time with the processing department and learned all I could about processing and what I might have done wrong during the loan application. The loan officer puts the loan in motion, and if mistakes are made on the front end, the loan can go from bad to worse.
Knowledge is power—I can’t stress that enough. Every day I tried to learn more about the loan programs my company had to offer. I spent time with our underwriters and our closing department. Being a successful loan officer does not mean simply being able to bring in business. You have to know what to do with it once you get it and how to change directions if the loan is not meeting all criteria for a certain program. All this of course, while smiling to the client and appearing to be in total control.
At United Capital Mortgage our slogan is, “Where Service Makes The Difference!” I knew at my signing that those words were so true. I even went one step further. When the loan recorded, I found out the day my clients were moving in to their new home. I showed up that afternoon with two pizzas in my arms. The new homeowners were tired and hungry and once again, totally impressed with my service. I still get referrals from this couple and recently helped them to refinance their current mortgage.
I closed one loan my first month, two my second, three my third, and by the end of the year, United Capital Mortgage presented me with a “Rookie of the Year” award. Every day I continue to learn something new and my business still comes from five Realtors.

MICHAEL BROWN is an originator at Atlantic National Mortgage
What distinguishes me from my competition is my willingness to give 100 percent of myself to all my referral sources 24/7. My real estate brokers know that when they are trying to put a transaction together over the weekend or in the evenings they can reach me on my cell phone or home number and I will be there for them. They are confident that I know all the guidelines of all the products I offer. This stands out in their mind and forms the partnership that benefits both of us financially and creates strong friendships. Always be there for your referral sources.
Remember “patience is a virtue.” Everyone wants to make the big bucks now, However, it takes time. Building a pipeline of loans takes months, even years. Planting seeds is the most important thing you should be doing and it seems you are. Making friends and contacting everyone you know and letting them know what you do for a living is a basic idea, but a very important one. Most of my top referral sources started out as friends but over time, they became very vital lifelines to my success.
I try to include my contacts in my activities. My hobbies are golf, fishing, cooking, and most sports. Take them to play golf, tennis or go shopping with them find out what they like to do and share your common interests.
The problem with most new originators is they don’t ask for the business. You can’t assume that because you feed them lunch, the business will roll in. With a smile tell them you want them to send you all of their clients. Public open houses are another way to build relationships with Realtors. They are there all day bored and probably hungry.
Spend a Sunday afternoon with different brokers, find out what they like and pick up a sandwich for them. Hopefully you’ll be able to qualify all the people who walk through. Even if the Realtor doesn’t work with everyone who visits, you might be able to. It becomes very personal and you should be able to have a great conversation. When I do Realtor open houses, I will always say “I’m glad you enjoyed my company and thanks for coming, but please share your referrals.” I always ask them for business by letting them know to “put me on your list and give me a chance. I am great at what I do.”
I rarely hand out rate sheets, most Realtors throw them away without even looking at them. You have to give them things that catch their attention, do something different like, handing out your recipe for success. Include a brief comment, like “call me any time.. I’m always available.” Include a recipe for cookies or a cake, then deliver it with the baked goods to the top real estate and attorney’s offices in your area. By doing this, you’ll soon build a relationship with even the most difficult brokers.
Get involved with your community organizations. I give discounts to police, fire and EMT personnel. I waive the appraisal and credit fee. I have a flier up on the bulletin boards at most companies with the same discounts.
Once you get the client, don’t try to make a home run. It may be a great pay day at first, but you may one of the many with a bad reputation as a gouger. Make it fair for the client and for you. You worked very hard or your client expects you to get paid. Keep happy so they will always refer you.
You can expect to get paid in about two months on a purchase and in about 30 days on a refi.
Send them a thank-you card or gift, always go to your closings, and thank the Realtors for the client.
Make sure you keep in touch with your clients after they close. Follow up with them on one month, six month, and yearly intervals.
By doing all of these things, you will be able to build strong relationships and big money.