Need a Business Pick Up?

Use your Web site to its greatest potential.

Have you been impacted by the recent rate changes? Are you looking for ways to increase business?

If you are serious about staying in this business, now is the time to look at what you can do to energize your business. I know the power of the Web, and I know that it is absolutely possible to use it to make more profit than you currently do. The Web can help you increase profits through expansion or increased efficiency. Your Web site is a powerful tool. In this business, some take full advantage of its power and the results are that they generate over 50 percent of their business online. On the opposite end, there are others who haven’t taken one loan from their site yet. What makes the difference? A belief that your Web site can generate profits for your business. And taking the action required to make it happen.

If you want to increase your profits you can increase sales and/or increase efficiency. This is quite obvious. But do you know that your Web site makes it easy to accomplish either expansion or efficiency or both? Have you closed loans in other states? Do you wake up in the morning and find applications that borrowers have completed while you were sleeping? If not, you might be missing out!

Expand Your Business
The Web makes barrier-to-entry in non-local markets much easier. If you are looking to expand in other markets, you should first be aware of what your market is. If you tend to only want to do localized business in which your customer is usually only a few miles from you, it may be time to think bigger. Why? Because that’s what your competitors are doing. Jay Steren, CEO of Mortgage Capital Associates in Los Angeles, Calif. has been doing business online for over seven years and is a true believer of expansion using the Web. “As business starts to dry up,” he says, “if you’re not expanding you’re not going to make it.” According to Steren, the pros of expanding the business far outweigh the cons. While the Web makes expansion to different areas very affordable, he cautions that it does require a little upfront work. “The first thing you have to do is develop a business plan when expanding your business. You need to know your market. Then you need to find your appraisers and title companies, and you need to know the rules in each county. But the good news is it’s really not hard to get there.”

Without a Web site, expanding into different markets becomes more difficult. The borrower can’t take a 10 minute drive to see you. Without a Web site, the best they can do is call you with numerous questions. If you were the customer and you had two businesses to choose from that were not local to you, who would you be more inclined to contact? The one with or the one without a Web site address in their ad?

Whether your borrower is 10 miles away or 1,000 miles away, if they can log on to your site they can see that you are real, read about your company, your programs, and your rates, and apply online.

What you get for some leg-work and a little time upfront is increased revenues.

Why limit yourself to a 50 mile radius? Get licensed in additional states or expand into states that don’t need a license.

Create More Efficiency
How can a Web site help you reduce your costs by increasing efficiency? Here are just a few examples:

Guide your borrowers to filling out their own applications by using your Web site. This is a no-brainer to some, but many have a hard time letting go of walking a borrower through their application. This is still considered providing good service. While some of your borrowers may request that level of attention, others would love the opportunity not to have to drive out to meet you somewhere or to invite you into their home when they could simply fill out the app at their leisure during hours that are convenient to them. If you moved half of your app-taking into your borrowers’ hands, what could you do with the extra time? Don’t believe that consumers are willing to apply online? My research shows that over 50 percent of Internet borrowers are willing to fill out a full 1003 online as long as it’s secure.

Train your Realtors and other business partners to use your Web site. Do you have a difficult time keeping up with demands of your Realtors? How often do they want you to take an application on a Sunday night or when a prospect is in their office? What if you trained Realtors on how to shop rates on your Web site and fill out an application? If you can teach your business partners to self-serve themselves on your Web site, you can get more business without having to hire more people.

Hire personnel to work remotely. Employee and office-space overhead can be expensive—especially in a downturn. If you have a good Web site you can move to a smaller, cheaper office or have everyone work from home. You can have your loan originators apply on your Web site and check loan status online. If you have employees working from home mainly on commission, it’s easy to expand your business without creating a lot of overhead. If you choose to expand into additional states, you can even hire originators in that state who work out of their home!

Getting Started
What’s the best way to get started? First you have to have a professional Web site. Simple brochure sites will not work. At minimum your Web site needs to be able to take a full 1003 that imports easily into your LOS. Ideally, you also want to have loan status and up-to-date rates. Many successful online companies have a rate search option that provides customized quotes, payments, closings costs, and APRs.

Next, you need a business plan. I recommend creating a plan that has several small projects that are easy to execute. For example, your first step may be to get licensed in one more state. The next step will be to get approved with your lenders to originate in that state. Next you will need to get lists of appraisers, title companies, and others in that state.

Mark Twain said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

By Lovina Worick