Say Goodbye to Being Mediocre

Reaching Higher to Become more than just the average originator.

I’ll bet you remember the day you got into this business as a mortgage loan originator. I’ll also wager to say that you started out with the motivation and determination to become a smashing success. You probably didn’t tell your family and friends: “I intend to be mediocre at this new job, average at best.”

Nobody wants to be seen as “mediocre,” but the fact is that many in this business are. If you are not in the top third of the loan originators in your market or the bottom third, you are in the middle. Your performance is mediocre. If you produce, on average, three to five transactions a month, your production volume is by most standards, in most markets, and at most companies, “mediocre.”

Please don’t shoot the messenger here. I am not trying to make you upset. I’m your friend and your coach and I am really trying to help you. I want you to see that maybe you have lost that motivation and determination for success you once had and consequently have conformed to mediocrity in your performance and your results. I know that this article is speaking to perhaps 33 percent of the loan originators in America who, whether they are willing to admit it or not, are “average” loan officers. Perhaps I am speaking today to you and making you think: “He’s right! That’s where I am! Why have I conformed to become an average originator? What happened to my dreams of success I had when I started this career? What is holding me back?”

Motivational master Anthony Robbins says that the only reason people will change for the better is because the pain of change is less frightening than the pain of staying where they are at. He’s right. While many loan originators will stay mediocre throughout their careers, others will break out of the pack and rise to the top because they are tired of being mediocre at what they do for a living. Even though becoming better might mean hard work and sacrifice and doing things differently, they are ready to go for it. Does that include you?

Let’s be brutally honest and look at why some loan originators are mediocre at this business. More importantly, let’s look at how to break out of that “average” level of performance, and move your success forward this year:

  1. Time. Many loan originators are mediocre because they can’t or won’t put forth the time it takes to become a success. They work “part-time” hours, coming in at 10 a.m. and leaving at 4 p.m. They don’t work late and they don’t work weekends. When they do come to work they rarely get a lot of work done, allowing personal matters, distractions, and errands to rule their day. Great originators will tell you that success is an investment of your time. Hard work has rarely created a failure.
    How many hours do you work every day and every week? How much of your time at work is actually spent working? Are you ready to make a commitment to as much as double that this year? If not, your results could remain mediocre. The top third of the loan officers in America out-produce the other two-thirds mostly because they out-work them. Plain and simple.
  2. Money. This business requires personal investment of the monetary kind too. It costs money to buy a good cell phone, a home fax machine, quality marketing materials, advertisements and a database contact management system. You have to reach into your pocket to pay for good instructional books, CDs, seminars, coaching systems, and tools to run your business. Top producers do this. Maybe that’s why they are top producers.
    Is this something you are willing to do? How much money did you spend on your business and your career growth during the last six months? Are you ready to write checks for hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to capitalize your success? There are no cheap seats if you want to sit with the superstars.
  3. Fear. Many mediocre loan officers stay mediocre because they are afraid of something. Some have sales call reluctance. They fear nearly all forms of prospecting, they shy away from using the phone to set appointments, and they rarely make any sales calls. Others are afraid of trying something new like targeting a new market (builders) or selling a new program (interest-only loans). This fear is stifling. It keeps them frozen in mediocrity and waiting at their desk for the next safe and comfortable opportunity to find them.
    Are you afraid of doing the things it takes to create success? Why? Is that fear worth you having a “marginal” career? In the end, on the day you retire, what will you tell that person in the mirror you were so afraid of? Everyone’s afraid of something; that’s only human. The key is to accept your fears, face them, be bigger than they are, and get to work.
  4. Desire. One out of three loan originators has a passion for this business, and that’s why they succeed. One out of three doesn’t want to be in this business, and that is why they fail. It’s the mediocre loan officers hovering in the middle group who can’t make up their minds. They can’t quite taste the desire for the business the way a top producer can. They want the fame and fortune, but lack the forward thrust to race ahead. It’s hard to get excited about working 50 hours a week, investing $1,000 a month in your business and making hundreds of prospecting sales calls a year if you really aren’t sure if this is the right business for you.
    How would you measure your desire to be in this business? On a scale of one to 10, how would you score your passion, your enthusiasm, your desire for the profession of mortgage loan origination? What will you have to do to increase that? How can you get really excited about what you do for a living? Like anything, if you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way to get it. Desire drives success.
  5. Effort. I often tell my seminar participants that there are two ways to achieve success: by effort and by accident. Look at 2002 and 2003. Many loan originators produced successful results by accident. Writing mortgage loans in record refinance years didn’t take a ton of brainpower or sales prowess. It took showing up for work and answering the phone. Many were successful by accident. But in a normal purchase loan environment like we have now, success will come by effort. And effort equals work—hard work. Somebody has to make those sales contacts. That somebody is you. That same somebody also has to build a business plan, study new programs, attend Realtor events, work trade show booths, participate in community activities, distribute flyers, send faxes, book appointments, deliver seminars, and a hundred other things to generate the leads, loans, and referrals you need to raise your results from mediocre to great.
    Are you willing to put forth that kind of effort? Do you see the connection between activities and results? If you are serious about moving out of the “average” group, it will take above average performance, the willingness to do the things most average loan officers won’t do (as previously mentioned). As I learned a long time ago, in the mortgage business effort and execution are everything.

So, have I enticed you? Did I strike a cord with you? If so, good. Your job is to decide that being mediocre is no longer for you, that average isn’t good enough. Your job is to set your sights on belonging in the top third of the mortgage loan originators in your company, your market, and this industry. You can do this. Your journey starts with your conviction that you are done being mediocre at what you do and that nothing, absolutely nothing, will stop you from becoming a success.

By Douglas Smith