For many brokers, 2016 was a challenging year. Changes in credit policy were plentiful, with banks interpreting APRA’s guidelines in varied ways. Banks used pricing as a lever to drive and influence volumes. The foreign income tap was switched off and investors found it harder to borrow.
As we move through the new year, there is no doubt that 2017 will be challenging with potential for further tightening of credit policy. Relationships and up-to-date knowledge will be key for brokers who want to be savvy and stay ahead of the game. Here are my top five tips:
No matter how many people you see and talk to, when it comes to buying property, clients may not remember you among the stress of everything else involved in the purchasing process. Relationships are hard work because they are ongoing and unless you have a relationship with every potential client, you are unlikely to be on the forefront of people’s minds. So how do we build that deeper relationship and, more importantly, maintain it?
- All existing clients should be spoken to on an annual basis at a minimum (some will require more frequent contact). Let them know that you will be in touch with them so they feel like you are their go-to finance/lending specialist;
- If you use social media, you should log into LinkedIn or whichever platform you choose regularly and diarise it so you make it part of your routine. You should be active, not just in the form of ‘likes’ but comment on status updates and workplace anniversaries; and
It’s all good and well to go to many networking events but what is your purpose? Why are you going and what do you want to achieve? Are you attending the event so you can win clients? Are you attending so you can learn how to improve your presentation or public speaking?
- Networking means you should have something in common with the other attendees. Whether it be a property seminar, an entrepreneurs group or a motivational speaker, you need to know and identify the common factor to instigate conversation;
- If you’re looking for a mentor or a support group, don’t be afraid to ask someone out for coffee after and event;
- If it’s clients you are searching for, every person you meet is a potential client. Unless you know they would 100 per cent object to working with you, they should be added to your client database and followed up like a client; and
- For every client or potential client in your database, you should have an open task based on your last interaction with them so you can keep the relationship ongoing.
Plan and review
There’s no worse feeling than having a terrible month with low number of loans drawn knowing that you are potentially behind your annual target. What can you do to avoid this?
- Have a plan every month;
- At the end of the month, you should review the month just past;
- The plan is to ultimately determine how many meetings you should have to ensure you hit your monthly target value of loans drawn. This will take into account conversion rates, number of meetings you need to have per client, an approximate time frame they are likely to buy in, average loan size etc. This will then allow you to focus on the activity and networking so that you can achieve the number of meetings required; and
- The month-end review should identify things that worked well and things that didn’t work well. While qualitative commentary is good, it is better to quantify and analyse your actual output against your plans i.e. how many meetings you had, what your conversion rate was etc. as this will assist in future months moving forward.
Ask your clients for referrals
There is no better form of marketing than word of mouth. If you deliver what you promised and provide excellent customer service, there should be no reason for your clients not to refer you business. Here are some ways you can ask your clients for referrals:
- For existing clients who come back to meet with you to discuss their financing needs, ask them at the end of the meeting if they have people in their networks who might require assistance. They are obviously satisfied with your service if they are coming back;
- The same goes for existing clients who aren’t ready to buy their next property, but in your annual check-in over the phone or over email, don’t be afraid to ask; and
- After your new client’s loan settles, it’s always good to touch base with them a few months later to make sure they are happy with how their loans have been set up. Directly ask for feedback and if it is constructive, use it to enhance your customer service or ask them for referrals. Another way to obtain feedback is to carry out surveys and analyse the data.
It’s no wonder ASIC is conducting a review of remuneration for the mortgage broking industry. Being a broker shouldn’t be a one-off transaction and interaction with a client. We need to look after our existing clients because they form a big part of the trail income book. Stay in contact with them, assist with the review of their cash flows, find out what it is they need and see where you can add value to them. This is something we should be doing regardless, but all the more reason when we are in an environment where lending is tough.
Where to next?
Whether you’re a large organisation or a one-man team, buddy up and hold each other accountable. Set yourself some goals, communicate them and instead of peer pressure, leverage peer power to work together because two heads are better than one.