At the start of a yoga or meditative practice, it’s common to set an intention, the idea being that intention guides what comes out of the practice.
In this case, meditative practice and origination are much the same.
One of the biggest challenges for originators is how to consistently create a productive day for themselves because there are so many thing on their plates: meeting with referral partners, creating partnerships, managing past clients through a database, generating a complete file, getting all of the documents, answering all of the questions prior to processing, all the while trying to maintain existing relationships and build a business. Cindy Ertman, a former originator turned mortgage coach, trainer, and author, said that it’s really hard to know how to utilize time.
“For most people, their day is controlling them and they’re not controlling their day because they don’t have any system around how they work. A lot of people feel like it’s impossible to create a system, but it’s actually not. It’s actually mandatory in today’s world to scale a business,” she said.
Most originators work with a head of steam for a period of time, building new relationships, getting new clients, reconnecting with old clients, and generally getting loans in the door. Things are going great, and the deals start to pile up. Then the originator shifts focus to processing, setting aside the income-generating and relational activities that got the deals through the door in the first place. As the deals move to close, the pipeline empties, and the originator starts all over again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Regardless of loan volume, all originators are susceptible to this cycle, which leads to inconsistent productivity.
“It’s this roller-coaster effect, and they don’t have any stabilization of consistency in the business they’re creating and the production that they’re driving,” Ertman said.
Ertman has worked in the mortgage industry for more than 30 years, and reached $200 million in personal production and is currently with RPM Mortgage. She said her success is due to having an incredibly systematized approach that allows for scalability, and being very intentional about that systematized approach. Today, in her coaching sessions with originators of all levels, she starts by helping originators identify their genuine and unique skill set, and then puts those skills within the context of serving clients and referral partners.
Part of being intentional is a dedication to time management, and Ertman says that if an originator is seeing his/her production drop off due to margin compressions and/or fewer referrals from partners, it’s time to take a closer look at the time-blocking strategy. It’s not that originators don’t know they need to time block, but without an intentional choice to do so, it doesn’t happen.
Ertman suggests that originators aim to time block an hour each day for income-generating activities.
“That hour is what fuels the consistency of our business,” she said. “It’s just a really good reminder for everybody at any level of success. Every single day, it’s got to be in your calendar, it’s got to be an appointment, and you’ve got to make a commitment to show up for yourself.”
Income-generating activities can be anything from touching base with top referral partners weekly to actions that translate into being a better support to those partners. Once those activities are established, Ertman suggests setting an intention for those activities as well. Having a first meeting with a potential partner? Know the outcome or the action steps you want to put in place by the end of that meeting. Nervous about making a presentation to a group? Make a plan of what you want to accomplish.
Following through on these intentions often comes down to having adequate support, and offloading non-income-generating responsibilities in order make time for those that are. This is easier when an originator—or anyone—is clear on their strengths and where they want to focus their energy. Then they can bring in team members and ensure that everyone is clear on their personal roles and responsibilities before seamlessly transitioning the clients into that framework. It requires a big shift in process to no longer be the first point of contact for clients, but really, it can slow down the process tremendously, and it’s not as necessary as an originator might think. A good client experience does not mean that an originator needs to personally hold their client’s hand through the entire journey.
“We get stuck in our own ego so many times because we want to be needed. We want our clients to call us, and it feels really good to be the solution specialist from every part of the loan . . . . but at the same time, it’s not a good use of our time to be the go-to person throughout the processing of the file,” Ertman said. “Our time should be spent talking to more people, serving more clients, helping structure more deals, and being more focused on the front end of the process, and getting team members to help take [the file] from contract to close. And part of that is really taking the time on the front end to teach and train and educate those who are supporting us and really empowering them to take the ball.”
Being intentional isn’t some abstract concept that has no practical application to origination. On the contrary, being intentional sets the focus for an originator’s business. Intentionality gives originators the permission to time block and structure the day more efficiently, as well as the permission to love a client and then let them go (on to the rest of your team).