Loan origination is a pretty collaborative business in terms of working with referral partners, lenders, and processors to get clients in the door and get their loans closed smoothly. But three originators – Brian Decker, John Noldan, and Sam Sharp – prove there’s also a benefit to collaboration between originators. These three powerhouses who closed an average of 562 loans for an average volume of $176 million in 2017 alone have joined forces with Decker’s brother, Cory, to create an advice and training platform, TOP.
TOP, which stands for Train, Optimize, Perform, is a blueprint for the way Decker, Noldan, and Sharp run their businesses.
“It’s a training platform that we developed to try and help people grow their business,” said Sharp, executive vice president at Guaranteed Rate in Chicago and co-founder of TOP. “It’s a way for loan officers to plug in and understand methods to focus on generating relationships with business partners and referral partners, it’s basically like a step-by-step instruction manual. It’s not a motivational speaking program. We’re not telling people how to feel good. We’re going out and we’re telling people, this is a way that you can get these relationships generated.”
Noldan, TOP co-founder and executive vice president of Guaranteed Rate in Elmhurst, IL, says his business has grown since he joined forces with Sharp and the Deckers. He adds that a clear benefit of the collaboration and a distinguishing aspect of the program is that all of the founders have different ways of running their individual business as well as “completely different personalities,” which affect how each originator operates and can make the strategies relatable to a wide range of originators.
Another benefit to the TOP training program is that the founders are currently working at the top of their game. They’re out in the field every day and as the industry is changing, they’re continually finding new ways to stay relevant. By becoming members, originators will become privy to these methods and save themselves from going through the trials and errors that cost time and money.
Brian Decker, whose brother is a “tech genius” who has taught him how to use some of the technologies that are prevalent in other industries, says that people don’t realize that they have to do more business because each deal is worth less.
“The only way you’re going to grow your income is by doing more volume, and the only way to do more volume is to automate things and to grab market share while it’s down,” he said. “The mortgage industry is so lacking in technology, when you implement these in, you completely obliterate your competition. People think that if they use a CRM and an online app, they’re cutting edge.”
The group launched the program as a chance to do something beyond their everyday work and leave a lasting impression on a generation of originators.
“As a loan officer, I love my job, it’s part of my life and I would never say anything bad about it, but you’re a loan officer. This is something different that I can put my stamp on, something that I helped other people get their business to where it is now. I would love to do that,” Noldan said.
For many originators, successful or otherwise, the focus is just on getting business, building relationships, and doing a good job with the files that come in; there isn’t necessarily much time spent analyzing the techniques and strategies that perform poorly, or even those that succeed.
“From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep, I’m always thinking, and you can only do that about origination [for] so long. It’s nice to have a different outlet and a different focus,” said Sharp. “By developing this platform, putting it under a microscope — I don’t think that most top producing loan officers know how they do what they do. They have no idea. And I was one of them. And by going through and dissecting it this way, it’s helped me understand more of what I do in my business and it’s made my business better.”
With inventory low, volume down, and uncertainty abounding, it’s not an easy time to do business. These guys, however, continue to grow and grab market share in this trillion dollar industry, and as TOP will continue to reflect changes in the market, it will also help originators to understand how to reshape what they’re doing and make things better for the profession.
“You can do more origination than any single loan officer ever can handle and you’re still just scratching the surface on the total volume in our industry. So even though things are down for people, one thing that I always say is, the market doesn’t dictate how much business you do, only where you get that business from,” Sharp said. “We’re showing people, okay, what worked yesterday doesn’t work today. But here’s what’s going to work today and here’s what’s going to work tomorrow.”
Top Originator: John Noldan remains relevant in an ever-changing industry
Top producers claim this as gospel