An originator’s job, of course, is first and foremost to originate loans. But if you can’t get prospective borrowers in the door, it doesn’t matter how good you are at closing the deal. That’s why finding a good referral partner is so important for many originators.
“When you look at any business that’s in sales – whether it’s mortgage, auto sales or whatever – there are different steps to bringing in business, and marketing and advertising are obviously a very crucial part of it,” said Raymond Bartreau, founder and CEO of Best Rate Referrals. “Having a good referral partner can save you a lot of time – and save you a lot of money in the long run. It takes the legwork out of it.”
A good referral partner, Bartreau said, can help originators breed a consistent workflow from month to month; instead of spending a significant chunk of the day marketing their business, originators can concentrate on closing loans.
“Like any other industry, a specialist is the way to go. Your IT guy isn’t going to do sales, and your sales guy isn’t going to do IT,” Bartreau said. “That’s why I think a lot of originators make the mistake of trying to drive their own leads and do their own marketing. If they relied on a referral partner, they would close a lot more business. There might be a cost for that business, but the numbers make sense. You’re going to do a lot more volume if you have a referral partner.”
But not all marketing is created equal. Bartreau recommends finding a referral partner who focuses on mortgages – and one who’ll take the time to tailor a strategy for each individual business.
“With every new client, we like to do a 30- to 45-minute discovery on that client. With that discovery, the goal is to find out exactly how that shop is set up and what their focus is – whether it’s purchase or refi or some mix,” he said. “Once we figure out what model they’re using and what their goals are, from there it’s about plugging in the products that work for their marketing style.
“There are loan officers who will never pick up a phone to make a call – don’t buy that guy internet leads,” he added. “When we onboard somebody else, we figure out exactly how they’re set up and then show them the options we provide. We tell them, ‘Here’s what we think will work for you,’ and from there we brainstorm on that particular channel – as opposed to just trying to sell them everything.”
Ultimately, Bartreau said, Best Rate’s strategy is to deploy a marketing plan custom-tailored to fit each mortgage company it works with.
“It’s not just selling them leads,” he said. “It’s about figuring out their current business model and coming up with a plan to enhance what they’re doing.”