Top of Mind Networks

Go Grow Your Business….No Really…YOU!!!

October 11, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

I have the pleasure of knowing and talking to many of the industry leaders as well as some fresh faces that are doing great things. What I find interesting is that they all are working on growing and building their brand as well as working the day to day items.

There are LOTS of great ideas and lots of great Services such as Top of Mind, Loan Tool Box, Mortgage Coach, MMG, Sales Mastery and CMPS just to name a few.  You probably have mentors and parterns with equally great ideas.  Really all of the ideas you need are out there just waiting to be implement.   There are TONS of other resources both free and for a fee.

IMPLEMENTAION IS THE KEY!!!

My challenge to you is to build, grow, swipe and adapt, create, strengthen and CREATE your business. The MOST opportunity is when there is turmoil in the market which shakes up the status quot.  YOU can pick up market share right now. You can build your brand. Here are some of the REALLY COOL examples of items being done.

This is by no means a comprehensive list and I would love to hear other ideas:

Dustin Hughes — VIDEO KING — motivation and information

Chris Brown — TV STAR — News casts and press releases

Shaun Guerrero — Client Event — Movie Night

CREATE OR IMPLEMENT YOUR ITEM HERE!!!

I have seen great things with these…some of which I have personally done and had GREAT SUCCESS.

FTHB seminars — 287 to my last event — you can too!

Leann Scrimpshire — Realtor BP events — she did one 2 years ago and Greg Frost has an interview on LTB with her….I did the same last year and will do it again. We took full video, pics etc….TRY IT!

LUNCH/COFFEE — if you are eating alone, you are MISSING OUT!!!

Mark Green — doing incredible things for us as an industry. The NAMB call last week, Mortgage Revolution, etc…

Again, this is a quick list…what others do you see that YOU can implement?

What are YOU willing to do for your career, for your industry, for your TEAMS, and for your family and friends?

Most importantly, you must have a TAKE NO PRISENERS attitude.  Failure is NOT an option.  You can and must commit to your success.  YOU, and I do mean YOU, must make the implementation of items a NON-NEGOTABLE item.  As Tim Davis has said to me, “Take Massive Action!” 

YOUR TURN…..ACTION STARTS WITH ACT!!!

You can take market share and build your brand. With the current challenges in the market I have just one thought….

BRING IT!!!!!!!

~To Your Success

A True Story: The $8000 Tax Credit in Action – Cashable Action!

October 8, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Watch the Fox 35 Video here. Fox_35

Andrea Tlumacki was one of the people not afraid to take the plunge… and she has been rewarded for it!  With the deadline of the $8000 First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit approaching – it is urgent to develop a plan of execution. Most people are focused on the restriction of closing before the expiration of Nov. 30th.  Fair enough… but many are not building a time line in order to establish milestones that one needs to meet if they desire to witness the delivery of an $8000 Treasury check. This is done by finding the advice of both a rock-solid Realtor and a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist.

Andrea Tlumacki did. Expert real estate advice from J. Robert Brown – owner of Prefer 1 Real Estate – proved priceless. Not only was she able to nail down a low mortgage  rate of 4.500%, but received unparalleled direction from Robert Brown’s corporate-world experience to get a purchase price that would make an investor envious. In her interview with Andrea, Tracy Jacim states, “time is running out,” and the time to delay is over.

Many of us are familiar with Student Syndrome – but the need to:

…has a time line of about a week. Sure, things can be closed a somewhat faster in the proper circumstances, but as volume elevates in the weeks ahead for lenders, the length of time it takes to actually close will be increase.

In other words… it is important to engage in the Orlando Real Estate process quickly if you hope to benefit from the First-time Home Buyer Tax Credit before it expires.

4 Simple Strategies That Are Working Right Now!

October 2, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Wow! we have seen a lot of changes and more are on the way. Many people are questioning, what is coming next, how do I handle it, and what should I do with my business and career. I have found that it really all comes down to 4 simple strategies that the top people do to get, keep, and maintain success.

Here they are…

1. Determine your commitment level. Are you all in or all out. It just isn’t possible to get half pregnant so you either are or you are not. There is the story of having eggs and bacon for breakfast that really drives this point home. In the story, the chicken was available, but the pig was committed. There are a lot of opportunities in today’s market, and how you see them is based on your level of commitment.

2. Be Consistent! It is really hard to gain traction and everyone wants something now. I hear it all the time…What is working now? What people really mean is how can I get a loan that will close today so that I can put a paycheck in the bank. When you determine to be committed, you also have to realize that success is built over time, not all at once. You will meet failure face to face on your journey, but you must remain consistent throughout.

3. Be Memorable! If you go to an agents office, speak at a chamber event, or network at BNI are you someone people will remember? You’d better be if you want to succeed. Develop your brand, your image, and your hook and think outside the box. Make it a part of who you are as a person. Stand out or sit down. People are too distracted today to think of you unless you are truly rememerable. Gitomer says, it is not who you know, but who knows you!

4. Develop Quality Relationships! At the root of every successful person is a rolodex of quality realtionships that they worked to develop over time. When you meet an agent, client, or referral partner what system do you have to build the relationship? Remember you must invest 100% of you into the relationship for it to be a success because you can not control the investment of the other party. Choose your relationships carefully and then give them all you got!

Think about how these apply to you. Are you being your best?  If not, then improve, the choice is yours!

If you need help with your sales, then check out our new book! It is a real kick in the pants and guaranteed to help you bust out of a sales slump!

buybook

Perserverance!

September 30, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

mainboxDefinition: Persisting in or remaining constant to a purpose, idea, or task IN SPITE of difficulties or obstacles.

Do you have what it takes to succeed? Are you going to thrive and survive or just get by in 2010? Or would you rather wait until 2010 to figure it out? There are only three months remaining before 2010 arrives - you need to prepare for it now!

In order to persevere, you are going to have to work at it. It does not come by happenstance.  You will need to be disciplined and remain focused on what you are doing as well as what is happening around you. 

There are many changes taking place in the mortgage industry and many people crying the end of the business!  You can easily put your head in the sand and hope for the best, or you can work ON your business.  Here are some simple things to do today to guarantee a successful start to 2010:

DAILY – Make one hour of prospecting calls.

WEEKLY – Visit Realtors offices and other referral partners.  You may be surprised to hear this, but very few loan officers are doing this right now.  Real Estate offices have become Loan Officer ghost towns.

WEEKLY – Participate in Networking events.  The key word here is ‘participate’ – that requires a little more effort than just showing up!

WEEKLY – Follow up with the contacts from your networking events.

MONTHLY – Hold seminars – this may include first time homebuyer seminar or lunch-and-learn at Real Estate offices.

None of these activities requires a lot of time.  It simply requires some discipline to get out of your chair and work ON your business.  By having a plan now, and implementing it, you can ensure your success going into 2010.  A little perseverance will overcome many of your perceived difficulties that you are seeing today.

Finally, stay connected to your industry!  Are you a NAMB member?  Are you participating in the various petitions going around?  Are you reaching out to your elected officials?  There is a State of the Union call on Thursday.  Be a part of it.

If you stay the same and do what you are doing today, then 2010 will be no different than 2009.

Commit to change yourself and you will see changes!

Commit to persevere and you will succeed! If you commit to a plan, your success is guaranteed!  It is as simple as that.

Customer Contact System HELL-Tips to get you through it

September 18, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

fiery-hell“I should have a system. I’ve got to simplify my system. My system isn’t robust enough. What system will be most effective?” These are all common brain-drainers in the life of a solo entrepreneur.

The persistent challenge of keeping in touch with one’s customers, whether at the wooing stage, the in-process stage or after the close, seems to be a fiery purgatory for many Mortgage Professionals.

For those who have not finally surrendered to or fully implemented a “system,” the scale attempting to balance such competing activities as: keeping in touch with and in front of one’s customers vs. generating new ones, tips dramatically up and down from week to week. This teeter-totter motion affects our pipelines, our reputations and our peace of mind.

So why then do the majority of Mortgage Professionals continue to operate without one?

Some of the same old excuses rear their ugly heads…

I don’t have the money. I don’t have the time. I don’t have the support. I don’t know how. Money-Time-Support-Knowledge. The fears really never change.

But do you really need A LOT of any of the above to create a system that works for YOU? Heck no! So what DO you need?

  1. Email
  2. Phone
  3. Content
  4. Reminders

Don’t wrinkle up your noses at me…it really IS that simple.

Think about the “Why” behind creating systems.  Generally, we create systems to keep in touch with our customers so that…

We consistently fill their brain-slot for “Mortgage Professional” in an attempt to retain their future business and referrals.

-We separate ourselves from the competition in an attempt to keep our newly found customer from being woo’d or won over by someone else.

-We can focus our attentions on other money-generating activities in an attempt to keep our pipelines filled.

Now let’s fill in the “What” part of the equation.

elephantWhat do you want to do? Do you want to create a system for staying in touch with leads, past customers, in-process customers, business referral partners or some other group? I know, I know, all of the above, right? Wrong!

Tip#1-Pick one group and see it through to completion. You may feel like eating that elephant in one enormous gulp because it has been sitting on your plate for years, but BEWARE…the indigestion will keep you crippled for months and you still won’t have a system in place!

Tip #2-Never fix what isn’t broke. If you find yourself whiling away the hours perfecting email templates, videos or scripts…STOP NOW! If what you have includes your photo/logo, is relevant information, is devoid of editing errors and goes out like clock-work-you’re done. Move on to what you haven’t created.

resources-21

Once you have pin-pointed what group you will focus on, it then becomes a matter of what type of materials you will send.

Will it be industry news via your blog? Will it be a hard mail newsletter? Will you send video updates via email? Does the group you are concentrating on warrant a regularly scheduled phone call, text message or LinkedIn update?

Tip #1-Don’t attempt to figure this out in your head. Look at the resources you already have, pull up a blank Word doc or a note pad and start writing down what you do have at your disposal.

Tip #2-If you have absolutely no collateral materials to work with, nor a marketing department, start researching the web. Of course, there’s always the plethora of information you can tap into by being a member of organizations such as, Top of Mind Networks, Loan Toolbox, Mortgage Girlfriends, Mortgage Coach, Mortgage Quest, etc. All of these companies offer ready-made customer service systems and collateral materials that you can plug into and utilize.

After you have identified the pieces, you can then determine the frequency. When will these items be delivered, dispersed, mailed or communicated?

Tip #1-If working on a touch-point system for your past customers, map out a year’s worth of deliverables. For leads, clients in process & referral partners, map out at least three month’s worth of deliverables.

noteNote from experience: If you attempt to determine what to send from one month to the next or one week from the next, the likelihood is that you won’t make contact at all.

Tip #2-There is always the debate as to what is too much and what is not enough when trying to determine the frequency of one’s touch-point systems. Here is my suggestion, which is based on what the majority of my own coaching clients have followed as a rule of thumb:

  • Past customers=1 x per month
  • Leads=every 2 days until they commit to sending in their application and docs.
  • Customers in process= 1 x per week
  • New business referral partnerships=2 x per month
  • Current business referral partnerships=1 x per month

Finally, and most importantly, how, how, how will you implement the system that you ducks-in-a-rowhave created?

Let’s look at what you have thus far:

  1. You have identified the group that you will focus on.
  2. You have identified your deliverables
  3. You have created a visual map of your deliverables, the vehicle (phone, email, blog, text, video, snail mail, etc.) and the frequency.

Your current capacity must dictate the “how.”

Tip #1-If you are a “one man band” it’s imperative that you utilize a reminder system such as your Outlook calendar, an “activity series” within ACT, an Excel spreadsheet, or you finally cough up a bit of dough and use the contact systems developed by the companies before-mentioned.

Tip #2-If you happen to have a personal assistant, transaction coordinator, marketing assistant, receptionist or some other dedicated soul, than for heaven’s sake, share the tasks, meet once a week on progress and needed system changes and delegate, delegate, delegate!

Putting a system together only becomes Hell when you continue to neglect the fact that you NEED one.

So for all you perfectionists out there who are still trying to locate those perfectly valuable, perfectly aesthetic, perfectly timed contact pieces or for you techno geeks who keep waiting for the CRM that will have it all/do it all, including dialing your customers and talking to them for you, STOP THE MADNESS. I’m giving you one, “Get out of Hell FREE” card, right now!

How I Use My Contact Management System to Follow Up With Prospects

September 16, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

We in sales have a tendency to have the same conversation with prospects every day.  Of course, it’s best practice to make sure you send a follow up email after every voicemail you leave.  One-To-One emails are time consuming to craft and therefore tend to have a negative impact on how many quality follow ups you can make in a given day.

I took a few minutes to show how I follow up on prospects using my contact management system (CMS) below.  Hope you find it useful.  We’re developing similar tools for our clients right now and I hope to have something pretty groovy to show you on this front within the next 60 days.

Sometimes 1.0 Is Better

September 8, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Getting a message to your database is all about one thing, breaking through the clutter. If your client never reads your message then it was a waste. Web 2.0 is, by design, a highly transparent communication tool. Even though you can generate highly personalized communications based on information your prospects, clients, and referral partners make readily available about themselves; the actual communication generated from your social networking sites shares some of the same non-personal flees as email. It is so easy, so cheap, and sometimes so automated that recipients of your communication just don’t give it too much thought; that is one of dozens (if not hundreds) of pieces of communications they will receive in this manner that day. Don’t get me wrong, Web 2.0, social networking, and email drip campaigns should be very important tools in your marketing mix; but what I am saying is that sometimes 1.0 is better.

Now more than ever companies are cutting back on direct mail marketing because of the hard cost associated with it. And even those not cutting back are still using the standard windowed envelopes with bulk mail, which is the cheapest option. Why not be the one sender in that day’s batch of mail to do it the right way and break through the clutter? A very professional looking, ivory colored envelope with the address printed directly on it (no address labels) and an actual first class postage stamp will do just that.

(actual envelope looks better I promise, had to size it down to fit the post)
envelope-standard-no10

A professional letter that is the very best looking of the 4-5 envelopes I get in my mailbox on a daily basis has a much higher chance of getting read than one of 70-100 marketing emails I get on a daily basis. In fact, each time Top of Mind Networks sends a letter to a prospect of ours we even ask them, “I bet this was the first letter you opened today wasn’t it?” That is the key to getting your marketing message across, be the first letter opened that day. So while we would never recommend that you not utilize email and social media in your day to day marketing, we do highly recommend that you also attack your database the old fashioned way and break through the clutter.

Control Your Business with Simple and Effective Planning – part 2

August 4, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

 This is a continuation from Part 1….

Now that you have completed your goal and the metric, it is time to look at the strategies and actions to achieve your goal. The strategies are the focal points or pillars that are needed in order to accomplish the goal. The actions are the tactical steps needed in order to make the strategies successful.

Let’s look at how we would put this together into a cohesive plan:

 If your goal was to generate $30,000 of monthly fee income in order to meet your financial obligations as well as give back, then the goal and metric may look like this:

Goal: To generate $30,000 of fee income each month in order to live debt free and reinvest 20% back into the community.

    Metric: Gross revenues of $30,000 per month; generate 10 closed loans per month, with average gross revenue of $3,000 per loan.

By having this metric, it is very easy to determine when you have reached your goal. By making it monthly, we have the metric to continuously assess the goal in order to determine if you are on target or falling short.

(Note: A lot of people like to express their goals on an annualized basis. I prefer to show it as a monthly goal. By doing it this way, I find that it will keep you better focused and does not allow the distractions or procrastination when you miss the target by saying, “oh well, I will have to work harder next month to meet the annual goal” or “that is ok, I still have 6 more months before the year is over”.

Now that we have our goal and metric, we need to focus on the strategies that will allow us to get there. For this plan, I have created three strategies complete with metrics in order to keep us on target:

Strategy #1: Increase Repeat and Referral Business

    Metric: 3-4 loans per month

Strategy #2: Increase Networking

    Metric: 4-6 loans per month

Strategy #3: Create First Time HomeBuyer Business

    Metric: 3-5 loans per month

After you have the strategies in place, you will need to focus on each one and look at the steps or actions required in order to make the strategies successful. These are the action steps. I will expand a couple of the strategies in order to show you how to build out the plan. The purpose of this writing is not to discuss what philosophies or actions work best, but instead to show you how simple it is to create a business plan.

Strategy #1: Increase Repeat and Referral Business

    Metric: 4-6 loans per month

Action 1: Develop post closing marketing system to touch past cutomers and referral partners every other month. (By using a system as powerful as Top of Mind Networks, you can automate this task for postal mail and email marketing.)

Action 2: On the off months of Action 1, call each customer and referral partner. (If you have 200 customers, that is only 10 calls per business day. 100 customers = 5 calls. If you feel that you have too many calls to make, then split up your list so that each month you are doing one half of Action 1 and one half of Action 2. The important part is that you are taking consistent action!)

 

Strategy #2: Increase Networking

    Metric 4-6 loans per month

 Action 1: Participate in the Chamber of Commerce

  Task 1: Join the Chamber of Commerce

  Task 2: Attend first mixer and hand out and receive 10 business cards

  Task 3: Add names to database and add names to your every-other month mailing campaign

  Task 4: Follow up with phone call within one week of meeting

  Task 5: Repeat each month

 

Action 2: Participate in a different networking group

  Task 1: Find a networking group

  Task 2: Join the networking group

  Task 3: Attend first mixer and hand out and receive 10 business cards

  Task 4: Add names to database and add names to your every-other month mailing campaign

  Task 5: Follow up with phone call within one week of meeting

  Task 6: Repeat tasks 3-5 each month

 

Action 3: Dinner Party

  Task 1: Read the book, Never Eat Alone

  Task 2: Plan monthly dinner party at home

  Task 3: Invite three past customers and three people from Action 1.

  Task 4: Follow up with phone call to each participant within one week of dinner party.

  Task 5: Repeat tasks 2-4 each month by mixing up the party with new invitees and past invitees.

 

There is no right or wrong answer and no right or wrong methodology when it comes to writing a business plan. The important part is being able to set targets and know when you are meeting them, exceeding them, or falling short. A business plan should give you the steps or actions that are needed in order achieve your goals. By setting goals, you are able to keep pushing yourself to excel and not sit back and relax because you made one sale or closed one loan. By actively and consistently working your business plan, you should be able to reduce the ups and downs from the sales flow and start to see consistent success.  Then, just like the pilot, you know exactly where you are headed and how you are getting there!

Please comment below and lets share ideas and strategies that each of us finds useful.

Control Your Business with Simple and Effective Planning – part 1

August 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

ballooning-008My family and I spent this past weekend participating in a sport that we really enjoy and are very fortunate that we can participate often – hot air balloon flying!  We were at the Pro-Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival flying with over 70 additional hot air balloons.  The balloon flights were for competition as well as flying for fun. 

 

Since the balloon flights were only held in the early morning and late afternoon, I was able to enjoy some down time during the day relaxing by the pool of the hotel. During this time, I was reflecting on how similar ballooning is to the mortgage business – or more specifically, how similar it is to a loan officer’s business.  Wishes and dreams are nice and can make great pictures.  But without the proper planning, preparation, and ACTION, you will never get off of the ground or be able to hit the pre-determined target.

 

A hot air balloon flies with the wind.  When in flight, a balloon can only go in one direction – the direction of the wind.  There is no steering wheel.  There is no turning around, no backing up, and no second chances.  Therefore, each flight requires proper planning in order to achieve the goals and meet the planned destination.  And especially during competitions, paying attention to the direction of the wind at the different altitudes becomes vital.  Otherwise you would never get the balloon to the target.

 

Many loan officer’s operate their business just like a balloon – they fly in the wind! 

 

In order to have a successful flight, a pilot needs a game plan.  Your business is the same.  Do you have a game plan?

 

Do you control your business or does your business control you?  There are many different areas of control in your business that we could focus on.  But for this writing, I am specifically talking about business plans. 

 

How many of you actually use a business plan?  How many of you spend the time to write them, modify them and routinely update them?

 

Have you ever collected your thoughts to prepare one?  Most sales people do not write business plans.  When people hear the words Business Plan, they feel that it is something only a newly formed company needs to create in order to get funding.  In reality, a business plan is simple.  It is being able to plot out the direction that you want to “fly”. 

 

Business plans can be created at any time of the year.  You do not need to wait until the beginning of the year.  In fact, right now is the best time to write your plan.  It ensures that you continue to fly on your path and finish the year strong.  Since sales start over each and every day, right now is the perfect time to get started.

 

Over the next two days we will focus on creating a simple yet effective business plan.  But first, in order to have a plan, you need to know your goal.  What is your goal?  What are you wanting to achieve?  And how will you know when you get there?

 

Write down your goal.  Make sure that your goal is specific and definable.  For example, you do not want to boil the ocean.  Therefore, your goal is not to be rich!  That is too broad.  Instead, you want to boil a pot of water.  Maybe your goal is $100,000 income or 50 closed loans.  Those are more specific and definable.  Your goal does not need to be stated as income.  For example, your goal may be to establish 20 new referral partners where each partner sends you one deal per quarter.

 

Once you have your goal written down, the next thing that you need to do is write a metric for measuring that goal.  In other words, how will you know when you are there?

 

Focus on those two items and be sure to write down your answers:

 

  1. What is your goal?
  2. What is the metric to know when you have achieved your goal?

Tomorrow we will look at the next step and show you a sample business plan; simple and realistic.  Remember, the actions of today will significantly affect the results of tomorrow.

Real Estate is Local, So Is Google

July 29, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

I was reading this article on Duct Tape Marketing this morning and got to thinking how realtors and mortgage professionals could put this strategy to use for them. This article describes how local business owners can use the Google Local Business Center to add their business to a directory within Google.

google-mortgageI am sure you have all seen search results from Google that look like this image, where they list out certain businesses that match your criteria and show them on a Google Map. This directory is how that comes to be. So the old saying goes, “Real Estate Is Local”, so why not use the tools Google is giving us to make our business more easily found by local people who are searching for it?

And if anyone is utilizing Google AdWords you can now link these to your Google Local Business Profile and have your physical address show up in the Ad based on the address of the person doing the searching. Check out Local Extensions for more information.

Based on your profile, Google will also show you some cool analytics. Within the dashboard you can view how many people clicked on your profile, what keywords they searched for to get them there, and you can even see their physical location if they searched for driving directions.

This profile also allows you to add more than just your company name, phone, and address. This is also another great spot where you can add a back-link to your website or blog and embed some additional keywords. I have not attempted to measure the SEO benefits of this, but I can assure you it will not hurt. All things considered, this is just one more tool you can use to help people find you. It takes about 5 minutes to setup and you are done. Other than checking your analytics from time to time you really never have to touch it again.

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