Prepare Now for Future Success
Distinguish yourself this year with goals and a business plan
Executive Vice President of Sales and Development, Paramount Partners Group
With another year ended, it’s time to look back on what was accomplished and celebrate successes. For many, 2017 was a good time to be a mortgage originator. Housing prices closed in on pre-recession highs, and the number of millennials looking to buy homes began to rise as well. Some may have experienced a dip in income and production, however, as refinances decreased more than purchases increased.
Last year also saw a rapid increase in the use of online technology to access loan information and lenders as consumers look for a mortgage process that is fast and easy. Some originators feel this technology is threatening to make them obsolete, but the mortgage process is complex. Although most people are fine filling out an application or submitting tax returns and bank statements online, it doesn’t eliminate their need for professional expertise from a trusted adviser when making critical financial decisions.
Successful originators in 2018 will find value in using technology to enhance service, not replace it. They’ll be the ones who recognize that technology can help them do what they really love — steering and coaching people through a great mortgage experience — instead of wasting time on mundane tasks.
How originators take advantage of this hybrid process between technology and human touch to distinguish themselves online so real estate agents and buyers turn to them first when looking for a mortgage will determine their success. So, whether you had a banner year or feel you could have done better, now is the time to consider making some changes.
Focus on the target
January is the perfect time to recalibrate and take a hard look at where you’ve been and where you want to go. Begin by setting goals and creating a well-defined business plan to achieve them.
Setting goals at the beginning of the year enables you to hit the ground running. Goal setting is a simple tool that helps people focus their energy in a positive direction. Not having goals is like shooting a rifle without aiming. If you don’t aim, how do you know when you’ve been successful?
The first goal that comes to mind for most originators is to increase their revenue. They want to make more money than they did the year before. That’s all well and good, but to make more money in this technological age, your goals will need to encompass something more.
“ For any business plan to be effective, you need to take stock of it often. ”
Goals in 2018 need to include things like innovation, Realtor retention, lead generation and database management. In addition, if you truly want to be successful, you need to be happy doing what you’re doing. Maintaining a work/life balance that ensures happiness also should be included in your goals.
Goals should propel your vision forward. They give you focus. Goals also must be measurable so you can celebrate your successes. They hold you accountable, which in turns helps you avoid procrastination and distractions. Being our own boss with few deadlines makes it all too easy to put things off.
Finally, goals should be flexible. As your priorities change, so can your goals. You can add new ones and delete others that no longer serve you. Here is a simple five-step process for setting goals:
- Make a long-term commitment. Setting goals won’t do any good if you don’t commit to achieving them. Share goals with a co-worker, spouse, or other trusted adviser to ensure your commitment lasts.
- Identify what you want. Spend time on this and be specific. The more honest you are about what you want, the easier it is to build a plan for achieving it.
- Recognize why you want it. It’s not enough to say you want to make more money this year. You need to know why those extra dollars are important. Earning more to send a child to college is great motivation for completing your goal.
- Assign goals to categories. Writing down goals in four basic categories — business, financial, health and family/relationships — helps you maintain a work/life balance and also to see whether any goals are in conflict.
- Create a plan to achieve them. Breaking down broad goals into easily managed pieces makes success more likely.
Plan for success
No one reaches their goals simply by writing them down and no one reaches their goals by acting on them occasionally. To reach your goals, you need disciplines, habits and rituals: You need an action plan. To meet a goal of adding 20 referring real estate agents in six months, for example, you may need to meet with two Realtors every single day. What are the steps you need to take to accomplish this goal?
In addition, determine the habits you have that get in the way of taking action so you can change them. Perhaps you have a habit of making calls at the end of the day and leaving voicemail messages, for example, because you’re not comfortable talking to agents. Realize that this habit may be sabotaging your ability to achieve your goal because voicemail messages won’t be as effective for setting up meetings as speaking directly to those agents.
Next, take a look at how your goals can be broken down into small, manageable action steps and determine which steps you should do daily, weekly, or monthly to achieve each goal. Finally, make sure each step in your plan is measurable so you know if you’re moving forward toward accomplishing that goal.
Just as your goals need to be written down, your plan and all action steps should be written as well. There are three reasons for this. First, it allows you to share your strategy, priorities and specific action steps with your accountability partners. These are the people you need to support you in accomplishing your goals. They can do this more effectively if they understand where you are coming from.
Second, writing down your plan helps you deal with displacement, which just means that for everything you decide to do, there is something else you can’t do. Time is finite. Doing things that move your action plan forward will keep you from doing other things that won’t move you forward.
Third, a written plan is the primary vehicle by which you complete your goals and, ultimately, grow your business. The plan provides the metrics for knowing exactly what you should be doing every day. For any business plan to be effective, you need to take stock of it often.
Keep a copy of your plan on your desk or someplace where you can see it, and review it every day. At the end of every week, assess what you’ve done or haven’t done, what worked or didn’t, and what obstacles kept you from completing the action steps in your plan. Then you can celebrate the successes of the week and make adjustments for those items that fell short.
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Some originators say they didn’t stick to the action plans because they didn’t feel motivated. If you want to be successful in attaining your goals in the coming year — whether it is to be more active online or increase your referral base — you cannot rely on motivation. You must have discipline.
Motivation is doing something when you want to do it, while discipline is doing something you know needs to be done even when you don’t want to do it. Have the discipline to distinguish yourself among competitors this year. Write down your goals and create a business plan now. You’ll be glad you did.