Do You Charge or Get Paid?

Allow me to make this perfectly clear.  Without providing exceptional and raving-fan-level customer service, your short-lived mortgage career is destined for mediocrity at best.  Providing exceptional customer service, however, does not mean telling the applicant what they want to hear simply to make them happy.  It’s not being quick to cut corners in order to make things easy from the start while ultimately being forced to extend the transaction due to the fires that those cut corners ignited.

Exceptional customer service does not mean desperately chasing customers.  People can smell desperation a mile away and desperation never walks hand-in-hand with respect.  No self-respecting mortgage professional should ever allow him or herself to be perceived as desperate. Yet countless mortgage loan originators (MLOs) regularly tell prospective customers just about anything that they need to tell them in order to set the hook.  Promise the world, see what fits, hope for the best, and get paid.  Mortgage professionals who act like this are destined for short-lived and highly-stressful careers.

Allow me to ask, therefore, … as a mortgage loan originator, will you charge or get paid?  Your answer will have everything to do with how you perceive your own business.

Loan originators who charge do not act desperate because they are not desperate.  Loan originators who charge approach their business from the perspective that the customer needs them more than they need the customer.  And through this attitude (without acting self-righteous or condescending), loan originators who charge take control of their transactions.  Loan originators who charge understand that they are valuable commodities in the process of securing mortgage financing for those who desire it.  And they know that they are entitled to appropriately charge and be compensated for the services that they provide.  They’re educated and know what they’re doing.  They’re fluent with the processes and know how to manage them.  And they take control because they have the organization, efficiency, expertise, and established procedures necessary to get the job done right the first time.  Loan originators who charge fulfill their own goals along with those of the borrowers who depend on them, all the while commanding the respect to which they’re entitled.

Loan originators who charge issue specific expectations to their customers and hold them accountable.  They value their customers and service them exceptionally but control the transaction knowing that they’re the quarterback.  Loan originators who charge wholeheartedly understand that they’re fully entitled to earn a fair price for the services that they provide all-the-while building their books of business with raving fans who return and refer others.

On the other hand, loan originators who get paid are more focused on the short-term and their immediate compensation.  They’re frequently more concerned with accommodating their customers out of the fear of alienating, inconveniencing, and losing them.  Loan originators who get paid allow the customer to act as the quarterback by providing information and supporting documentation at their own leisure and typically fail to set appropriate expectations.  They half-heartedly complete applications while seeming more interested in submitting volumes of loan files instead of quality loan files.  Loan originators who get paid take applications based on estimates and ask as little as necessary of their customers from the start.  They too may be focused on customer service but, overall, loan originators who get paid create more inconvenience to their customers than their counterparts who charge due to unnecessary delays, broken expectations, and repeated solicitations for additional information.

Loan originators who charge thoroughly understand that their time is no less valuable than any other professional’s.  Imagine scheduling an appointment with your physician and simply not showing up.  Picture calling your dentist an hour before your scheduled appointment to inform her that you can’t make it.  In either case, what do you think would happen?  If your answer was that you’re going to get charged anyway, you’re right!

Professionals such as doctors and dentists value their time and understand that time is money.  Not to mention how the appointment that you failed to keep might very well have been used by someone just as needy as you if not more.  Lastly, that missed appointment, without someone else filling it due to you canceling with short-to-no notice, deprived that professional of income that he or she would have otherwise earned.

So, why might mortgage loan originators feel that their time is any less valuable than other professionals’?  Why would the loan originator be more likely to accept a missed appointment without recourse when another professional would charge the client for failing to show up?  Could it be the lack of a formal “loan originator” education and credentials?  Could it be the ease at which someone can become a mortgage loan originator?  Could it be that the customer pays the loan originator a commission only when a loan closes versus an hourly rate or standard fee?

The plain and simple truth is that the loan originator’s time is no less valuable than any other professional’s!  And it’s about time that loan originators internalize this.  Would an accountant allow a client to waste his time?  Doubtful!

Would a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) ever prepare a client’s tax returns based on estimates?  Not if he or she was worth his or her weight in salt.  If a client sat down with an accountant to have his or her taxes prepared and tried to give the accountant estimates, the accountant would immediately reschedule the appointment and quite possibly charge the client for the wasted time.  The mortgage loan originator should equally hold his or her clients accountable.  Make them aware, in advance, of everything necessary that they should have with them at application and, if they don’t have it all, reschedule.  When the loan originator is forced to expend hours of effort chasing after items that the client neglected to bring to the application, especially considering how, with every new document provided, an entirely new set of requirements often surfaces, significant time is wasted and the MLO is distracted from doing what he or she is supposed to be doing …. properly serving his or her customers and originating mortgage loans.  So when should a mortgage loan originator take an application based on estimates?  The answer is never!

Set the appropriate expectations, hold your customers accountable, charge instead of getting paid, and realize that, for every customer that may not want to fulfil the expectations that you establish prior to their application, there are dozens of other loan originators with whom they can work who will be more than happy to cut those corners.  And then, in six weeks when they’re no further along then they were on application day, they can come back to you to have the loan originated right.

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