For Loan Officer Greg Updegrove, his network is everything.
“I have a client who refinanced a year ago,” Greg said. “Then he called me and said he found the house of his dreams. He was going to move and asked can I do the loan. And oh, by the way, his colleague is buying his house and I should do his loan, too.”
Greg is Assistant Vice President of Mortgage House of America in Cincinnati, Ohio. And he knows that the business wouldn’t have come back his way had he not provided the kind of concierge service his company is known for in the first place.
“These are lifelong clients,” he described. “When they tell their neighbor to call me, it’s not because they get a kickback or anything. It’s truly they feel like we have their best interests in mind.”
While these referrals are the backbone of the brand, there is a downside to relying solely on them. And that is a misperception of exclusivity. This came to a head when Greg got a call from a potential borrower he’d never worked with. The borrower came through a referral but nearly didn’t call. He asked Greg, “Am I even allowed to work with you?”
That crystallized a plan for Greg. Mortgage House of America was the best-kept secret in Cincinnati. So he set about changing that and started with digital ads from Adwerx.
“Adwerx is part of our strategy to increase our brand awareness and cultivate new relationships. The volume of impressions are what matters to me, and Adwerx can deliver.”
The company does have systems in place to stay in touch with their client base. They create touch points with clients after the closing, but the most important time to build the relationship is during the process. After closing, everyone moves on. Why wouldn’t someone want to spend an hour on the phone with me after they closed their loan. They’re unpacking, kids, school etc.”
“We have a newsletter that we don’t send out very faithfully,” admitted Greg. While antiquated, the newsletter includes a best practice still in use today: personalization.
“We include a personal letter from each loan originator. Whatever is going on in my life at the time or I make an announcement, and it goes out to all my contacts, not just clients or referral partners.” There is also an interactive element — a quiz that includes a gas card as the first prize for the first submission.
As they grow their client base, Greg knows he’ll need to grow his team as well. And recruiting is one of the biggest obstacles in the current mortgage climate.
“The industry has become so complex,” he said. “It’s a barrier to entry for a lot of people.” Greg has seen it firsthand, with a former loan officer returning the workforce after seven years and facing an entirely new licensing landscape.
“Every buyer is unique and every underwriting guideline is unique to the entire process, from appraisals to title. It’s hard for new talent to come into the industry.”
The upside of the uphill climb to licensure is that trusted advisors like Greg will continue to serve their clients to the best of his expertise. And as Greg builds his brand, along with Mortgage House of America, the secret will finally be out.