- Don’t procrastinate. Do it today.
- Don’t try to do too much at once
- Having the right business partner can be valuable
- Checklists rule
- How she is using Trello as a virtual whiteboard for her deals
Ana is a mortgage agent and partner at LA Mortgage Team. She shares how learning to focus and finding the right partner has really help propel in her Mortgage Career. The LA Mortgage Team recently won the CMP Best Newcomer Award for 2014
Years as a Broker: 3 years
Brokerage: Mortgage Intelligence
Team: 6 sub-brokers
ADVICE FOR NEW BROKERS
1. Put in the time now
2. Pick a CRM
3. You can’t do everything. Pick one thing and master it.
ANA CRUZ INTERVIEW
Scott: I Love Mortgage Brokering, Episode 48.
VO: Want to learn from the Top 5% of mortgage brokers in the country? Then, you have come to the right place. Join Scott Peckford on I Love Mortage Brokering.
Scott: Hi broker nation, I’m thrilled to introduce our guest today, Ana Cruz. Anna is a mortgage agent with the LA Mortgage team or Mortgage Intelligence. She’s been a broker for three years and previously, she’s in a real estate industry. Her and her team won an award for the best newcomer in CMA’s from 2014.
[START OF THE INTERVIEW]
Scott: Ana, are you ready to rock?
Ana: I’m here.
Scott: Cool. So can you tell us a little bit more of yourself?
Ana: I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for 20 years this year coming to a kid. Matthew is 18 and Daniel is turning 16 tomorrow.
I started mortgage brokering in 2012 and I’ve joined the mortgage center and that came to be my solo thing. I ended up meeting an agent there and we started working as a team; started collaborating. We met almost every week, every day, practically and we had our meeting about finding processes and strategy over egg skillet. That’s kind of how the LA Mortgage team was born.
Scott: So how long did you guys meet together before you knew that this was the right move to partner?
Ana: Well, It’s funny. I think if you ask Lisa, It will probably be — I have some business card made so exiting my real estate portion of my career and going into mortgage brokering but I had given the longest, I guess notice in history, six months to the real estate agents that I was working with and I called up on day and Lisa said, “Well it’s great to meet you.” She’s in the office. She said, “Oh, my God.” Please tell me you haven’t seen my horrible business card because I had gotten business card done and they were horrible in quality.
The quality was just the worst I’ve ever seen. In fact, they’ve got some other ones after. But from that moment, we just started talking and I can tell you that you just kind of click on somebody and when I came to the office, we both knew, at least I have been banking for years. I was new to mortgages and we just start talking of values and our systems.
Everything kind of seems to be the same. It’s just natural. Kind of like, when you find the right person, it’s just natural.
Scott: That’s awesome. And obviously, you guys are making waves by winning that CMA award. So that’s I actually how I’ve connected with you. “Hey, we’ve got to chat because you guys are doing some great things if you’re getting attention in our industry.
Ana: We’re trying. We have a great team of people right now and we are a team of six currently and growing. We’ve got a lot of stuff still to come.
Scott: With the name like LA Mortgage team, it makes you sound of American or something. It sounds – its got that cool factor to it.
Ana: It’s funny because I’ve was talking to somebody who called me, “How was the weather now in L.A.?” I said I’m in Boston. What’s the LA?” and I’m like Lisa, Anna, then people get it like, “Hey, that’s pretty cool!”
Scott: Yeah, that’s awesome. So before we dive into your story, I’d like to ask about a success quote that’s impacted your life or business. I love how quotes take an idea. They distill it to something that’s portable and memorable. So can you share a quote that has really had an impact on your life or business?
Ana: Actually, on our business cards and on our website, I think the one that really speaks to who we are and to what we’re doing is, “Love what you’re doing and you will never work again in your life. Now, that’s an adaptation from, I think a quote by Confucius. I’m not really sure who said it first but that is really why we do what we do. Love what you’re doing, never work again in your life. That’s really how I feel.
Scott: Right. And so, obviously in the past you’ve had other jobs or careers that you didn’t maybe love as much. Specifically, what the mortgage business are you digging for the last three years?
Ana: Well I guess the difference is, you get up every morning and you go to work because you need a pay check. And for 15 years I work in a retail industry as a human resource payroll and I did that because I needed the paycheck.
My husband is a contractor. You got to do what you got to do for your family in those times.
Did I love it? Yeah, I liked it. It was fun. I love the people. What I [inaudible [0:03:56] wasn’t sad and then I moved on to a few other different things, but I just look at it this way. I wake up every morning and I can’t wait to get to my desk to look at my emails, to talk to people.
Anybody I talk to all the time and what I do so I’ve never felt the passion for what I do with differentiating work is so hard because I love all of them. So that’s when I think you’ve found everything to do.
Scott: Right and the pay can be pretty, like when you start getting some traction in this business the pay is pretty good for the time. The return on your time is pretty decent.
Scott: I’ve also noticed that talking to successful entrepreneurs, mortgage brokers, is that failure happens. It’s not fatal but looking back, there’s always a lesson. So can you share an example of something that you’ve failed at but now that you look back, there’s a lesson in it for you.
Ana: I guess some of it I will consider as a failure but I think it’s really programmed and doing too much at once.
I’m pretty, I guess, known for trying to do everything all at the same time. I guess the the biggest failure is you can’t do everything perfectly all at once. You got to pick one thing. You got to pick [inaudible [0:04:58]. The lesson that I learned is you can’t do it all once, you got to put things in your parking lot. You have to focus on one thing in doing that 110%. And I think that’s the biggest lesson.
Scott: Yeah. I read a quote the other day. I’m actually wired just like that. You can do anything but you can’t do everything. I remind myself on that because sometimes, I’m like, I want to do all these things and you just don’t have the time or the capacity.
How do you fight the urge though because I know I have this problem. How do you fight the urge when you get this new idea that’s exciting? How do you just park it and not let it consume your mind because that’s definitely one of my weaknesses.
Ana: I guess the best thing and I’m really lucky is that I have Lisa to talk to. We meet every week and we talk about our business. We have weekly meetings together and then bi-weekly meetings with our team, but what we do is we have a shared reminders. In reminders that you can list and any time you think of something, you write it there. So if I think, “Okay, This is my next great big idea.” I’m going to write it there when we sit down and meet I would say, “Okay, here’s what I think.
We sound off each other. You know why that’s great? But that’s like six months out. That’s great in two years because we can’t do everything.
So having someone to talk to, “Okay, what do you think of this,” is probably the most valuable part of my entire partnership and business. So that’s how to do it. And then you basically tick it from that list or you put it in your parking lot and you add a date to it. It pops out in your mail and goes, “Right, how can I do this?” And I think that’s really how to deal with it.
Scott: Right and sometimes the ideas either when they do pop up again, you realized, “Oh, that’s not that as good of an idea as I thought and you shelve it or you realize, “Yeah, this is something–maybe the timing is better for.”
Ana: I can’t tell you how many times that happened.
Scott: Yeah. I’m definitely – one my the problems have been chasing shiny objects and I see them and these interviews definitely, they help but they don’t help because I finish interviews and I have more ideas than I can impossibly implement and so, it’s about focusing of what’s the next one thing I’m going to focus on, not the dozens that I can’t get to.
Ana: That’s absolutely true. I’ve listened to quite a few of your podcast. I’m putting this almost up to date and I feel the same way because I’ve got my computer in front of me and I’m writing notes [inaudible [0:07:10] But, you know, it’s putting it down so you don’t forget it but it’s not necessarily having to implement everything right away.
Scott: Right. Yeah, that’s so true. I’ve noticed talking successful brokers that they use systems and processes. They don’t just sort of – it’s not random but they’re also willing to tweak those processes to get better results.
Can you share an example of an administrative process that you guys maybe have that wasn’t working and a tweak that you made and the outcome you got.
Ana: I think for us, we have a lot of check. We’ve got the buying of home checklist, first time home buyer transfer construction so any type of checklist for it and I think with having so many checklists, we try to put it all into one and it’s just huge and overwhelming then things just don’t.
So I think it’s breaking it down and picking out what you need. So it’s just to realize that you don’t have to have it all in one place. That it’s there and you just need to pick out what you need that you can constantly add, change and adjust it.
I use to think that I don’t know. It has to be done and then I’ll never have to look at it. Well, data never look at it again is probably the data that you should be doing something else because you should be constantly learning and changing and adapting your list in your processes.
Scott: Where do you record those checklists? Do you have the – where do you put them in?
Ana: What we do right now is we’re actually changing it up so what we did is we had just a word documents, we planned all this checklist and we store it in our Google Drive so that our team has access to them. We just print them and we put them inside the file folder, but what we’re doing now is actually moving all of that to Trello which is an awesome online system for organizing list. And the reason it’s so cool is because you can move pieces and move them from one to another. It’s very easy to use and so, again, we’re building the gaps and changing it so that it’s easier for someone coming in who came from banking and knows the mortgage industry but doesn’t necessarily know our process.
Scott: Right. Trello is like a white board that is virtual, but is drag-and-drop, because I’ve played with it.
Scott: It’s a good tool.
Ana: It is a good tool. I don’t know that I use it exactly the way it’s meant to be used but it works for me how I use it.
Scott: Right. That’s all it matters.
Ana: Yes. Exactly.
Scott: I’ve also noticed too in the sales and marketing side that successful brokers have a process but they’re also willing to adjust because the market changes, people’s attitudes change, so can you share an example of a sales or marketing process that may be wasn’t working as well and the adjustment you made to it?
Ana: Well I guess, as a new mortgage broker, I mean, I didn’t come from the mortgage industry, so it is learning curve for me. It all comes down to customer service, really.
At the end of the day, if you have customer service, I think you can learn, how to be a mortgage broker but you can’t learn how to treat clients. And comes naturally or it doesn’t. And I think, one thing that I learned was putting extra patience because you knew you’re coming in and you promise the world and you think you can get everything done today. I tell the clients what you’re going to do for them and the timeline that you’re going to get it done so there’s no surprise. And understand their knowledge level. I never really thought about that until I got into the mortgage industry.
As mortgage brokers now, we know everything, both things about mortgages but the client come in have a much limited knowledge of mortgages. I think sometimes you just think that they know everything about mortgages and we forget to actually educate them and i think that’s a huge part of what we need to educate our clients because when you educate them, they’ll come back because they know you’re the person that they’re going to call if they have a question.
Scott: Yeah, i love educational-based marketing and using that as a bridge between you and the client in building trust. So can you give any example of something like in the education process, how are you doing that currently?
Ana: When we meet clients it’s a two-step process. The online application, they come in and then we basically have a discussion and we do have a package that we go through so that we don’t miss any steps and everything, from who we are and what we do, why are we working with a mortgage broker, what are the steps that you’re going to find, from getting pre-approval to approval to putting an offer all the way down, so basically, you tell them every step of the way what they need to do. So I find that that’s worked really well.
Scott: Right, yeah, just having a process in that initial meeting and do you meet your clients face to face or is it all over phone, and fax and email?
Ana: For almost 2 years, I’ve met every form of clients and just this year, I’ve had client who wasn’t able to meet and did the entire transaction actually engage [inaudible [0:11:39] for the record. I do prefer to meet. We do prefer to meet with a client and it happens sometimes where you can’t because they are a little further or travel apart but we offer Skype. We do different things that normally we do date with them. I mean the one client that I haven’t met with is referred by a realtor that I work very closely with, so, I’m very comfortable with that
Ana: I would never/not meet a client if they just called me out of the blue.
Scott: Right, that’s good. It depends on the market you live in. I live in a smaller community; it’s only a 100 thousand people. So people literally drive to my office to bring me a pay stub and then they’ll drive back and I’m like, “You don’t need to scan it for me.” “No, no, no, it’s okay.” I don’t want a paper. I want a scan. Anyway, i agree.
Ana: Technology has really helped us in that instance because I’m finding big clients. Sometimes it’s the big clients. They can’t always come in and that. It’s totally fine, i don’t need to meet them for the first because we have already done that and I have to say that the cameras that we have now on our phones and everything, when you take a picture that you’ll paste, that’s all I need to get an updated information. I find that technology is helping us work faster and smarter.
Scott: All for sure; it’s awesome. So another thing that I’ve noticed talking to successful brokers or just talking to brokers in general idea of diversifying your income and seems to be two camps that have formed. One camp says, “Yes, you should diversify, get share of wallet.” And then there’s another camp that says, “No, you should just focus on being the best mortgage broker you can be.” I just wanted to know which kind of area you fell into, and if you are diversifying, what are you focusing on?
Ana: I think diversifying is definitely key. It’s definitely harder if you’re one person. If you’re one person, there’s no way you can be one person and do two things 110%. I think when you have a team, it is where you can diversify.
So in fact specialist in the team might be able to do construction better than the next person. So there’s always a specialty that somebody can do but we’re diversifying were looking at giving insurance right now, and that’s what we’re going to be adding. We have somebody in our team who does… We’ve got a few things that are growing and changing for the year but I definitely think that diversifying is the only way, cross selling, having more that you can offer your client is the way to go.
Scott: Right, and then have specific team members may be that are specialized in different areas or different products.
Ana: Absolutely. I’ve come from a family of construction workers and masons, so I can probably tell you our house is built better than the house sitting next to me. I know everything from A to Z, and so [inaudible [0:14:17] and the construction world. Not to say that my clients are – I have eight clients that have everything but my real passion is that I know what’s inside and out, where there are other members in our team who are conductors or professionals, it’s just really what you’re comfortable with what you need to focus on and what you know best.
Scott: Right. How do you run a balance running a business in mortgage practice and family?
Ana: [inaudible [0:14:43] balance and I think the key is that when you find something like this that you are passionate about, it is very hard to distinguish time spent with your family and with your business. You love both of them.
There are many times where I’m sitting with my family and I’ll be on my laptop, working on something. But I think the time that you do something that’s quality time, I don’t necessarily think that I can spend every minute with them but when they meet me in there. I always say that at this point, I’ve done everything I can and all I can do is guide. I’m at a much easier point in my life where this really is easier transition for me.
My husband is very supportive; he’s amazing and he’s always – he’s very busy with his work. Between us, Sundays are our family days. We don’t do any work-related anything on Sundays and we go to parties with our family and friends so I think that’s keeping a balance.
Scott: Right, that’s good. I’m going to move to rapid fire questions. So these you can answer with shorter answers if you like. So what is the number one thing holding back most mortgage brokers from being successful?
Ana: I think thinking that this is the 9-5 business.
Scott: What one thing or habit has made you successful?
Ana: Do it today, don’t wait for tomorrow.
Scott: Do it today:
Ana: Yeah, do it today, don’t wait for tomorrow. I mean I talked about the parking lot but there are some things that need to be done today. If you get that deal don’t wait until tomorrow; work on it today. If you need to call that lender, do it today.
Scott: Right. Do you have an internet resource, software program you use to make your business more successful? You mentioned Trello, but do you have another one? I’ll put Trello in the notes but, is there another program you use?
Ana: I’m a bit of a techie, so have tons of them, but I think my first and best resource would be—I invested Apple. I mean a Mac and an iPhone are the best tools i have. I use the reminders and they’re a huge part of my every day, always trying to figure what I’m going to have. I do list, I want to have notebook. I just use reminder on every device i have. For CRM I use FileMaker which a [16:36] Bassini?] product. [inaudible [0:16:36].
Scott: Right, I’m a Mac guy too, so you’re preaching to the choir. If you could recommend one book for our listeners, what would it be?
Ana: I listen to a lot of audio books and Tribe is definitely one of my favourites. Tribe by Seth Godin, creating a culture, loyalty, basically it goes back to Apple, they talked about how Steve Jobs created this culture of people who defend the apple product against [inaudible [0:17:05] and it preaches loyalty. So I really like the stuff he talked about.
Scott: Right, it’s almost like a cult. I just got a new phone and I’d look at the other phones and they’re cheaper but the problem is everything is works together and my wife is going Mac or Apple for her phone. I was like, “Oh, it’s hard to change when everything is Apple.”
Ana: It is. I got everybody in this family converted. It took a long time to get my husband from his phone [17:31] inaudible] Blackberry, but eventually an Apple or iPhone but it makes sense. It’s a great product, and they take care of their customers amazingly. If you walk in and you have a problems, you book for an appointment, you barely will find somebody who is obsessed after having on for their appointment.
Scott: Yeah, so where do you think is the industry headed–where’s the opportunity?
Ana: I think the after-need service. I think there are a lot of people in this industry who are just looking at the one-time transaction of a long term relationship. So I think service and definitely cross-selling. What else can you do or what else can you give your client to help them get where they need to get. There’s so many things that we can offer clients that they’re going to need to complete the transaction that they need.
Scott: Right. This is my favourite question for last from the delorean. Remember the movie, Back to the Future? And so the deloreans car you can travel back in time. So if I could set the delorean back to where you first started as a broker and you could sit down with yourself and say, “Anna, here’s three pieces of advice do these and your business would be better—,” so what are the three things that you would tell yourself to have a bigger, better business today.
Ana: Okay. Number one, we put in the time now. If you put in the time now, you work hard and build a business that’s going to last. Then pick a CRM and stick to it. Bounced around a few times and finally found what i wanted. Ironically, it was the first thing I’ve started, so pick once, stick to it and make it work. And then the other thing is, you can’t do everything all at once. Pick one thing, master it and then .
Scott: Right, that’s awesome, so in the time now, choose a CRM, and I hear everybody talk about the value of CRM. Once you make the term into the first few years, you realize how valuable that is, and then the last one is that focus on one thing at a time or one area to improve instead of trying to do everything.
Ana: It’s the hardest one to do because you want to do everything but it’s definitely the one that helps you to get there quicker.
Scott: So where can people find you online?
Ana: LAmortgageteam.com. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, everywhere…
Scott: Are you guys hiring?
Ana: We’re always hiring. We’re not looking right now but if somebody approaches us whose got mortgage, banking background. We only hire industry experienced individuals. We’re definitely hiring. Just give as a call and let us know if you’re interested.
Scott: Awesome. Anna, I really appreciate your time and this interview has been awesome, so I hope that you absolutely crush the rest of your year and then maybe there’s some new word you guys can win in the next couple of years.
Ana: We’ll definitely going to try. Thank you so much.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
VO: Want to learn from the top 5 mortgage brokers in the country? Then you’ve come to the right place. Join Scott Peckford on “I love Mortgage Brokering”.
Scott: Hey brokernation. Scott Peckford here. Have you joined your VIP club for mortgage brokers yet? If not, you’re missing out. We share exclusive content not available on the web or this show. We share scripts, step by step guides and other insider tips to help you save time and make you more money. I can’t tell you how many times after I turn off the recorder our guest start sharing some awesome advice, or script, or a tip and I take the best of this and share with my VIPs. If you want to get on the list, visit ilovemortgagebrokering.com/VIP.
Oh, and one other thing, since this is exclusive for mortgage brokers, there is a skill testing question. Good luck and I hope you continue to rock your mortgage biz.
[END OF RECORDING]