Jen is the co-founder of Mortgage 360. An innovative Calgary based Brokerage that is currently kicking butt. In this interview she shares her experience in handling 100+ online leads a week. Hint, what she learned will probably surprise you. She also shares what is she doing now that is working even better.
Years as a Broker: 8 years
Brokerage: Mortgage 360
Just do more of what makes you awesome. and…
- Don’t take it personally
- Ask for documents up front
- Why the right attitude is so important
- A simple strategy to say thank you to clients and referrals sources
- Good to Great
ADVICE FOR NEW BROKERS
2. Read E-myth and Good to Great
Scott Peckford: Hi broker nation, I am thrilled to introduce our guest today, Jen Mathias. Jen is the co-founder of Mortgage 360. She is based in Calgary, Alberta. She has been a broker for eight years. She is not only an awesome mortgage broker but has some serious singing skills.
Jen, are you ready to rock?
Jen Mathias: You bet.
Scott: Awesome. Can you just tell us a little bit about yourself?
Jen: Sure. What do you want to know? Just personal, business, all that kind of stuff?
Scott: Yeah, tell us a little about yourself and then also, how you got into the mortgage business.
Jen: Awesome, will do that. I am thirty-four. I have been a broker, like you said, eight years. I can’t believe time goes by so quick. I am married. I have a lovely little cute son named Jackson who is turning two on the 10th. We run a great team of brokers here in Calgary. We are now up to nine brokers which is awesome. We have been rocking and rolling in Calgary, it has been great.
Scott: So how did you get into the mortgage business because nobody in kinder garden said, “When I grow up, I want to be a mortgage broker.” So what was your path to this?
Jen: Yeah. When I first moved to Calgary, I got a job, one of the big real estate company here. I worked in administration and then moved to their marketing department and I started dating one of the big realtors here and he was working with a mortgage broker. He was not too hot on but he got his deals done. He said, “I know you. I know you really well. You are great with people. You should get your broker’s license.”
I decided to do that. I was actually going to university at the time. I got my license. After the first year of doing this, I stopped going to university and picked this as my career path because I loved it. That’s how I got into it. I had a lot of realtor contacts just from working at the real estate office and that was a really huge help in those first couple years of business.
Scott: Right and for the record, you did not marry that guy?
Jen: No. No, I did not.
Scott: You married another mortgage broker?
Jen: I did, yes, I married another mortgage broker.
Scott: Okay, awesome. Before we dive into your story, I would just like to ask about a success quote that really has an impact in your life or business? Can you share a quote that’s really had an impact on you?
Jen: Sure. Can I give two?
Jen: Awesome. So my major one is if anybody knows me and probably, if you want to do an awesome count throughout this interview, I say awesome a lot. It’s obviously my favorite word so my most favorite one would be, “Just do more of what makes you awesome.” My second one is “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”
Scott: Okay. The first one I like. The first one I have not heard before. Say that to me again?
Jen: “Do more of what makes you awesome.”
Scott: Okay. So what would your clients say make you awesome? I am not going to put you on the spot and say, “Jen, tell me why you are awesome but why would your clients say that you are awesome?”
Jen: I think communication is a huge piece and approachability. I mean obviously the obvious things like getting the deal done and that sort of thing but just keeping people knowing what’s going on throughout the process and making yourself approachable so that they feel like they can come to you with questions. I think that’s the key factor into anything.
Scott: So do you have any specific contact strategies that you use to make sure that borrowers aren’t calling you and freaking out like…
Jen: Yeah, we try to keep a lot of touch points throughout the process. Just obviously phone calls, emails those sorts of things, so that people, they’ll know what to expect throughout. Those way things aren’t a big surprise down the road. Just making sure that we have all of those touch points throughout seems to put people at ease.
Scott: Do you find most of your clients prefer to be kept in the loop by email or phone or what are you finding?
Jen: I feel like it depends on the client. So we work with CM professionals in Calgary. A lot of them wanted to do text.
Jen: Yeah. I would prefer to pick up the phone and make the phone call but we usually try to get an in person meeting definitely but then there is lots of little touch points that have been emailed, phone calls and texts, that thing. It only depends on the client. I think each person is different in what kind of communication that they need and we always try to gear it towards the client.
Scott: Right, make it user friendly for what their liking. I have found that text is not something I don’t like. I am older than you. I am turning forty this year. So I find text is just– because sometimes people text me something and then I will forget because you will get ten other texts on top of it and its not in my normal work flow like my email, my inbox, if you have all these clients that are texting you, how do you manage that from becoming a nightmare?
Jen: I totally agree with you because I have lots of clients that will approach me on Facebook and if it’s not in my email inbox, I often lose it. So what I will usually do is when I see a text message, I forward it to my email because I use my inbox as a secondary to-do-list. If it’s still in my inbox, something has to happen. So, if I miss something that is a backup for me, I have often had people send me a message on Facebook and if I am not on Facebook, then I don’t see it then I feel bad for missing it or I forget about it.
So what I try to do is send a quick email to myself so that I can, at some point, keep track of it a little bit easier. It’s tough. I don’t particularly love the text message thing but it seems like a lot of my clients are really into that. If I try to call them once I get a text message from them, they are like, “Sorry, I can’t talk but I can text.”
Scott: They are probably working and then they want their employer know they are not doing work-related activities.
Jen: Exactly or that letter can be sent in Facebook.
Scott: Right. So another thing I have noticed talking to successful entrepreneurs, business owners and mortgage brokers is that failure happens but it’s never fatal if you can find a lesson in looking back. So can you share an example that something that maybe did not turn out the way you had hoped but looking back there was a valuable lesson in it for you?
Jen: Yeah, sure. I think that one thing that keeps popping up and lots of people are interested in is this whole idea of internet regeneration and that kind of thing keeps on getting bigger and bigger every year.
I had a great opportunity a couple of years ago to work with one of the big agents here in Calgary that generates a lot of leads from the internet and I mean, holy grail, he’s a mortgage broker, right?” Unlimited source of leads super excited to do it. We worked our way in slowly working with a couple of agents on their team and then finally just given this opportunity.
Really great learning experience. We did get a lot of deals out of it but what we found was at the end of the year looking back that we were spending about 80% of our time doing 20% of our business. So it was really difficult. You have lots people that are just trying check in, not really interested in it, you are putting in a lot of work for not as much as you could be getting working your database and the people who know and like you, right?
Those people were more likely they refer people to you and it’s not quite as difficult of a business to do, so at the end of that year we kind of had to look back and decide what we were going to do.
Both of our businesses changed a little bit to a point where they were looking for not more value in us working for them but they wanted to offset some of the costs that they were incurring for these leads and we simply just decided at the end of it that we were more valuable to them not paying them I guess for those leads than somebody might pay them to do the business for them.
So I was not going. I am valuable enough that I’m not in the position where I need to pay for business. So we decided to walk away from that opportunity but certainly a great learning experience.
I probably made sixty thousand phone calls that year. It was intense. I got a bit of a thicker skin for people rejecting you a little bit but the great thing about it was being so worried about leaving that business and where you are going to replace it. Once you have 80% of your time free, you can replace the tenfold and we were able to focus more on our database and on the people that we have already worked with and relationships that with people that were already sending us their business and other referral business.
Scott: Right. So the lesson was to focus on your clients and the people that you are doing business with instead of this opportunity that seemed really good but in the end—I got two quick questions. One, how many leads are we talking about in a week? Would you be looking, following up with?
Jen: Oh, gosh. A hundred, maybe.
Scott: Wow and so you have to phone them all?
Jen: Yes. Totally. I was on the phone all the time. My cell phone, my data bill was intense. They were crazy we. They were basically the first point of contact for any registration in the website. We were the ones that were dealing with the lead right away. I mean of all of those the percentage of people that end up buying was pretty small.
Scott: You said you focused on your database. What something that you specifically that you guys took 80% of time and what did you start doing with your database that was returning a better yield for you?
Jen: I guess focusing more on–I mean we do deal with realtors that I just want to say that as well. We still deal with realtors to generate business from the internet. I am not saying that the model is wrong from the perspective of what is going to be required from us.
In this particular situation, it was just not going to work. Everybody runs their business differently; we deal with a great team that deals with a lot of internet leads, plus the way that they structure it. In that, we’re not that first point of contact. If the agent has scrubbed the lead and determined that they’re going to be somebody that’s appropriate for us to talk to, then we’ll get in contact with them if a good 50/50 split.
They’re as far as the amount of work load put into it at the other routes and then plus being accessed maybe offset some of those costs just wasn’t going to be a value to us with our business model, but I’m certainly not trying to put down anybody that does that certain business but specifically for us, it just wasn’t what we wanted to pursue.
Scott: You know what Jen, you’re just too nice because I know that if I ask Nolan, he would definitely be more blunt about how he answer that question.
Jen: Yeah. I mean it’s true, right? I am a people person. I am touchy feeling the business side; although we run a business together, we both have our strengths and different thing, how things work.
Jen: I know lots of people who run really successful online businesses, I think it just really depends on the right fit for a partnership.
Scott: Right. I’m just generalizing here but you guys, are kind of like good cop, bad cop in a sense.
Scott: Nolan is very good at what he does; he’s very innovative and creative.
Jen: And smarter than me; that’s for sure.
Scott: So the other thing I was going to ask you about is process and I find that mortgage brokers that are successful. It’s not random. They have a plan; they have a process. I want to ask about administrative side.
Can you share maybe something with us on the administrative side that wasn’t working as well as you were liking and then a change you made from it?
Jen: I think, even just having some sort of process in place, like there are so many of us that deal and have a process that you do every time, but like having a set, like set of steps or a procedure that you go through with every single client to make sure every single client regardless if they’re still working with me or Jessica or Jul or anybody on our team, that they’re going to have exactly the same exact experience that’s really helpful and then, let’s say I’m going away and I have to send my business to one of them.
I don’t have to worry that they’re not going to provide the same level of service because we all have the same process that we go through. So even if it’s something so simple as sitting down and finding a process, it’s so surprising how many people don’t have one.
Scott: Right and so, a question actually. I’m a little bit disjointed today but I wanted to ask you this and I moved on from it before. You said that online leads. So what percentage do you think of your business currently would be from online leads versus the referral type business?
Jen: I’d say less than ten percent.
Scott: That’s from online now?
Jen: Yeah. I don’t really feel like the relationships that we have with the agents now that are working online leads are really online leads like they’re really coming to me without some sort of touch, without some sort of scrubbing happening on that lead. So I see them more as referrals than as flat out somebody going on your website and saying, “Hey, I need a mortgage.” We get some of that but usually because somebody told their friends to go on our website. And so we get that.
Scott: Which is not really online lead. It’s sort of just someone who is contacting through the website.
Jen: Sure and then the agents that we do work with now, they have a really great process where they will go through and have their agents look at that lead first, contact with me first and determine what their need is. And at that point, we’ll connect with them. So it’s not like they’re just coming to us totally blindly but coming from a little bit of a prequalification of the lead, I guess, to make sure that it’s worth us intervening.
Scott: Right and some relationship are there.
Scott: I totally get it. So the other thing I noticed talking to successful brokers is on the sales and marketing side. It is also important to have a process and I know speaking with you and Nolan in the past, you’ve had this program you’ve done ninja selling which is a real estate program, but you guys have modified this. Can you share maybe just a glimpse of a little bit of–because I think one of the things that makes your company unique is this whole process which is definitely from my conversations with Nolan’s different than what most people are doing. So can you share just a glimpse of that so people can get an idea of how you guys are doing that?
Jen: Sure, yeah. So ninja selling is like your thing is a real estate, originally a real estate course but I mean a lot of that transferable in to mortgages and no one really helps to build out a training program for mortgages through ninja selling. He’s a ninja coach, so he can able to teach ninja to realtors as well as mortgage brokers. So that’s super helpful to have him doing that, but basically and we also put all of other agents through the ninja selling program down in for call-ins. Even though it’s geared toward real estate, they do have a break up session where they’ll discuss how some of those things will be transferable into instant mortgage brokering.
Essentially, it is just turning away from thinking about the payment and the commission and more looking out, what can I do to add value to my client and then once you have change your focus to adding value to being in touch with people that know that I can trust you that the business start to come.
I know it sounds some people airy fairy life, just like the whole idea of positive thoughts and the law of attraction and all of that, but it really works.
It’s really good. It’s just a way of turning the failed process on its head so that it works for anybody. Extraverts, introverts, pretty much anyone, just focusing on staying on flow with people, communicating, being in contact. So that once they are ready to buy, once they do have a life change where you might be valuable to them, that you’re the first person that they think of.
Scott: Right and so can you give me an example of like one thing that you guys implement from this program?
Jen: Sure. I think one of the major ones, one of the things in the first year after I took ninja selling course was a big benefit to my business was gratitude. So every day we write or every week we write between five to ten ‘Thank you’ notes to people that we’ve dealt with, people that we talk to. It doesn’t necessarily have to be somebody business related, ‘Thank you’, ‘Congratulations’, that kind of thing. I know it’s a really nice way to wake up in the morning to write positive things, send people thank you notes and that keeps you top of mind for people but it’s doing something that’s nice. It’s not sending them, “Hey, send me your business.” It’s, “Hey, I heard you had a baby. Congratulations.” There you go. So that’s just one simple thing.
Scott: No, that’s cool and another thing I’ve noticed talking to a lot people lately is that they’ve been saying they need to diversify their income, so maybe cross-selling, getting share of wallets. So in my mind, there are two camps. They’ve formed one camp says, “Stick to mortgage brokering, that’s enough.” Another camp says, “No, you need to be like the bank and cross-sell.” So where do you fall on that? And if you are diversifying into other income streams, what area are you focussing on the next year?
Jen: Yeah, I guess maybe that, the most obvious answer is the [spp-timestamp time="17:59"] inaudible] model. I mean how many people are losing potential income because they’re not following up with renewals or when the client is happy they don’t want to move, they have life change, those things. I’m on the sense about the others. We’re just trying to focus on this side of our business at this point. For me personally, I can’t imagine having to do more work.
Jen: So I don’t know that I would have that great turnout but I can’t say that my very innovative husband doesn’t have some thoughts on that.
Scott: I’m sure he does. I’m sure he has a few things up his sleeve.
Jen: I’m usually at step one when he’s at step ten and then he will tell me about it. So it’s maybe in the work; you might want to bring him in on that question.
Scott: Right and so, you’ve got a young family and obviously a very successful mortgage business, so how do you balance your mortgage practice and your family?
Jen: Very thankfully, I have a lovely nanny who has made my life very easy over the last two years. When I had my son, I didn’t have a nanny for the first six months and thankfully, he was an angel and I brought him into the office and worked with him there.
Scott: That’s hilarious.
Jen: That was really helpful but what was one of the major things just going back to ninja selling is the whole point of the program is that you can do less work and make more money.
So even just putting together procedures and having a set list of tasks that you do on each deal has saved me tons of times. You’re not touch anything a thousand times. I know it seems like such a silly thing but even if bringing on new brokers into our team, it’s so surprising to be how many people don’t collect documents upfront. It just needs so much time.
Jen: Not only just getting everything sorted out and getting an actual pre up done but also once you’re spending it in, it’s awesome. You just have to spend it in, no condition, remove condition. The day after the deal and you look like a superstar.
Scott: Right. Everybody’s happy.
Jen: Yeah. It frees up so much time. It’s just having a process and procedure in place really help to free up the time.
Jen: But it’s hard. Sometimes it’s hard to be–I need the next five hours. I’m looking up my phone especially having a team that rely on us to give guidance and stuff like that sometimes. It’s difficult to not be always available for them but really what we’re doing this for so that we can spend those time with my family and have a good life, not that we can be constantly tied to email and cell phone.
Scott: That’s good. I’m going to move to rapid fire questions, so you can answer these with short answers if you like. What is the number one thing holding back most mortgage brokers from being successful?
Jen: Bad mentorship.
Scott: That’s a good answer. What one thing or habit made you successful?
Scott: Give an internet resource or software program that you used to make your business more successful?
Jen: Basecamp, Dropbox.
Scott: If you could recommend one book for listeners, what would it be?
Jen: Go Giver.
Scott: Where do you think our industry is headed? Where’s the opportunity?
Jen: I feel like we’re getting a little bit more, being more professional than having more value. I think that we have a pretty great future as long as we can keep going.
Scott: This is the last question; one of my favourites. This is DeLorean question. Remember Back to the Future, the movie?
Scott: Remember this DeLorean, the car, you can jump in to travel in time?
Scott: If I can put you to DeLorean and send you back at eight years to the first day you became mortgage broker and you could sit down with yourself and give yourself three pieces of advice so that Mortgage 360 will be way more bigger today, what would you tell yourself?
Jen: Don’t take things personally. That would be my major one 23, is that what you said?
Scott: Yeah. If you have a couple, what else you would tell yourself?
Jen: You’re awesome. You’re going to do great and yeah, I think that’s it. Don’t take things personally is a major huge one because some person with a 550 can’t connect and get a mortgage. It’s not my fault. I didn’t do it.
Scott: I was a paramedic in my 20s and one of my mentors told me that because some pretty awful stuff and he gave me some advice. He said, “You didn’t cause the mess. You’re just there to help.”
Jen: Yeah. I love that.
Scott: Whatever is going on, you just show up and I’m here to help. I didn’t cause your situation. It’s no different in the mortgage business. You’re right. Some people’s situation are mess and all we can do is just show up and help and sometimes helping is just saying, “Not now. You need to do XYZ,” but although I forget in in the mortgage business that in an ambulance business, I’ll always remember it in the mortgage business, I still forget sometimes and take it too personally.
Jen: That is going in my book of quote because that is perfect for me.
Scott: Awesome. Jen, where can people find you online?
Scott: Are you guys hiring?
Jen: We are always hiring. We like to be a little particular in the people that we hire because we have a little bit of different structure. We want to have likeminded people and people that really want to work on a team. We’re not particularly trying to get more brokers address. We want to build a good team structure.
Scott: You don’t want a bunch of lone wolves? This is what you’re saying. You want people that–
Jen: Yeah. We expect people to be involved, so that is kind of what we look for.
Scott: Right. For those of you listening, you want to check out links for Jen, her site, you can go to ilovemortgagebrokering.com. We’ll have all the links in the show notes.
Jen, this has been awesome. Thank you for taking this time and I hope you crush the rest of your year.
Jen: Thanks so much, Scott. I really appreciate you having me.