- If there’s something that we can be doing better, let’s do it better before we need to go on hire another people.
- If you are not passionate about your business your chances of success go way down
- Ask for all documents up front to prevent stress and catch any problems
- Do an annual mortgage review with their clients
- Ron shares how coaching accelerated his business growth
- If you have a weakness in your business hire a coach to help you
Ron shares how his story of how he funded just over $20,000,000 in his first year as a Mortgage Broker. Which is an impressive amount for a first year Broker. Ron shares how he hired a Real Estate coach in his first 3 months so he could understand Realtors problems and add value to their business.
Years as a Broker: 5 years
Brokerage: Pure Mortgage
Team: 1 assistant
ADVICE FOR NEW BROKERS
1. Hire out the things that you’re not good at
2. Acknowledge what you’re not good at
3. Hire somebody that can hold you accountable
RON LEFEBVRE INTERVIEW
Scott: I Love Mortgage Brokering, Episode 54.
[START OF THE INTERVIEW]
EP 53 RON LEFEBVRE
Scott Peckford: Hi Broker Nation. I am thrilled to introduce our guest today, Ron Lefebvre. Ron is a mortgage broker with Invis Pure Mortgage. He’s been a broker for 5 years, based out of Edmonton. He’s one of the CPM Top 75. He won the CPM Best Newcomer Award. He’s got some sweet branding online. I’m absolutely stoked for this interview today. Ron, are you ready to rock?
Ron Lefebvre: I’m ready to rock. You bet.
Scott: Awesome, so can you just tell us a little bit about yourself?
Ron: Yeah. I’ve been with Invis for the past 5 years. I started a little bit part-time in 2009, but quickly figured out that I had to do it full-time in 2010 and that was my first official full year as being a mortgage broker and, like you said, in 2012, I had won the Best Newcomer Award at the CPM and have just been progressively working on growing my business ever since.
Scott: That’s awesome, and so how did you get into the mortgage business because as my experience has been, no one starts out as a little kid saying, “Hey, I want to be a mortgage broker when I grow up. So, how did you get there?
Ron: Yeah. I got into the business. Prior to being a mortgage broker, I was in the trade and before that I had a business that I had started from scratch and, actually, I wasn’t at all planning on becoming a mortgage broker. It almost got in by accident. I was actually planning on going back to University getting my degree in Accounting and that was always my dream–as a kid was to actually get my Accounting degree, but certain things had happened in my life that seemed to point me into this direction and I gave it a try. I guess, some people would do it in 2010 and I haven’t looked back. I love it, and I’m glad I made the choice.
Scott: Yeah. That’s awesome. It seems like people get into this business and either love it of hate it. And, if you love it, it’s a fantastic way to make a living and support your family, so I’m hooked.
Ron: Yeah. Absolutely.
Scott: But, mind you, I host a podcast called ‘I Love Mortgage Brokering’ and so, it would be disingenuous if I’m like, “I hate this business.” So, before we dive into your story, I’d like to ask about a success quote that’s really impacted your life or business because I love how quotes take an idea and distill in down into something that’s portable and memorable, and so can you share a quote that’s, well, made an impact on you?
Ron: Yeah. I have a tough time with this because, I mean, those quotes seem to change. Whenever I see one, I’ll usually write it down. Kind of the old adage if you write something down it’ll happen for you or it’ll be a lot more likely it’ll happen for you, but one that I really like is “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts” and that was by Winston Churchill. Another quote that I like is “Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure” and I can really relate to that one, as well.
Scott: So, I love the Winston Churchill quotes. Can you give me an example of how you’ve applied one of those quotes recently in your day to day or your business?
Ron: Yeah. I mean, I’ve always focused on trying to live a balanced life between work and life. I mean, I think it’s important to do well in business, but I think that if the rest of your life, I look at seven different categories of my life, and if I’m not succeeding in all the other categories, and I think that your business can –well, maybe your business can succeed, but I don’t think that you’re going to live a fulfilled life, but, as far as the success being not final and failure being not fatal, the business that I started when I was younger.
I was about 21 years old. I had sold the first home that I’d thought at that point that I’d be able to take the money out and start my first business. I quickly realized that: (a) Maybe, I was little bit too young at that time to be starting the business that I had started, but I, still to this day, don’t really review it as a mistake that I made or as something that I regret. Something that I learned, and has helped shaped me to be who I am today, I guess.
Scott: Just out of curiosity, what type of business was it that you had?
Ron: It was actually a franchise of tanning salons, so I had started. I’d opened up, it was pretty random.
Scott: That’s why your pictures look so good online.
Ron: Yes. No, Yeah Right! But, that’s basically what it was and I sold out the entire business by the time I was 23, I guess. It was about 2 years, and that’s when I got into the trade because I realized that I was just not at all ready to taking on a commitment that was involved with making sure that other people can put food on the table and making sure that everybody else was collecting a paycheck, right?
Scott: So, what would you say is the biggest lesson? I know this is digressing, but mortgage brokers are entrepreneurs, so that was the biggest lesson that you had from this venture into the tanning business?
Ron: I guess, biggest lesson was just to get back up. I mean, I settled down and I really felt like I just needed to get back up and get back into business.
I’ve always known that I was going to get back in the business, but that time, I think something that’s important is to make sure that if you’re going to do anything in business, you need to be really, really passionate about it. And that doesn’t just happen overnight. I didn’t just decide to just become a mortgage broker because of passion about being a mortgage broker.
I never knew if I was going to be passionate about it, but when I became a mortgage broker, I needed to be passionate about what I was doing to be able to succeed. And the tanning business, I wasn’t passionate about it. It was something that just kind of happened and I think that’s something that I definitely learned from that experience, that if you’re not really, really passionate about something that you’re going to do, whether business, life, it doesn’t matter. I just don’t think that your chances of success are going to be all that great.
Scott: My brother and I, when I was in my early 20’s. You know those vending machines that used to sit on counter tops that you put money in when you go into businesses? And we thought, “Hey, this looks like a killer business, license to print money.”
So, instead of buying the machines, we convinced the guy to sell us all the equipment to manufacture the machines, but we were living in Fort Nelson’s, so we’re pretty much at the end of the earth, and it just turned into a giant catastrophe and so, when you’re talking about the tanning business, I don’t know if your situation was like that, but mine was definitely like, “Oh, man. What was I thinking?”
Ron: Yeah, big time. “I get it now.”
Scott: Yeah, exactly. You look back and kind of laugh, but I think, sometimes you have to learn those lessons and you’re willing to take a risk and that’s what it is when you’re an entrepreneur, a mortgage broker. You’ve got to be willing to jump in kind of see what happens, right?
Ron: Yeah, exactly.
Scott: Cool, so I was going to now ask you about processes because I find that successful mortgage brokers, in speaking with them, they have systems and processes. They just don’t show up and hope for the best. I’m sure that you’ve built them over the time that you’ve been a broker. I want to ask, first, an administrative, a document-type process you have that, maybe, wasn’t working as well as you would like and then a tweak you made and then the outcome that you got once you made that adjustment?
Ron: Yeah. I mean, this one’s a tough question to answer, as well. I mean, I’m always looking for ways to improve our admin processes and it’s an ongoing thing. I mean, best decision that I’ve ever made was to hire an assistant who knows more about admin than I do. I’ve got the mentality, if I don’t have the expertise in the area and I don’t have the time to figure it out and I’ll just hire somebody who does have: A, the time and B, who’s got the knowledge to do it at that time.
The processes that we used to do compared to the process that we have now. I mean, we used to just kind of cater to –if we were collecting documents and a client said, “I don’t have this document for this reason,” or “I don’t want to provide you these documents for whatever reason.”
We’ve just become very stringent on not accepting “No” for an answer, that need to get a complete document package up front, to be able to properly advise our clients and sometimes, some clients, do question, “Why is it that we’re asking for so much more than, maybe, what their bank has asked for?” and we just gotten a lot better at explaining that. For us to be able to do our jobs properly, we have to get everything up front, so that would probably be the biggest change that I’ve found. It’s made a big different with all of our lenders, as well. It’s made a big difference to our clients. It’s very, very seldom that we get into situations where we need to extend conditions because somebody’s waiting for documents or whatever the case might be, but that would probably be the best thing that I ever did to be able to make things smoother and easier.
I was looking at one point that, maybe, hiring another person, but we always look at before we hire another person, we look at, maybe we can be more efficient doing the things that we’re doing and that’s something that both my assistant and I both strive to do is just if there’s something that we can be doing better, let’s do it better before we need to go on hire another people.
Scott: Right. Yeah, that’s great advice and as an example, maybe, if I said to you if I’m a client and I’m talking to you and I’m like, “Hey, Ron. Okay, I looking at mortgage and it sounds like you’re list is longer.” What kind of thing would you say to me, just so that the people listening could get an idea of the type language or what you would say? So, what would you say to me when I’m saying to you, “Hey, why do I need all this stuff?”
Ron: Yeah. I mean, I would tell you, “The primary reason for us getting all of this paperwork is to make sure we have all of teeth crossed. I know that a lot of the banks aren’t going to ask all of that paperwork up front. They’re going to ask after your purchase offer’s been accepted, right? So, you don’t want to use the time that you want to be dealing with things like home inspections and other things. You don’t want to be chasing paperwork at that time, especially in a marketplace like Edmonton where you’ll see homes and people are going to multiple offers buying homes, and a lot of time, you just don’t have a lot of time.”
So, I’ll explain to my clients that if we get everything up front, chances of any surprises are next to none and that gives us –at least, if there’s anything that I can catch, that, maybe, gives us a better opportunity to get different types of financing or whatever the case might be. I’d rather see it up front. So, it’s a little bit more paperwork, but at the end of the day, it’s going to be well worth it for everybody involved because you want to deal with the stressful stuff right now, not once you’ve already made an offer because you’re going to be already stressed enough when that time comes.
Scott: Right! And as we know, some things take longer to get than you expect because an employer is slow or your accountant doesn’t have something so, it better to get it in process now, instead of when the people are stressing out and stuff.
Ron: Exactly, yeah.
Scott: So, I want to switch gears now and talk about sales and marketing because obviously, any mortgage brokers who’re successful understands that their sales and marketing are involved and that they have a process to that, as well, it’s not just random, and so can you share an example of a sales or marketing process that you have in your business that is, maybe, not working as well as you would like and that adjustment you made and the outcome you got?
Ron: In the sales side of things, when I first got into this industry, my focus was to work with realtors and financial advisers and my field of influence and you slowly build you’re A-clients and that sort of thing.
As time has gone by, I’ve got more and more clients now. So, a lot of the repeat business I’m starting to see come up a lot more, so that was something that –especially with the last year that when we’ve really, really focused with how do we work on our existing client-base? How do we work on helping them? Because it can be very expensive to be spending money on marketing and advertising to try to bring in new business.
I mean, the acquisition costs are quite high to be bringing completely cold business. Something that we’ve done over the last year and a half/two years has been to start doing annual mortgage reviews where every single client on their mortgage anniversary day we’re spending 20 minutes to do a full on review to make sure they’re in the right mortgage product. We’re providing them valuable information, we’re not just sending them the typical ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ and ‘Happy Candidate Day’ and ‘Merry Christmas’ emails, so we’re really trying to provide value to our clients after the deal is closed and have both touches be a little bit more important and I found that that’s something my repeat business in that time in the last year and a half is more than doubled.
Some of that has got to do with the fact that I have more clients now. I’d like think that a lot of it–whenever I do send that email and I do make that contact with my clients, they’re pretty ecstatic to see that I still care as much now than I did when I helped them two years ago, not just five years ago, now that their mortgage renewal is coming up, right?
Scott: Yeah. I know. I think an annual review is something everybody hears about. It’s kind of like when you first become a broker, everybody says get a CRM and most people take two or three years to get their act together and once you start to get established, you should be getting annual reviews and I’m going to make a confession. I’ve only just started doing them and the response has been fantastic, so tell me what your annual review process? So, do you send an e-mail and then set up a phone call? Or who’s doing the call and who’s doing the e-mail? Just so that I can have a picture in my mind of what you guys are doing?
Ron: Yeah. So, basically, what we do, because we collect a broker consent form for every single deal from every single client, we’re able to communicate with our lenders, right? So, the very first thing that we do on the anniversary, and I get reminders with my CRM systems saying this person’s mortgage anniversary is up, so my assistant, Claudia, will send in a request to our lender to get that mortgage information statement sent to us, and once I get that information statement, they usually flag to me to let me know that it’s come in at that point. I’ll the review the original deal we did with the client. I’ll review client mortgage statement to look at where they’re at, where they’re at now.
Look at the notes that we’ve made when we first got their mortgage to see was that a client that had planned on wanting to increase their payments every year and some clients will tell me when we first signed them up on an increase of payments by 10% each year and so that’s a good opportunity for me to say, “Hey, you have mentioned this a year ago, or two years, or three years ago. Is this something you want to consider for this? Should we, maybe, set up an appointment for you to come in and sit down with us? Or do you just want to go ahead and bump your payments up? Or maybe times are tough and you need to drop your payments down a little bit?” There’s all sorts of different reasons. We have e-mail templates that I work with.
Obviously, I have to change all the numbers in those templates, but a lot of the facts that we’re bringing up were just showing them, “Here’s where mortgage rate was at, let me first –got your mortgage here with rates currently you’re at. Here are some options, if you needed to cut out of this mortgage now for whatever reason. If you need to re-finance to pay off debt or to do renovations,” or whatever the reasons are.
We’re always telling them when they should be contacting us, I guess, is what we’re doing in the e-mail, the certain things that are going in your life. If you think you’ll going to be buying your time, let us know so that we can get involved and at least come up in a game plan for you now, right?
Scott: The email goes out and obviously, the process is you get them bounced on their mortgage from the lender sending an email or some numbers and some customized dialogue and the how many of them would you actually get on the phone. What do you think, from that process?
Ron: If I have to sort number, I would say probably 10-15% of people I’d get on the phone. I mean a lot of people will just send an email back here saying, “I just want increase my payments and I want to do this.” I mean, the communication nowadays, it is a lot of people just want to communicate by email but I would say 10-15% of people will actually give me a call or can set up an appointment to have a quick phone setup to discuss what are current situation looks like and here’s what you’re thinking you’re doing or just anything we can be doing to make our financial picture a little bit better, right?
Scott: Now, that’s awesome. When did you start this in earnest?
Ron: I started it three years ago but I wasn’t religious on doing it with everything the client. It happens whenever I get a little bit slower with work and also I do a bunch of mortgage reviews but it was obviously a lot tougher in the beginning because I didn’t have broker consent forms for all of my clients. And now, it becomes easier because we have the broker consent forms signed right with the initial with the mortgage. It always allow us to communicate with the lender directly and it’s also good even come renewal time, right?
At that point, we can also contact the lender for the clients and say, “Hey, what’s the client renewal option? We want to maybe discuss, maybe it’s early renewing and I’ve never been want to do the switching clients on majority just for the sake of switching him a lot of time and try to reelect clients with the existing lender if I don’t get paid on it because at the end of the day, why would I get somebody to put it all time in the work to move lenders and save themselves. Maybe .05 of percent of mortgage rate and there’s no other reason in that. If that comes out, they’ll tell all the clients they do have that option but I always explain to them if we renew with our existing lender, we have an existed good mortgage rate and just the mortgage product with their exited lender then it makes more sense than just stick it out with them, right?
Scott: That’s awesome. Have you seen any uptake in the number of client referrals or since you started doing this more?
Ron: Oh, massive. I mean the first year, all of my business had to do with business, right? In my very first year in business, I funded just over $20 million and I never had a single greedy customers. I had to be brand new in the industry. That was a tough year because I really need to prove myself to friends and family and everybody that knew me and that I knew I was talking about.
After that first year, you’ve seen a little bit of it. My business planning rate from day one, I’ve always known that by the 4th and 5th year that’s the repeat business in the past five referrals where we really going to pick up and I’ve spoken to other highly successful mortgage brokers had been in the industry for much longer than I have that have said, “Once you’re established, you’ve got a good database. You’re going to be able to really just spend a lot of your time working with your existing clients and the repeat referral business.
I’ve noticed, especially last year before that with quite a bit longing in my business, the first couple of years was 50% realtor referred to and the other 50% was split up between friends and family and financial planners and couple of other sources. Now, I’m finding that my repeat past client referral business is up for both 70% of my total books of coming in here but especially the fast-growth 70% especially I guess to be having that repeat referral business when you have more clients I guess.
Scott: I’ve got to ask. So $20 million in your first year, that’s pretty impressive. How did you do that? One or two things that you–because that’s not a normal volume for somebody in their first year. No offense.
Ron: I like to think that I just get busted my ass off. Just getting out there and doing whatever taught be able to earn people’s trust. That first year, one of the things that you’re always coming with this industry is working with a realtor is great source of business and I thought myself like how can I possibly, how can I attract more realtors. What I end up doing three months into doing this full time and go into business quotes specialized in coaching real estate agents and I thought they don’t have two or three sources in the business. They got to go out and don’t get business called the way that a lot of people do.
I thought why not take and hire a coach and hire coach that specializes in working with real estate agents and take some training that they will take and help me understand a little bit better how a realtor would think.
That first year, I started, not really cold calling realtor. I mean I would start working with realtor where we have mutual clients to just ask. If you don’t have a mortgage broker or maybe you do, you want to have one in your back pocket, I don’t want to be a person to sit down with and help goal with each other.
A lot of it was just trying to impress. Everybody like my clients, the realtors, financial planners really try to impress me. One of the things that I spent a lot of the time focusing on with just having turnaround quick, working with lenders that had better efficiencies and lenders are quicker.
I remember having those days is a little bit gone. Three days and half hour approval. We can still see work with lenders and we can still see approval times of being 3 to 4 hours. I don’t know there were any real magic and bust my ass to try to bring in a new business and that was really about it.
Scott: That’s good. Actually now, I do have explicit rating on my podcast. I’m just kidding. I don’t. I’m not going to continue on that but that’s a very interesting idea to get coaching from a real estate coach so that you can then go and add value to those real estate relationships which is a different way to solve the problem. Last question is how important do you think the coach was in that first year of success?
Ron: I have that first coach for almost two years and like I said from the beginning, if I have a weakness in my business, I’ll hire out. Coaching has been important for the growth of my business. I always had a coach in some sort. I had my real estate coach for a little while and had actual mortgage coach for a little while and then I had a marketing coach for a little while and right now, I’m starting to look for an all-around business coach.
I just find that having that coach definitely, it open my eyes to just the simple things. What should be I doing with my day? How will I schedule my day? Who should be making phone calls to? And you start getting to the simple things like how many touches do I need to make before I have a lead and how many leads do I have to deal and that specific coach spend a lot of time on just tracking your past results to be able to know where your future is heading.
Scott: That’s good. It takes humility to hire coach because it says that, “Hey! I don’t know it all and I don’t know the best way to do everything and then you need to be able to listen to someone else’s input.” Good on you man for being willing to do it and obviously listen because lots of time I’m taking coaching but I don’t know if I’m always the best coached person because I know you’re saying it this way but I want to do it my way.
Ron: Yeah, right.
Scott: I should just listen; that’s what I’m learning from you. I need to listen better to people who are coaching me. Okay. I’m just going to move to the rapid fire question so you can answer in short answers if you like. So what is the number one thing holding back most mortgage brokers from being successful?
Ron: Obviously, themselves.
Scott: Right. What one thing–
Ron: Because one of the failures, I got another one fear failure. I get lot of people are scared to fail and so they just end up not doing anything at all.
Scott: What one thing or habit that has made you successful?
Ron: One thing or habit that made me successful, work ethic and knowing what I’m not good at.
Scott: Do you have an internet resource or software program, you use to make your business more successful?
Ron: I have a couple but my website obviously is the resource I have to work with but a software program is just really Outlook and just CRM program.
Scott: What do you use for CRM?
Ron: I’m actually right in the middle of actually changing, so I won’t comment on what I’m currently using.
Scott: Okay. That’s right. I’ll message you sometimes in a month or so to see what’s up.
Scott: If you could recommend a book for our listeners, what would it be?
Ron: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey.
Scott: That’s a good one. What do you think the industry’s heading? Where’s the opportunity?
Ron: I think we’re headed to a direction where there’s going to be more collaboration between brokers, lenders or more UAF brokers. I just find it over the last several years and struggle on who owns the clients. So I think we’re headed more in a direction where the lenders and brokers. They’re going to be working together and I think that the opportunity will be all of the sudden, your mortgage, you’re going to able to get more paid when you start seeing a lot more of these lenders that are coming out now with trailer model and different things like that.
Scott: That’s good. This is the last question; one of my favorites. Remember that it’s a DeLorean question. Remember the movie Back in the Future?
Scott: The DeLorean’s like how you travel in time. I could put you in the DeLorean and fire you back to five years ago when you started as a broker and you could sit down with yourself and say, “Ron, you do these three things so that your business is even bigger than it is today.” So what three things would you tell yourself?
Ron: Oh, man, that’s a tough one. I would say do a lot of things that I don’t, a lot of things that I’ve been doing really. I mean hire up the things that you’re good at like acknowledge what it is that you’re not good at and part of that is the coaching side of it. For a lot of people just hire somebody that can hold you accountable. If you can’t hold yourself accountable, I know that I’m not great at the holding myself accountable so I have people who can do it for me. That would be about it.
Scott: Okay. Cool man. I really appreciate your time. So where can people find you online?
Ron: They could find me on my website invispuremortgage.ca.
Scott: Are you guys hiring at all?
Ron: Am I which Scott?
Scott: Are you hiring?
Ron: Am I hiring? I will be, probably the next six months.
Scott: Yeah, okay cool. Ron, I really appreciate your time and for your input in this today. I hope you absolutely rock the rest of your year and thanks man so much.
Ron: Thanks a lot Scott.
[END OF RECORDING]
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]