Sarah is one of the most innovative mortgage brokers I have ever met. She shares some of what it takes to build a killer brand. Her ability to communicate a unique brand is amazing. You have to check out what she is doing at mintmortgage.me.
Years as a Broker: 6 years
Brokerage: The Mortgage Group
Team: 6 licensed, 1 unlicensed
- Focus on what makes it easier for the customer
- She shares how everything your business cards, your office design, or even your voicemail can help build your brand
- Communication is key. Figure out ways to make communication easier for your client and your team
Mint Mortgage Business Cards
ADVICE FOR NEW BROKERS
1. Don’t do things to just do them. Be purposeful in everything you do.
2. Align yourself with like minded people.
3. Measure yourself by how you’ve touched others lives instead of how much volume you are doing.
Male Speaker: I Love Mortgage Brokering episode 49.
Want to rock your mortgage business? Then, crank up the volume with your host, Scott Peckford on I Love Mortgage Brokering.
Scott Peckford: Hi broker nation, I’m thrilled to introduce our guest, Sarah Schiess. Sarah is a mortgage broker with TMG Mint Mortgage. She’s based at Saskatoon, she’s been a broker for six years and her ability to market and communicate her brand is ridiculous. Actually, that’s how I found her. I absolutely love all of the stuff that she creates online and I’m stoked about this interview today.
[START OF INTERVIEW]
Scott: Sarah, are you ready to rock?
Sarah Schiess: I am ready Scott. Thank you.
Scott: Awesome. So before we get into talking about the brand and how to communicate it, I want to just find about you, so can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sarah: Sure, yes. So, like you said I began a broker about six years ago and really found that I loved it and got right into it and soon after that, I found that I have a whole lot more inside of me that needed to come out. So, we got together and put together a team and Mint Mortgage was born about a year and a half, two years ago, and we’ve been working on that ever since and that’s been my baby and I think what we’re going to talk about today.
Scott: And so, where did you come from before the mortgage business, because no one comes out of kindergarten and says I want to be a mortgage broker. So, what was your path to the mortgage business?
Sarah: Except my kid now. Yeah, my path, I worked for Scotiabank and while I was working for the bank, I was also a bar tender and Scotiabank gave me a lot of what I needed to be successful in the broker world but if I had to draw any experience, I probably say the bartending did more for me than the bank stuff. Then, I went through the range in bank and knew that’s not what I wanted to do and had made some connections in a broker world with my position there and when I had my fourth child that was when I decided to go full time, brokering.
Scott: Right. So, you went from bartender to banker, to broker, so it’s all the BBB. That’s awesome.
Sarah: That’s right, yup.
Scott: Okay. So before we dive into your story more, I’d like to ask what a success quote. I love how quotes take an idea distilled in to something that’s portable and that you can memorable. So, can you share a quote that’s really had an impact on you?
Sarah: My favorite quotes and one that I’d like to live by is, “You don’t have to be ill to get better.”
Scott: And that’s an awesome quote, “You don’t have to be ill to get better.” So, can you give me an example of how you have applied that to your business recently?
Sarah: It’s just a thing that we always do. I don’t know if I can be specific with it other than every day, just challenge ourselves and look at what we’re doing, and understand that even though it’s pretty cool, we can make it better, and how do we improve in all ways, how we talk to people, how we interact with industry partners, with our clients, with each other, and then every day, just challenge ourselves all around to continue to grow and to be better at what we do.
Scott: Right. So, I’m going to push you a little bit on this, but can you give me something that you, recently, maybe that was working okay but you made it better that –
Sarah: Yeah, sure. I’m trying to give how to word this without going into too much boring specific details. One of our initiatives for 2015 that we decided to go with as a team and we were looking for different ways to use business to help solve or help ease some social issues in our area. We’ve come up with numerous ideas and had settled on one and we’re all really excited about it, and we thought that it was great and there was really nothing wrong but then it was good.
But as we went on with it, we kept challenging ourselves and said, “It would be cool if we did this,” and then it eventually morphed into something that was completely different and far superior than what we had previously and what we have started out with, was really pretty cool but challenging ourselves to continue and grow with it made into something that we’re going to be super proud of when it does come out, and knowing that when it does, we’re not just going to set it and forget it, we’re going to continue to look at it and continue to evaluate how it’s working and what we’re also doing and be open to being able to change it without thinking that it would be fairly hard to begin with.
Scott: Right. Yeah, you’re never done and it’s never there, you’re always trying to push the envelope and make it better, easier, and more clear or whatever, if it’s communication. I know another thing that’s happened, as a mortgage broker business owner, I’m sure this happened to you but failure does happen. It’s not fatal but when you look back, there’s always a lesson in the failure. So, can you share an example of something that you’ve failed at but looking back, there is a lesson for you?
Sarah: Sure. Well, speaking from a brokerage’s point of view and managing a brand, I would say that one of the things that I really failed at was figuring out what I’m good at, what our clients wanted, and how to roll with that, and instead, to start of looking at the existing model and what I thought I was supposed to do. And I think a big part of that was, all I need to find and also need a fantastic location or physical office needs to look beautiful and willing to have all the best and coolest things and I need to bring on all of these people, so that we can a huge team and have big volumes and sort of got into that game. And I’ve realized that after I was able to rule that in my own way of doing things come out and really listen to our customers, I realized that probably should’ve done a lot better.
All the money that we’ve poured into the building and into the physical office have been put to a lot better use and building a team or building my business by just adding a bunch of people, really, I don’t think was a way to go for us. And I learned that and keep that in mind as we’re going ahead and as we decide where we’re going to put signs and what we’re going to look like one to five or ten years from now.
Scott: Yeah, that’s a good advice. I’m a type of person who likes to – you sound the same way like to innovate and come up with new ways to do things, and sometimes, there’s things can learn from the old model but you also have to pour yourself into it, but when you do, it may not look like the old model and that’s okay.
Scott: Yeah, and I love what you’re doing with Mint Mortgage and I’m showing my wife the other day, I’m like, “Check this out, this is so sweet! Look at their business cards, they’re ridiculous.” Somebody with like a hose and…
Sarah: I love our business cards.
Scott: Your business cards are killer. They’re awesome. So, maybe send me a picture or a couple of links where I can share so other people can get inspired because they’re so unique. I currently don’t even have business cards, but I want them now that I’ve seen yours. I have business card envy.
Sarah: We had a lot of fun putting those together. Conrad is one of my favorite and he called me up, it was late at night, and he told me what he was going to put on his and I was like, “Oh, crap, I may have to come up with something super good now.”
Scott: You’re trying to win up each other.
Sarah: Yeah, but we had a lot of fun with it.
Scott: That’s awesome. So, I’ve also noticed talking to successful brokers, they have systems and processes and I think we’re going to talk more about on the brand side of it. So, can you share an example of administrative process or something that wasn’t working as well as you’d like and then tweak that you made in the outcome you’ve got.
Sarah: Yes, absolutely. So, I noticed that communication, in order to have a successful team, that communication is going to be the key and that started the old ways of doing things weren’t really cutting it. And so, we created a very simple internet that we used to communicate here in our group. We called it our ‘water cooler’ and that really helps communication. Again, going back to the challenging ourselves to be better, we work to figure out how we can better serve our customers if we can communicate well and to make the end result, the user results, for our customers better and something that’s enjoyable. So, we also are completely paperless now, I should say, online but completely paperless, and communication system that we have set up with our paperless system allows us to be able to mostly interact with the customers and give them the best experience possible. So, instead of – one of the challenges when you’re an individual broker is that it’s you, whether you got somebody to cover your desktop or not, it’s just you versus when somebody goes to a bank, they can walk in and you know if your personal bank or if there’s going to be somebody else can cover of for them and step in and see what’s that about. So we created a better communication system here for us to be able to do that as well, so that client can call, come in and be looked after, without having to worry about tracking their own file or an individual broker and that’s something that we’ve been working forward on this past year.
Scott: That’s a really cool initiative and I could see that’s great. I recently went and bought a cell phone and I just realized how awful the cell phone buying process is. It takes a couple of hours and you’re messing around and then you’ve got a fight with them about – and I wonder though, because it’s – I wonder if the mortgage process is a lot of like that for people where it’s, how do we make it less frustrating, how do we put ourselves in their shoes sometimes because we forget, right?
Sarah: Did you go to camp?
Scott: I do not make it this year, no.
Sarah: They had an interesting stat. I forget what the percentage was but the number of people that would rather go and get a root canal than apply for mortgage, than go through in getting a mortgage and it was outstanding, that number. So, clearly, no matter how easy we think we’re making it, it is a different perception out there, and that’s the one that we have to listen to.
Scott: Yeah and the process is definitely a little bit broken. I’ve been thinking about that too. So, awesome, that’s great insights on that process. And now I’m going to switch gears to marketing and sales and I know that this is another area you’re very strong at. So, can you share an example of an area in your business that you’re doing some marketing or sales and maybe it wasn’t working as well as you’d like and then a tweak that you made and the outcome you got?
Sarah: Yeah. I think consistency there is the key. We were doing a lot of different things and draw stuff at the wall to see what would work and all of us, “Do this, let’s try that.” That’s going to be the goal with each people and see what they can do and I see what they can do. And instead, we created solid partnerships and consistency across all fronts so that whenever anybody encountered or talk to somebody or sees are web presence, calls in, sees one of our business cards, our customer loyalty programs, anything like that, the contest we run, they’re all very consistent and their experience is the same across the board and that was huge.
I never would have guessed how much people noticed it whether they’re aware of it or not, but how many people noticed it and comment on it, and the result was a growth in business where some people would say, “Oh well, we saw your business card and then I saw your commercial, and then I called your line,” and will get people calling our 1-888 number and hanging up and calling back just because they like the message and they want to hear it again. And when they see that it’s consistent across the board like that, they can sense that it’s authentic, that we’re genuine, and I mean it comes with finding what you love and what you need and rolling with it.
And that’s, like I said, has resulted in a huge change in a way we do this year, and I guess that goes back to the failure. The bigger you are and the more independent people you have, they come on board and it becomes more difficult to provide that consistent experience, that’s why we’re looking at different ways to make sure that that’s happened and communication and consistency is the key in that, and people notice for sure.
Scott: As soon as we’re done this call, I’m phoning your 1-800 number and I’m going to listen to this message because you’re like–
Sarah: Do you have another line? Do you want to call it right now?
Scott: No, I don’t know how to do that, but I want to hear it.
Scott: So, people listen to this, you’re probably going to get this. When this interview goes live, you’re probably going to get
spiking calls from all over the place.
Sarah: Yeah, that’s cool.
Scott: From mortgage brokers going, “What is she doing over there?”
Sarah: Yeah, no, I would love that. Call us, hit us up @highatmidmortgage.me and try us out.
Scott: Okay, that’s awesome. And so, I’m going to switch a little bit to diversifying. So, another area that I’ve noticed talking to successful brokers, there’s these kind of two camps forming, the need to diversify your income, they say, “Yes, you should get share a wallet,” and you got the client’s attention. Another camp says, “No, focus on brokering.” I just want to know where you fell and then if you are looking at diversifying, what area are you focusing on?
Sarah: What I’m looking at diversifying at all, one of the huge inspirations that I’ve drawn from is David and Goliath, that book by Malcolm Gladwell; and he talks a lot in there about fighting Goliath on his own terms and going toe to toe, fist to fist with Goliath. Well we do this every time. And if you start adding, and adding, and adding, my view point is that you’re going toe to toe with Goliath which would be the banks in this case.
So, what we’ve tried to do with the group is I diversify what our slingshots and our blocks are as brokers, what are our assets and we feel that those assets are a bit more small, we can be creative, we can innovate and we can then implement that innovation to response to the market very, very quickly.
So, our slingshots are stones, so that we can stay ahead of the curve and not be bogged down with all of the stuff that comes with being a Goliath, tying yourself to program that would have – like proprietary program, you have to change and maintain and administer or at other areas of business, be it the insurance or whatever it is, credit cards, investments, any of that sort of stuff. It comes with their own unique set of issues and it makes it very, very difficult to turn on a dime, and to innovate and to change and grow and try new things and respond to what your customers want. And at the end of day, your costumers want that huge thing, that huge feed, chances are, if you go up against Goliath and not what they’re looking for, you’ll lose anyway.
Scott: Right, yeah. You don’t have to fight the battle the way that they want to.
Sarah: Sure, yeah, change the game a little bit.
Scott: So, how do you balance? You’ve got obviously your personal mortgage practice, you’ve got your company that you’re growing, Mint Mortgage, and then you’ve got family, and so how do you balance all of these things together? How are you doing that?
Sarah: Prioritize and just tons and tons of hard work, so figure out what I need to get done in a day and make sure that those things at the top of the list gets done. What I also started doing comes out, I don’t know a year and a half or two years ago, I’ve got a cut-off time for when time I’m no long a broker and I’m just a mom, and a wife, or a friend, and I keep my weekends and my evenings for that. I’ve been very lucky, of course, when you start and you’re on your own and that’s a very, very difficult thing to do but I found that I’m dropping some balls, you can’t keep them all in the air.
So, I figured out what my priorities were, what I wanted to focus on, and then I try to accept that some of the other stuff was going to fall by the way so I’ve put out things that I used to do, I’m now not able to do and I can sort of nostalgic about it and remember those things that I used to do. But to get the important stuff done, identify it and prioritized and set aside specific time and knowing that it will be hard and that you’re going to want to check your phone and you want to check your email, but actually, you’ve got a little bit with them.
When I was at camp, a friend of mine was quoting another broker that told him there’s no such thing as a mortgage emergency and that really is true. Something can wait a few hours until the kids get into bed.
Scott: Right, yeah, that’s a good advice. There almost needs to be a calendar coach, somebody who – because I know the biggest thing that I struggle with – one of the things I struggle with, anyway, is just managing that time, time blocking, and you almost need somebody who can coach you and will keep you accountable on sticking to your calendar because if you just did that, most of us know what we need to put in our calendar on a weekly basis. It’s just how do we make sure we actually do the things we said we’re going to do because if we do those things…
Sarah: How to target that?
Scott: Yeah, and then somebody checking on you going, “Hey did you do it?” and you’re like, “No, I got distracted.” So anyway, I’m going to Google, Google calendar coach and see if there’s anything…
Sarah: Yeah, time block.
Scott: Time blocking, yeah.
Sarah: Yeah, set aside specific time while you’re working, whether you’re working from home and when you’re in your office, set aside work hours and differentiate, I guess, is what I’ve come to realize that I need to do and that’s how I’ve done it and I’m not going to lie. I also keep one eye on the phone, well I shouldn’t say always, but often. It’s like I’m getting a text or a call, or can I take a peek at it and if it’s somebody from the team that needs me or something like that, I’ll take a second to respond. But for the most part, there are no real emergencies.
Sarah: If it’s 10 o’clock in the morning and those people are putting their offer in, that’s the most important thing in their universe right at that moment, and they need you. In their world, they need you. And if you care about them, it’s tough not do that, “I’m here for you. I got your back.” while you’re helping and watching them all by themselves.
Scott: Great, that’s awesome. Okay so I’m going to move here with rapid fire questions. You’re going to answer these with shorter answers if you like. So, what’s the number one thing holding back most mortgage brokers from being successful?
Sarah: I would say themselves. They’re getting in their own way, how we define success for ourselves and to a degree with this industry, tend to define success by volumes and if you’re not doing that, we tend to feel that we’re not successful and I don’t think that’s the best case butt you’re following your passion and doing what makes you happy should be a measure of success.
Scott: So, what one thing or habit that you think made you successful?
Sarah: Learning not to care what other people think, when just to follow myself. I had this little mini universe inside that wanted to get out and I was trying to restrain it with suites and big words and flyers and that sort of thing, and just let that go with myself and I guess, yeah, following what I believed in.
Scott: Right, that’s good. I had this Scottish coach once tell me that his grandfather used to say, “What other people think of you is none of your business,” and I love that. I can’t do a really good Scottish accent but I just love that idea that we sometimes get too hung up on what other people’s opinions of us when we should just follow our heart and do what we think is the right thing.
Sarah: Do what you want to do. And a side bar to that, I would agree completely with your Scottish grandfather, right, you said?
Sarah: I would agree completely with him but I would also add to that, that people are not thinking about us anywhere near as much as we think they are. Other people, in large part, don’t really care. They got their own stuff going on.
Scott: Yeah, that’s true. So, what internet resources or software program you use to make your business more successful?
Sarah: Google, is that an answer?
Scott: That’s an answer.
Sarah: Yeah, I would say we’ve really learned over this past year to draw on any and all sorts of technologies. More than anything, we Google to find out how to do things, how things work, look at reviews and things like that, but in terms of stuff that we use in the office, our primary programs right now that we’re dealing with are Basecamp, we’ve got our ‘Mint Water Cooler’ internet that I was talking about would be essential for us all, and then a bunch of just smaller apps that we’ve played with and that worked together.
Scott: So, where do you think the industry is headed? Where is the opportunity?
Sarah: The opportunity is communications, innovations. I think the industry is going forward. We’re going to see a really cool mix of mixing the human experience with technology and flooding a completely unique but superior experience for clients who are – demanding that from even the smallest service providers, and I think the real key to going forward is to going to communicate in a best way possible, who’s going to listen and who’s going to provide.
Scott: Right. And so this is the last question, one of my favorite, the DeLorean. Remember the movie ‘Back to the Future’?
Scott: And so, as the DeLorean, you get in the car and you could travel in time, so if I could set the time for six years ago, and you could sit down with yourself and give yourself three pieces of advice so that Mint Mortgage would be bigger and better today, what three things would you tell yourself?
Sarah: I’m thinking about this and all I – I would only just have one piece of advice, just breathe and relax.
Scott: You don’t need three? You just sit down and tell yourself, “breathe”. And then younger self would say, what am I supposed to do with that?”
Sarah: I don’t know. Again, I’m speaking from personal experience, so my younger self had a million things in my head, “Got to do this, got to do this, got to do this, got to do this, got to do this.” And I think I would’ve just said, “Just relax. Just be who you are and it will be okay. Just follow that.” Actually, I’m going to add a second one, “Work your ass of, work super, super hard.”
Scott: Okay. You just got me an explicit rating, just so you know, just kidding.
Sarah: Did I? Can you believe it?
Scott: No, that’s fine.
Sarah: Wait, I have to start it again. Work your – there you go. Is that better?
Scott: Sarah, where can people find you online?
Sarah: They can find Mint online at www.mintmortgage.me
Scott: And are you guys hiring?
Sarah: We are always looking to talk to like-minded people. We don’t have any ASAP or anything but we always love to connect with people.
Scott: Awesome. Well, anybody listening can get the links to Sarah, to her website, I’m also going to try to get her hit up for some pictures of her business cards so you can check those out. And Sarah, I really appreciate this interview and I hope you continue to rock the rest of this year and next year and keep crushing the branding.
Sarah: Back at you. I think what you’re doing is awesome, and I love it, so I wish you all the best and then the year to come too.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
Scott: Hey broker agents, Scott Peckford here. Have you joined our VIP Cup for mortgage Brokers yet, if not, you’re missing out. We share exclusive content not available on the web or the show. We share scripts, step-by-step guides, and other insider tips to help you save time in making more money. I can’t tell you how many times, after I turn off the recorder, and get started sharing some awesome advice or a script or a tip and I take the best of these 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 exclusively for mortgage brokers, there is a skill testing question. Good luck and I hope you continue to rock your mortgage biz.
[END OF RECORDING]