The Time Dilemma (and how to solve it)

One of the biggest challenges mortgage originators face is getting “sucked” into the administrative side of closing their deals.  When this happens there is a HUGE cost.

The cost of course is the opportunity to be out in the field, building new referral source relationships and “shaking the trees” to bring in leads.  This is the crucial activity that translates into closed loans and ultimately the reason why you’re in this crazy business: money.

It’s quite the conundrum, isn’t it?  You prospect for business, get the business, then spend all your time servicing the business in order to close on time maintain your referral source relationships; but while you’re spending time servicing the business, you stop prospecting for new deals and your next 2 months of income look like a big fat goose egg.

How the hell do you get off this never-ending roller coaster and still manage to have a life?

Lots of alcohol.  Just kidding.  Well, kind of.

The answer boils down to 3 things: a lead generation system; a “time-blocking” system; and discipline.  By combining these 3 elements, you can effectively drive in leads while servicing the active business and create consistency.  Let’s break it down.

Lead Generation Systems

There are lots of different lead generation sources.  Realtors, builders, bankers, financial planners, networking events, past clients just to name a few.

The first thing is to decide what lead generation sources you’re going to target and then create a plan to capture and generate referrals from them.  I’m a HUGE fan of creating “theme days” where you identify a different business development activity for each day of the week so you don’t get burned out from one single activity.

The key to effective lead generation systems is that they’re always running. If you stop cultivating relationships with your referral sources while you’re servicing active deals, in many cases you’ll need to start from scratch because you’re going to lose the relationship. Trust is built through consistency.

Make lead generation the first appointment of your day, everyday, and leverage time-blocking to ensure that you give yourself the time to do develop business AND service deals.

Time-blocking

This is a simple time-management system whereby you block out chunks of time in your schedule to do certain tasks.  I recommend creating an ideal week that is broken down into generic chunks of time for each part of your business.  Then create specific tasks during those time blocks that focus on the necessary actions to both generate leads and service the loans to get them closed.

For example, you could create a time block where from 9 – 10:30 each morning (M – F) you focus solely on lead generation relationships.  You’re prospecting realtors, or calling past clients, or setting up “lunch and learns” for realtor offices, etc…

Now, to make this time-block effective, you need to be in a distraction-free environment.  You need to turn off your cell phone.  You need to close your email.

If you don’t take measures that will keep you focused, you’re toast.  So get serious about your time blocks, commit to them, and be productive during the time you spend.

Next, you could set aside 11 – 1:30 for meeting realtor partners for coffee and lunch.

Next, you could set aside 2 – 5 to service business.  This is where you’re collecting docs, checking in with your loan processor, interacting with clients if need be and doing anything else necessary to move your loans through the system and close.

The above are 3 simple time blocks you could put into place that would offer you focused time to do the necessary things required to run a consistent, reliable and predictable mortgage business.

Discipline

I have coaching clients that tell me time-blocking doesn’t work.  Really?  I call bullsh*t on that.  Why?  Because I did it and I have plenty of clients that it works for.

The reason time-blocking fails for some originators is because they lack the discipline to operate inside of their time blocks.  This lack of discipline is normally a result of forming unproductive habits from 5, 10, or 20 years of working inefficiently.

If the discipline to operate inside your time blocks is challenging for you, then consider these options:

Option 1: Find an accountability partner.  Find someone in your company or your life willing to play the accountability game with you.  How do you play?  Simple.  Create your time blocks and then set up a daily or weekly call with your partner.  Then, put something BIG on the line that is meaningful to you if you fail to keep your time integrity.

For example, one of my coaching clients puts $1,000 on the line every week.  If he doesn’t keep his schedule, he has to donate $1,000 to a charity of his accountability partner’s choice.

Option 2: Hire a coach. One of the benefits of coaching is that they can see where you’re stuck or falling short or what gets in the way.  Personally, helping my clients re-organize their time and figure out how to fit it all in is one of the biggest ways I bring value to the coaching relationship.

Try creating a “theme day” business development schedule and implementing time blocks into your schedule.  Be sure to bring accountability to the process and be patient with yourself: you’re trying to change years of bad time-management habits, and that could take some time to get used to.

Oh, and what about alcohol?  Well, one of the ways I efficiently connected with my realtor referral partners was by doing a monthly happy hour and inviting all of them to the one event.  The booze was on me, but in that environment I got to interact with my clients outside the deal and really built sound friendships that evolved into loyal referral partners.

Alcohol + realtor partners = loyalty.  I likely won’t win a nobel prize for this formula but it definitely put a lot of money in my pocket.

What about you?  How do you manage your time?  I’d love to hear your ideas in the blog comments.

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