This post originally appeared in the Scotsman Guide.
While the temperatures may still be hot, mortgage professionals have been feeling the heat for months. Whether it’s new construction, first-time homebuyers becoming first-time homeowners, refinance opportunities or rate cuts, the selling season is in full effect, bringing with it a high volume of business to lenders. Let’s face it, no one likes to be overwhelmingly busy or overworked– and truthfully, no one has to be.
As mortgage professionals are making their way through the busy season, there are some things they should be keep top of mind to help them successfully manage a high volume of work. Here are ten tips to survive and thrive during your busiest season.
Put Trust in Your Team
This is the most essential element of staying successful during a busy season. Trust your team and let everyone do their jobs – let the processors process and let the underwriters underwrite. Trust each person to do their own job and give them the freedom and resources to do so.
Making sure everyone has the most complete files will help them do their job quickly and easily, and minimizes any back and forth that might happen when employees don’t have the right resources. Giving them all the information cuts down on any questions and helps everyone do their job quickly and independently.
It also is key to respect that each processor and each underwriter may be working on loans for other loan officers. Respect their time, trust that they are doing all they can, and let them get their job done.
Set Expectations with Your Customers
While you are the one working to get them a loan, it is important for customers to understand that their involvement also is crucial in ensuring the origination process runs smoothly. Be sure to inform customers that their ability to submit documents and respond to messages in a timely manner can be key in moving the process along.
Be sure to also make yourself available to them to answer any questions, so that uncertainty does not slow you down. Ultimately, if customers are dragging their feet, they’ll end up dragging you down. As long as they know their role upfront, customers can help tremendously in keeping everything moving efficiently during busy season.
This one seems like an obvious one, but do not wait until the last minute to order appraisals, credit reports, title work or anything else you need. Be proactive and order the appropriate documents and reports as soon as you know you need them. This will help speed up the process and defend against any unforeseen delays that might pop up. When you create that buffer of extra time, you are not only protecting your workload and your own sanity, but you’re also protecting the customer from any setbacks.
When the season is busy for you, it is also busy for everyone else. Be sure to respect everyone else’s time and order in a timely manner.
It’s Okay to Say “No”
This one also seems simple, but it can be difficult, especially during busy times. Remember that it is okay to say “No”. If you do not have the capacity to take on a new loan, do not take it. Although you will want to help as many customers as you can, taking on too many will only slow you down and affect other customers, as well as potentially damage your reputation and relationships.
This does not necessarily mean you have to turn business away. If you do not have capacity, refer that customer to a newer loan officer that may not have as full a pipeline. This way, everyone wins.
It also is important to say “No” to demanding relationships. For example, there might be a real estate agent that takes up too much of your time or expects too much when you are busy. There is nothing wrong with removing yourself from relationships that are complicated or not working well. Just be sure that you are bowing out gracefully and doing so for the right reasons. Simply put, you can’t say “No” to taking on customers from certain sides of town or certain zip codes. If you choose not to take on any new customers, despite residential location, demographic, creditworthiness and so on, then that’s a choice you have the ability to make. Please always seek counsel if you find yourself confused or in a gray area.
Take Care of Yourself
When you are handling an especially high volume of customers, it is easy to forget about yourself. During your busy season – and any other season – make sure you are getting adequate sleep and taking care of yourself through a good diet and exercise. Be sure to make time for things that refresh you and fill you up. This helps defend against burnout. You have to be your best to do your best work.
Delegate Administrative Tasks
As much as you’d like to think you are superhuman, you cannot do it all. There are certain administrative tasks that you can hand off or schedule in advance to help free up your valuable time to do the more important tasks on your list.
There are online services like Fiverr that help any business professional outsource their administrative work. Consulting services like this one to help create spreadsheets, enter data or complete other tasks also can help free up a significant amount of time to help you handle your busy season.
When it comes to social media, using a tool like Hootsuite helps you bring all your social media accounts together in one place and schedule posts in advance. This frees up more time in your day to get work done, without sacrificing your presence on social media.
Finally, do not be afraid to repurpose content. Many times, its unnecessary to reinvent the wheel when you know you already have something that works and is effective. Do not hesitate to repurpose blog content or social posts if it helps you save time. The key to busy season is working smarter, not harder.
Start Your Day Early
A huge challenge to productivity is distractions. Especially when things are busy, consider stating your day early. You are less likely to get as many phone calls or have as many interruptions. Earlier in the morning, there are generally less people in the office, meaning less drop-ins and more time to complete tasks, uninterrupted. Starting early can help you knock out big tasks before you start getting calls and emails that can drain your attention and zap your energy.
Most people are at their best at the start of the day when their mind is clear and before any distractions have had a chance to creep in. Start early when your body and mind are well-rested, and you will be able to think more clearly and be more productive.
Focus on the Task at Hand
There are plenty of other ways to eliminate distractions. One of the best ways is to turn off phone notifications. Every single time an email pop-up or a notification dings on your phone, you get distracted, and that small alert has taken you away from the task at hand.
Work-related or not, turn off notifications. That email will still be there in 20 minutes and the Facebook notification is not going anywhere. Set aside time in the day for checking emails and other notifications and do not worry about them when working on other tasks. Finish the work in front of you and then check them. It is surprising how much originators can accomplish when they eliminate the small distractions.
Celebrate Short-Term Wins
Looking at a long to-do list can be discouraging. Instead of reflecting on all the things you must do, take some time to look back on all the things you have done. Thinking about your accomplishments can help give you new energy for the long list of things you need to accomplish.
It also is important to think of how the work you have done has helped others. This also can help fuel your enthusiasm for the work you have left to do for others.
Thankfully, it will not always be busy season. It’s key that you keep prospecting no matter what time of year it is. Though things might be busy now, they will slow down eventually. Keep cultivating your pipeline so that you can stay busy even when it’s not busy season.
Creating Good Habits Promotes Success Year-Round
Each of these tips are important to keep in mind during busier times, but they should not be forgotten during slower times. Keeping efficiency in mind year-round only will help make your business stronger. Each of these ten ways to survive in the busy season are ways to thrive during the remainder of the year.
Putting some of these ideas into practice before the busy season hits also can help with managing your workload when work starts to pick up again. Creating good habits now will help you later.