It is Not About the Money
Focusing on how much money you want to make is no guarantee for success. In fact, over the long term it may impede your success. You may be reading this and saying, “Hang on, I thought it was recommended to have a direct income-related goal?!” and you would be correct.
That goal was based on extrapolating what had been accomplished in the previous seven months and building upon it to achieve maximum efficiency. That income figure was not the basis for becoming a Broker.
A vital point to make is that on a file-by-file basis, I never let the specific commission enter the picture; I never once pre-calculated what I would be paid on a file. I also never wavered from pre-paying for all of my clients’ appraisals from day one (in my market 99% of direct lender competition will do the same). I never let on to clients that my life was as financially tight as it was. My issues are just that—my issues. Clients have their own issues, and their issues are all that matter.
Another distinction is that income is just one way to keep score. However, the primary goal from which my 2009 target number flowed was to end the year with 80 satisfied clients, 80 raving fans in fact. Scrolling back through the list of 2009’s 108 clients, I can say “mission accomplished” as 99 of them have since referred a new client or returned with additional business of their own. A 90% “retention rate.” Of course we would all like 100% of our clients to either refer or return to us, but 90% is a figure on which one can build a successful career and business.
Focus on Client Solutions
The highest priority of any business should be to provide a service that people need. To provide solutions to existing problems. People will want to work with you personally only if you are an informed and trustworthy solution. The resulting income is simply a by-product of that trust.
One of my favourite lines from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why says, “I’m better today than I was six months ago, and I know that six months from now I’ll be better than I am today.” At least once a week since reading it, that quote goes through my mind. I used this as a tagline on my email campaigns. It was an overt apology. It said, “If I’ve done something wrong, I’m sorry, but I’m trying to improve and I hope never to make the same mistake twice.” It was also an open statement of my mission for steady improvement and an acknowledgement that I will never stop trying to improve at all that I do. Learning and improving are my “why.”
In a presentation to fellow Brokers, I presented a slide with two pictures: in the first is an X-ray of the human skull full of dollar signs with the caption “solutions for yourself,” and in the second an X-ray of a human skull full of gears, its caption reads “solutions for your client.” This is a vital distinction
to make about your motivations. You will build a long-term viable business on clients that you solved problems for, not on commission checks. The people are the core, not the dollars.
I have assisted clients with returning to their current lender, with plans that result in zero income. In fact, I have worked with clients whose transactions have cost me hundreds, sometimes thousands, to complete.
Focus on winning the client, not the commission.
As the professional in the equation, ensure that things end as you said they would from the start. Transactions must conclude for your clients exactly as the clients expected. One benefit to this business is that errors on the Broker’s part are almost always of a financial nature and the Broker has a
window of opportunity to make it right simply by writing a check, sometimes to the client, other times to the lawyer or the lender without the client even being aware that you did so. Fixing a problem quietly in the background, even one that costs you more than your commission to complete the file, is almost always the best way to handle a problem when possible.
When you tell a client about a problem, even one you are going to fi x, or worse still, you go into the detail of what it is going to “cost you” to simply deliver what you said you would originally, you risk losing more than the commission, you risk losing the client.
Many things in this business can change or shift overnight: interest rates, policies, and procedures. Attempts to explain such shifts that have a negative impact on the client will only be met with frustration. Explanations accompanied by a story about how you are going to write the cheque to make it right are to be avoided at all times. Simply take care of the problem internally such that the client’s experience is smooth from start to finish.