All loan originators know that it’s critical they stay in touch with their past customers and others. Of course, you can do that with e-mails and direct mail.
However, personal calls can be even better. They not only offer a chance to catch up with customers, but also enable you to strengthen relationships and obtain referrals.
Some originators are hesitant to make calls, not necessarily because of call reluctance—being uncomfortable to talk on the phone—but rather because they are unsure of what to discuss. Or perhaps they simply rely on e-mails to communicate. “In our world of the Internet and texting, we tend to forget about our most important business tool, the phone,” said Amanda Sessa, SWBC Mortgage, Boulder, Colo.
Reasons to Call
There are some great opportunities to call customers, Realtors and others. For example:
Post Closing—An obvious reason to call is to follow up soon after customers close. “I like to check in after they have closed and see how things are going with their new home,” said Sessa. “It is a great time to ask for referrals and thank them for their business. It is also an excellent chance to catch up with clients on their new home, new marriage, new baby, retirement and so on. The Media Center, which is the database management tool we use, also has an excellent way of keeping notes on clients so when you call you have all their personal information in front of you.”
Respond to Mailers—Some originators make a point to call customers after sending them a mailer of some type. Norman Calvo and team send customers a letter and financial spreadsheets that compare their loan program/rate with the current marketplace. “We also make follow-up calls to make sure they understand the information and explain we’re looking out for their best interests,” said Calvo, Universal Mortgage, Brooklyn, NY. “This system has been extremely successful.”
Annual audits—One of the most effective calls involves the annual mortgage audit, enabling you to review the customer’s current loan and options. “I like to do an annual check-in with my clients via the telephone each year,” noted Sessa. “It is a difficult task to accomplish and I am not always successful at contacting all of them, but I make the effort nonetheless.”
You also can combine an initial mailer with a subsequent audit call. For instance, Amy Bonis, Hearthstone Mortgage (part of 1st Medallion Mortgage), Raleigh, NC, prepares a proprietary life planning document called DreamMaker that outlines the customer’s current loan status and their three- to five-year goals. “We then discuss this with clients when we do an annual review call,” Bonis said. “We call them once a year on their closing anniversary month. We may ask the client family to read a book or specific articles that may apply to their goals and family vision. Clients love the fact that we ask them about their lives and help them reach their dreams and goals. I believe this helps keep customers coming back to us.
Birthday Greetings—Most people appreciate being remembered at their birthday. Ed Naworol, SunTrust Mortgage, Bel Air, MD, combines sending birthday cards with $1 scratch-off tickets to past clients and a personal call. “I will call them on their birthdays, 365 days a year and on weekends,” he said. “If they aren’t there I will leave a message wishing them a happy birthday and at the end of the message saying ‘If you have family or friends thinking about buying or refinancing, have them call me.’ If I get a chance to wish them happy birthday on the phone, I will say the same thing. People are surprised when you call them on Christmas, another holiday or on the weekend. The latter (about 5 p.m.) is a good time to call because they are usually home, prior to going out for the evening. Making birthday calls is a personal touch that customers appreciate and reminds them that I’m here and available to help them, their friends and neighbors.”
A Few Tips
According to these and other loan originators, it is important to follow a few basic guidelines. *Maintain good notes on your previous customer contacts so that you can discuss their current loan, along with family and other personal information when you call.
- Make the call useful, rather than strictly commercial (asking for business). Always emphasize the benefit to the customer; for example that you are providing information that will save them money.
- Of course, you want to conclude the call by mentioning potential referrals, which should also appeal to their interests. For example: “I would like to offer the same level of service I have strived to provide you to a family member or friend. Do you know anyone I might assist?”
- Be sure to avoid contacting customers/others who have indicated they would rather not receive calls. (It’s a good idea to periodically survey them to see what they prefer.)
- Make the calls brief. Keep your audience attentive by highlighting the key message and asking if they have any questions or special requests.
E-mails are definitely an efficient way to communicate with your customers. However, continue to look for ways to have a personal conversation; thereby enhancing your relationships and also developing new business.
David Robinson is associate editor of Broker Banker.