By Dr. Ivan Misner & Ed Craine
Five Ways Your Friends, Family and Contacts Can Help You in A Slowing Market
As mortgage professionals, we’re being tested in more ways than one these days. Not only have many of our products disappeared, but many of our lenders have closed their doors, and to boot, we’ve taken quite a beating from the press. As a result, we’re now facing one of the most challenging and competitive markets in at least a decade. Suffice to say, that in today’s market, anytime someone asks us if there is anything they can do to help; we’d be prudent to take them up on their offer. But our friends, family and contacts can’t help us through this difficult time unless we tell them how.
Here are five ways that your friends, family and contacts can help you keep your business healthy in this stormy mortgage market.
1. Give Them An Easy Way To Send You Referrals.
Undoubtedly the single best assistance that someone could provide you with in today’s market is a qualified referral to a borrower who really needs your help. There are two very easy requests that you can make to anyone offering to help your business, in effort to earn more business.
You might ask your contacts to carry a small stack of your business cards with them, to hand out on your behalf. Similarly, you may consider asking your family or friends to send an email to their friends, businesses and associates with your name and number included. Both methods have the potential to earn you business during this difficult time, but unless your contacts know exactly how to provide you with referrals, they won’t think to do it.
2. Ask Them To Introduce You To People.
It’s highly unlikely that you know absolutely everyone that your contacts know. Even if you’re the best of friends, your friend is bound to know dozens of people that you’ve never met. Now consider that we all know that success in the mortgage industry is at least partly a numbers game. The more people you speak with, the better your odds of generating business.
So the next time you receive an offer of help from someone; ask them to introduce you to people you don’t know. Whether this means you attend a networking mixer that you’ve never gone to, or whether it’s something as simple as attending an after work cocktail party with your friends’ colleagues, be open to meeting as many people as possible. After all, the more people who you are able to meet, the larger your pool of prospects becomes.
3. Ask for Their Endorsement.
Your contacts can publicly endorse your products and services in several ways. You can ask them to write a testimonial about you, which you can then include in marketing campaigns, or add to your website. If they own a small business they can display your business cards or brochures on their counters or on a bulletin board. These acts of endorsements convey to patrons that you are a service provider or business person whom they trust. This paints a positive first impression in the minds of those who might grab your brochure, or business card.
4. Request Marketing Assistance.
Your contacts can help you distribute marketing materials. For instance, if you work in an office complex which also houses a restaurant where you regularly eat lunch, ask the manager if you might be able to put a coupon for a free appraisal in with the check folder that the servers drop off. Or if you have a friend on a school board, ask if you might place a coupon for a complimentary home valuation analysis report on their printed meeting agenda. If you happen to be so lucky as to work closely with a REALTOR®, ask if you might put an ad in their personal newsletter, or at the bottom of a marketing flier.
5. Ask For Help in PR Efforts
Again, keep in mind that you never know all of the people your contacts know. They may for example, know a reporter with a local business publication, who they could refer you to for input on timely mortgage articles. Or, you may be surprised to find that a cousin belongs to an association which publishes a newsletter, where you may be able to be featured in an article (or get a great deal on advertising!) The point is; you will never know unless you ask your contacts if they know of any PR avenues that you should pursue.
It is imperative to realize that you’ll need to make sure that anyone who offers to help you; knows exactly how they can help. It is also equally important that in kind, you’re willing to support your friends, families and contacts. To put it in simple terms; this venture is a two-way street. Reluctance to help others probably won’t get you a lot of help in return. On the other hand, helping others achieve their goals, should remind them to be on the lookout for opportunities to help you even more. This mutual help should strengthen existing relationships, and will likely forge new relationships as well.
Finally, make sure you reward anyone who sends a referral, offers to help you market, or helps you earn media coverage. This will encourage them to keep sending referrals your way. Keep in mind too, that you needn’t only reward your helpers with a monetary reward. The key is to find a personal way to say “Thank you.” You may opt to send your referral source a subscription to a magazine they enjoy. Or perhaps you may decide to provide them with a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant. You can even volunteer your time to help them with personal projects (everyone likes help moving!) Or, you may opt to volunteer for a cause or event important to them.
Don’t let the next opportunity for others to help pass you by! Being prepared with some practical, straightforward requests can make a real difference in the success of your business.
Ed Craine is CEO of San Francisco-based Smith Craine Finance, an award-winning mortgage brokerage. He was appointed vice president of the California Association of Mortgage Brokers in 2007 and also is an executive director for BNI. Contact Craine at (415) 406-2330 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Ivan Misner is a NewYork Times bestselling author; founder and chairman of BNI(www.bni.com); and founder and visionary behind the Referral Institute (www.referralintstitute.com). He can be reached at email@example.com.