Superstar Profile: Sam Rosenblatt Achieves Long-Term Success
Sam Rosenblatt took extra time to decide on a permanent career, one that would be financially rewarding as well as help others.
After graduation from the University of Maryland in 1993 and a European backpack trip, he briefly sold nuts and bolts, watches, and then scaffolding equipment, before considering law school.
Rosenblatt decided to enter the mortgage business in 1995 after seeing an ad for a loan originator position at a small subprime lender. “In my second month I set a company record,” Rosenblatt said.
He has been striving for greater production ever since and last year did 258 loans and $73.6 million for Academy Mortgage Corporation in Glen Burnie, Maryland
As with so many other originators, Rosenblatt didn’t receive much initial training. He was handed a call sheet and told to follow up with people who had responded to telemarketing queries. “I was calling the leads that had been generated by telemarketers and mailers,” he said. “It was tedious, but this helped refine my selling skills; enabling me to recognize ‘buy’ signs and deal with objections, for example.”
He subsequently moved to Greentree Mortgage (1996-2010) and continued with telemarketing and mailer follow up, home improvement financing, and other marketing activity. “I had a breakout year in 2003 and then the 2004-5 refi boom helped set me on the path for client repeat and referral business,” he said.
He added that being an originator, rather than a company owner during the refi boom had a major impact on his future success. “Many of my colleagues had started their own brokerage during this time but I wanted to remain an originator so that I could take advantage of as much business as possible, thereby establishing an expanding business base,” he explained. “Meanwhile, they had to focus much of their energy on managing the firm. I worked seven days a week during this time and did more than 1,000 loans, creating a pipeline that continues to pay off.”
As his business grew, Rosenblatt tested various marketing strategies, including a print newsletter that was effective but expensive. After joining Academy Mortgage in 2010, his marketing program continued to evolve. It currently consists of:
*Postcard Campaign—Academy Mortgage sends customers postcards on anniversaries and birthdays and for quarterly market updates.
*E-mail—Customers receive frequent updates on new loan programs, market conditions and other topics.
*Advertising—Rosenblatt places ads in select local publications.
*Community Involvement—He supports school programs, including athletic events and other activities.
“My most effective marketing is a combination of all the elements, including e-mail, postcards and advertising,” Rosenblatt said. “I’ve created a system that has helped brand me in the market; whereby people think they see my name everywhere. I could probably do more marketing, but I’ve usually been too busy to deal with any additional leads. That’s one reason why I hired an assistant to help with the marketing follow-up.”
He also places a major focus on referral business. “I believe in the spokes of a wheel concept,” he said. “That means you have clients in the middle and everyone has the potential of referring you business, from family, friends, coworkers, and their CPA and financial planner. Every one of these spokes can lead to more business.”
Rosenblatt emphasized what other top producers have said—there is no marketing secret that ensures success. “All top producers have a similar approach; there is no mystery to this.”
For his first 15 years as an originator, the majority of Rosenblatt’s business was refinances. However, he realized the need to expand his purchase volume. “Obviously, we all know that refinance business eventually dries up for various periods and I wanted to be more purchase driven. It was clear that what I needed was to be associated with a company that offered in-house operations; where I could talk to the underwriter and closer in my office, to help ensure more timely closings. I needed the ‘tools’ and Academy Mortgage had them. In 2013 my purchase business increased to 60% and I now lead the company in purchase volume.”
Rosenblatt hasn’t made any significant adjustments to his overall approach. “The one difference is making sure to always reach out to both the buyer’s and seller’s agent,” he said.
One of Rosenblatt’s strengths is providing stellar customer service. “You can do all kinds of marketing but if you don’t deliver, you won’t get repeat business,” he said.
He noted that customers especially appreciate his accessibility. “I respond quickly to calls and e-mails. I’ve had Realtors and others say that a key reason they like working with me is that I’m available. I keep everyone informed throughout the transaction.”
His product knowledge is another plus. “Having closed about 3,000 loans over 19 years, I’ve seen so many scenarios and am better able to respond to customers’ questions about different programs.”
Company support has made a substantial difference as well. “Having Academy’s platform makes a big difference; they support me throughout the transaction to the closing.”
Customer service is also an important ingredient in Rosenblatt’s ongoing relationships with Realtors, financial planners and other strategic partners. He emphasized that one requirement for effective partnerships is ensuring their customers are well served. “For example, most agents and financial planners are mainly concerned that you’re going to take good care of their clients. I’m an extension of their role as a trusted advisor. They like that I’m available and always return their clients’ calls as soon as possible.”
Rosenblatt also emphasized the importance of maintaining a high level of professionalism. “My dad always told me that ‘you only have one reputation.’ I never forget that and work hard to maintain a very good reputation in the community.”
Rosenblatt stressed that having a great support team has enabled him to maintain a high volume and be the company’s top producer for the last three years. ”Having an assistant is essential,” he said. “It has certainly helped me expand my production. You need support to be a top producer, especially with today’s additional compliance requirements.”
He has one primary assistant, Amy Jones; a marketing/business development coordinator, Libby Hinson; and a processor, Christina Teal. He recently added a seasoned originator—David Cohen—to help expand the business.
Rosenblatt takes most of the applications himself; usually on the phone. “I’m too much of a hands-on person to not be involved with customers,” he said. “After I take the application, my assistant will order the credit, request paperwork, send disclosures, order an appraisal and follow through.”
Rosenblatt feels fortunate to be successful in a constantly evolving profession. “I love what I do, helping people get into their homes and save money. I also enjoy the challenge of the transaction.”
He will continue looking for ways to enhance his business approach. “One of my current goals is to find ways to become more efficient and delegate more.”
Of course, he knows that the mortgage profession will remain a competitive environment. “The business will always be there—people will always need mortgage financing—but it has been contracting so there will be challenges ahead, especially for those who don’t have a strong pipeline.”
While he isn’t eager to offer unsolicited advice to others, Rosenblatt does have a simple formula that has worked for him and many others: “Come to work, answer calls promptly, deliver what you promise, provide excellent service and market yourself.” That has definitely helped him succeed at a superstar level for nearly two decades.