Top Producer Hacks for Getting It All Done: Interview with $59 Million Producer, Susan Pryor


Top Producer Hacks for Getting It All Done: Interview with $59 Million Producer, Susan Pryor

Top producer, Susan Pryor, sat down with Jungo CEO, Mike Gulitz, to discuss her secrets to success. From building an exceptional mortgage team, to providing stellar customer service to every single borrower, listen in to learn Susan’s tips and tricks!

Want the Cliff Notes? We got you.

  • How do you build amazing, long-term relationships with your mortgage team members? [5:40]
  • What is the key to taking the margin for error out of back-end processes? [9:13]
  • How do you train your very first team member hire? [16:08]
  • What are a top producers can’t-live-without tech tools? [24:02]
  • What is Susan Pryor’s #1 coaching program recommendation? [35:06]
  • How do you actually get your past clients to leave you online reviews? [41:11]
  • Why does Susan Pryor keep doing what she’s doing? [52:25]

Watch the full interview now!

Read All About It

Tony Thompson: First of all, good afternoon everyone. I hope that you’re having a great week. I’m really excited about the webinar that we have today for two reasons. One, is that I know both of the talented individuals who are going to be speaking in today’s webinar. They are teaching best practices to help you understand how to position your business for not just 2020, but really a new decade of lending.

There are a lot of times that I have the pleasure of introducing people and even talking about programs or services. But, I would tell you, I am very familiar with Jungo, and really have seen firsthand by one of the presenters who will be here today, how they have used a system like Jungo to really elevate and grow their business by leaps and bounds.

Introducing Susan Pryor

So, I’d like to go ahead and introduce our two guests for today. First, we have Susan Pryor. Susan Pryor is the Branch Manager of Benchmark Mortgage, as well as a premier loan originator for over 15 years. I personally have had the opportunity to work with Susan in the past and she is the best in class mortgage sales professional. I think you’re gonna learn a lot from Susan. Susan Pryor’s personal production team has closed over 230 transactions, for a volume of over 59 million annually, by focusing on excellent marketing and surpassing customer expectations. This has helped her build a business built primarily on referrals. As a VA specialist, Susan Pryor and her team have significant practice helping military families as well as those who have served our company.

Introducing Mike Gulitz

Moderating today’s panel, is our second guest. Mike Gulitz is the founder and CEO of Jungo., developers of the mortgage industry’s first, tier-one customer relationship management application. His years of industry experience and professional mission to change the way business people work led him to create a high performance, cloud-based CRM application.

Mike’s background includes growing successful businesses in the mortgage industry and technology in the online marketplace. Jungo offers a best in class marketing and CRM system, really a solution, I would say, designed for the mortgage and real estate professional. And as I stated, what I’m really excited about is, if you’re, trying to get a platform where you can maximize your ability to connect and build your brand and ultimately grow your business. I think you’re going to learn a lot from both Susan and Mike in terms of processes and systems. So having said that, let’s get straight into it. Mike, we’re going to turn it over to you from here.

Mike Gulitz: Thank you, Tony. I appreciate the warm introduction and it’s great to be able to spend some time with you folks. In fact, Susan, I don’t know if you remember that you’re the one that introduced me and Tony three or four years ago. So, I wanted to thank you again today for that.

Susan Pryor: Yes, I used to work for Tony. So, it all goes around.

MG: Absolutely. Well, let’s get started. We really want to thank you, Susan for being a part of the panel. We love having these conversations with top producing loan officers. It’s one of the great ways for other loan officers that are coming up and getting started in the business, coming up in the ranks, to learn from the best of the best.

Getting Started in the Business

MG: So if you don’t mind, I’m just going to ask you a few questions. As we began to talk, we’re going to talk a little bit about developing team processes, but before that, how did you get started in the mortgage business?

SP: I’m one of those folks who has a 9/11 story. I was eight months pregnant when 9/11 happened and was selling software for a computer software company and covering the entire Southeast, which for some reason includes Missouri and Kansas. And when I went back after my maternity leave, my first trip was to Manhattan, which of course was a complete mess and I had my little itty bitty baby with me. And pretty quickly I decided that I needed to have a job where I wouldn’t be on the road all the time.

I had a friend who went into the mortgage business and I walked into his office and said, “Hey, I’m going to come work for you today.” It was really busy back then, cause rates were low and everybody was making money. He said, “Well, you know, we really don’t have time. We don’t have the processing capacity.” I said, “I’m working for you or I’m working for somebody else today.” And so that was it.

Building a Team

MG: Outstanding. One of our big themes today and something that comes up quite a bit here at Jungo from the folks that are starting to get some traction with their business, is developing team processes. Before we get too deep into your processes, how did you meet the team you’re working with now and how long have you been working together?

SP: I think I collect people. At one point I had a very big team. And we spun off and now I just have a production team. And so I was able to take the best of the best from my 30 person team and make it into an amazing five person team that would be able to do significant volume. But then I collected people. So like my business partner, Shandy King. We’ve worked together for 14 years. We have an executive assistant who’s worked with us for 14 years. Our production partner’s been with us 10 years. So we collect people, and I absolutely have the best of the best.

Cultivating Strong Team Relationships

MG: That’s amazing. What are some of the most important factors that you consider when you’re really working towards building those long term relationships?

SP: Really, you have to understand that people want to know that you care, and that’s really the most important thing. People stay for leadership. They don’t stay just for money or just for time off or whatever. So, we try to have a good time. We try to not wear anybody out anymore. Definitely back in the day, we were working 24 hours a day. And so part of coming to Benchmark, is it creates this peaceful lifestyle for me that allows us to go home. Just taking care of your people, having fun with them and then, of course, you got to pay them well.

Team Appreciation Activities

MG: Absolutely. Beyond the pay, you were mentioning about the appreciation. Are there any specific team building exercises or team building events that you’ve found that help keep your team together?

SP: Yes, we do all kinds of crazy stuff, because my team is virtual–a lot of the people are virtual, and so there are three of us in the office, but two of us are very removed from us and from each other. We just get together and do stuff. Like for Christmas, we rented five hotel rooms at the this hotel downtown and we all went there and had cocktails and just visited together. And it was safe, cause my folks can drink. I wanted to make sure nobody was driving. We might be professional drinkers–that might be our tagline.

But whatever, you know, back during the crash, I would cook, so I loved people by feeding them. Whatever it is, whatever you do to show love to your family and to spend time with your family–you do the same thing. We do group trips to Disney, took all the kids one time. It just depends on what the budget is. Sometimes it’s cooking, sometimes it’s a little more extravagant than that.

Setting Team Processes

MG: So as I’m beginning to transition into talking about the loan business, and I’m hearing Tony talk about 230 plus loans, 65 million plus in volume in a state that doesn’t have really big expensive loans like we have out here in California. What kind of processes have you put in place to streamline and work efficiently with your team?

SP: Well, that is the key to everything. Process, process, process, process. You know, certainly the first thing you have to do is get really good at having conversations with the client and being competent with your client. But our industry has a zero failure tolerance and so you have to be meticulous about everything that you do, and ensure that every client has the same experience.

I’ve worked many, many years on this, but I would go off to a conference and learn something new and come back and brainstorm it out. Put together the email, follow up the process flow and then implement it into our Jungo system. And then once you’ve done all that and you can hold people accountable to doing their part of it, then you can let go and not worry at all.

Post-Closing Processes

For example, when my loans are clear to close, an email goes out. My Encompass tells Jungo that a loan is clear to close. That auto generates an email that goes out to my client, and the listing agent and the selling agent. And it says, your loan is clear to close. This is how the closing disclosure process is going to work. These are the things to worry about. These are the timelines to worry about. If I had to remember to check when someone was clear to close, and send that email, it’s likely that it wouldn’t happen every single time. But it’s something that just happens in the background for me. I have a mover who’s a really good friend of mine. I’m big into both partnerships and relationships in my employees and the industry.

My moving friend, whenever a client goes under contract, we send him an email saying, “Sarah Smith is under contract.” We give him her current physical address and his team just drops a moving coupon in the mail. I’m not providing any information, but this person is conceptually moving in the next month. And it doesn’t say anything about me, just a coupon shows up in their mail. But I don’t have to think about it. The system automatically knows on X day to send that out.

I have two different insurance agents that I recommend. One of them is one of my big teams that I work with. They own an insurance company, so I had to make sure that I’m referring their insurance company for their clients. And then I have another insurance company that I refer for all the other clients. So we have a system set up that an email goes out on day eight that says, “Hey, you need to start thinking about your insurance.” And one email recommending one person goes out to all people who are with this team and then a different email goes out to recommend somebody else to the rest of the team.

Those are just the things that I could never in a million years do without a process, and without Jungo and the technology to make that happen.

Top Producer Hacks for Getting It All Done: Interview With Susan Pryor

Instituting Industry Best Practices

MG: It sounds like you’ve really modeled your processes after some of the things that you’ve learned at the events that you and I like to attend, and you come up with best practices and you’re leveraging the technology to make sure that you’re executing on those back end best practices in a consistent manner. Does that sound correct?

SP: Yes. Obviously in the last few years, we’ve had some changes in margins, and I think you have to do more with less people. The only way to do that, and still provide the over the top experience for the client–which is critical to a referral business–is to have a staff process and technology to make that happen.

Delighting Clients with Post-Closing Gifts

We do a four gift post-closing series. I’m a believer that rather than send somebody a $50 gift in my opinion, when somebody gets a really nice gift from someone they’re going to for just a second say, “Oh, did you overcharge me?” So some of my friends will send a hundred dollar gift or whatever. We don’t do that. We send four tiny little gifts, but it keeps us in their mind. And then we’re asking for referrals throughout that process.

We send a house cookie cutter that’s branded for us. We send a Starbucks card. There are some special things we do if they’re veterans. We send them a little bag of cookies. Every month for four months after closing, they get a little thing from us.

What you got to have is a process. You have to have someone who’s going to do the buying. You have to have someone who’s going to package it up, and someone who’s going to make sure the envelopes are ready. And then you have to have a system that tells you who to send them to.

Getting Started as a Loan Officer

MG: A lot of our clients are individual loan officers or teams of one. What kind of advice do you have for those that are looking to expand and add their first LOA or really want to grow a team environment?

SP: Well, for the loan officer who’s just getting started, it’s all about getting a CRM. And then every time that you talk to someone on the phone, you put that client’s information or that agent’s information, or that insurance agent’s information into your CRM. And then you always set up a follow-up task for that person. So every single person in your database should always have a follow-up task. The follow-up task might be calling after two months or six months. It might be to send an email a week, and then some other follow-up after that.

That’s the most important system you can put in place for yourself as a brand new loan officer. And then when you add in assistance, you have that data where you are keeping all the information and you have a list of things that you want to accomplish today based on the process and follow-up tasks you set up for yourself.

As you add assistants, you can say, “Hey, you do these parts of the task. I’ll do these parts and the tasks.” At one point, we had 20 different people in Jungo with tasks being assigned to each individual person by name. Like it’s just possible because the system will handle any amount of complexity. That mistake that I made was, I overdid that. So start simple. That’s my advice.

Hiring Your First Team Member

SP: The hardest hire is your first assistant, but it’s the most critical hire. I’m a believer that you can’t do more than about five units a month by yourself consistently every single month. You might have 10 one month, but then that’s going to hurt your production the following month. So the way to stop those ups and downs is to have an assistant.

But the hardest one to teach is the first one, because you’re going a hundred miles an hour. I recommend with your very first assistant that you have them sit in your office with you, and you listen to them talk on the phone and you have them listen to you talk on the phone. And when you do pass tasks onto them that they can own, that you feel like they’re competent to take care of, then you have them write a little document about what tasks they’re taking from you. This is what I told you to say. This is how many days after we do X that you send that card or whatever it is, and this is what the new card says. So I’m not really good at writing those manuals, but it’s critical that you have them. So I make the person who I just taught the process to write the manual and then I review it and tweak it.

Training Additional Team Members

And then then we have that manual so that when you hire your next assistant, the first person can train the second person, but they have an outline that makes it very easy for them to offload that task. Or God forbid you lose somebody and you have to replace your assistant. You have that documentation that helps you start with training. Now things will change. But generally 80% of what you need to do is correct from one year to the next. You just have to tweak the 20% every time that you change who’s working on it.

We recently hired a 10 hour a week, really high end executive assistant in California and we were able to offload a ton of tasks to her in a very short period of time because we had already had the documentation and it was just a matter of walking her through it a few times. Now she’s sharp, that helps. But you have to let go. And that’s what I say–you have to let that first person sit in your office with you cause otherwise you will never let go. And then hopefully you kick them out of your office after a few months.

Production Volume

MG: There are a lot of nuggets in what you just said. I really think that’s amazing. I want to transition into standing out from the competition. And I’m one of those people that when I’m talking to a top producer, I can’t hear enough about how your volume has gone. So tell us once again, what was your volume last year and how much of an increase was that over the year before?

SP: So it was actually 59 million that we did last year and that was 230 units. That was up from about 50 million the year before, our goal is 70 this year, and we’re with the same team.

I have a front end person who answers the phone and takes applications and sets up consultations with a processor. I have an executive assistant who also orders out and she does all of the marketing stuff that we were talking about. And then we have a production partner. So once a loan is under contract, she’s like the smartest one on the team and she makes it all perfect and makes sure the client understands everything and the documents are all ready for processing.

MG: Okay, so understanding your market there in Atlanta, Georgia, that would put you in the top. It’s going to put your team as one of the top originators in the market. Now, what are you doing different from your competition?

Standing Out From The Competition

SP: Yes, I think we’re talking about top 3% or something. It’s because of how many units you have to do here to do that kind of volume. The foundation of what we sell is certainty. And so the most important thing is that never, ever, ever, ever, ever, if I give you a preapproval, do we not find a way to make it happen. And I did have one situation like that where we took the client at their word for something that didn’t end up being the case by the time we figured it all out and we wrote a 1% check to the seller and we covered the earnest money for the buyer. Because never do I want to be in a situation where I didn’t stand by my work.

It’s just relationships. It’s one thing that we’ve talked a little bit about at Todd Duncan. I’ve been in Todd’s different programs for the last four or five years, and Todd taught me that I don’t have to work with anybody I don’t love, and that is so freeing. He also teaches you to focus on a smaller number of referral partners.

MG: That’s a Todd-ism, isn’t it?

SP: It is. He also teaches you that you don’t have to to answer the phone all weekend, which is another freeing thing. I’m not sure I make as much money as his top producers do. They do, you know, 200 million or whatever. But I have definitely learned the quality of life and working with people that you love. Those things are kind of related to each other, because if you take care of, support, and help your agents grow–that you would like to work with that are smart, that aren’t going to get into deals that don’t make sense, that are going to actually do a consultation with a client so they know what to expect–it makes all the difference in the world.

So, we have 12 agents now that we really focus on. We’re looking to add one more that I love, she’s amazing. We’re going to kick off that new relationship and we’re going to be the VA lender for that builder account.

Sources of Business

MG: Can you tell us a little bit more about where you’re getting your business? Past clients, realtors, affiliate relationships?

SP: Sure. Around 30% of our business are clients and referrals from past clients, and about 5% is CPAs, financial planners, folks that I have really strong relationships with. I don’t have 12 relationships like that. I have a few really strong relationships. I think I told you when we were talking earlier that I’m a big believer that you should not put your money with a financial planner who is not referring you business. If you can find one who will refer good business, and you liked the financial planning and you guys can enjoy each other’s company and you will naturally refer each other, then yeah, it’d be great to have 12 of those. But I can take really good care of one financial planner and we can finish each other’s sentences.

The Tools of the Trade

MG: That’s a great strategy. I’m going to transition a little bit, I want to get even more out of this conversation. I want to talk a little bit about what we call the tools of the trade, and I’m a complete gadget geek and self-professed technology snob, as you know. What are some of your go-to technologies? What are they called, and how long have you been using them?

SP: Okay. And so I’m a big dork on this front, obviously. So Jungo’s the thing we’ve had the longest, we’ve had it forever. I have 12 or 13 years of data in my Jungo, and I cannot imagine–please never make me function without that. That’s one of the coolest thing about Jungo is that it’s built on the foundation of Salesforce, and Salesforce is the hundred pound gorilla in the CRM market. So as we add in other technologies, they instantly integrate because anybody who builds a technology is going to integrate into Salesforce.

Over the years people have tried to get me to convert to other programs and you know, everybody’s got something sexy. But I know that going forward, I’m going to be able to add technologies that are going to lock into my system.

We’re also really big users of Floify. We do our applications in Floify, and we do all of our document management and disclosures out of Floify. So that’s been a huge time improvement. I swear that’s half a person and getting all that document management stuff to work smoothly. In a way, the clients actually do it.

We use Zipwhip for texting. So we have a team phone number that it brings to the office during the day. And then we forward around during off hours so you can call the office number at any point and you’re likely to get a quick response. We use that same phone number for texting out of Zipwhip. And then everybody has an app on their phone that they can see all the texting conversations and then Jungo saves all of those texting conversations into the history. So if anybody’s trying to figure out what’s going on, they can hop in and take a look.

We use a program called Agent Legend to work our cold leads. It’s a system where you set up campaigns. It will text, and email, and drop audio into a prospect’s voicemail. We have a team, sometimes they give us leads that they’re really looking for us to help them sift. They’re not warm leads.  We’ll just jump and drop them in that system. And that system will touch them about 10 times over the course of eight days. And once they respond to me, then that system shuts down and that person has raised their hand and we know we focus on them.

MG: Are you using any video?

SP: Bombbomb. We created some Doodly videos and BombBomb has a series of videos that go out. It sends them out, so again, Jungo and Bombbomb integrate. If I have a new agent that comes into my system, Jungo is coded to notice when I have a new realtor in my system. They were added because they were on a transaction with me or whatever. Then that tells BombBomb to send out a series of videos that are program specific. It just hits that agent with a video email from us every week for say, 12 weeks after their first introduction to me. And again, I don’t have to do anything with that. That all does it itself because it would never happen if I had to keep track of it. And I’m just now trying to use BombBomb to do the personal videos to people. That’s very high on my implementation list for this year.

MG: I think what I’m hearing from you Susan is, that you’re picking best of breed technologies, that have the features that you really want, but also when you’re considering this, you need those new technologies to integrate together. That’s your real one-two punch.

SP: Right. And then Encompass, which honestly, I don’t know that I’ve ever had anything that genuinely didn’t integrate to Jungo, so that makes that easy. But we have Encompass and Jungo integrated so that if Encompass says something is clear to close or if the loan does close, then my Jungo knows to do stuff because the system in Encompass is closed.

Yes, integration is the key to all of it. Whenever you have to have something manually, you create a mess, and when you do have to do something manually, then you have to have a process for it. There’s one thing in the integration between Jungo and BombBomb that I couldn’t figure out how to do automatically. So every morning as part of my assistant’s morning routine, she logs into Bombbomb and pushes a button. And that forces the integration every morning because it doesn’t automatically. That’s just a process, and you have to know where you have to create processes around your technology.

MG: I’ve got a question I just got back from the audience. Stacy’s on the call, and she says she’s been in the industry for seven years and just started her own brokerage a few months ago. Her volume last month was 11 units over 3 million with one person with a one person team. Congratulations on that. She says, “I think it may be time to hire. How do I make that choice? I’m really nervous to take the next step. I’m 30 years old, planning on starting a family soon and I was waiting until my kids went to school, but I feel like it makes more sense to start my team now so that I have people running my company. Any advice on that?”

SP: Oh, 100%. I have coached many originators through that process. Like I said, that first hire is always the hardest one. Because you think you’re the center, that you know how to do everything and you just don’t trust anybody else to do anything. You have to go with the methodology that if they can do 70% of it, then you have to let them do it.

So it’s just like having kids–it’s never the right time have kids. It’s never the right time to have an assistant. Absolutely, if you’re somebody who can do 10 loans in a month, that was when I was a manager, that was the place when somebody to doing 10 loans a month for two or three months in a row, then I knew I had to get them an assistant or they were going to explode, or we were going to lose the momentum.

You are absolutely at the right place to hire an assistant. I would try to make their compensation as tied to your production as possible. Figure out what that minimum is that they need to feel comfortable as a base salary. Then, pay them a prolonged fee or something. So that when you do really well, they do really well. And vice versa. And if you worked for somebody else then they might split it with you. But if you’re the house, then absolutely you need to hire somebody.

MG: I think you shared with us previously, what part of your role do you try to replace first, can you talk to Stacy about that a little bit?

SP: I recommended that the first is the first phone calls with the client. You need the nurse and doctor concepts. So when you come into the doctor’s office, somebody takes all your paperwork, gets you organized, schedules you to time to go to talk to the doctor, takes your blood, all that kind of stuff. You need that nurse who’s going to just answer the phone and get everything organized for you and then book you.

It does lots of things, one of which is it makes your life sane, cause you’re only focused on clients– like in our system, they don’t get through to a consultation if their credit is not decent and my assistant is the front end person who does the credit counseling. So you know that when you’re doing your consultations, you’re only dealing with people who are likely to get pre-approved and you are on a schedule that makes your life sane, and your clients actually get much better service because when they call, someone actually answers the phone.

If you’re doing it all, then you’re spending all day long returning phone calls because of people who call you while you’re in the middle of a consultation or when you’re trying to think. You’re trying to put together a proposal, and the interruptions will dramatically reduce your productivity. That person don’t have to know the mortgage business. They can just be fun, and friendly, and bubbly, and a fun person for you to be with. And you know, someone who’s got some sales instincts is critical for that spot.

Some people say, and I’m not against this, that your first hire is somebody who’s going to do document management. We used to do that, but all the new technology document management is so much easier now. I don’t think you need a head count there.

MG: You mentioned coaching, and I know you and I are both products of long-term coaching programs. Can you tell us a little about the coaching programs that you’re a part of, and what kind of impact they’ve had on your business?

SP: Yes. You have to constantly be filling your mind with things that challenge you, whatever that is. And there have been some years where it was all very industry specific and then some years when I went and looked elsewhere for my challenges. I currently just have an executive coach, so she doesn’t really know too much about the mortgage business, but she and I spend a lot of time focusing on processes and workflow and profitability and staff management, staff development, like big grown up things.

Whereas coaches who are in the industry tend to tell you how to do things that are in the industry. Here’s your script, here’s how you handle this situation, and that’s all important too. You know, coaching is very much an accountability thing and you have to figure out how much accountability you need and how good you are at doing implementation yourself.

My biggest recommendation is that Todd Duncan does a High Trust Sales Academy. It’s not cheap–it’s I think $2,500 or something, and it’s almost a full week. It is by far the best training in the industry. And I would send somebody who was brand new to that, or I would send somebody who–the first time I took it, I had been in the industry for 10 years. So I would absolutely recommend that. Now Todd Duncan, his team has coaching. And that’s great. At all kinds of levels they have coaching. But my biggest recommendation is that the best product I’ve seen in the industry for training is that High Trust Sales Academy class.

Mortgage Coach Integration

MP: Do you use social media?

SP: I do. Oh, and I forgot Mortgage Coach. So that’s now twice I’ve forgotten Mortgage Coach. When you go back to the technology, we also use Mortgage Coach to do presentations for clients.

MG: Total cost analysis and rent versus own, things like that?

SP: Yeah, mostly, it’s just a way to compare the different options that you’re presenting to the client. For us, we’re probably not a power user. But you know, especially in a refinance situation the clients really need to be able to compare their current situation to the options to make a decision. And so we rely on Mortgage Coach heavily. And then again, Mortgage Coach integrates with Jungo. Every time somebody opens it, it sends you an email which gets saved into Jungo so you can see how many times your client looked at your proposal.

MG: Mortgage Coach was actually our first integration that we built, and we were their first integration partner. So it’s just one of those products guys that if you’re really trying to separate yourself from the competition, doing the reports and sending over the marketing material really sets you up as the advisor that their client is looking for. And it’ll really separate you from the other loan officers that they may be talking to.

Utilizing Social Media

SP: Yeah. I would say, Jungo was first and Mortgage Coach was second in terms of how we layered in technology, and then everything else came after that. On social media, we have a veterans page. It’s Georgia homeownership resource center for veterans or something like that. A community page is going to do better on Facebook than a team page. We do also have a team page. And so we use that as a way to post our different Doodly videos that we created. And different resources. We’re very passionate about making sure that veterans know what they’ve earned and what they didn’t. And so whether that’s their VA eligibility or how they get their disability rankings or whatever. So we like to post all kinds of different things to that.

We probably only have 600 likes or something. It’s not tons, but we use that platform, we pay 20 bucks to raise the profile of it. I have about 4,000 realtors that I’m friends with. So when I raised the profile of that video on that page, it ends up in the feeds of my different agent friends. And that just helps me with name recognition and we often get the phone call, “Hey, I’ve got a VA loan and I know that you’re the person to do it.”

Rating and Reviews

MG: I thank you for giving special attention on that cause, because our veterans, I hope everyone believes that they deserve the best after serving our country. What do you think about reviews and ratings? Are you leveraging those in social media in your business?

SP: Yes. I think Google is the best place to have your reviews. We have them on Google, Facebook, Zillow.

MG: Are you proactive asking them to leave a review for you after the transaction?

SP: Yes. So two weeks after closing, Jungo sends them an email asking them to do a review and then asking them to copy that review into multiple platforms for us. We do bribe them–we put in there that if they take the time to do that for us, that we will give them a $25 Amazon gift card and we have found that that makes a difference. We have 132 five star reviews.

Occasionally, we do get a call from somebody who just saw us on the reviews but people will check us out. That’s really the big thing. Like, occasionally we’ll get a call just from their reviews, but more than that, if somebody refers us, they’re going to look us up and that is going to pop out right away. So we also, if you send us, so then whenever somebody does a review, we have a group in Jungo that we mark “review received” so that we don’t ask them again and then we kind of know who our our warriors are. At Christmas time we send an email to everybody that hasn’t given us a review and ask for more because everybody wants $25 at Christmas.

Secrets to Success

MG: I want to transition a little bit into more of your secrets to success. How are you reaching out to real estate agents and do you do anything specific like time blocking when you’re calling them? And what do you like to say?

SP: Time blocking is 100%–especially with new originators–well, everybody has to do time blocking. I recommend that you do what we call green time, or what Todd calls green time. You do your green time in the morning because really the world doesn’t need you before 11:00 AM. You can make your phone calls between nine and 11 and whatever’s going on, especially if you have an assistant, will be okay by 11 o’clock. And often what happens is some problem arose that fixed itself. And because you weren’t on it, you have to learn to stop email, which is really hard. Turn off all of those little everythings that ding your phone that you should not be doing–the email thing where it shows up that you just got an email, you get turned that off. Otherwise the noise will make it hard for you to really be good at what you do.

So then we just call agents. I’m always looking for something to call them about, right. So like it might be that we just closed a deal together, so I’d call them and you know, ask for an opportunity to meet with them. I might call about a program like the 100% program or renovation lending. But you know, in general we don’t do too much of that anymore because we have our top 12 that we really focus on. And for me, it’s about hanging out with my friends and just making sure that I’m in their lives and that I’m helping them grow their business, helping them be accountable to what success they wanted.

Earning New Partners

But then when you really want someone–I have this one agent I told you about that I, that I really have loved the way she’s presented herself in the market. She just bought her own brokerage firm and she’s just amazing. But she didn’t know me from Adam, so I gave her tickets to a charity event for the Braves. And so I reached out to her about that. My moving company gave me them, so I reached out to her and invited her to the event. And so she went, she had a blast. She met all of the Braves. By the end of that, she would have given me her children. Right. So then she and I met and really it’s just all about finding out what’s important to them, what’s important to them to get there, what’s important to them about success. I would tell you to go as deep on that as possible so you understand where their heart is. I am just a business woman. I love to grow businesses. So I’m always looking for like this particular agent, she needs to hire an assistant. And so part of my communication with her is, “How’s the assistant hiring going?” Right? Because I’m an accountability partner too.

It’s relationship building. People do business with people that they like. The only other thing I would say is communication, communication, communication. If you already have deals, then over communicate with everybody in the transaction via phone, email. So like we have a process on Fridays where we do Friday updates. So we update everybody in the transaction on Friday via email out of Jungo. It generates a form that puts in some details about the file. Like, this is the name of the property, this is the closing date, the loan amount. And we just put in there, is the loan approved, working, underwriting conditions, because we found that people would panic late on Friday afternoon or on Saturday because they had been working all week and then it occurs to them that they want to know what’s going on with their loan. So we established that a long time ago. But if you don’t have a lot of business you can update people two or three times a week and update the listing agent and the agent, and kind of makes them your fans.

MG: I was going to ask you how many times a week you’re calling them, but this sounds like this is just constant communication as needed. So you’re texting and calling your agents as much as you need to.

SP: With the process, we communicate with them on a as needed basis. We email them on Fridays and right now I’m working on video updates on Tuesdays. I do think my agents trust me and so they don’t really need a ton more communication than that. But when you’re new, working with somebody and they don’t know you, you probably need to update them more often.

Connecting With Past Clients

MG: What about your past clients? What’s the schedule? How many touches are you doing annually?

SP: We try to reach out to them at least four times a year. And we usually do a contest of some kind. We’ll give away Brave’s tickets or those BarkBox things that will come over the course of four months. We do that four times a year and I’ll sometimes I’ll just flat out call the past clients and be like, “Hey, we have tickets to the Brave’s game on October 13th. Would you like to you go? Just text us if you’re interested.

One of the other things I’d say is, right now you have to communicate with everybody on every platform. Call them and text them and you’ve got to email them because each one of them has a different way they want to communicate. Millennials will be mad at you if they call you and you did not return their phone call, even if they did not leave a message. For old people like me, that’s the stupidest thing in the world. You have to communicate with everybody on every platform so that you figure out how they want to communicate with you.

MG: How many transactions did you close–239 transactions–Is that what I heard? And 30% of those were from past clients?

SP: Yes.

What Do You Need To Do as a New Loan Officer?

MG: If I’m a new LO and I’m hearing this, for me, doing one loan a month or two loans a month, that might sound like the moon. What is your advice, your hacks or tips for a loan officer that is just getting started in our industry?

SP: Got it. You need to reach out and when I used to have loan officers that were doing say two, three, four transactions a month, I created a process for them where I gave them all army men and I only gave them 10 army men, but they couldn’t leave their desk in the morning. And it was kind of a joke, cause I’m not going to shoot you if you get up from your desk, but I would say, you can’t get up from your desk, and you can’t work on anything else until you knock down your 10 army men. 10 calls. If you’re already doing four or five transactions a month and you need to be making momentum and have 10 calls a day. If you’re brand new, then really, you need to be doing 50. I mean, if you sat and did phone calls, you could make 50 phone calls in two and a half hours. And if you don’t have anything else to do, what do you know? What are you doing?

Schedule and Structure

MG: I think that’s a great segue into the next section which is about schedule and structure. Susan, what does your day look like? What time do you come in? What do you do? Tell us that what a typical day in the life for you is.

SP: You don’t want to know what I do, but like I said, I think a new loan officer should spend the first two hours of the day–turn off email so it’s just you, your database and the phone–you should be calling. I don’t care who you call, you call 50 people a day.

Like in our VA practice, we’ll reach out to VA veteran support people or community support people or join a charity or just talk with somebody. If you talk, if you try to make 50 phone calls and 50 emails and 50 texts a day, you’ll be rich. And it’s just a matter of time. You have to sow the seeds, plant the seeds, and eventually those seeds come together. And sometimes it’s fast and then sometimes it takes–some the most amazing things that will happen in my career will take two or three years to come together.

Advice for the Next Generation

MG: Kind of like airline pilots, the mortgage industry is coming to a place where a lot of our professionals are thinking about retiring in the next 10 years. What do you tell somebody who’s coming out of college, who maybe hasn’t figured out quite what career path to take? What would you tell somebody that’s looking for a great opportunity, and why they should consider the mortgage business?

SP: Nothing is going to pay you as well. You can always make money selling something. Whenever you had a bad day and you’re like, “I’m leaving the industry,” when you looked around, you were like, I make way more money doing what I do. For me as you get older, it’s much more about the about the feeling you get when you get someone their first time home. Helping a first time home buyer buy a house, or we do all kinds of insane things for veterans, nothing will make you feel better than that. Be a part of helping people become homeowners. Being a homeowner is the key to intergenerational wealth. Especially if you’re a minority, you want to fight for your people to be homeowners because all of us have a grandmother or something where the only reason they could retire was because they paid their mortgage payments for 30 years, and then they didn’t have a mortgage payment. So that $2,000 they got from social security was enough. But if you have to pay $1,400 in rent, $2,000 in social security isn’t going to work.

Be passionate about home ownership. How to get started is, I highly recommend that you get on a team of other people. You’re right, a bunch of us are going to retire in the next 10 years and we’re going to be passing it on to other people. And so have to learn from somebody else because it’s tough. It’s like being in real estate. If you just say, I’m going to go out and find business, that’s a rough thing to do and it might take you a while to really build that up. So if you go work for somebody else, you learn, you get to have your hands in a hundred transactions in a short period of time and you learn so much. And to me it’s much more fun to be on a team anyway because I don’t have to worry about the phone blowing up all the time. Somebody else can answer the phone. If I go to Mexico for a week, there’s somebody else to take care of everything. A big part of the quality of life is being on a team period, whether you’re at the entry level, at the team or at the top of the team.

MG: I think that’s sage advice, and some of the best advice I’ve heard is instead of trying to do it on your own, get into a team, do a hundred transactions, and then if you still want to branch out on your own, you’re going to go out there with a heck of a lot of experience under your belt.

SP: Yes, yes. And you never know, whoever you’re working with, they may pass some part of their business on to you.

MG: We just came to the top of the hour and I’m guessing that everybody on this call got a dozen nuggets or more today from you, Susan. Thank you again for sharing and paying this forward. And thank you for all of you NAMMBA members who were able to jump on the webinar with us. Tony, thanks for the kind introductions and we will be putting this up on the NAMMBA blog as well as the Jungo blog and we’ll follow up with some emails. Any final thoughts? Susan?

Why Susan Pryor Is Passionate About Closing Loans

SP: I am going to take a minute and tell you a story. I have somebody who brought me a veteran who was getting ready to lose his house because his second mortgage was in default. He made $1,350 a month in social security. He had $1,450 a month in mortgage payments and he owed $25,000 judgment to American Express on his house, had a bunch of equity in his home, hadn’t had running water in six months cause he couldn’t afford the tool to get the water running. His roof was falling in on itself. He hadn’t been to a doctor and he had bonded out his son out of jail and had this big bond on his house because his son never did his community service.

In one month, we were able to do a reverse, pay off everything, make it so the guy doesn’t have a payment for the rest of his life. He doesn’t have taxes or insurance bill until he’s 92 years old. We hired a bail bondsman to go pick his son up and take him to jail. We got the bond released. Had somebody who replaced the roof for free. We raised about $5,000 on Facebook. We were able to catch up his mortgage and rent the equipment he needed. And that man is a completely different human being. Nothing in my career will ever feel like that felt. So find something in what you’re doing that makes you feel good, because you’re doing something for somebody else.

MG: That’s fantastic. Thank you for sharing that story. Susan, of course, thanks again for your time today. We really appreciate it and go out there and make it a great 2020.