Reaching for the top

by Ryan Smith15 Aug 2014
Once your company is the nation’s number-two wholesaler, there’s only one question worth asking – how do you get to number one?

That’s the challenge currently being tackled by United Wholesale Mortgage. And Laura Lawson, UWM senior vice president of marketing, says it’s a challenge the company is more than up to.

“Right now, we’re at the point of our biggest growth strategy ever,” Lawson says. “We’re super-charging everything.”

Part of that strategy is increasing manpower, Lawson says.

“We’re currently at about 205 account executives, and we have measures in place and training classes to get us to about 250 by the end of this year,” she says. “So we’re really beefing up the sales team. We have this unique inside sales model. We don’t have outside representatives – we’re all inside, because that allows us to continuously train and to keep everyone on the same team.”

Maintaining that team atmosphere is integral to employee morale – and ultimately, the success of the enterprise, Lawson says. That’s a lesson company president Mat Ishbia learned during his time on a championship-winning college basketball team.

“With us, it’s unique, because sure, you have your own accounts, but it’s a team environment,” Lawson says. “The walls are down and people learn from each other. It’s team-based – literally, because Mat played basketball for Michigan State. So we incorporate those team philosophies into the sales floor. We invest in them and make sure they’re experts. It’s not a call center. It’s not about the transaction – it’s relationship-based.”

But even the best team needs top technology to support it. That’s why UWM is also ramping up its online tools.

“We’re investing further in building more tools to provide to our clients. We have our mobile app out, but how can we make it better?” Lawson says. “We’re completely reinventing our website to come out October 1. That’s our outside website at public site, but more importantly, our LOS. So when you’re in our broker portal we call Ease, it’s going to be a completely refined experience.

“We have over 100 people in IT right now – and growing,” she adds. “We rarely go external for anything. We try to develop everything in-house, because it’s based on client feedback. We want to create the tool that’s perfect for our clients.”

And those clients – the mortgage brokers who keep coming back to UWM, are ultimately the force that will propel the company to the top spot, Lawson says.

“If they don’t grow, we don’t grow. So it’s all about how to make growing their business easier for them,” Lawson says. “And of course, you’ve got many lenders to select from. So we’re constantly evaluating – what is it about us that isn’t making us the obvious choice? We’re constantly investing in ourselves to make us that (choice) for them.”

In the end, Lawson says, the challenge of pursuing the top spot is a reward in itself.

“It’s a very exciting time for us,” she says. “It’s not just about being number one – it’s about just blowing out the roof. Number one is not enough for us.”


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