High bar: Regional brokerage set to reach metro settlement levels

Being a broker in a regional town can be lucrative if you target the right niche

A 2015 MPA Young Gun and Aussie franchisee, Mark Collins of Port Macquarie in New South Wales has found the benefits are plenty as a broker in a regional town, if you keep track of your numbers and target the right part of the community. 

Although Collins overtook an existing branch in July 2013 with its client base from over ten years to start from, it was an underperforming business that he made soar from the bottom five-ten of the Aussie network to within the top five-ten.

The client base was the first aspect of the business Collins turned his attention to, but why Port Macquarie? 

“This opportunity was on the market, so I moved up from Sydney to Port Macquarie,” says Collins. “And I’ve got family up here as well, so it made sense to do so.”

Over the first 12-24 months, he contacted the existing client base and informed them of the changeover to settle existing customers and avoid losing existing business in the early days.

Then he cracked down on marketing, location and organsation, moving the business onto the main street of town, fitting it out as
 an Aussie store and incorporating better systems into place.

Collins brought with him ten years working in business finance and franchising as well having established three businesses prior across franchise broking, marketing and online retail of fine wines. 

“The obvious thing with being a broker is you need to know the policy of all the banks and that’s continually changing but for me I think attitude is more important than industry experience in mortgage broking and the reason I say that is this is my fourth business and I think business metrics are all relatively the same.” 

With his team of five, including two other brokers, a marketing manager and an admin support person, Collins says their settlement numbers have increased by 217% over the 2014/15 financial year and they are maintaining the pace over the last quarter. 

He says the main contributors to this growth have been knowing their numbers, tracking leads and conversion rates.

“Find out where your customers are coming from it increases from there. We’re not increasing our marketing spend, we’re just getting smarter about conversion rates - so we’re now up around 55%.

“The obvious difference is loan size between here and a metro area. Our average deal size is considerably smaller than Sydney,” says Collins, with their average loan size currently tipping over $300,000. “But we are averaging around 20-25 settlements per month.”

They also have specifically targeted the 30-45yr age group of homebuyers in Port Macquarie, giving them a competitive edge as Collins says most of the other 15 or so brokers there focus on the older generation looking at retirement. 

“I would say we would have a lion’s share of that market and they are prime customers,” he says, explaining one of the advantages of a regional town and one which is expanding quickly, is the face to face time with all of their customers.” 

“So it’s a little bit different with Sydney – I think there’s more of a disconnect there. It’s easier for us to build a relationship I would say - it’s easier just because of location as people are generally 5-10minutes away from our office.”

He says finance may not always be easy but when everything comes together it is very rewarding. 

“Do it to be the best in the industry, don’t do it just to get by or be average - do it because you want to be number one and you want to be better than everyone else.”