Brokers need to build their personal brand
Duane Mengel knows only too well that managing client expectations is one of the hardest parts of being a broker, particularly in this current tough economic climate.
Mengel (pictured above), who has owned the Mortgage Choice franchise in Coffs Harbour since 2019, and worked in home lending for more than 20 years, said he’d built up a strong network all over Australia, with customers now primarily drawn from the surrounding Coffs Coast region.
“Most of our customers are first home buyers and refinancers who work in essential services – nurses, police officers and teachers make up a significant portion of our client base,” Mengel said. “We’ve seen a lot of demand for units and small, affordable family homes.”
Clients’ borrowing power must be realistic
Mengel, who was an excellence awardee in the NAB Broker of the Year – Regional category at the 2023 Australian Mortgage Awards, said enquiries from customers hadn’t slowed down since interest rates started rising in May last year, however people have had to adjust their expectations around their actual borrowing power.
“We’re also focused on helping our customers who are coming off fixed rates to be proactive to ensure they’re getting the best available interest rate once their term ends,” he said.
“We recently helped a customer secure 2.09% off their home loan interest rate, saving them $5,852 in repayments in the first year alone.”
Mengel said his business was doing well and in a current period of growth.
“I believe firmly in being heavily involved in your local community, and we sponsor several kids' sports clubs and I volunteer on the board of our local surf life saving club,” he said.
“I find together with local marketing, being active and visible to the community, helps attract new local customers who are looking for someone to support them achieve their financial and property goals.
“Our customer base is mostly first home buyers and refinancers who work in essential services and teaching.”
However, managing clients’ expectations at a time when many people are facing reduced borrowing power because of the run of increases in interest rates and higher costs of living, is a challenge for all brokers.
“Many of my customers were on fixed rate terms that have recently come to an end, which is a big lifestyle change when you consider some of them have had to go from interest rates starting with a two to rates starting with a six. My team and I have been working with these clients to ensure that they’re prepared for the change. “
Brokers need to be involved in their community
Mengel said his number one tip when it came to brokers growing their businesses would be for them to get involved in their community and build relationships.
“Help your local community and they will be more likely to consider you when weighing up their options,” he said.
“As brokers, we need to remember that applying for your first home loan or refinancing can be a daunting process that can overwhelm people, so taking the time to build your personal brand in your community will go a long way to help potential customers understand what you’re about and if they think they can connect with you.
“And don’t forget to be visible everywhere you go. Whether that’s car wrapping or sponsoring local organisations, these will help your business stand out against the competition.”
Good brokers actively work to grow their businesses
Mengel said being a small business owner meant you must be prepared to be very active in your business, particularly if you’re a single operator, and you’re trying to take your business to the next level.
“You may find there are times where you need to work longer hours to meet the needs of your customers, until you can get to a point where you can consider bringing on staff to support you and your customers,” he said.
“Once you have staff, it’s easier to share the workload and continue to help more customers achieve their property goals.”
Despite the challenges of the job, Mengel said there was still plenty about being a broker that was great.
“I love playing a part in making my customers’ dreams come true and helping them save money on their home loans so they can own their homes sooner,” he said.
What are some of the challenges you face as a broker working in this current climate? Share your thoughts below.