My toughest test... with Otto Dargan

Each week MPA brings you advice from the industry's thought leaders on their biggest business challenge and how they tackled it.

My toughest test... with Otto Dargan

Each week MPA brings you advice from the industry's thought leaders on their biggest business challenge and how they tackled it. This week we speak to Otto Dargan, director of The Home Loan Experts.

MPA:  What has been one of your biggest challenges in business to date and why?

Otto Dargan: Two years ago I stopped writing loans myself and switched to managing my business full time. It was a tough decision to make as I love working with clients. I realised that if I didn't make the change then sooner or later I'd burn out. Making the change allowed me to grow my business much faster. The challenge for me was that I had never had any formal training in management and paying other mortgage brokers to write loans would mean a significant drop in income.

MPA: How did you overcome this challenge?

OD: I talked to Connective and they put me in contact with other brokers who had gone through the transition. Almost unanimously they recommended that I undertake a management course. After that it was much easier and I learned to love helping my staff as much as I enjoyed helping customers. It still took a couple of years for the profit of the business to catch up to where it was before. 

MPA: What are some of the key lessons you learned from this experience?

OD: As a business grows you need to grow with it. I learned to accept the good and the bad changes that came with the growth and to enjoy my new role. I learned that managers are made, not born. Learning to be a great manager is a huge challenge and I'm still learning more every day. You have to make tough calls, people will not always like your decisions and you'll make plenty of mistakes along the way.   

As a good mortgage broker there are only so many hours in the day and so many clients that you can see. As a manager you can scale up your operations to any size you like. Also when you work through other people your results are magnified by the quality of your systems and training. 

MPA: How have those lessons benefited you in business since?

OD: Ultimately the benefit is that we have grown much faster and now I can take holidays without the business grinding to a halt. 

MPA: If you were to tackle this again would you do anything differently?

OD: I'd have spent more time learning how to motivate my sales team. Managing PAYG staff isn't too hard however mortgage brokers can be a challenge. A mortgage broker's job is effectively to solve people's problems. If you make a decision that they don't like then sometimes they can see your decision as the problem and can get really creative about how to solve it! 

MPA: What advice would you give to other brokers facing a similar situation?

 If you are burning out from trying to run a business and write loans then make the switch! Your clients will understand and after a year or two you will be in a better position.

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