Broker Think Tank – How to Scale to the Next Level

Ever wonder why some brokers close 40 deals a year and others make it to 400? Hear from Gary Fooks of 8Twelve Mortgage and Shubha Dasgupta of Pineapple, as they discuss ways to set yourself apart from thousands of other mortgage professionals, including scaling their business over time; managing changes in the market; and mistakes they see other brokers are making time and time again.
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Chris: Hello, my name is Chris Anderson. Thank you for joining CMP TV. Today we're going to have a great power panel, label broker, think tank, really geared around how to scale to the next level. Joining us today is Shubha Dasgupta, CEO of Pineapple. Gary Fooks, CEO of 8Twelve. 

Gary: Thank you, Chris. 

Shubha: Thank you, Chris, for having us here. 

Chris: And Gary, I want to start with you. Obviously, 2023 is upon us. 2020 through 2022 may have been a bit turbulent. What advice would you have for brokers of how to scale in today's current market? Again, Gary, I'll start with you. 

Gary: Yeah, sure. What pleasure. So, Chris, to me, when you say the word scale, I mean that I look at that as massive growth and to have massive growth, you need you need infrastructure. Right? And technology is a big part of that infrastructure today. So if you want to scale your business, I think it's it's mandatory that you have the right technology infrastructure in place. There's a lot of solutions out there. There's a lot of options out there, CRMs, pipes to submit deals through, etc. And it's really important that you choose wisely. It's important that you invest the time, energy effort to build out your infrastructure so that as that growth starts to come through, you can actually process it quickly. We live in a very on demand society. We want our Uber there in minutes. We want our skip the dishes there in minutes. It's the same thing when it comes to a mortgage, right? People want their mortgage faster, better and more efficient. And you need technology to do that. So that's that's the number one thing that I would focus on. I think it's also important to understand where you're getting your business from. So a lot of people jump into the industry and they're expecting business for friends or family or someone said you should be on Facebook or Google. You know, it's going to be hard for someone to scale their business today with all the changes in the digital world, all the big companies spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a month to compete for that very small space. So I think it's important you should understand where your strengths are in marketing, where you're good at getting business. I mentioned on the panel that I have a face for for radio, so I won't be doing a lot of TikToks or Instagram videos, but I know where my business comes from and that's where I'm going to double down on. So half tech, half foundation. Know how to structure your business, where you get your business from. And I think that will be really good ingredients to allow you to scale in 2023. 

Chris: Awesome. Shubha Anything you want to chime in on with in regards to scale in today's market? 

Shubha: Yeah, I mean, I couldn't agree more with Gary sentiment regarding technology and it's going to be a huge part of scale and growth. Looking forward to all businesses, right? Having automations and processes in place that allow them to alleviate workload, alleviate time, and really maximize that full growth potential. You know, when I look to scale, you know, one of the things that we often talk about is that your growth is only going to be as strong as your foundation. Right. And it's very similar to like building a house, you know if you have a very weak foundation and a very weak infrastructure. The house is really set to collapse. Right. But if you can build and lay that strong foundation and make sure that you spend the time and the energy on ensuring that you can continue to compound and grow on top of that, that should lead you to success in the future. When looking at today's market and today's environment, one of the things that I feel people should really look at when thinking about scale into the future is really what opportunities and how can they forecast the market ahead, Right? We're in a changing environment. We're in an ever, ever evolving environment. And the mortgage landscape today is much different than it was 12 months ago, much different than it was 24 months ago. So really having a good viewpoint and a good forecast into what the next 12, 24 or 36 months ahead look like for them. That will help them as well in understanding, timeline and understanding what that scale process is going to look like. 

Chris: Perfect and Shubha. I'm going to keep it with you. And for the next question. Within scale, you know, I've talked with a lot of brokers and I think that delegation becomes important of like building a team. And I need to delegate responsibilities, whether that be we've kind of talked about marketing and technology, you know, what advice would you kind of have with the approach of from the team building side to how to delegate responsibilities within the team to then again, just to continue to scale and continue to grow from a from a volume and a loan perspective? 

Shubha: Yeah, I think from a delegation standpoint, like mortgage brokers, typically we're salespeople and typically a lot are type-A personalities and they like having control over the situation. And I think that is the biggest obstacle in and of itself when it comes to scale growth and especially delegation in that we get in our own ways, right? So when we're looking to delegate work and we're looking to assign work to to other people on our team, other members of our team, one of the most important things from my viewpoint is really having documentation processes in place, right? You can't allow other people to help participate when you don't even know what needs to be done right. And a lot of times mortgage brokers are just off the cuff, right? We just we've been doing this for a long time. We understand what we're doing and and we know what to do. But that doesn't mean the next person stepping into the role has ten, 12, 15 years of experience backing them and that they've been through these situations or circumstances. So being able to have well documented processes, understanding what your system looks like, what are your touch points, what are your scripts, what are your tasks, what needs to be accomplished, and what time horizon is really going to help with the delegation? Once you've done that, you can prepare that team well through training, through knowledge and allowing them confidence and knowing what their role is and where they fit into the wheel, into the machine. And then really after that, it's getting out of the way and allowing people to be the best at their jobs and allowing them to succeed. 

Chris: Gary, what were your thoughts on kind of the team building aspect of just kind of moving responsibilities around? 

Gary: Yeah, I know. I agree with you. I think he's bang on with the first big two. One is letting go. We're all control freaks, as he said. He's absolutely right. I don't think there's any successful broker that doesn't try to control the process and obviously a repeatable process, which again, should be elaborated on quite well. I think the other two quick ones is trust. You've got to trust people that they're going to do the job right. You have to and that goes to letting go. You have to trust and let them to do what they do. And I think you have to expect mistakes. You know, I think one of the reasons that we hold back or most people hold back, most brokers hold back is that they don't want mistakes to happen. But in scale growth, it's inevitable it's going to happen. And one of the things that I like to say is I okay, if you make a mistake on every single thing you do, I would just hope you don't make the same mistake on every single thing you do. So if you do all those things, I think you'll set yourself up to be very successful in scaling your business and delegating. 

Chris: First couple of questions that have been around what broker should do when going to the next level, whether it be a different processes, responsibilities on the ladder. Have you noticed some some things that maybe that shouldn't be done, you know, of from years of building and growing? It's like, you know, if I could do a dot, dot, dot over again, I wouldn't do it. I would have done it differently. Are there some things that some pitfalls that folks should be aware of when scaling as well? 

Gary: Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the biggest ones is being able to understand what role you want for yourself in your quote unquote business. So one of the biggest mistakes I see happen is very successful. Mortgage brokers don't actually step away from the business and they try to be a successful mortgage broker while running a brokerage or building a brokerage. And I personally believe it's very difficult, if not impossible, to do both successfully. So I think you have to really understand what your objectives are as the years go on. Do you want to be a really good broker or do you want to actually run a business? Because they're very different, right? And then again, going back to what we talked about earlier is really focusing and understanding where you're good at getting business from. Just because people do TikTok, just because they do Instagram or Facebook doesn't mean you are going to be good at it. So testing is great. Do a lot of split testing, understand what works, what doesn't, but then really just do what works for you. You don't have to do it all, even though others may be successful in other ways of generating that business. 

Chris: Okay. And Shubha, what are some of the things that you've seen over the years from kind of pitfalls, avoidable things that you want to kind of put out there for folks when looking to kind of scale and grow? 

Shubha: I think Gary hit a lot of good ones again. And I think for me, one additional one to add on there is just constantly looking ahead without looking back. And, you know, I'm a forward thinking guy. I love to look forward and I love to innovate. I love to do new things. But it doesn't mean that we can't reflect back on the work that we've done, refine processes and prove processes, you know, and really build strength. So instead of just continuing to go, go, go, go, go, you know, taking some time to reflect, to pause, to analyze and to refine existing processes and existing channels of of sales or of business and of marketing that you already have and see how you can improve upon those. 

Chris: Okay, perfect. And Shubha, I want to stick with you. I'm going to kind of go over to the other side of the fence, which is kind of the lender partnership with the broker. What are what are some of the strategies and advice that you would kind of challenge brokers with now to strengthen your reputation or even kind of gain better knowledge and access to their lender partners? Are there some things that you would provide as strategies for just kind of from the lender side of the fence for the broker? 

Shubha: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there's something that that I say very often here to our teams and something I talk about a lot just in my business in general, which is that, you know, in a sales focused business and in a customer service business, which we're all in, you know, something that we're all kind of working on is trying to find those good customers we love when we're working with good clients and good customers. And something I teach our teams and talk about a lot is that, you know, in order to find good customers, you have to be one yourself, right? And that means think about what you would idealize as your optimal or your best customer and be that person. If that means quick turnaround on communication, if that means respectable tone, if that means good product knowledge and conducting yourself in a professional manner, then be all of those things. And I think that's the first and foremost thing with building strong relationships with your lender partners is just being a good client. Know that we need them just as much as they need us for our business, and they're an integral part in the growth of the mortgage broker channel and providing solutions to our customers and then giving them the respect and the courtesy. So definitely contacting them when you have questions. Being in constant communication with them, conducting yourself in a professional manner, you know, having a good level of mutual trust and mutual respect, that goes both ways. You know, really, Chris, to answer your question simply, it's just about being a good person. If we're good people mutually with the people that we collaborate and work with, everything will fall into place from a relationship perspective. 

Chris: Wonderful. And Gary, what are your thoughts with kind of working with the lenders and some things that brokers can kind of focus on there? 

Gary: Yeah, no, look, I definitely agree with Shubha but the way we look at a lender, as is someone who's part of our team. Right. I know a lot of brokers make the mistake of thinking it's us versus them. It's the other way around, the lenders and other stakeholder in our process. They're part of our team, so treat them as such, Right? They're not perfect. They're going to make mistakes. You make mistakes. It's important to work together with them as though they're you're your colleague right next door to you at your office. And I think the other one is understand that your job as a mortgage broker is to make the lender's job easier. Right. So when you're actually putting deals together, you have to assume that anything that looks like it could be a roadblock or a challenge for them to underwrite and approve that file is going to be so mitigate for that upfront. You know, efficiency is the name of the game in our business. So if you can prepare ready files for lenders where all they really have to do is rubber stamp the file, you're going have a better relationship, you're going to have a better approval rate, you're going to provide a better customer experience. So everybody wins in that process to really kind of be an extension of them. I'm going to leave you with two words that I really focus on. For one is loyalty and one is karma, right? So be loyal to the people that are loyal to you. And again, this speaks to what Shubha mentioned earlier, karma in the sense that if you're just going to send files to every lender and hope it sticks, you're going to get the same from the customers that you're trying to do business with, right? Whereas if you're loyal and you're consistent, you give business to the lenders that are good to you. I feel that you're going to get the same thing in return from the customers out there. So live by karma, operate by karma, and I think you'll be very successful in this industry. 

Chris: Wonderful. So one of the things that has always been prevalent within the broker community is building a referral network. Not that it wasn't important two years ago, 20 years ago, 15 years ago, but I think that that is very important right now. Folks are wanting to create more partnerships with realtors, create more partnerships within their communities. Gary, I'm going to start with you on this one. I mean, what would be your advice for really just upping your referral network? 

Gary: Yeah, so, you know, it's a good question, Chris. In fact, the old model was actually built on partnerships or one of the only companies that actually focused on that upfront versus the traditional industry. And when I look at a partnership, I think a partnership, the word itself kind of signifies what what this opportunity is. It's got to be good for both parties. Right? And, you know, when I put myself and I go out there and I look for partnerships, I think about what what the partner want, how do they benefit, and then what can I do to help them make their business more successful? Because if I help them make their business more successful, it's inevitable that I will get more opportunities. And I think the things in being a good partner that you have to do is you have to be available, you have to be responsive, right? You have to expect to provide information in real time the same way you would expect it from your customer or anybody else. And I think you've got to provide accuracy of information. Right. A lot of people want to go out there and they want to work with realtors or lawyers or whatever it may be, but you can't reach them. The real trust to chase them, to get them on a call, and then they're providing inaccurate information or wishy washy information which doesn't allow that partner to do what they do best. So I think if you're responsive, I think if you provide factual information and you really put the partner ahead of yourself, I think it's inevitable that you'll be successful in that partnership in return. 

Chris: Okay. And Shubha anything you want to chime in on when it comes to kind of just growing and scaling a kind of a referral network? 

Shubha: Yeah, I think, you know, going back to Gary's comment regarding karma, you know, back to Laws of Attraction, right? It's knowing what you're looking to attract and then going out there and finding it right. Rather than going out there and just trying to get everything and everybody to work with. You try to understand what is important to your business. For example, if you're looking for first time homebuyers or homebuyers in general, who are the referral partners that can help you support that type of customer? You know, maybe realtors, maybe immigration lawyers, whoever it might be. And then you go and understand what type of customers they have, what type of problems they have, how you can provide solutions, and then what are the benefits in working with them. As Gary mentioned before, right, not everybody is going to be able to provide you every single resource and every single opportunity. So it's very important to know what you're looking to get out of each of those distinct relationships and what value you're going to bring to the table to them as well. 

Chris: Okay. So 2022 is behind us. Roller coaster might be a good way to sum up the year now into 2023. Looking ahead, whether it's this year or even planning into 2024. Shubha what would be your advice just for just mortgage professionals in general? Just how to thrive today, next quarter, next year, Just things that you can do today that are going to have impact moving forward. 

Shubha: Yeah, you know, this industry knows the saying activity breeds results. Right. And and what happens is that a lot of times in down markets or when markets slow down a little bit, we slow down on our activities as well. One of my big philosophies in life is that when the market around me slows down, we speed up. It means that we get more active, we start building more contacts. We start really resonating with our partners and our referral sources, helping them bring value, delivering presentations, working with their clients, providing optimal solutions, etc.. It's really just about activity because the work that we do today really depicts our success tomorrow. So it's never immediate. We make a couple of phone calls, we build a couple of relationships that doesn't necessarily result into dollars for us today. But we have to understand that in these slower markets where we're going to see higher interest rates for a long period of time, we're going to see consumer sentiment down for an extended period of time. It's really, really important for us to just stay active and involved in our businesses, in our practices and with our partners. And I think if we do those things, really, the success will come right. And just as much as we're going to see a difficult market in the year ahead. Believe me when I say there is opportunity. Mortgages are something that so many Canadians need. We're seeing so much immigration growth. We're seeing so many first time home buyers just coming of age and getting into the market. We're seeing so much opportunity for renewals refinance and other solutions to clients. We're a necessity and we just have to make sure that we are delivering value every step of the way. 

Chris: Absolutely. And Gary, anything you want to chime in on for kind of advice and strategy for folks that they can implement today that will have future impact? 

Gary: Yeah, just just to piggyback off what Shubha said, I mean, new actions, new results. Right. And, you know, although we are in unprecedented times, uncertain times, there's a lot of opportunity out there, right? Unless you tell me tomorrow that people are no longer looking to buy homes and banks are no longer no longer looking to lend money to those people to buy homes, there's opportunity out there. I think it's important that you stay in your lane. You focus on what you do best. You use a lot of the tools that we discussed today infrastructure, technology, scale, deciding what parts of your business you're good at and what you want to focus on. And I think if you stick to those things, you may have to work a little harder until rates come down a little bit and told me there's a little bit more opportunity, but there's definitely a ton of opportunity out there. And now is the time to triple down your efforts to take advantage of it. Because again, as Shubha said, most people are scaling back. This is the time to triple down and go faster. 

Chris: Okay. Wonderful. Greatly appreciated. Thank you to our panelists. Shubha from Pineapple, Gary from 8Twelve. And thank you very much to the broker community, the mortgage professionals, for tuning in to CMP TV. Thank you.