Market x Activities = Results by Frank Garay

by 25 Aug 2011
Twenty Four YearsTwenty four years I have been in this business.  I remember just getting started in Vallejo California, January 1987.  We had no pagers, no cell phones, 8086 personal computers (for the processors) that had no hard drives and ran off of 5.25" floppy disks (some of you know what that means) and we (Advent Mortgage Co. Inc.) were the first mortgage company to get a fax machine in our area.  It used big rolls of thermal paper to print and the only other company in town that had/used one was a title company.  We thought we were pretty cool.  Getting started in those days was pretty simple.  You got licensed, got business cards, a little training on how to hand write a Good Faith Estimate using your HP-12c calculator (now I know most of you have no idea what I'm talking about) and you were on your own.  You didn't need to know too much considering that there were only three types of loans - Conventional, VA & FHA.  Oh, there were some pretty fancy products like, Balloon Payment Loans and GPM's (Graduated Payment Loans - FHA & VA), and in those days FHA and VA loans were "assumable" which was pretty nifty, but for the most part it was pretty basic.  If you had some money to put down you went conventional, if not, you were a "Govie" - end of story.   The way we got business as loan officers was very different than today.  A typical workday went something like this:  You got to the office at about 8:00am, grabbed some coffee, checked on your files and made your morning update calls.  You didn't leave voice-mails because it didn't exist.  So you left messages with receptionists who wrote them down on a square pink message pad that was then stuffed into a box for the recipient.  Then the fun began.  You had to come up with something to deliver to the real estate offices you were calling on.  Keep in mind there were no personal computers for us loan officers.  We had to use electric typewriters and other creative means to produce some sort of marketing material.  At our office we were especially lucky because we had just got a cutting edge copy machine that printed not only in black ink but blue!  Oh yeah... couple that with some yellow paper you were a pretty kick ass marketer for sure.  "Rate sheets" (as crappy as they were) were the typical hand out.  Of course you lied about the rates and made them just a little lower to try and beat your competition, but so did everyone else.  What the hell, in those days you could not lock loans till funding anyway so what did it really matter?   Then the big part of the day came.  You left the office at about 10:00am and went "into the field."    Ahhhh... "The Field."  This is probably a completely foreign term to most loan officers today.  Let me explain.  See, in the old days we used to get some marketing materials together, get in our automobiles and drive to real estate offices.  Then... stay with me now... we actually used to get out of our car and "go into the real estate office."  Okay, I know this sounds crazy but it gets even better… check it out.  Once we actually went inside the office we would.... wait for it... wait... it's coming... we would actually "talk" to real estate agents "face to face!"  Whoa... I know this sounds absolutely insane, but yes we would actually physically meet and speak to Realtors face to face!  Crazy!?  I know!  But here is the funny thing - it worked.  I remember one of my mentors, Bill Whitney, who said "Frankie, as long as you're persistent in visiting the real estate offices, it doesn't matter if you have boogers falling out of your nose - you'll get business" and you know what?  He was right, because there were some pretty pathetic loan officers out there back in those days that literally had boogers falling out of their noses that were getting business, and I was one of them (less the boogers).   Here is the bottom line - we rolled up our sleeves, went out and visited people face to face and asked for the business.  In doing so we built rapport which resulted in getting referrals - lots of them.  What that did for us was made us a little impervious to the market.  It wasn't so much the rapport, although that certainly helped, it was the mindset of doing something.  See, as long as we were "active" we got business.  Being active in those days was physically visiting Realtors in their offices, an activity that I firmly believe in to this day.  I learned through my own experience and a few mentors a secret formula.  This may seem ridiculous but it is totally true, and that is: The Market  x  Activities  =  Results.  See, we can't control the market, but we can control our activities, so if we want to maintain or increase our results, or our income, we simply need to adjust our activities.   What are activities?  Activities are the things we do that result in having conversations with people about buying real estate.  It is going "into the field" and talking to real estate partners.  It is picking up the phone and calling past clients, family and friends and talking to them about real estate.  It is actually using the chat feature on Facebook and talking to some of those "friends" that you accepted (whom you have no idea who they are) and talking with them about real estate.  It is making a blog post once a week and following up with a phone call to see what your recipients thought of it.  It is going to social functions like real estate board meetings and chamber of commerce meetings where you actually engage with people and have a conversation about what you do for a living.  It is finding ways to make presentations in front of small to large groups where you are the expert in your field.  It is calling in on radio talk shows and voicing your opinion and subtly dropping the name of your company.  It is handing out your stupid freaking business card to everyone you meet.  For that matter, it is finding ways to meet people.  It is promoting local small businesses to your database and grinding the business owners for referrals.  The bottom line - it's "talking to people" - that is all it is.   You know, it is the end of May 2011 and I just read a report that pending home sales are down 26 percent from this time last year.  So what do we do with this information? Do we get all gloomy and doomy?  Do we quit?  Do we find some miserable co-workers to commiserate with about how bad things are?  Or do we simply understand that in order for us to maintain or increase our "results" we have to increase our dog-gone activities?  The market is a moving variable that we can't control, but our activities are completely in our control so let's take responsibility for our results by understanding that we do have control over them.  Personally, I think that we should start fresh and get back to the good old days - the days of no cell phones or computers.  Back when we used to just get our asses out "in the field" and talk to people in real estate offices.  I guarantee you that if you were to visit with ten real estate offices two times a week and actually talk to the Realtors inside, you would compete with the top producer in your office or your toughest competitor.  Once you have that going strong, start to introduce some cool technology into your activities.  Remember... The Market x Activities = Results!  Increasing your activities increases your results in ANY market!  So do it.  It works.  Even if you have boogers falling out of your nose - trust me.   By Frank Garay of (TBWS) was founded in 2007 by a group of highly successful real estate and mortgage industry entrepreneurs. Born in the most battered market in the real estate and mortgage industry history, was conceived after decades of observing how the most successful professionals always seem to work smarter not harder. Frank & Brian can be reached at


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