Smaller shops to grab back market share with service, competence

by Kelli Rogers20 May 2013

Turn the clock back to pre-financial crisis and economic downturn, and it was easy to make money in the mortgage business, said Joe Parsons, senior loan officer at PFS Funding in Dublin, Calif.

“You just had to know how to get someone to say ‘OK, do my loan’ or get a realtor or referral partner to say ‘Take care of my client,’” Parsons said.
But customer service has changed right along with the times, and with more regulation than ever on rates and loan types, it’s the one thing that can still allow a mortgage company to stand out. 
And it’s with excellent customer service that Parsons speculates smaller third party originators will continue to regain their market share, once 85% in their heyday and down to approximately 7% at their worst.
“Customer service, next to knowing lending guideline, is the number one thing you can do as a lender,” said Frank Mancino, AVP and branch manager for Gateway Funding in Hamilton, New Jersey, who noted that it’s even more crucial for smaller operations. 
While the large lenders of the world canbank on massive phone calls and not fret over a few lost clients, smaller companies have to follow up and gauge how the customer is doing throughout a sometimes difficult loan process with regular phone calls and emails, Mancino said. He said Gateway often picks up customers who are unhappy with their current large lender.
“Large lenders can’t always handle the massive volume coming their way,” Mancino said.“That’s the way it’s always been and we take advantage of it every day. If large companies had the same attention to detail, we’d never get a phone call.”
Parsons said customers are beginning to notice the variance in how they’re treated. 
“What is happening is that people are coming to understand it does make a difference where you go for your loan, but it’s not about rate at all,” he said.“Everybody sells their loans to the same pools of investors and gets the same rate on any given day.”
Both Mancino and Parsons agree that the relationships they create with customers are what ensure a smooth-as-possible process as well as referrals. 
“They are getting more engaged in the process,” Parsons said of consumers. “It’s now about who answers the phone, who returns their calls.”