Raymond Bartreau is the founder and senior vice president of lending partnerships at Best Rate Referrals. We caught up with him at Mastermind 2018 and picked his brain on what originators are doing wrong, and how they can come out of the market slump stronger than ever.
POW: What are some of the technologies that are in place right now that people don’t have a full understanding of/aren’t using?
RB: Number two on that list would probably be lead management systems. There are still a lot of people doing it archaically, and they’re not managing their leads into a system that will help drip and keep the consumer being hit with messages. The number one most underused technology play in my opinion is SMS. Most every lead that’s being generated today is TCPA compliant, which means it can be text. Check with your vendor and make sure your leads are TCPA compliant, if your lead came to you off your own site, make sure you have TCPA guidelines on the site. We see a huge lift with reengagement campaigns through SMS. SMS is really the thing that’s the most underused. I think that if it was used more, people would close twice the business.
POW: What are some of the processes and strategies that you’ve used in order to take companies to the next level and help them grow?
RB: With us in particular at Best Rate, it was about being niche specific in the early days. As we grew, it really became more about investing the money that we made as a startup back into our people, our technology, and then just the process of the business – the people process, technologies, how you’re going to scale. If you’re not investing your time, your energy, and your money there, you’re not going to scale your business. And once we merged with [Digital Mortgage Solutions], obviously they’re a much larger organization who also has the same philosophy of people, processes, technology, so we aligned ourselves well. I’ve seen them scale through acquisitions of other companies through that same investing into their people, into their technology, into their process.
POW: What are some of the mistakes that you’ve seen people make with their marketing campaigns?
RB: I think it’s about understanding what your strengths are and your capabilities. I think when rates go up and everybody gets in a pinch, they kind of freak out and they just start going and buying leads everywhere, thinking that that’s going to solve the problem of my decline in volume, but you really have to be strategic in your lead buys or your marketing efforts, and ensure that whatever you spend your money on, when that lead comes into you, it’s under your wheelhouse of talent.
POW: There are so many ways that originators are told to connect with realtors. Is there anything different that they can offer?
RB: These realtors get hit 20-30 times a day, sometimes more by lenders pitching same old thing. You have to bring value, and the way I would do it is, I would figure out a model to generate prequal loans, people that want to buy, and then reach out to them. Do your research, know what realtors you want to work with, once you have a prequal ready to go, you reach out to that realtor and say, “I’ve researched you, you’re a good realtor, I’m not calling you with the same song and dance, I actually have a deal for you right now, I have a buyer and my realtor happens to be out of town on vacation for the next 8-10 days. So I need a realtor for this buyer right now.’ And that’s just a small example. Once you take deals to people, now they know you’re serious, now you can build that relationship. It’s easier to get face time with them if you’re bringing the deals. So don’t waste your time trying to just pound realtors thinking you’re going to get the business, go get the business first, then go to the realtors. Cart before the horse.
POW: What’s up and coming at Best Rate?
RB: This year we released an expansion of our call center service. For 13 years we’ve been the number one live transfer company in the mortgage space in terms of quality, and now we’re going to expand the call center in Clearwater to essentially offer front end call center services for banks, not just on the live transfer model, but where they can rent our telemarketers to call their real time leads. We will be incorporating our SMS platform to essentially couple with our call center and create a front end contact partnership with lenders that are doing large volumes of internet leads, but maybe aren’t as efficient because they’re distributing them to loan officers today, as opposed to having a middleman sifting through and then feeding the loan officers live calls. So front end contact partnership is really what it’s going to be called, and it’s going to be a combination of call center work, SMS, email, basically anything to help us increase call center ratios, application ratios, and then further down the sales front on conversions.
*Interview has been lightly edited for content.
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