Brandon Banks was fired up for his first day as an originator. He arrived at the bank, raring to go—then was forced to sit in his car for more than an hour.
“I showed up at 6:30 a.m. and of course, the bank didn't open till 8,” Burks laughed. “I couldn't even get in. So I knew that first day: if I if I bring that same energy and drive that teachers and coaches do, that I could be successful in the business world.”
Banks knows all about the energy and drive that motivates teachers and coaches, as he was both for 11 years, beginning when he was 24 years old. Today, he’s a top producer who closed $87 million in 2018 with FirstBank Mortgage in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This past July, he had a record month of over $13 million in personal production.
No one who gets more than 150 calls a day can effectively work alone. His team experienced their third straight record month for the state of Tennessee and Burks relies on his processor, underwriter, pre-processors, pre-closers, and junior LO to take files and run with them so that he can go out and get more business, but also go home and connect with his family.
“I'm a huge believer in family. Yesterday, my daughter had a volleyball game at 4:30 and then my son had a baseball game at 7, and I'm there at both. We find ways to make sure that we hire great help to where we can all be husbands, be fathers, and do those things, which are very, very important.”
Burke says the true strength of his team is treating their clients as well as well as they treat their real estate agents, because he’s found that his clients provide just as many referrals as agents do. To stay in front of that huge referral source, Burks hosts more events than anybody in their area.
These include a series of four customer appreciation events each year, the biggest of which is a country music concert for all past clients with headliners such as Josh Turner and Lee Brice (it pays to have Nashville connections!). Burks also holds monthly Lunch and Learn series with real estate agents and smaller events such as movie nights, but the bigger events ensure that people never forget his name.
“I still love taking lunches and coffees and meeting one on one, but I thought the more we could get in front of large masses to continue to promote what we're doing, and our team, the better chance we would have to be successful long term,” Burks said.
Events are a good way to get face-to-face interactions with those clients who opt for more digital communication during their loan process. They also provide a reason and a purpose to reach out to people.
“I always want a reason to call, and so we create reasons to call. We don't ever want to walk into an office with donuts. I mean, that's great, but we want to have a specific thing of value that we can call them for. If it's an event or it's something where we can share knowledge, we can really give them tools to help them be successful and grow,” Burks said.
Apart from events, Burks has hired a staff member focused entirely on customer attention and database mining. He started his mortgage career learning refis, and the current refi boom is providing opportunities to take advantage of all the purchase business he’d done between now and then. The name of the game this year is follow up, which Burks acknowledges as something that no one does as well as they should. He’s also finding opportunity in new construction, and employing digital strategies such as Facebook Ads to target people who are moving into his area as spillover from Nashville.
The career change to origination that he made nine years ago may seem like a big departure from being a high school math teacher and basketball coach, but in some ways, they’re very similar. He now loves to train other originators, and his competitive nature that led him to great success as a coach has made him a standout leader in the field. That being said, his spirit of competition has morphed as he’s grown his business.
“I'll never forget hitting the first $1 million month or hitting the first $2 million month, and now you're disappointed with a $5 million month,” Burks said. “It was more enjoyable early on, because I felt like those hurdles you cross were huge, and now, at this level, you've got to find new ways to celebrate success, and to also continue to stay motivated to continue to grow. Right now $100 million is our goal, and we are on track for that if things finish out the way they should . . . we're hoping that this year we'll cross over that threshold.”
He got a lot of personal fulfillment from being a teacher, but after his first child was born, he was looking for more financially, as well as more of a challenge: if he worked as hard as he did teaching and coaching, could he find that same level of success in the business world?
The answer, it would appear, is yes.
In late 2018, Burks became a regional sales manager, and while he did not (and would not) give up producing, he was able to hire three managers to help him cover the state. He speaks at a number of local association events, trains and recruits other originators, and participates in the Monster Producer coaching program, run by longtime friend Michael Burt, all in addition to managing his own personal production.
“The part I enjoy the most is being able to share everything that I've learned and stole from others, and give back and help others grow, too,” Burks said. “I always want to grow because I feel like you're either going up or going down. And we definitely don't want to go down.”