For a year and a half, Christin “Lucky” Luckman has been moving back and forth between Chicago and Naples, Florida. It’s a trek that many people make, but Luckman decided to transform her personal travels into a business opportunity.
Luckman is a senior vice president at Guaranteed Rate, and earlier this month, she opened a new branch in southwest Florida. In her travels, she’s met a lot of people who deal real estate in both places, as well as people who want to buy a second property in Florida to either relocate or for vacation purposes.
“This expansion brings an increased opportunity to capture market share by building a ‘rockstar’ team and forging relationships with customers and referral partners in a whole new footprint,” Luckman said.
While not much has changed in her Chicago office, Luckman has hired a “protégé” in Florida to learn under her, and she’s also had someone from her Chicago office move to Texas. Over time, as she’s deepened relationships with people on her team, she’s been able to capture business in other locations. She’s restructured her team to ensure coverage across time zones, adding different efficiency practices to make sure they can close loans faster.
Luckman has a unique marketing strategy. She’s built an online advertising campaign around a mascot: her dog, Wrigley, “the mortgage pup.” Wrigley stars in funny photo shoots with witty advertising slogans as a light-hearted and unique way to build brand recognition. She runs an outdoor campaign on billboards and benches as well as traditional mailers, and is starting to launch a similar campaign in Florida. Even though she’s new to Naples, she still thinks that a grassroots, event-based strategy is the way to go as opposed to cold calling.
“For me, this business has always been about relationships and helping people, not just calling a spreadsheet of leads all day, which is what a lot of mortgage professionals have found a lot of success doing,” Luckman said. “I’ve never been comfortable putting myself in those shoes—even though I’m sure if I did, I would be successful at it, it’s just not something that I enjoy.”
Although she experienced a dip in her mortgage volume in 2018, she still closed more than $66 million. This year, she’s already closed about $84 million, and is projecting to close more than $100 million by the end of the year, with around 250 units. She was a Young Gun in 2014, and hasn’t stopped since.
Luckman’s role model was her father, who hustled hard to work his way up into a finance position at a car dealership but died suddenly when she was a teenager. She liked numbers, but like her dad, she was introverted and wasn’t sure if going into sales was the right move for her. She had a job lined up in commercial lending when she graduated from college, but a family member suggested residential mortgage lending instead. Luckman thought her dad would’ve told her to take a chance on sales, so that’s what she did. Like her dad, she worked her way up, processing her own loans when she had bad processors, and making friends and sharing her newfound knowledge with as many people as she could.
Guaranteed Rate offered her a job in 2006, but she didn’t accept the offer until her mortgage company closed its doors in 2008.
“It was a very strange time, but it was a very rewarding time because I got to dig really deep,” Luckman said. She knew she was going to struggle financially, and repeatedly asked herself whether origination was definitely the path for her. Each time, the answer was yes.
“I remember paying my own mortgage with a cash advance on a credit card, because there were times that it was not good,” Luckman said. Despite that, every year after 2008 she’s been recognized for her production and, she said, “my business now couldn’t be better.”
Luckman said that if she hadn’t worked through the uncertainty of the market downturn, her career would’ve been much different. “I honestly feel if I hadn’t gone through that, I wouldn’t be as successful as I am today because I wouldn’t have worked as hard to overcome those obstacles,” she said. “I think I would’ve taken the steadiness for granted.”
Luckman says that she’s going to focus more on her online presence this year, both on social media as well as starting a lending blog, where her clients and others in her community can read more content from her personally. As competition heats up, she plans to capitalize on the familiarity she has with her clients and partners, and rely on that the same way she did in Chicago.
Luckman dug deep to figure out what she really wanted, and that has paid off in the long run. She advises other originators to do the same, but to forge their own way instead of following a blueprint set by someone else.
“I know when I try to do that, it does not work because I don’t have the same personality as person A, person B, or person C. So I think somebody just needs to be true to themselves and say, ‘What’s going to be best for me in terms of my work hours, my business plan, where I’m going to try and seek business?’ because for each person it’s different,” Luckman said. “That’s a big problem and why people aren’t successful: because they’re not being true to themselves and they’re just trying to copy what somebody else is doing.”
Luckman has been with Guaranteed Rate for a decade and she sees herself staying there for the rest of her career. Even though she’s breaking into a busy market in Florida, she’s eager to continue meeting people and growing her business.
If nothing else, she’s made her dad proud.