The higher you get to the top of the ladder, the more you encounter difficulties that you can’t see from the bottom.
Craig Andriulli knows this all too well. He’s now a senior vice president at Bond Street Mortgage in New Jersey, and the things that he used to lose sleep over just two short years ago are a distant memory. Now, however, the challenges he has to overcome are on the bird’s-eye level of the business.
“I don’t let the individual deals stress me out anymore because I have faith in the structure upfront, the process it goes through, and the people that are reviewing it. So that stress has faded to almost nothing, which is fantastic; the new stresses are management and managing relationships, and ROI and costs,” he said.
It’s a natural byproduct of growth, and it’s a challenge that comes along with having a birds-eye view of the business, and figuring out how to continue to grow without spending as much time in the trenches.
Not that Andriulli is complaining about the growth. Last year he got to $82 million in closed loan volume by adding some team members, including his brother, a computer scientist who does all of his technology and digital marketing. Between him, a few salespeople, and two processors, they’ve “beefed up” their operations and are ready to take on additional business.
“What I’ve been focusing on is really maximizing everyone’s capacity because I feel that we could double our production with the people that we currently have. So yes, I’m always evaluating, I’m always looking at relationships and what the ROI is on that relationships, otherwise you’d wind up in a hole. You’ve got to always be looking at that stuff.”
Andriulli works primarily with realtor partners, but within that category, he’s somewhat diversified. He’s partnered with some of the highest-producing brokerages in New Jersey, as well as with smaller individual and team accounts, and between those partners is where he gets the majority of his purchase business. The rest is self-generated from past clients and past client referrals.
This year, however, he’s shifting strategies to cater more to financial advisers. That direct referral business will complement his primarily purchase business, with the added bonus of requiring less energy from his perspective.
In order to convert as many prospects as possible, Andriulli says that his team focuses on a lot of branding and retargeting. They have a very effective, “home-grown”, social media presence that he uses to follow both clients and past clients around the internet. By doing this, he says, it promotes the value aspect of his proposition before that first point of personal contact. Most of the time, even if his prospects weren’t referred by a solid referral source or past client, they’ve seen his reviews and profiles online and he was on their radar before they anyone’s even spoken with him about a mortgage.
As good as he is at originating mortgages, the only reason Andriulli is in the business in the first place is because he didn’t want to become a lawyer 15 years ago. He had been planning on it, he had been accepted to law school, but the night before orientation, he decided that he didn’t want to go back to school at all. A friend of a friend happened to be opening a mortgage company at the time, and Andiulli figured he’d give the industry a shot. He never left.
Andriulli says that he’s always trying to outdo himself, which he admits isn’t always the best thing, but it’s almost a necessary evil.
“In this environment where things are changing so quickly, especially with digital presence and social media and just the way the market’s moving, you have to always reevaluate, otherwise you get stale,” Andriulli said.
By its very nature, reevaluation is a constant process. He didn’t have anyone to teach him good habits when he started, so even today he’s constantly working on time management and what activities lead to more business. Andriulli is working to getting his process as smooth and mechanical as a manufacturing line, all the while perfecting his strategy for video communication throughout the transaction to provide the human element. He said he’s constantly drilling down on turn times, and instead of doing a victory lap at closing, he’s always trying to extract a new deal from every deal he closes.
“If you can’t provide a service or product that is acceptable or satisfactory by leaps and bounds, you can’t expect people to keep coming back,” Andriulli said.