The past couple years have been a true test to David Toaff, both personally and professionally. After facing devastating accusations, his business took a huge hit and he spent much of 2019 rebuilding his reputation and his relationships. With many years in the industry under his belt, he went back to the basics.
“I made myself available at all times and was willing to assist on more challenging loan scenarios, like clients with credit issues,” said Toaff, senior loan officer at First Home Mortgage. “That’s originally how I built a name in this business and that’s what I continue to do today.”
Toaff renewed his focus on reconnecting with referral partners, continuing to close loans that others found too difficult, and strengthening his social media presence. Soon enough, word spread on the strides he was making and many of his past realtor partners began referring him again. In 2018, Toaff had closed over $78 million in volume before seeing his business decline to just under $56 million in 2019. With tenacity and grit, Toaff says he’s on track to close $100 million this year.
Of course, the current refinance boom has been critical to every LOs success this year, but one of the biggest gamechangers to Toaff’s business was the decision to hire an old friend with no mortgage experience. His business was picking up again and he needed the support, but he had been disappointed many times in the past with teammates who weren’t able to keep up or just didn’t have the loyalty and longevity he was looking for.
“I was tired of feeling like a revolving door to others, so I changed my approach to find someone open to a more long-term opportunity,” he said.
Evan Hesekiel had no experience and limited knowledge on the industry. Toaff knew training from the ground up would be a tremendous endeavour, but in the end trust and loyalty was most important.
There was a lot to learn. Toaff had his new LO assistant study up on product knowledge, and taught him the importance of exercising great attention to detail, and the value of remaining courteous and responsive to clients even during times of stress. He emphasized how critical it is to always be available and forthcoming when it comes to updating referral partners and clients on files. After a short time, it was clear to Toaff that his decision to take a risk on Hesekiel was paying off.
“A lot of my real estate partners reach out to him directly, which gives me the time to bring in more business. In less than a year, he’s gained tremendous knowledge and proven to be extremely detail oriented.”
Sharing responsibility with his new teammate allowed Toaff to bring more balance into his life and the opportunity to get more involved in his religion, which meant a lot to him. Having the time to reconnect with loved ones and turn to prayer and meditation has been good for Toaff in all aspects of his life.
“Like many originators who found success quickly, I got lost in that and forgot what was important; this experience really brought me back. Going through something so challenging forced me to work on myself and ultimately led me to becoming a better person,” he said.
For other originators who are struggling with recruitment and retaining talent, Toaff says it’s important to find balance in a teammate; finding someone who excels in the areas that you find more difficult and vice versa. Most importantly, go with your gut.
“So many people told me I need to hire someone with experience, and I understand where they come from and how much easier it is to hire someone who needs less training, but hiring someone I could trust from the get go was ultimately the best decision.”