It all started with a goal, scribbled on a piece of paper almost twenty years ago. Before Jason Griesser even knew how to accept a loan application, he wrote down his mission to close $1 billion in volume before he turned 40. Sure enough, in January 2018, two months before his 40th birthday, he hit that goal.
“It’s almost a stroke of luck I wrote that down, because I had been fighting for it ever since I started,” said Griesser, vice president of mortgage lending at Guaranteed Rate. “I have an excel document of my entire career’s production and the consistent practice of opening that document every month has helped me achieve that goal; it kept me focused and it forced me to manage my own progress.”
Griesser started his career in operations and built a solid understanding of the mortgage process and guidelines before stepping into sales, which he believes had a major impact on his career as a broker. Something that’s always been a driver of success for Griesser was being an early adopter of technology, admittedly too early at times. If change is coming, he thought, why not get ahead and master it. Another big one: setting expectations. Griesser and his team have a ‘no B.S.’ policy with referral partners, operations partners and customers.
“It’s this fine line of not scaring people, but also preparing them for all possibilities. The people we work with appreciate that we're very upfront and realistic about their situations, whatever they may be.”
All those things aside, his greatest accomplishment so far and a major contributor to his success has been finding his business partner, and the subsequent growth of his team. Mike Tavani was the first sales assistant that Griesser hired back in 2010 when he was ready to scale his business. A decade later, it remains one of the best decisions he’s made for his career. When recruiting, Griesser hires based on attitude, not aptitude.
“From day one, I could reach Mike at any hour. He was all about supporting me. He had the work ethic and genuine sense of urgency that you need in this business. He knew how to work and I knew I could teach him the rest.”
Griesser and Tavani are now true partners in their broker business Mortgage Joint, which lives under the Guaranteed Rate umbrella. Since joining the network, Griesser says they’ve been empowered to double their team to eight people. Their goal for 2020 is to close a collective volume of $225 milliion, and continue to expand the team. Recruitment tactics haven’t changed for Griesser as the core of what it takes to succeed in mortgage remains the same.
“If a young person comes in, works hard and is open to learning from us, he should have the same path to success that both Mike and I had,” he said. “I can give you the toolbox, but you have to swing the hammer.”
With more than 20 years under his belt, Griesser says he cares about his business with the same level of passion and drive as the first day he started. The only difference now is that his team members depend on him and vice versa.
“I lead by example. I can’t work 20 hours and then spend the rest of the week going fishing or playing golf, while demanding my team to put in the work. We are all in this together.”
One of the challenges that comes with his tenure in this biz is having too much experience sometimes. The more problems he faced throughout his career, the less surprising or unique each transaction becomes, but Griesser says he reminds himself that even though it may be a problem he’s familiar with, each deal needs to be approached with empathy.
“These issues are still brand new to the borrower and sometimes the realtor as well. A mortgage is the most important thing on the planet at that moment to that borrower, and as their broker, I need to treat the situation as such.”
This year, Griesser says he’s trending toward closing $100 million in volume and is looking forward to focusing on the growth and development of his team.