Jennifer Guidry had to reinvent herself when she moved to Texas from California 12 years ago. She didn’t know anybody, she had no referrals at all, and she had to hit the streets.
Now a sales manager with First United Mortgage Corporation, Guidry experienced a culture shock when she moved to San Antonio. For starters, despite being the 7th largest city in the United States, Guidry found that it operated like a small town where everybody knows everybody, and it’s very hard for a newcomer to elbow in.
“It’s very cliquish here. In California, there were a lot of originators but people weren’t as closed-minded about working with new people. When I moved to San Antonio, the people that have been here for a long time, were like, 'who's this new girl?' It was very hard breaking into that world. ”
This was particularly true of the real estate community. She got in with a local builder by asking to take a look at the loans their current lender couldn’t do, and because she had a strong background in manual underwrites for FHA and VA loans—and since credit scores in San Antonio happen to be rather low—that’s where she found success and got her foot in the door.
She also found that she had to change how she did business. Growing up in New York, she was used to a fast pace and when she found herself now working in “the land of mañana,” she had to stress with her clients and partners that she wasn’t going to wait until tomorrow for some things. She learned how to serve the clients differently, to give deadlines and specific objectives, and set clear expectations. Everything started clicking when she changed the way she did things, and her business took off.
Moving to San Antonio wasn’t the first time Guidry had to start from scratch. After college, she had planned to go to medical school but after spending some time as a receptionist among mortgage originators, she had a change of heart and got her license.
“I started looking around and I’m like, ‘I could totally do this job,’” Guidry said. “I started doing loans after I got licensed, and I was really good at it. I ended up making the decision not to go to medical school. People thought I was insane—but they don’t think that now.”
2018 was the best year that Guidry ever had. She and her team closed close to 230 units for $81 million, almost $20 million more than she and her two assistants closed in 2016. She’s on track to have an even bigger year in 2019, having closed about $10 million a month so far this year—all without working nights or weekends.
Guidry is very firm with her clients and her referral sources when it comes to being off the clock, and she enforces those boundaries for herself and for her assistants. She started making an effort to reclaim her time a couple of years ago, and rather than negatively affecting her business she’s experienced the opposite; people respect her for it.
“People who called you on the weekends and the people who called you at 8 o’clock at night, they’re time wasters. I hate to say that but basically you’re doing all this extra stuff for someone who doesn’t respect your time. It’s a level of respect thing for me,” she said.
Guidry has become an expert in her market, sorting mortgage fact from fiction on a local television station. Even though she doesn’t use her appearances as an advertisement, she has noticed that people respond to her educational segments, and she treats them as kind of a public service of sorts. She also uses conventional advertising to promote construction loans, which she takes great pleasure in providing.
“It’s such a cool process when you get these people that are so excited, and they bring their floor plans in and you’re helping them build their dream home, and that is like, I just love it. I love it, I love it.”
Although she says that San Antoni is "very much an in-person place" and she takes a lot of in-person applications, she’s made other areas of the process more efficient and consistent. The workload is divvied up according to the individual strengths of her assistants, and their daily meetings, shared pipeline, and time blocking keeps everyone on track. She’s learned that business is truly a pipeline, not a faucet that can be shut off and on depending on an originator’s needs in a given month. It needs to be worked on every single day, she said, and rather than focusing on the non-productive things that a lot of mortgage originators do, maintaining a healthy pipeline means consistently generating new business, even when things are flowing well.
And the best way to get business is to return calls and treat people with respect.
“Never look at a customer as a commission check. Give the best advice possible and listen,” Guidry said. “Don’t ever treat someone according to how much money you will make off of them. I would actually attribute the greatest part of my success to the fact that I truly love helping people and I treat them all with respect, whether they qualify or not.”