Dallas originator Pam Miller has been walking long before others learned to crawl.
She manages a team in Frisco, Texas, and has built a solid reputation with builders in the area not only because of her process, but because of her partners.
“We have a very elite panel of new construction appraisers, which is really important to the builders,” Miller said. “We market a 10-day close, we can get an appraisal in a day and a one-day underwrite. A lot of places talk about service, but we really just have everything set up in here where it just can move really smooth . . . A lot of branches will use corporate closing and whatnot, but I don’t. We draw our own docs, we do our own wires, and we fund our own loans. We’re real on top of what we’re doing here.”
Miller has been involved in the housing industry for her entire adult life. She was a realtor in the 70s, but in the late 80s, she found the typical realtor hours of evenings and weekends to be a bit of a drag. A friend turned her on to the mortgage industry, where she began working with builders in the late 90s and has built upon that success ever since.
A producing branch manager, Miller skirts the line of being a small branch while still bringing in some big numbers. Her team has anywhere between four and six originators, as well as four processors/closing staff. Her husband co-manages the branch, and the plan is for him to do more marketing duties in the year ahead. She wants to hold on to their small branch status while boosting production, so she’s added a reverse mortgage specialist to the team in addition to building her realtor and builder base.
The truth is, even with continued outreach, top producers get into ruts from time to time.
“I’ve added a couple of more building opportunities, just trying to change it up some. We’ve been stuck,” Miller said, adding that she expects her 2019 production to end up somewhere around $109 million after hovering around $100 million for about four years. “We’re trying to get past it. Really, you just have to grow your branch. I’m producing branch manager, so I still do loans every day all day long.”
Despite her long-term partnerships and high volume today, Miller likes to reminisce about the good ol’ days where she and her processer would fly through 20 loans a month, just the two of them. Now, she says, it takes a lot longer to go through the process, and more people to get the job done. Because of that, she’s found working with Fairway to be a real asset.
“One thing that’s so great about Fairway is they have so many procedures in place; you have to really work at screwing up. I mean you have to really go out there big time to make an error. It’s just foolproof; that’s what’s really great about Fairway is all the compliance that’s put in place,” Miller said.
Compliance is one reason that Miller pulled their lead generation system, which employed a combination of robo-dialers, automatic texts, and email in order to work their database. They’ve been reworking it to keep in line with spam legislation, in addition to having discovered that parts of the campaign weren’t all that popular with their target audience. Still, she says, she recognizes the need for originators to fall somewhere in between automatic outreach and the old-fashioned method of staying in front of people (which she still employs).
“Lead gen is going to be the future, but you've got your traditional get-in-front-of-them, out-of-sight out-of-mind, gotta-stay-in-front-of-your-people, so-many-touches-a-week—those are proven techniques,” Miller said.
To that end, there’s no end in sight for the partner lunch meetings, lunch and learns, speaking engagements, happy hours, and event sponsorships. These do more than keep Miller’s team in front of their builder and realtor partners, but it also puts the builder and realtor partners in front of each other.
“It's still totally a relationship-driven business, and people have to trust you because if you don't get it worked out, they don't get paid. At the end of the day, they want that loan closed. You just have to be able to get out and be in front of people, build that layer of trust and get people to even try you. I just don't think that's ever going to change.”