The switch flipped for Robyn LaVassaur in 2017.
Before that, her best year had been 52 units—not a bad year, but nothing compared to the more than 330 units closed in 2017. Sure, rates helped, but her mindset made the difference more than anything else.
“I think that was being more intentional within my business and more intentional with my real estate partners in terms of building relationships and having consistent prospecting,” LaVassaur said.
LaVassaur is a senior loan consultant with Summit Funding and is almost entirely realtor-based, with the rest of her business coming from her past client database and current client referrals. She, along with her five-person team, closed $78 million in 2018 through a combination of face-to-face meetings and true loan consultations with clients, and monthly classes, masterminds, and lunch and learns with partners.
Even though LaVassaur did a lot of business in 2018, she also took on some branch management roles last year and had a tough time finding the balance between that, prospecting and maintaining client relationships. She feels that she has her feet back underneath herself now, but she had to readjust her priorities and make various sacrifices to right the ship. Delegation solved some of these issues, but LaVassaur discovered a few things that she had to completely eliminate in order to fit everything into her days.
One of those things were realtor “pop-bys”, monthly unannounced visits where she would deliver small treats to her realtor partners. Once LaVassaur discovered the practice wasn’t driving additional business, she stopped doing it, which gave her more time for deeper, more meaningful conversations. She also eliminated television in order to spend more time with her family, get to bed earlier, and have more space to focus on getting up and getting her day started earlier.
“We have choices every single day of how we use our time and that was one of them,” LaVassaur said. “There’s a lot of people who want to become great—and I wouldn’t even say that I’m great, I think I’m working on it—but real greatness requires sacrifice. It just does, and you can have it all, but you have to define what having it all means, and then what it will take to get there.”
If people try to take the path to greatness too quickly, they stumble, and this is especially true for mortgage originators who need to build a sustainable business model. Getting 15 new referral partners in a week sounds great, LaVassaur said, but it’s difficult to then give those partners the kind of dedicated time and attention that all new relationships need. Instead, focus on having one great year and build upon that with another one, constantly adding partners as you go. It takes time and patience, but relationships will happen more organically and quality becomes more important than quantity.
“Everybody’s boat is built for a certain number of people or clients or relationships, and I think that part of the problem is, people are always wanting to get to the next level before they master the level that they’re at,” she said. “This is a journey, not a race, and you should up every day trying to be one percent better than you were the day before . . . I think we move too quickly and we want too much, and this business takes discipline.”
If this sounds a little coach-y, well, she’s also a mortgage coach, and has been for three years with The Core Training. For LaVassaur, everything in life requires a little help, help that often disappears once we hit adulthood. If she had had The Core in her 20s, she said, things would’ve been much different. She started origination as a mortgage broker, and with coaching she thinks she would’ve been more disciplined and had leadership skills sooner, with an understanding that fantastic results don’t come without fantastic efforts.
“Business coaching is one of the most genius creations that somebody ever thought of,” she said. “People need accountability beyond just going to work every day. It’s learning not only great communication skills, client care, leadership with your team; The Core’s motto is, learn how to make money, save money, give money, and I think that that’s a big piece of it. There’s a lot of people that make a lot of money, but it all doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to save any of it or do good by it.”
And she’s trying her best to do good by it, and do good for others. She’s sharing lessons that she’s learned about discipline and business building with other mortgage originators, and she’s also sharing lessons that she’s learned about aligning mortgage options with an overall financial outlook with borrowers.
When LaVassaur first stepped into the mortgage industry as a temporary receptionist, she instantly fell in love with the business.
“My boss was a woman and I’m from a small town in southern Oregon, I’d never seen a powerful businesswoman before until I saw her,” LaVassaur said. “It changed my mindset around what I was capable of.”
She became what she saw, and is more than happy to pass it on.