Magazine article Mortgage Banking

Inside the Mind of a Top Producer-Craig Strent

Magazine article Mortgage Banking

Inside the Mind of a Top Producer-Craig Strent

Article excerpt

THIS MONTH'S CONVERSATION WITH A TOP PRODUCER was a particular treat for me, because this loan officer is an old friend/customer. Craig Strent was a student in our XINNIX EDGE program nearly seven years ago and has only gained even more success since I saw him last.

Strent currently operates as a top-producing loan officer/manager for Apex Home Loans Inc. in Rockville, Maryland--serving the greater Washington D.C., area, suburban Maryland and northern Virginia.

Strent closed 175 units for $65 million in 2013, while managing a team of 20 loan officers. In 2013 he was named to Mortgage Executive Magazine's top 1 percent list, and his office was named the best small business in Montgomery County (Maryland). Strent will be celebrating his 20th year in the mortgage industry this September, and he caught me up on the business practices that have made him such a success.

Strent says his main sources of business are his database, financial advisers and Realtors[R] as well as a few certified public accountants (CPAs), estate planners and divorce lawyers. He encourages other loan officers to cast a wide net when it comes to referral sources, saying, "Go where other loan officers aren't-- Realtors are fine and there is business there, but also consider going other places where you are not going to see a lot of competition."

He regularly attends networking events, and even established some of his very first business relationships with a few financial planners by attending a financial planning conference in town.

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"I put on a nice suit, brought my business cards, brought some marketing materials and just went around and introduced myself and explained to them the value proposition of having a mortgage partner," he says. "I got a few appointments out of it, those appointments turned into relationships which turned into loans, which turned into them giving my name to other advisers."

Though he does encourage getting creative about capturing new referral sources, Strent keeps an extremely organized database that serves him well. He has cultivated his database of 3,174 contacts since his start in the industry, and it earns more than 50 percent of his business per year.

The database consists of two layers: 1) prospective clients who haven't done business with him yet, and 2) existing and previous clients.

Strent and his team have a goal of reaching members in the database with five mailings and 20 emails per year. This reach includes a quarterly "rate watch" email that updates clients on their loan balance and compares it with the current market, and a mailed birthday card with a scratch-off lottery ticket from Strent and his team.

Strent emphasizes the importance of a database. "One: Have a database. Two: keep in touch with them. Keep critical loan data about your people, so that even if you don't know how to use it now, you will have the information when you decide to figure it out," he says. "Don't rely on your company to do it--that's your job, not theirs."

His advice is so important, as many lenders offer automated marketing to their database but a large percentage of loan officers don't take full advantage of it.

He operates on the daily business philosophy of task management as opposed to time management. He focuses on tasks that create revenue and generally does not take the initial loan application from a customer. …

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