Magazine article Mortgage Banking

Inside the Mind of a Top Producer-Tom O'Keefe

Magazine article Mortgage Banking

Inside the Mind of a Top Producer-Tom O'Keefe

Article excerpt

I RECENTLY INTERVIEWED TOP PRODUCER TOM O'KEEFE, producing branch manager of Prosperity Home Mortgage LLC in Bethesda, Maryland. What really stood out for me in this interview was how traditional his marketing and customer service approach is to originating.

In today's market, there is a huge push to start using social media and other modern ways to prospect and retain customers. O'Keefe, however, has become and stayed a top producer for 21 years by holding true to his customer service ideals of picking up the phone rather than emailing a customer and meeting people in person whenever they are available.

O'Keefe started his originating career after earning his undergraduate degree in health science. He fell into the business, like many of us do, after receiving a job offer from a friend's father to be an assistant loan officer, and he says he "never looked back."

Nowadays he is producing more than $82 million with 173 units year-to-date, and in 2014 he produced more than $57 million with 127 units. He has been a Prosperity Home Mortgage top producer for eight years and has received many other awards for his production.

So where does he get all of his business? He says about 80 percent of it comes through Realtors[R] and the rest is primarily from past clients and Certified Financial Planners. As I mentioned before, he does not use social media or many unique prospecting activities. He acquires most of his business from asking for referrals and consistently staying in touch with past clients--he leverages past relationships instead of constantly prospecting for new business.

When I asked about his customer service philosophy, he said simply, "Keep the customer happy." It is not just about being a loan officer--"many times you have to be a psychologist as well," O'Keefe says.

It is important to guide the customers through the process and make it as stress-free as possible. This includes delivering updates and always sharing information as it becomes available. He says this mainly takes place through email if it is general updates; however, if there is ever an issue, he always calls.

He points out, "I think too many people hide behind email." Going along with the psychologist approach, it is beneficial to get the customer on the phone whenever there is an issue or if something else is needed so everything can be explained thoroughly and stress can be kept to a minimum.

To ensure any issues get straightened out and to take care of the everyday processing work, O'Keefe has a production assistant and two loan officer assistants as well as an outside team that helps with the loan process. He says his production assistant acts as the liaison, coordinating paperwork and managing the loan process as well as the pipeline of deadlines that must be met to get the loan approved. The loan officer assistants are both fully licensed and help originate loans.

When it comes to taking applications, O'Keefe is adamant that he always wants to take the applications because it keeps him motivated and helps in managing his sales team. …

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