Owning your own business can be stressful, particularly if you’re not sure what to do next. As a mortgage broker, you most likely own your own real estate brokerage business and source your own clients. But now that you have your own firm, how are you supposed to scale it so it can continue to grow? As a lender, we’ve seen plenty of brokers and what goes into a successful (or unsuccessful) business, so let’s walk through the most impactful and actionable elements that you should focus on.
Marketing your brand
Marketing seems like an obvious place to start when you’re trying to grow your real estate business, but are you standing out? Or, are your marketing efforts getting lost in the noise and saying the same thing as other brokers in your area?
Your brand is one of, if not your most, valuable asset. It sets you apart and gives your business more weight than just the basic services you provide. To continue growth, it’s critical to push and leverage your brand to not only make it easy for current and potential clients to recognize it, but also associate additional value with it. When it comes to actually doing this, there are a number of methods and channels that you can opt to use, as long as your brand is consistent and active across any that you choose to employ:
With Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all reaching over 200 million active daily users (and nearly 2 billion in Facebook’s case), it’s hard to make a case against being on social media platforms. They give you endless opportunities to interact, share, and learn, as well as extend your reach to potential clients or networking opportunities. While it can seem overwhelming to get started, or even dedicate that much time to a platform, we have a full guide to help brokers get started, build an audience, and understand best practices for our top two platforms. Some basic tips that you can immediately start on social media include:
- Post video tours of new homes
- Share and congratulate new clients
- Use ads to boost posts with listings that you want to reach a larger audience
Next up is your home base of operations on the internet. Your website is at the center of your online presence and identity, and it should be treated as such. Whether people are specifically searching for your business, or just any broker businesses, you want your site to stand out and provide an excellent user experience. Due to the importance that the internet plays in all of our lives, a poor website can make or break a firm’s success (or at least seriously stunt growth). On top of being easy to navigate and understand, it should be optimized to show off your strengths and what value you provide your clients. For more information on this process and how to start a new website, see our complete list of optimization tips and steps for the website creation process.
Sometimes overlooked, email marketing is another way to keep in contact with past, current, and prospective clients. If you’re tracking leads from your website, social media, or other channels, sending out helpful emails is a great method of building relationships with them. Not only that, but it also puts your knowledge and authority in the space on display, and makes people more likely to convert. Our comprehensive guide on email marketing for brokers not only includes how you can get started and track performance, but also some free email templates that you can start using today.
Often a section of your website, content creation is yet another way to build your authority and share your expertise with others. One of the most proven ways to accomplish this is through a blog, like the one you’re reading right now. It can expand your reach beyond people who know your business name by appearing in searches for common problems or questions. It also serves to get your foot in the door with people who might be looking for brokerage services in the future. By helping people find information at the top of the marketing funnel, it makes them more likely to stick with you as they move down the funnel and closer to making a purchase. However, a blog isn’t the only way to go about content marketing, and we cover several different options, as well as how brokers use them, here.
Your brand is only as good as its reputation, and it’s important to keep in mind that you might not always have control over that reputation. Review sites like Google and Yelp give anyone who’s interested information about how valuable your services are, how you treat clients, whether you know what you’re talking about, and more. While you can’t control the reviews, you can make sure that you minimize bad reviews with outstanding service and encourage reviews from those who have had good experiences with you.
Word of mouth
Another aspect of your reputation is word of mouth, which can also be an incredibly effective marketing tool. While all of the marketing tactics we’ve discussed have been digital, people still trust those that they know more than online ads or emails. In fact, according to OutboundEngine, 75% of a real estate agent’s business comes from word of mouth and referrals. By asking for — or incentivizing — referrals from both current and past clients, you can quickly grow your real estate business and reputation. Some examples of ways to go about this include:
- Requesting referrals prominently on your website
- Offering discounts or specials for referrals
- Giving clients thoughtful gifts that they would be likely to actually use (and might show off or be asked about)
While it might be tempting to network with everyone and anyone in the industry, scaling a real estate business requires prioritization of how you spend your time. You will be more successful in networking if you can be proficient in a more targeted approach. What problems are you struggling with or feeling unsure about? Find people who can advise or provide guidance on these topics and focus your networking efforts primarily on these people. Of course, this doesn’t mean to completely ignore anyone who can’t provide immediate assistance, but if you’re going out of your way to connect with people, it’s more valuable to be people who can help with current roadblocks.
Automate & delegate
Depending on who you network with, you might end up actually hiring them to work with you. If you don’t have anyone working with you right now, your own capacity might be limiting the business’ growth — and it’s probably worth investing in an assistant. If you have people working for you, incentivize them to go after more lucrative neighborhoods or property types. This will help you manage your time more effectively, and significantly expand the capabilities of your firm. By creating and tracking KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for employees such as applications per showing, occupancy rate, or number of complaints, you can ensure that they’re contributing to the growth of your business — just don’t go overboard with this.
Don’t be afraid to take risks
Another aspect of scaling any business is calculated risks. Growth is change, so you have to be prepared to change and take these calculated risks. However, the key word here is “prepared.” By doing your research on markets and opportunities, it’s easier to determine and estimate whether certain risks are worth taking for their potential rewards. You can also periodically put together SWOT analyses (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) to look at internal and external factors that can influence risk. Strengths and weaknesses are positive and negative internal attributes, while opportunities and threats are positive and negative external circumstances. These will keep you more informed when calculating risks and taking them.
Always put clients first
This might seem obvious, but it can sometimes be forgotten in the pursuit of growing any type of business. A broker’s job isn’t to get clients to spend money, it’s to represent and advise them. Keeping clients’ interests in mind and making sure that your services benefit them first means that profits will surely follow. This mindset goes back to building strong client relationships, which results in higher customer loyalty and satisfaction, stronger brand reputation, and more referrals from clients.
Expand your portfolio
One way that residential mortgage brokers can keep their pipelines filled (and continuously scale their business) is by adding non-QM, or non-qualified mortgage, loans to their offerings. There are a number of reasons that these loans are effective for growing brokerage firms:
- Fewer regulations and multi-state opportunities: Rental loans operate outside of the government and usually don’t require an NMLS license (at Visio we don’t require licenses other than CA and AZ). This means less hassle for brokers, and no need to acquire new licenses to expand your loan offerings.
- Repeat customers: Many investors own multiple properties, which offers counter-cyclical business opportunities. Some even purchase multiple properties in a single year, which is fantastic repeat business for brokers that know the best loan opportunities.
- Less Paperwork: Non-QM loans are underwritten based on property cash flow, rather than personal income, which makes gathering all relevant paperwork a breeze. Personal income statements and tax returns are not required.
Partner with a lender that helps you
One of the most valuable ways that you can kickstart the growth of your real estate business is by partnering with a lender like Visio. We have a mutually beneficial Broker Program that rewards up to 5% of each closed loan that you send us. We also use in-house processing to make sure that your workload is kept down, so you can focus on your clients. All of these benefits mean that you have a trusted lender to help grow your business, as well as feed bonus cash back into it as you close more deals.