APM has a long history of setting time aside each year to plan out the coming year’s path for success, and we wanted to share a few tips with you. We believe that the more intentional we are about what we want to accomplish, the more likely it is that we’ll achieve our goals.
We also believe that in a rapidly changing industry like ours, it’s necessary to review and reset course more often than once a year. That’s why we suggest making a 90-day plan for mortgage loan officers to achieve their overall yearly goals. We refer to this as your 90-day sprint.
Micro-specific goals and 90-day strategies can help you reach your larger goals more effectively. They save you from getting overwhelmed by the overall goal and keep the plan manageable.
Smaller plans help you focus on what’s important now and provide you with the flexibility to pivot as needed. Just think: If you implement one to three strategies per quarter, that could be up to 12 strategies per year—and the aggregate of all strategies is what helps you hit the mark.
1. Review Your Plan from 2022
First things first: It’s time to review the goals and plans you’ve been implementing in your business. Before you start your new business plan for 2023, reflection is a fundamental practice. Ask yourself: What strategies worked well in 2022 and which didn’t? What did you hope to accomplish but didn’t?
Maybe it’s time to try a new marketing strategy or new techniques and value-add to your referral partners. Or maybe you found some great success, and it’s time to double down on that strategy. Either way, this is an opportunity to evaluate your business and figure out what is working and what hasn’t served you or your business well.
If you didn’t have a business plan, no worries—you can still go through the process of evaluation and reflection. Our LO Business Plan Workbook guides you through that evaluation process.
2. Build a New Plan
Now it’s time to create something that can grow and evolve with you. A good strategic plan will encompass your big goals for the year and help shape all the fundamental decisions you make for your business and the actions that help achieve them.
Answering a few key questions such as, “What does success look like?” “What are my biggest opportunities?” and “How will I set my disciplines to stay focused on the plan?” are all part of the process as you start to build out your business plan.
At APM, we recommend that you start by building a strategic plan that includes the following areas of your business: prospecting and marketing, referral partners, client experience, business growth, and personal development.
3. Create 90-Day Sprints
Once you have a general idea of what you want to accomplish in the upcoming year, take your large goals and break them into 90-day increments. For instance, if you want to close $100 million in loans next year, you’ll need to close about $25 million every 90 days.
From there, outline the strategies you’ll need to achieve these goals, and put together a list of action items (organized by priority) to execute them. Then start working these action items into your schedule each week—and be consistent!
You can download the APM 90-day goal sheets for mortgage loan originators and the rest of our 2023 Business Planning Book to help guide you through this process by clicking here.
4. Track Your Progress
Part of executing successful goals is tracking how far you’ve come since you began. This helps you figure out which actions will help you reach your goals and which ones won’t.
If you can, make notes of your activities and their results each day, and if something is not working, get rid of it. You’ll want to focus more energy on the activities that are working well. For instance, you may find that three follow-up calls per day netted you an average of two loans a month.
With enough data, you’ll find the motivation to keep doing these activities because you’ll know they work.
5. Have Realistic Expectations
Making good use of your time every day is what leads to improvement. The results aren’t going to be immediate, and that can make it hard to keep doing the important day-to-day activities that work.
We’ve built a weekly template into our business plan to help you stay focused on the sources of your business. By following this tool, you won’t get distracted or forget the people and strategies that matter most.
The key is to persevere with a set of smart goals that you’ll reach gradually. This means setting realistic goals that can build on one another. For example, think about focusing on $100 million in loan production next year, which you can scale to $150 million the next year and so on—instead of just making a goal to be closing $300 million in five years.
6. Build a Support System
A support system can make all the difference in helping you reach your goals: You’ll have a solid team behind you to tap for help and support. It’s important to have someone cheering you on and to take advantage of others’ perspectives. Your support system can include your manager, family or friends, or any other mentor or colleague who supports you.
An accountability partner can make all the difference, so don’t forget to add that to the equation. You need someone to help you review your strategies and keep you on track every 90 days.
7. Pivot When Necessary
Few things happen exactly as we anticipate they will. That’s especially true in the mortgage industry, and 2022 was a great example of that when interest rates climbed and our refinance business disappeared almost overnight.
Sometimes you need to modify the goal, and sometimes you can keep the goal but modify the strategies. The more adaptable you are, the faster you can change directions if you need to. Commit to making progress even when the unexpected happens. As long as you continue to push forward, you’re still on the path to success.
8. Keep Your Eyes on the End Goal
When you’re working toward a long-term goal, it’s important to break it down into manageable chunks like our 90-day plans. But big-picture thinking can help you stay focused on the end game. Return to your larger vision when you need to remember why what you’re doing is so important to you.
9. Celebrate the Wins
By celebrating wins, you recognize the effort that went into your achievement while also motivating yourself to keep pushing toward the next step of your goal. It’s a good way to get closure at each stage of the process and come back ready to refocus on what’s to come.
Planning for 2023 gives your business a direction and allows you an opportunity to work on your business instead of in it. Get started by downloading our 2023 Business Planning Book.
This blog has been updated from it's original publish date January 7, 2021.