Let’s be honest: 2023 was a year many mortgage loan originators would like to forget. But looking back at your business performance—the positives as well as the negatives—can help you plan more effectively for the year ahead.
Of course, many factors are out of a mortgage loan officer’s control, such as the state of the national economy and the direction the housing market is headed. But focusing on what you can control about your business returns some of that power to you. This is why undertaking loan officer business planning is so crucial for your future.
Below we explain how planning ahead can put your mortgage origination business in the best position for a more successful 2024.
Planning Provides a Road Map
If you don’t have a business plan yet or its objectives aren’t crystal clear, it’s time to correct that. Your business plan should be a clear road map for the future. It’s a bigger picture of your business and all the strategies, objectives, and benchmarks you’ll use to get to where you want to be. It’s a living document that should change as you evolve and learn.
You should be using your business plan to keep yourself accountable to your long-term vision for your business. Has your current strategy worked well over the long term? If something you’re doing has been successful, you may want to double down on it. If some other strategies aren’t as successful, you’ll know what you need to adjust.
Financial Planning and Forecasting
Financial planning can be tricky. Not only do you need to consider what’s happened this year, but you also need to predict what the coming year will look like. Below are some factors you should be evaluating at the end of every year.
Investigate your sources of income
Take a hard look at your income for this year and compare it with previous years. Although this year was probably not as successful as some prior years, you can still use those prior years to predict future performance. You should always be keeping in mind the cyclical nature of your mortgage origination business.
Part of why you should look at previous years’ income is to get a feel for what drives that income. If your business has grown because you’ve been building solid relationships with real estate agents and other referral partners, or if you find that specific marketing strategies have increased your lead generation, it’s essential to recognize those patterns over time.
Look at the bigger picture to get a best guess on what you can expect next year, regardless of changing interest rates and other factors that you can’t predict or control.
Create a realistic budget
After creating your income projections, it’s time to make a realistic budget for your business based on expected cash flow for the coming year. You should do your budget planning at least quarterly, even if you can’t forecast the entire year all at once.
This will give you a sound framework for making business-related decisions in the coming months. You’ll also be able to set realistic financial milestones and goals. When you see that you’re veering off track, you can alter course quickly.
Record your expenses
You have recurring expenses that you already know you’ll need to cover throughout the year. Your business also requires periodic investments for things like personal development and coaching, staffing, technology resources, marketing efforts, and other standard business operating costs.
This is the time to go through all your recurring monthly and yearly expenses to ensure that you’re not spending money on things that aren’t contributing to your bottom line.
Evaluate Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Evaluating your professional development is important when you’re thinking about what strategies to implement in 2024.
In a referral-based environment, nothing is more important than your reputation. So take the time to see what your former customers are saying about you online. In addition to reviews, look at what people are saying on all social media platforms where you’re present. Which of your policies and actions have had the greatest impact on people?
Evaluate everything from your home loan application process to how well you’re staying in touch with previous customers. Then determine where you can improve and what tools and resources can assist you with your business objectives.
Assess Your Mortgage Team
The end of the year is an excellent time to think about the employees you have and consider whether they are the employees you actually need.
Do you need to consider parting ways with someone who isn’t filling your team’s current needs? Additionally, are the people on your team doing the correct jobs for their abilities? Sometimes a switch is appropriate.
Having the right team in place is critical for success, so set up an action plan to get your personnel operating efficiently. If you’re curious about what it takes to build a top-performing mortgage team, click here for additional considerations.
Review Your Marketing Strategies
Determine if your marketing strategies were successful in acquiring new customers this year. This is a critical component of business planning, because it should inform what you do in the future and how much money you spend. Here are several things to consider:
- What is your rate of repeat business?
- What is your client referral rate?
- How did you bring in cold leads, how much did those leads cost, and how many of them did you close?
- What did your social media marketing achieve this year?
- Are there marketing opportunities that you’re not taking advantage of but want to?
If you haven’t tracked these metrics before, make the best estimates you can for the current year. But you should also resolve to start keeping track of these statistics going forward. Knowing where to invest your marketing budget is easier if you know what channels are delivering results for your mortgage business.
Analyze Your Sales Activities
Write out the details of your achievements this year. How many units and what types of loans did you close? Did you increase your purchase or referral sources?
What lead generation did you do this year? Did you follow those leads through to completion? If so, then you should be able to attribute a cost to each lead and compare how much you made from each of them.
Likely, certain kinds of lead generation did better than others, either because of cost or because of the amount of time it took to nurture them into a completed transaction. This information can help guide future lead-generation efforts.
For more information, read our article on lead generation.
What would you like to do to advance your career and business next year? Make sure you have solid goals in place before the new year begins. As you move into the new year, carve out quarterly business objectives to help you move closer to those desired outcomes. Having quarterly benchmarks to evaluate is crucial to making real progress.
Once you’ve determined the key takeaways on the professional side, you should also consider your personal growth and goals. That’s because your loan officer business planning should be comprehensive and include all aspects of your life, not just your business.
What do you need to change about your life to achieve your personal goals? How are your personal relationships faring? How would you rate your physical and mental health? Ensure that you have goals and practical strategies to help you achieve what is most important to you.
For more guidance on goal-setting advice for mortgage loan officers, check out our blog here.