Sales & Marketing Training for those in the Mortgage and Real Estate Industries

Avoiding Burnout
OR…
“Why Am I So Tired All The Time?”

By Linda Brakeall

"I'm tired of having so many intimate relationships with strangers that I forgot my nephew's birthday!" one of the loan officers I coach blurted out.

And in a blinding flash of the obvious, I understood the chronic overwhelm, the unexplained daily exhaustion and all-too-often crankiness of far too many loan officers. But not being one to jump to my own conclusion I did a little research among my originator friends and realized that I had hit a nerve! Some replied that there was no problem and some wrote or called and told me volumes.

Let’s go back to the problem. All too many loan originators wake up tired, when they know they haven’t always been actually working all that hard. And yet -- on those days -- getting to the office is a chore and dealing with ordinary, simple problems on a file cause temper flare-ups.

The Problem
There is a level of intensity or intimacy that is one of the main causes of loan originator burnout, exhaustion and/or crankiness. Some of this results from devoting extra attention to a borrower and ending with an unsatisfactory result, while other issues involve dealing with borrowers with whom you would prefer not to associate. Most of it involves the originator having to become so close to the borrower’s finances, family and other personal matters that sometimes they aren’t able to separate the professional from the personal relationships. For example, there are several scenarios that require the originator’s attention, but can often be frustrating and overwhelming. Here are a few of the more common:

Scenario A: You work with a borrower, take the app and a day or a week—or even a month later, they disappear or call to say they’re not doing the loan or they’re doing the loan with someone else. You’ve invested the time in them and they don’t reciprocate.

Scenario B: You take the app at a customer’s house and meet their children, spend weeks getting to know a customer (as they call for updates, you send e-mails etc.), close the loan successfully, call a few months later just to keep in touch and they barely remember you. (One loan officer said that makes him feel like a function, not a person.) For some originators there may be a temporary let-down, when they are no longer in contact with the customer

Scenario C: You work with a customer who has taken so much of your time, that it becomes a negative experience. You dread the thought that they’ll call you for another loan later.

The Key Issue
I see several areas that need to be addressed. First, let’s talk about that opening quote, “so many intimate relationships with strangers.” When you’re talking with people about their bank accounts, their income and their net worth, that’s pretty intense. When the initial relationship ends, some originators think of that as “business as usual,” and some tell me they feel “used.” I believe there are degrees of intimacy and I encourage you to spend some time examining how you feel about that whole issue and setting some general boundaries.

I sold real estate and managed Realtors for a total of 12 years before I started educating, speaking to, and writing for lenders and originators. The similarities between the two professions are similar when you talk about this issue. When working with transferees, I would have a couple in my car three to five days for up to 12 hours per day. When they were with me, I saw them more than I saw my family! Now, that’s intimate. Then they’d go back home for 30-60 days and I’d see them again just before closing. It was like going to a family reunion. We often knew so much about each other that it felt like we OUGHT to become friends. And I might have been the only friend-like person they knew on this end of the move. I had to devise rules and regs in order to keep my sanity.

The Solution
Certainly many originators know how to maintain the proper balance. They spend the appropriate time with customers, allow their assistant to handle much of the daily contact with customers, keep in touch with personal follow-ups, (birthday cards etc.) and welcome the opportunity to handle their future loans—while continuing to develop their business with new customers.

However, there are others as noted earlier, who find it difficult to maintain that balance.

The Key: Don’t become consumed with their personal issues if you would not consider them to be a friend under other circumstances.

It’s also essential that your professional boundaries are clearly drawn and respected. When I sold real estate I trained my clients to call me on Tuesday afternoons. I’d say, “Of course you can call me when you need me, but I have a tight schedule and sometimes it takes awhile for me to get back to you. If it’s not an emergency, you’ll almost always find me in the office on Tuesday afternoons from 1-5. That’s the time I allot for paperwork, so chances are, I’ll have your file right there on my desk when you call. Tuesday afternoon calls will save us both time.” And you know what? Most of the time, most of them called on Tuesday afternoons

I believe the thing that many originators forget is that boundaries need to be set. You have to create your own rules and regs about how to continue the relationship. Because if you want to be in business--successfully--for a long time, it is essential that you keep in touch with all clients and most prospects.

What about the vendors or customers that you just don’t want to see much of in the future? As in most things, I find a Bell Curve about who might becomes a real friend, who will remain an professional acquaintance and I’m very clear on whom I never wish to see again. Most fall into the professional acquaintance category--- maybe 90% or more for me. Professional Acquaintances get 6-12 mailings a year. A Happy Anniversary of the loan/home purchase, a birthday card(s), a first of the year and mid-year economic forecasts, several odd holiday cards such as Ground Hog’s Day and so forth. Perhaps a phone call once or twice a year and a few emails, or maybe your own e-zine--just in case they may need you or have a friend to refer.

There are also about 3% that entrance me, or we have something in common that we are both passionate about, or who are just plain fun. Those people I invite out to lunch with no other agenda than getting acquainted. And I make it clear that this is social not business. If they reciprocate, a friendship is in the making. If not, they still stay on the mailing list, but I do not pursue it further.

Those I never wish to see again for any reason don’t even get mailings. I’m very clear about who is an “Energy Vampire” for me and costs me more in emotional energy than I’d ever make up in money. Those are usually under 3% of all the people I work with.

Time Off
Off course, an essential ingredient in maintaining your own balance is taking time off from the job. The other boundary I insisted upon was Wednesdays and Sundays off. I swapped pagers/cell phones with a buddy and we protected each other on our days off. Off course, in case of a true emergency, we’d call each other. But most of the time, those calls only needed a factual answer, a procedural answer or some hand-holding. They didn’t really require ME. (Note to Loan Officers: Processing a loan is not brain surgery. No one dies if you don’t call back in 23 minutes!)

Now, let me tell you the real key to emotional health and maintaining your sanity that I learned from mega-successful people. TIME OFF. Regular, reliable, scheduled time off in at least one-week chunks. Four to six times each year. Really.

Judy Johnson, Empire Equity Group, Inc., near Los Angeles if I remember correctly, does a planning session in the fall and includes 6 full weeks off during the year and never schedules anything professional on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. She says she also always takes off Sundays and averages about 70% of Saturdays off and about 50% of the Fridays. And she calls all of this her Recovery Time.

Judy has been a successful originator for a very long time because she has a system and she works it. And she says it is all based on her Recovery Time. What you do is hard work. It is often emotionally draining work and if you do not have sufficient time to recharge your batteries often enough you’ll wear our your engine far too soon. Your work will suffer, your family will suffer and you’ll be miserable. And you’ll be too weary to be very effective at work!

I can hear you muttering, “I can’t work a 4-day week! I can’t take off 6 weeks a year!”

Tell me, is your method working? Are you happily making lots of loans and lots of money? Or are you chronically tired, underpaid, overwhelmed and often cranky?

If you fall into the latter category, it’s time to rearrange your life.

Linda Brakeall, author of How To Get Men More Loans from Realtors, The Ten Commandments for Loan Officers and How to Turn Ad Calls into Commissions, can be reached at 800-662-7248 or Linda@LindaBrakeall.com for in-house training, company events and to subscribe to her Free E-zine, The Secrets of Success. For free articles on sales and marketing for loan officers, www.LindaBrakeall.com

 

 

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