Niagara Falls or babbling brook. How is your flow? How do you get commercial mortgage clients in the door? Do you have the budget and time to undertake a massive marketing campaign? Could experience with multiple property types and applications increase your value to the commercial market? Where are your deals located? How is the market in your area? Is your referral network bringing you enough business? These are all questions you need to consider when you think about how to increase your deal flow.
Of course every commercial loan you work will not close; that is not the reality of the commercial mortgage industry. You need to be in front of the right people at the right time with the right solution to even be considered. Here are the 5 main factors that affect your deal flow which ultimately affects your cash flow. The first step is awareness; knowing what the issues are will allow you to determine a solution. Rate yourself in each of these areas:
-Referrals: Referrals are king in the mortgage industry. This is by far the number one way for a commercial broker to get business. This certainly works well for those that have been in the industry for years and have a large network, but what about those new to the industry? Can you survive waiting on someone to refer you when no one knows you exist?
-Marketing: This is how we let our potential clients know who we are and that we can provide them with a solution for their commercial financing needs. The problem is that there are hundreds of other solutions out there all competing for the same client. Without the budget and knowledge to do it right, it is very difficult to get a good return on your marketing investment.
-Expertise: What you know and how long you have been in the business has a dramatic affect on deal flow. Of course, those that have been in the commercial business for 10 years have a greater client base and referral network. You can’t buy experience, no matter how much you spend, but what you can get is training. Through continuing training, especially at the beginning of your commercial career, you can build the knowledge it takes to get the deals done. Share that knowledge with your potential clients and you have set yourself up as the expert in the field, despite your lack of experience.
-Geography: It is no surprise that by serving a larger geographic area, you will be exposed to more deals. However, without the support of a large national company this is very difficult and potentially cost prohibitive. The downside of most national commercial finance companies is that by bringing the deals to you they will expect something in return. Often a big chunk of your commission. It’s a catch 22, you get more clients, but now you need even more than before just to break even.
-The Market: Some markets are hot and some are cold that is the reality of the industry. If you are only serving a small geographic area and that area goes cold, what do you do? The key is to ensure that your client base is as diverse as possible, not only by location, but by property type and industry.
What to do?
Build your commercial finance business. Start by looking at the percentages that each of the above are contributing to your total deal flow and set targets for the coming year as to what you want the percentages to look like. For example, if referrals now make up 10 percent of your total business, set your targets for 20% next year and establish the game plan to do it.
For marketing, are you tracking a cost per closed loan? Do you know what you’re spending for the revenue you’re generating? Begin to cull out the sources that are not generating the returns you require.
When looking at geography, start to examine how you can expand the markets you serve. This will both increase your deal flow and minimize a downward movement in any one particular market. In effect, it is diversifying your portfolio. Look for a partner that can introduce you to new markets and provide you with lead sources into those markets.
In summary, deal flow in the commercial mortgage industry is driven by your presence. When the market knows you’re there and do quality work, your flow will build exponentially. The next step is to formulate your plan to increase that presence and identify the partners that can help you do it.