12 Ways to Develop Your Referral Business as a Loan Officer

The best business is business you already have. You have already spent money prospecting, invested time in building relationships and have had the opportunity to demonstrate your value. You may have already worked with, or know, people who offer complimentary services like realtors, financial planners, attorney’s or tax accountants. These are people who have worked side by side with you or who have come to know you in some other way. They can trust you and can vouch for your work.

There are several ways you can increase your chances of getting a referral. Here is a list of twelve things that you can do to get referrals from existing clients and business associates.

1. Exceed Expectations

Referrals just don’t happen; they must be earned. The best way to do this is to create raving fans by consistently outperforming expectations. Don’t just do what is expected, go above and beyond. For example, be a resource that can help in many ways. Aside from finding the right mortgage, advise on timing (i.e., lock or don’t lock), offer to write approval letters, pros and cons of escrow and other approaches. Giving your clients a few shout outs on social media can also be a nice touch that is appreciated.

2. Give them a “Wow Factor”

This might be a getting them into a loan they never thought they could get (i.e., a loan for a first-time home buyer even though they had a home that they sold four years ago) or a great rate they didn’t think they could get the fact that you over delivered on something or went out of your way to think about or help your client. Give them something to share with others.

3. Be a Good Communicator

When you have a new client, start by telling them what to expect from the mortgage process. As you go through the process, keep them updated on outcomes that are achieved. Communication isn’t a one-way street. Solicit customer feedback using surveys and personal feedback. This shows clients you are constantly trying to understand needs as they change.

4. Know When to Ask

Being a good communicator, as described above, helps you identify good times to ask for a recommendation. You don’t have to wait until the end of the transaction. When a client seems really pleased with the value you just delivered it is a good time to ask for a referral.

5. Know How to Ask

Make your request personal, not a generic message to a database. Make a phone call or a direct email. When doing so, make your request specific. Rather than saying “If you know anyone who is looking for a mortgage,” say, “If you know of anyone who is looking to get a loan tailored to their financial situation.”

6. Stay Engaged with Past Customers

The goal is to nurture a long-term relationship. You want to stay top of mind and see if you can assist them in new ways. Continue to provide value by keeping your clients informed on rates, programs and house valuations. Their house is likely one of their biggest financial investments. Just like people who own stock follow the stock market movements, people who own a house like to see what the latest value of their asset is and how they can leverage that asset. Check in occasionally. Find reasons to stay in touch.

  • Holiday and birthday cards/e-cards offer a good excuse. Take note of you client’s birthdays/holidays and put them into an e-card contact database. When the occasion rolls around you will be notified and can quickly and easily send a card.
  • Another way to stay engaged is to find a common cause you both believe in or interest you have and see if there is a community (either online or in person) you can both join.
  • Offer both prospects and potential referral candidates free content that positions you as an expert and builds authority and trust. Invite referral candidates to webinars/seminars, access to a white paper about an industry trend, blog posts and Facebook live Q&A sessions.

7. Make it Easy to Recommend You

Customers and business associates might be happy to recommend you, they just don’t know where to start or just don’t have a lot of time to devote to the process. Here are some ways you can make it easy for them to help you.

  • When you provide information, such as a blog, include a “share with a friend” link.
  • Make sure you are in everyone’s phone. When you meet people get their phone and then text them so that you can both program info into the phone. This assures they have your info handy should they want to refer you.
  • Give them an email template to use. This way they don’t have to figure out what to say. Here are some sample templates you can use.
  • After your client has moved into a new house provide them with postcards they can send to friends and relatives letting them know the new address. Put a picture of the new house on the front and your picture and contact info on the back.
  • Create a page, link form, or add a box to your website that allows visitors to add the email of their contacts or send them a personalized referral link. Sites like ReferralCandy or InviteBox can help with this.

8. Have Confidence in Yourself

Let your referral partners know that you can help them look good. Not only will you take great care of their referral, but you will talk them up in the process.

9. Leverage Social Media

On LinkedIn, make sure your profile is updated and optimized so that people searching will be likely to find you. You can reach out, not only to your first level contacts but to their first level contacts as well. This can get to be a large audience. Make it a point to connect with people as you are introduced and do business. The goal is to build up as large an audience as possible. On both LinkedIn and Facebook post relevant content that shows you as knowledgeable and an industry expert. This will encourage people to “Connect” and “Friend” you. Post endorsements to your profile for all to see. This is like a referral with scale.

10. Build Symbiotic Relationships

If you have third party referral partners (attorneys, realtors etc.) you want to make sure they are going to continue to refer you. Some ideas on how to do that include:

  • Make every effort to return the favor, just make sure that your partner is up to your standards. Every time you refer somebody your reputation is on the line
  • Set up a “Recommended” page on your website detailing the partners you recommend. They goal is to have others who want to get on your list, which they can do by referring clients to you.
  • Always Thank Your Sources – Write a personal note thanking your source for the referral. Personal notes are less and less common these days, which means they have a larger impact when they are received. People will be impressed you went through the time and effort to craft such a personal note.

11. Join Networking Groups

Joining networking groups is good, especially if you are just starting out. Networking groups are where people get together once a week to practice their elevator pitch, socialize, learn a new skill and give/get referrals. Sometimes they are grouped around a common social interest, other times they are job oriented.

12. Don’t Be Too Pushy

If someone is uncomfortable with a direct referral, they might be willing to do other things like offer a testimonial (post on social, your website, use in marketing materials) or serve as a case study (which you can use in marketing). Find out what they would be comfortable sharing. You can still drive leads without risking your relationship.

At EMM Loans, we help you develop referral business. By providing you with content to share with your referral partners and previous clients we help you stay in touch and position yourself as the go-to mortgage expert in your area. We have launched innovative partnerships to reach realtors and offer all the tools you need to communicate effectively and get referrals.