Kathryn Pedersen is a 15-year veteran in the loan officer business, and her numbers speak for themselves: She does twice the volume (yes, twice) of her next closest competitor in her local area. That’s some serious hustle.
Serving as the face of her business, Kathryn embraces the opportunity to connect with clients, both past and present. She does this in a multitude of ways — agent classes, high-quality video content on social media, thorough and effective personal branding, even giving out hand warmers to clients in the grocery store.
As Kathryn warmly points out, having a real desire to help others is at the heart of being a successful loan officer. Showing this through a personal touch is a key in helping deepen a long-term connection with clients — one that will keep them coming back. In this episode, she explains how.
We also learn some of Kathryn’s other best practices, including her strategies for building her brand, winning the Google war (she consistently comes up in the top three results in a Google search), and being ethical and true to yourself in a small town.
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IN THIS EPISODE YOU’LL LEARN:
- Why connecting with clients and having a real desire to help them is such an important part of Kathryn’s success
- Why friendly is the way to go when it comes to competition in a small town
- How providing carefully curated monthly CE classes positions Kathryn as the go-to local expert in the lending field
- How to maintain meaningful communication with past clients
- What concrete steps you can take to win the Google war
- What role video plays in building your brand
- Why CE classes are critical in helping convert agents to referral partners
- How getting out there and getting involved in other communities and ideas can transform your loan business
- What personal characteristics are key when it comes to working in small-town lending
- Ideas for nurturing a personal connection with clients
LINKS FROM TODAY’S EPISODE
- Kathryn Pederson, Fidelity Mortgage (A Division of Bay Equity Home Loans)
- Kathryn Pederson Mortgage Facebook page
- Mortgage Coach
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Geoff: All right, so let’s talk about my special guest on this session of Mortgage Marketing Radio — Kathryn Pederson out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, a tiny, little town of, I believe, about only 12,000 people. There’s 340 agents in town, and Kathryn knows all of them.
What’s interesting is that — it’s funny — I talk about Kathryn. She’s a big fish in a little pond, and she’s very humble in kind of accepting of that. But she is, because her next closest competitor does 50% of the volume she does in her area. What was her volume in 2017? $50 million, 160 units. And her expectation is that she’s going to grow in 2019, as well. I don’t have her 2018 volume yet, but she’s going to close out at more than that, but the point is this — is that she’s got the right mindset. She looks to the shift as a gift, and she’s putting in the right strategies to succeed in the coming year.
So we talk about — on this episode — key foundations of her success. Lo and behold, classes. She does a lot of classes for real estate agents, so you’ll hear about how she does those an average of once a month. She also does pop-bys consistently every single month. She does video. She’s building out her brand. When you search “Steamboat Springs mortgage” in Google, she comes up in the first three, depending on the day you search it. When I searched it during this recording, she came up number two and number three, I believe. Pretty cool. Pretty strong.
How does she do that? She does that because she’s getting serious about content marketing. Video and content she’s sharing online. So I put a link in the show notes to her Facebook page, so you can see kind of the video content that she’s doing out there.
But she’s a veteran — she’s been in the business 15 years — and really just a phenomenal, great person, awesome human being. She cares a lot about her clients and she’s passionate about this business. So I wanted to have her on to kind of share best practices of what she’s doing and how you can take some ideas from that and learn more about it.
That is it. Let’s get into this week’s episode, shall we? My very special guest, Kathryn Pederson.
Geoff: Hey, Kathryn. Welcome to the show.
Kathryn: Hi. How are you today?
Geoff: I’m fantastic. It’s Friday.
Kathryn: Yay. Everyone loves a Friday, don’t they?
Geoff: Friday, and as I was telling you before we hit “record,” I got my special coffee from Sambalatte here in Summerlin, Nevada, so if you live in the area, check out Sambalatte. A little plug. Go ahead.
Kathryn: Oh, I just said cheers.
Geoff: Oh, cheers. Yes, cheers. Let’s do a virtual cheers. I like that. Ping. That’s a nice-looking cup, by the way. That looks like one of those homemade cups.
Kathryn: Yes, my sister made it.
Geoff: That’s awesome. All right. So for the listeners, tell us briefly who’s Kathryn Pederson? What is she all about? Why does she love doing loans?
Kathryn: Great. Well, I am a mortgage thinker in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, a tiny, little town but great place to live for a resort town. And I have two girls, 13 and 10, which definitely keep me busy, and luckily my husband is obviously a ton of help, so that’s great.
I really love doing loans because we love to help people capture their own little piece of Steamboat. I really love helping people. I really believe in education and making sure we spend enough time with our clients so that no matter what, they leave my office heading in a better place than when they arrived, whether that be through education or just even their happy mood. So that’s what I really love, making dreams come true.
Geoff: Awesome. And so 15 years in the business, right?
Kathryn: Yep. Yep. Goes fast.
Geoff: 15 years. Goes fast. I’m trying to clarify, because people in this industry for a long time… Some people can get jaded, burnt-out, whatever. What keeps you going, though? Is it the connection with the borrower and the feeling you get by helping them, educate them?
Kathryn: Yeah. That’s the biggest piece of it. Occasionally, I’ll cry at a closing, which sounds… But you know people so well that you get so excited about it, and it’s an emotional process for them. Same thing for us, as well.
Geoff: Wait a minute. You cry at a closing out of happiness?
Kathryn: Yes. Yes. I have, more than once, sadly, but it’s good.
Geoff: Looking at my notes from the last conversation, we had — just to keep me fresh and honest — people are always curious. I know you’re… I would say you’re on the list of top producers on the various organizations that rank those things, but quick summary from 2017. Volume/units, what did that look like?
Kathryn: Roughly $50 million for around 160 units.
Geoff: Okay. $50 million, 160 units. What’s the population of where you live?
Kathryn: About 12,000.
Geoff: 12,000. You’re scooping a lot of business out of 12,000. Pretty small community.
Kathryn: Yeah, it is a small community. We do have some second homeowners, but we primarily work with primary residence purchases. And we’re at roughly 80% in our county, which even the whole county has 20,000, and it’s a big county square footage-wise.
Geoff: How many REALTORS® roughly in your patch there?
Kathryn: Roughly, 340. Or 325 was the count yesterday.
Geoff: Wow. 325. How many of those do you work with?
Kathryn: 300 maybe.
Geoff: I know, right?
Kathryn: There’s definitely some that aren’t active. There might be two or three I don’t know in that whole.
Geoff: But you know most of them, don’t you?
Kathryn: Yes. It’s a small town. You see them at the grocery store.
Geoff: What’s your biggest — I’m really curious then — your biggest competition in such a small area? Because my perception is.. Is that other loan officers or whatever that you’re running into each other out and about where ever you go? Is that the case?
Kathryn: That is the case. Yes. I see them all the time, but there’s goods and bads. We actually work pretty well as a team, so if there’s something I can’t figure out, I’ll occasionally call another LO and say, “Hey.” Yeah, like, “Is there something that you have that I don’t?” Or “Can you help this person, because I can’t?” or whatever else happens. I don’t like to do that, but certainly we’ve gotten that call, as well.
Geoff: Friendly competition.
Kathryn: Yeah. We’re a pretty friendly competition, but you have to be in a little town, so.
Geoff: So it’s not like New York City. “Get the hell outta here. I ain’t helping you.”
Kathryn: No, no, no. I’m not tough enough to do that, I don’t think.
Geoff: Oh, my gosh. Right, right. Okay, so your main source of business?
Kathryn: Past clients and real estate agents.
Geoff: Is it past clients above real estate agents or kind of split 50-50?
Kathryn: It’s fairly even. A lot of times we’ll get the referral from multiple sources, but I would say that it’s pretty even, past clients and REALTORS®.
Geoff: Well, let’s kind of find a couple of nuggets here. What would you say is your most successful source of business that is the constant go-to for you for consistency?
Kathryn: A few things. First, really staying in touch with our past clients. We just recently did a whole-team retreat on how to just pour love into our clients as much as possible, from basically them starting to even look for a house to the time that they move out of Steamboat or even beyond that. So it’s just how do we pour as much love as possible into them? And that’s worked for us over the years. We want to know everything about our clients, and that helps us serve them better, so we really try to provide that service any way we can. So that’s really the go-to that’s brought us business, is people will call us for basically anything they need, and that really keeps them coming back. So we do a lot to stay in touch.
Geoff: You do a lot to stay in touch. All right, so we have to unpack that a little bit, because that sounds really 30,000-foot level. That’s awesome, and of course, people are like, well, what do you mean, stay in touch? CRM? Do you have to do touchpoints? Direct mail? What does that look like?
Kathryn: Yeah, so we have a whole system that we do, but basically, we’re touching base with them via phone three-month, six-month, nine-month, 12-month, beyond. Annual reviews. We do birthday calls. We do just random.
Right before Thanksgiving, we called every client that we closed in the last year. Someone from my team actually picked up the phone and called, or myself. And that was an awesome, awesome thing to do right before Thanksgiving. If you want to feel grateful, that’s a good exercise.
So just those little things like that we try to do. I now carry around stuff in my purse. When I see them at the grocery store, we’ve got just little things of, “Hey, here, go buy yourself a cup of coffee.” Or “Hey, here’s some hand warmers because it’s 0 outside today.” So it’s all of those things that we can do just to kind of continue to pour that love in. And then obviously we do mail and all of that, as well, but those are…
Geoff: You do direct mail?
Kathryn: Yeah. To our clients.
Geoff: Is that postcards, newsletters? What is it?
Kathryn: Both. We have postcards. We do, yeah, newsletters. But most of it we try to make a little bit meaningful, so we do a birthday postcard. Every so often, we’ll do, hey, it’s time for this or time for that or how’s this going, so we have it all lined out.
Geoff: How do you manage the three-, six-, nine-, 12-month outbound calls? I’m assuming you’re putting some type of trigger on your calendar or something like that.
Kathryn: Yeah. It’s triggered out through our CRM, and then we do those through basically a Slydial.
Geoff: Got it. And so it’s a generic message, and then it’s put out on Slydial, Slybroadcast.
Geoff: What CRM do you use? I’m curious.
Kathryn: We actually have a proprietary system in our company that we use.
Geoff: Nice. Very nice. Top secret.
Kathryn: I know. I could tell you the name, but I don’t think it’d mean anything to you.
Geoff: Yeah. It’s just an in-house name. Yeah, exactly.
Geoff: Okay. I’m looking at my notes and you do CE classes. Is that correct?
Kathryn: Yeah. I do. Yes. I’ve done those for a long time for real estate agents, and I know that you’re a big believer in this, which is great. So I was getting frustrated with some of the crazy things I was seeing come through my desk as far as what was going on in the agent world when it involved lending.
So we started doing Mortgage 101. This was maybe 10 years ago, maybe 15. Mortgage 101 and then I did Mortgage 102 and added USDA First-Time Homebuyer, FHA, VA. We now have a contracts in lending class, which I developed with a managing broker, which is kind of my favorite class, because it’s kind of really geeky. Then what else do we have? I mentioned FHA and VA.
And I just created a rates class. Rates and rate strategies. So that’ll be fun. We just submitted that, I think, yesterday, for the new year. So I try to add a class a year, and I’ll actually probably add two this year.
Geoff: How often do you do the classes?
Kathryn: Roughly once a month. If I have a new class, I’ll try to hit every real estate office I can in Steamboat and just go to their offices and provide it at lunch and do the CE there. And then we have our regular scheduled class just for anybody to come. Luckily the board does it at their office, which is awesome, and they advertise it for me, so I’m pretty lucky that way.
Geoff: Wow. You’re lucky that way and in the fact that you can actually get in a lot of these real estate brokerages to do a class.
Geoff: Yeah. That’s really great. Some people listening are like, man, that’s awesome. Because there’s a lot of closed offices out there. Different parts of the country. You mentioned the rates class. I’m kind of curious what your angle is on that, because I have a thought in my head, but how are you going to… Is that put together yet, the rates class?
Kathryn: Yep. Yeah. I finished the outline this week. So we’re going to go through historical, what happened with the meltdown, now what’s different as of October this year, and also go through kind of how rates are determined, economic factors. We’ll talk about lines of resistance, things like that, but hopefully not get too technical geeky. And then also go into some rate strategies, like seller buydown, cost of waiting, that kind of stuff that are some great tools out there.
Geoff: Leveraging the Mortgage Coach platform?
Kathryn: Yep. Yep.
Geoff: Yep. Yep. Shout-out to Mr. Savage. Got to love that.
Kathryn: That’s right.
Geoff: I love that idea, though, the rates class, because talk about positioning you as an expert. That’s one of the best classes to do that, especially when you’re educating them over the timeline and history of rates. Lots of opportunities there. I had this thought of… I don’t know if you ever run into this, and maybe not… I think it depends on the company you work with, but sometimes REALTORS® are like… They have these comments or beliefs about rates, like maybe your rates are high or whatever the case is, right? And this is your chance to kind of shut that conversation down.
Kathryn: Yeah. Exactly, and explain it’s on a market. It’s not like, oh, we changed the rate today. Yeah, no, I’m actually… It’ll be really exciting, because I think it is a little bit of a mystery in that I think I hear agents still say, “Oh, my gosh, I heard that rates are going up at the next Fed meeting.” I’m like, oh, gosh, okay, let’s a have discussion around that. So it’ll be good.
I had brought it up a little bit in my Mortgage 102 class, but now we really get to dive in, especially with the rising rates. There are clients who are going to be asking about rates. The more that we can tell them, the more tools we can give them to kind of fight that a little bit is going to be great, because there’s a whole generation of people that haven’t seen rates over 5, which is crazy. So they’re all having a small heart attack right now.
Geoff: Yeah, I had some guy say that to me the other day. Something about buying a home, and he’s like, “Well, I don’t know. Rates are kind of getting high.” I’m like, “What? Shut up. You have no idea what high rates are, man. You’ve been spoiled for so damn long.”
Kathryn: Crazy. I think the stat I was looking at this week was since 1971 to now, the average is like 8.65.
Geoff: Yeah. Exactly. That’s exactly what I said to him, because I get a lot of my information from the Mortgage Coach community and all that stuff too. So yeah, I mean, come on, people. Let’s face it — a rate at 5% is still awesome. Yeah, that’s incredible. Love that, though. Just a big circle around that right here.
The other thing I love about this is — and this is obvious to you — but just as heads-up to the listeners is positioning that class in a way that it’s like, okay, guys, you’ve clearly demonstrated your expertise around interest rates and if you have a question or you do the seller buy-down or the cost of waiting and all that stuff, and it’s like, “Guys, you got a question about rates, call me.” You know what I mean?
Geoff: Love it. Love it. Field those questions all day.
Kathryn: Well, because of all these CE classes, I get so many random-question calls, which is great, because that’s what we want. We want our agents to reach out to us every single time. And we’ll even get calls of “Hey, I got a settlement statement from somebody else.” Of course, it’s like, aw, but at least then they’re calling me. It’s a gut check of they’re not using you and it’s so annoying and duh, duh, duh, duh. And then we have that opportunity to say, “Okay, next time, when you see that come through, this is some things you can say to your client to make them use us instead.”
Geoff: Awesome. Sometimes I’m just randomly thinking here real-time. With the agents — the settlement statement made me think of this — do you have agents who still do the three-card approach with you or try to?
Kathryn: Yes. Absolutely.
Geoff: How do you deal with that, if at all?
Kathryn: That’s always a tough question of applying, but generally what I will say is A, if I’m referring you, do you want me to give them three agents, as well? That’s one thing I do.
Geoff: Right back at them.
Kathryn: Yeah. The second thing is that we kind of stress that, hey, how would you feel if they used the other agents or the other lenders on here and what differentiates us? So great, if you decide to send that, why don’t you also send it with “This is my favorite and why,” just a little bit of a background around it. Or “Please google all three of these people and then make your decision,” because I’m going to win the Google war. There are other strategies that they are just adamant. We have a CE class that’s taught by somebody up here, and they basically tell them that they’re going to lose their license if they don’t do that. So I’ve got some agents that are pretty crazy. Try to get around that a little bit but.
Geoff: That is to me such a line of BS. Going to lose your license if you just give one referral. Please.
Kathryn: And really the key is, is it’s not going to impact you as long as I do my job. And my reputation stands by itself. I get if I was your one and then we didn’t close the deal.
Geoff: Yeah. Once you’ve proven yourself, yeah, they can trust you. Okay, so while it’s top of mind, you mentioned you’re going to win the Google war. I love that. That’s awesome, and I think I know what you mean by that, but why do you feel so confident in saying that?
Kathryn: Well, I try to make sure that whatever comes through on “Steamboat Mortgage” — if you google that — or “Kathryn Pederson mortgage” — if you google that — you’re going to see good reviews, good websites, Microsoft video, videos that we do to Facebook, so we try to just really watch that. If you’re not googling yourself once a week, that’s problematic.
Geoff: Excellent point.
Kathryn: Yeah, so we try to watch that pretty tightly and make sure that we’re going to stand out above the rest in that.
Geoff: Yeah. No, I just googled you — like you said — or googled the phrase “Steamboat mortgage,” and yeah, you are coming up number two in the Google search.
Kathryn: Yes, and you know what’s a bummer is the number one, I created that website.
Geoff: Which one? It might change, but which one did you do?
Kathryn: It’s a bank.
Geoff: It’s a bank. It’s not USAA or?
Kathryn: No. No, that one’s not organic.
Geoff: You know what’s crazy about Google, as you know, it changes every day, but hey, you’re number two and number three, and that’s pretty awesome.
Kathryn: Okay, good. I’ll take it, then. Yeah.
Geoff: No, that rocks. Seriously. And you’re probably in there even further. So how do you do that? What are your strategies to show up in Google?
Kathryn: Certainly, it’s all the key word. It’s being in enough sources that it pulls you through. It’s posting enough, staying relevant. All of those things I think are…
Geoff: Posting where? You have a blog or something or?
Kathryn: No, but we now have a YouTube channel, but we do Facebook. I’ve got an Instagram. We’ve got all of that website stuff.
Geoff: All right. See, we’re live without a net. We’re flying real-time here. I love this. So YouTube. You just started a YouTube channel, but you’ve been doing videos for quite a while, haven’t you?
Kathryn: Yes. Yes.
Geoff: What made you decide to jump on YouTube?
Kathryn: You. Well, so we started doing a whole series of Facebook videos. I wanted some content that was more real and relevant than just kind of the standard boring posts. So we did these little snippets of videos, and I’ve been posting those on Facebook, so that gives us some good YouTube content to get that out.
So the key is now trying to get that YouTube channel out there. But at the same time, the Facebook videos are definitely getting a lot more hits than anything else that we post. Steamboat-specific always does the best, and then those videos are definitely great too.
Geoff: Steamboat-specific does the best… Meaning if it’s about Steamboat itself and living in Steamboat?
Geoff: Hmmm. Okay. The videos you’re doing, are they only on your business page? Personal, as well? What are you doing there?
Kathryn: I typically will show them to my personal page also. I do have some separation of the two, but I still try to share them personally, so that I get the hits on both. I don’t share them every time. I try to be a little bit careful, because Facebook algorithms will start to not show those if you do it too much, so I have to be a little bit careful. But the secret code… Oh, my gosh. The secret code of Facebook. It’s like, oh, when do they show what?
Geoff: Yeah, I know, right? That’s a constant thing. So the videos you’re doing — and by the way, I’ll put links to your Facebook page and all that stuff in the show notes for those who want to go look at it — but your videos are what I would call professional videos, right? They’re not the hand-held mobile phone, which there’s nothing wrong with that, but for your educational videos, it looks like they are kind of that more professional set-up?
Kathryn: Yep. But they’re all just ad lib. I didn’t want to…
Geoff: Well, because you know your topic so well.
Kathryn: Yeah. That’s right. That’s right. It’s all the stuff I talk about all day anyway, so they’re all ad lib. I didn’t want them to be so edited, but I also wanted them to look good.
Geoff: Oh, yeah, and they do look good. It’s a combination of you’ve got the animation with the question on it, and then it cuts to you being on the camera, which is good. And you’ve got some nice views on some of these. Looks like your two most popular so far are “What Affects Your Mortgage Rate?” and “Are You Ready to Buy?” Interesting.
Who’s the market where you’re at? Well, you said… what do you got? You said renters or something like that or second homebuyers, right?
Kathryn: Yeah. Yeah, we have some second homebuyers. We’ve got a lot of just locals who are looking to buy, so that is first-time homebuyers. That was really my focus when I got into this market, because no one was helping first-time homebuyers in Steamboat, so we really dove into that first. But we’ve got a pretty wide mix. We’ll do stuff that’s super rural, that’s low-end, high-end, all over the board.
Geoff: What’s the average price of a home there?
Kathryn: Roughly 550.
Geoff: Wow. All right, so it’s high?
Kathryn: Yep. We’ve got a lot who are 50% cash, which is brutal in this town.
Geoff: You got a lot of rich people buying homes there.
Kathryn: Right. That’s right. Yes. Lots of people bid. Unfortunately, I wish they needed me more, but those are my comps, though, so it’s all good.
Geoff: Right. Are you close to ski resort?
Kathryn: Yes. I can see it from my window right now.
Geoff: Which one?
Geoff: Oh, duh, Steamboat. Hello.
Kathryn: No, that’s fine.
Geoff: Awesome. Awesome. That’s great. Are you a skier?
Kathryn: I’m a skier, but it’s not that pretty. I’m a lot better at doing loans than I am at skiing. My husband, every year he’s like, “You need to take lessons.” I can get down the hill, but my kids are better than me by far.
Geoff: Well, of course, right? They’re more nimble and their bones don’t break as easily.
Kathryn: Right. Exactly. They don’t have that fear thing going on, do they?
Geoff: Oh, yeah. I’m that 53-year-old snowboarder going very just cautiously down the hill. I’m in no rush. I always tell the kids, “You guys go ahead. Go without me.”
Kathryn: Mm-hmm. “I’m good.”
Geoff: “I’ll catch up. Don’t hang by.” Back to business here. I want to unpack a little bit in my notes from how you generate your business. I wrote down also pop-bys, offices, so you’re doing pop-bys?
Kathryn: Yeah. Right now we’ve got those little hand warmers that we’re doing, but we certainly like to swing in every so often, say hi, and hopefully have something with us.
Geoff: Now is it you out and about, your team? Who is it?
Kathryn: Most of the time it is me. I’m really the face of the business, and so I like it to be me 95% of the time. If there’s an event I can’t attend or something like that, I’ll send someone from my team, but normally it is me.
Geoff: And how consistently do you do those?
Kathryn: It depends on the season. Obviously, when we’re crazy, it happens a little bit less consistently, as we all know, but we try to get out at least every month.
Geoff: So once a month. Now this may sound like I’m overkilling on the details, but I really want the listeners to really understand this. How do you plan those out? Meaning obviously seasonality’s one. October it’s pretty obvious, right? You do Halloween-themed stuff. But how far in advance are you planning that out, buying your stuff and all that?
Kathryn: Well, we generally do it almost a year at a time, so we’ll plan it.
Geoff: You map it out for a whole year on a calendar? Smart, smart.
Kathryn: Yeah, because also we don’t really have a lot of great stores, so we have to plan around trips to other places sometimes.
Geoff: Oriental Trading is a…
Kathryn: That’s right.
Geoff: You know that company? It’s a great resource.
Kathryn: Yes. We’re best friends.
Geoff: All those little tchotchkes. Oriental Trading, people, for those of you listening. We got agents. You’re doing CE classes. Do you do any non-CE classes?
Kathryn: You mean like just classes for buyers, let’s say? Yeah, we’ve done both classes for first-time homebuyer with just ourselves and also partnering with an agent, so we’ve done both of those. Yeah.
Geoff: Small community. How many, average attendance of your agents to your CE classes?
Kathryn: It depends on the class. The biggest one we probably have is maybe 20, 25, and occasionally I’ll have three. It can be varied, just depending. Actually, once I had one, and then we bailed and went to breakfast. It was actually an awesome class. Yeah.
Geoff: That’s awesome. Yeah. Love that.
Kathryn: Then we got one-on-one time, so yeah, I can’t complain about that either.
Geoff: I’m trying to understand, because the way I look at classes, as you probably know, is top of the funnel for me, marketing and prospecting to agents. I don’t do the cold-call thing. Been there, done that. It’s just not fun. So I’d rather do that, the reverse prospecting and track people in.
Of those classes that you do — it’s a tough question to answer, I know — but roughly, I don’t know, whether it’s like you can tell number of agents or percentage? What weight would you give to that activity to converting agents to referral partners? How critical is it?
Kathryn: I’d say it’s key, and the reason is because of two things. So one, a new agent comes on, right? Well, what happens is managing brokers are now saying, “Oh, you should take Kathryn’s 101 class.” So then even before we even know they exist, they show up at a class sometimes, even sometimes before they get their license. So then I know, oh, great, there’s this new agent.
And you can kind of get an idea, you have this feeling if they’re going to make it or not. It’s not always a hundred percent, but sometimes I’ll really click with someone, and then I know, okay, I need to put this person on my radar and get them in the funnel of marketing to them and having a coffee and kind of getting them into the fold of marketing. So it’s huge. We’ve gotten some awesome, awesome agents out of classes.
And it’s great, too, because you’d think we’d just have the new ones, but there’s time when there’ll be an agent who’s been around for 15 years, 20 years, who shows up at a class because they need that CE or they’re just curious on what’s going on in lending. And all of sudden I’m like, “Oh, I’ve been trying to get this agent to sit down with me and now here they are, so this is my chance.” So it does give you an hour of time with them, even if it’s in a group. You can still make an impression on them, so it’s pretty awesome.
Geoff: Yeah, well, it’s a whole different impression when you are at the front of the room teaching the class. There’s a lot that goes into the influence factor, the branding, and all that kind of stuff, the perception. You are not seen as the average loan officer when you’re doing that.
Geoff: Other LOs doing that in town as well, classes?
Kathryn: No. One has tried and it didn’t… Well, they did it directly to buyers, but they did it just here in the last month, which is not the best time for a first-time homebuyer class, season-wise. But that’s really been it. There’s a couple title companies that have brought in people, like 1031 class, things like that, but that’s really it. So I’ve been pretty lucky in that arena that no one’s kind of stepped on my toes.
Geoff: You put the fear in them.
Kathryn: I hope so. Now maybe I should go work in New York, right?
Geoff: Yeah, exactly. So you are a… with all due respect — I hope you get where I’m saying this — you’re a big fish in a little pond.
Kathryn: I don’t know if I would say. Maybe I’m a little modest, but at the same time we want to be. We want to be the only person that they think of every single time…
Geoff: I appreciate your modesty, but you’re a big fish in a little pond. You’re the only loan officer in your town doing classes, right? I would venture to guess your brand awareness is greater — and I don’t know but I’m just guessing — your brand awareness is greater than almost any other LO in town. Fair?
Kathryn: Yeah. I would say that’s… Yes. Yeah.
Geoff: Hey, it’s not bragging if it’s true.
Kathryn: There you go. I should write that down somewhere.
Geoff: No. I mean, that’s awesome. That’s the real key, isn’t it? As an LO with the noise, you’re in a smaller town, so you’ve got, perhaps, less noise, but you still have noise. You still have, hey, why should I work with you? All that. But you’ve built a mouse trap, a better mouse trap, if you will.
Kathryn: Yes. That is correct. Yeah.
Geoff: You’re submitting your CE approval to the state of Colorado. How difficult is that?
Kathryn: Yes. Yep. Here it’s actually not that bad. You do have to do a resume with speaking experience, so that took me a little bit of time just to kind of work on when I did my first one a long time ago. But I think they were desperate for CEs back then. I don’t know if that’s the case anymore. But overall, it’s getting in the outline. It needs to make sense and sound logical and really that’s… It’s not brain science.
Geoff: So you submit an outline? You don’t submit the PowerPoint?
Kathryn: Nope. No.
Geoff: Interesting. Have you ever gotten them to ask you to change this or that?
Kathryn: No. When they changed the rules about… I used to have a class on credit, and they don’t allow that anymore, because they changed how they do credit classes. But that was fine. We had a replacement class we were working on in the meantime, but that’s been the only thing that’s every changed. They’ve never really asked me to change anything in the outline ever, but I also read the guidelines thoroughly, so that helped too.
Geoff: That does help.
Kathryn: But no, it actually hasn’t… It’s not hard. It’s just doing it.
Geoff: I’m going to go back to giving you some props here because I wrote down for my notes — if I understand what my notes say, this was a while ago — your next competitor does 50% of the volume you do?
Kathryn: That’s correct.
Geoff: All right. Come on. You’re a big fish in a little pond. You’re trying to be humble, but you know that’s a compliment, right?
Kathryn: Yeah. Yeah, I know that’s a compliment. Yeah. Yeah. But what really changed my business a lot is when I… Because for a long time I operated just solely, and I wasn’t part of any… I did Mortgage Coach, all that kind of stuff. I was in on the old, old program and all that with Dave. The really cool one that you could manipulate, but that was a really long time ago.
Geoff: All right. All right, so go ahead. I’m sorry. I was going to interrupt. Sorry. I have to do this. So I had Mortgage Coach back when you had to download it.
Kathryn: Yeah. Yeah. With the disk.
Geoff: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, my God. The disk. It’s come a long way since then.
Kathryn: Exactly. And by “manipulate,” I don’t mean in a bad way. I mean you could do really cool craziness. But now they’ve built in to make it more…
Geoff: Oh, it’s awesome. It’s awesome. But yeah, you and I, we’re pioneers, man. I was back there in my Countrywide office downloading that sucker.
Kathryn: No. Oh, 100%. Yeah, no, I was early. But I was really this stand-along office and stand-alone person. I still really am. So finally, I got kind of hooked into a whole bunch of communities, did a whole bunch of LO round tables, sales mastery, all that. I could bring different strategies into our market because I think when you are so isolated in such a little town, it’s so key for you.
And so that’s been really, really great for me. Figuring out how to put together a team and all that stuff, because it’s hard to do that when you’re just by yourself. It’s been a really, really, really good thing for me to change my circle of influence.
Geoff: That’s a great point is that you have to expose yourself to other ideas and communities, and all that exists on Facebook now, as well. So get out there and learn from other people. You mentioned your team. Real quick, tell us about your team. What does that look like?
Kathryn: So there’s five of us total, and I’ve got someone that helps me on the pre-qual side. We have some really complicated pre-quals in this town, as you can imagine, with self-employed, seasonal, all that fun stuff. I get super excited when I have a W-2 employee who’s on salary. Like what, you’re on even on commission? So it’s great to have that extra help upfront, help with follow up a little bit, as well.
And then once we start the loan, we’ve got a loan coordinator. I have a processor/junior loan processor in our office that submits and does [inaudible 0:37:25] and all that fun stuff. And then we’ve got lovely Judy, who does, really, everything, but she kind of steps in on all parts and also helps me with marketing. So she’s a little bit of everything, but that’s what we love her for. So yeah, that’s our awesome team.
Geoff: So you’re the sole originator?
Kathryn: Yes. Yes. We do have three licensed, four licensed. Now everyone but one, but yeah, I’m the sole originator. Yeah.
Geoff: Then what do you spend most of your time doing?
Kathryn: Making phone calls, going to offices, all of that stuff, meeting with clients, anything we can do face-to-face, voice-to-voice is really where I try to spend most of my time. Planning. That’s certainly a part of it.
Geoff: Planning. Yeah. A strategic vision and all that stuff. Just a quick roll-back on your career, when did you get your first assistant to help you with the processing and all that stuff to free you up to continue the?
Kathryn: It was a while ago. It was maybe two years in, so it would have been a while ago. Now definitely that’s changed throughout the years. I think what really helped is when I offloaded the loan process onto somebody, because that is not where I function best. So that’s been huge. And I’m really good at problem-solving, so obviously if something really goes wrong, I’m in. But the day-to-day, like, “Oh, you’re missing page seven of seven,” that’s…
Geoff: Yeah, on those bank statements?
Kathryn: Yeah. Oh, gosh. I know. Hey, one thing I want to bring up, too, just that I think might be helpful for other people in little towns is what’s really served me probably the best in a small town is ethics and accountability and really following through. So I can’t mess up and I can’t mess up once. And if you do, it just…
Geoff: Everybody knows.
Kathryn: Everybody knows. So you’ve got to be who you are 100% of the time, and that’s it. You can’t be that inauthentic person ever, and so it adds a lot of pressure, but it’s also really awesome, because you get… Reputation is so big in a little town, so that’s something that I think is just really good in any community but especially in a small town. That will set you apart above all else. So just something to kind of think about in your own business. It’s what I think is just a… Being it’s something we don’t think about enough, I think.
Geoff: No, that’s good. Those are kind of the intangibles, I think, you know? Because that’s a personal responsibility. And that’s a really good point, now that I think of it, because I know from talking to lots of loan officers, both in my role at Movement and externally, is that one of the constant things I see that keeps an LO from going to that next level is they don’t treat it seriously. They don’t treat it as a profession. You know what I mean?
Kathryn: Yes. Yes.
Geoff: Yeah. And really understand that incredible responsibility you’ve been given to… And you know this so I’m preaching to the choir, but for the listeners, it’s not about, hey, the loan program, per se. That’s part of it, but it’s really about the impact you’re going to make in that person’s life.
Kathryn: Yes. Yeah.
Geoff: That’s one of those few products. We have that and selling them real estate. It’s like, what else has that big of an impact of a purchase they make? You know what I mean?
Kathryn: Yeah. We are so lucky, and they trust us with this crazy information, like their social and why they were late on this thing and what happened and then when that happened. So we get some crazy stuff and especially in a small town, we know everybody and everything about everybody, so we really have to take that seriously.
Geoff: Yeah. That’s right. You’re very influential in a small town when you know that much about everybody. At the grocery store… “Hey.” “Hey, did you know?”
Kathryn: Oh, gosh, yeah. No, no, no. We probably have more secrets than most.
Geoff: All right. So in respect to your time, I know you’re busy. Let’s close out with 2019. I’m sure you’ve already kind of begun the business planning process, looking out at the new year. Any things you’re doing differently, more of, less of for the new year?
Kathryn: It’s just all about that personal touch. So for us, we’re tracking a little bit more of our clients’ personal interests and really trying to hone in on those, sending more hand-written cards and making more phone calls and just really touching them a little bit differently. That’s really what’s going to set everybody apart as things really continue to go more and more digital.
So we just want to be, “Hey, we’re your hometown lender, and we are here constantly. And we know what’s going on in your life, and we care about you.” So those are just kind of the key things that we’re trying to market, really, almost individually. And I think that will help us stay connected to our clients a little bit more and a little deeper.
Geoff: I love that. Yep. Yep. It’s all about personal connection. That is the differentiator, especially in a tech-first world. We’ve got to still keep that human connection. What about you in terms of your business? Are you looking at the market in terms of planning your production and volume? Is that impacting what you’re planning to fund? Do you want to do more next year? What are you doing there?
Kathryn: I want to do more. I’m going to ignore what everybody else is saying and just work on what I can do and what I can control, so I’m still planning to have a better year next year than this year. And this year will be better than last year, so if I can just keep growing. And I’ve got a really great team in place. We had a lot of changes this year with we moved our office and did a bunch of stuff, so we’re really positioned well to keep growing.
Geoff: Yeah. I love that, and that’s a hallmark of a highly productive, highly successful person is the mindset. Because to your point, you basically said you’re going to control what you can control, which is what you do every single day of all that noise and the sky’s falling and all that kind of stuff.
Here’s a phrase somebody shared with me the other day. It might have been Tom Ferry. The phrase is, “The shift is a gift.” So this market shift that everybody’s talking about, people with the right mindset, like you, like other people listening, that’s a gift, and that’s an opportunity. It’s like when there’s blood in the streets, that’s the time to double down and invest.
Kathryn: Yeah, and the last downturn was phenomenal for business. I mean, that sounds crazy, but we had so many LOs in town and I think we lost two a month for a while, which was great. So it really does weed out the good and the bad, and it also sets experts apart, because if we know what we’re doing, that’ll show a little more.
Geoff: Yep. The tide is out. We see who’s swimming naked.
Kathryn: Right. Right. But yeah, it’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing.
Geoff: Awesome. All right. Now, for those listening who want to connect with you, where should they go? Is it Facebook?
Kathryn: Yep. Facebook. I’ve got a business page there. Like we were talking about, you could always google me.
Geoff: Yeah, I’ll put a link in the show notes to your Facebook page, but it is Kathryn Pederson, Fidelity Mortgage. Thank you so much for being here. We appreciate you sharing and, as always, let’s stay in touch.
Geoff: All right. Listeners, as well, thank you for tuning in. We appreciate you. If you like this episode or others, let us know by leaving us a little love on the innerwebs with a review, if you don’t mind. Thanks for tuning in. We’ll see you on the next one.