darren-roller-coasterAs everyone knows, what goes up must come down (before going back up and repeating this process again and again until the end of time). So here we go – or, rather, here it goes. It may be a down market but that doesn’t mean you have to watch your business swirl the drain.

The best way to prevent this is by playing offense. Get proactive. Cover your bases. Anticipate the next moves. Work through the worst-case scenarios, as well as the most likely scenarios. 

Just how do you do all this? It starts with knowledge. 

You need to be intimately familiar with your:

 – Industry – You must be an expert on the mortgage industry and not simply in the mortgage industry in order to stay on top. What are the current numbers, rates, trends? What’s happening with your biggest competitors? Who are your biggest competitors? What’s new in fintech? Are you aware of the next significant conferences and networking events?

When you know your industry, competitors and real-time trends inside and out, you can find the opportunities and fill a void. This type of knowledge also allows you to expand as you identify those holes in the market. 

 – FinancialsIt’s always better to have a solid grasp on your financials before the market turns, but if that didn’t happen, now’s the time to get on it. Your P&L will be important, sure, but you really want to look at your balance sheet to see where you need to adjust due to inflation. 

Focus on cash preservation wherever possible, which may include downsizing subscriptions, changing vendors or reducing the load on your current staff. Once that’s done, your next objective is to build your cash reserve, as well as your credit. 

 – People (team members and referral partners) – It’s no secret the market is turning. Slapping on a happy face and telling your team not to worry isn’t protecting them; it’s patronizing them. Treat them like the impressive employees you hired them to be and keep them in the loop. You don’t have to go over every little detail but give them the big picture and put transparency front and center. 

Allow them to ask questions, and don’t forget to dedicate some time to talk to your team one on one, taking each member’s personality and work style into consideration. This builds loyalty, boosts morale and maintains confidence because, let’s face it, finding good employees the first time around is hard enough. Having to work with a reduced staff while you try to make lightning strike twice is not only difficult, but also unnecessary.

 – CustomersFunny enough, I don’t mean prospective borrowers. I mean your current and former customers. Think back (or look at your records) about their collective financial situations. The questions they had; the challenges that needed to be overcome. The specific goals associated with buying a house (building equity, fixed monthly payment, good school district, etc.). 

Got that info? Now use it. Understand what’s been working for you and how to market that. Find a few ways to spin the types of deals, properties, and clients you’re working with. You were already the expert. Now you’re just letting people know your specific areas of expertise. This exercise also allows you to find opportunities that may lead to growth and/or pivots. 

 – Options – Do you have to do any of the above? No. Do you have to stay in the mortgage industry? Nope. Plenty of people have – and do – leave once the well dries up a bit. Do you have to stay with the same firm? Certainly not. 

As a 22-year veteran of this industry, I’ve seen a lot of cycles. Good people will last, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re with the right company if you don’t feel you have the support, resources, or autonomy you need to remain successful in a down market. If this is the case, come talk to me. APM puts branch managers and loan officers at the center of all we do. I’m always happy to tell you more. 

Regional Vice President - Southwest

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