Working With Your Client Base

Working With Your Client Base

The Importance of Client Retention for Mortgage Brokers

Having sweated blood to get Billy as a client you really, really need to prevent others from poaching him.

Be a person to your client not a company

As an independent mortgage broker the key to this is to make sure Billy likes you on a personal level.  Remember Guerrilla Marketing, do the things that the big companies can’t do.  In the business sense you might on occasions feel small and insignificant but you have a massive advantage over Santander or Money Supermarket.  You’re a real person, and to you Billy is a real person, not just account : 3098276/28922/AB/278 – C (why do they always insist on so many numbers when there are only about 64 million people in the UK, is it some kind of my customer base is bigger than yours thing?).  I digress a little here but I’m sure you get the point, make it a rule to always treat the customer as “Billy” and not just a customer, and already you’re streets ahead of the game.

Be professional not vanilla

On this same point being professional doesn’t necessarily mean being vanilla, you need to make a human connection with Billy, don’t be afraid to use humour or some gentle leg pulling.  Obviously you have to use a bit of judgement/common sense here, you wouldn’t just walk in, sit down and say “right big nose let’s get you sorted out” but if the house is nice then a quick “it must cost some money to keep a house like this” or if there’s a dinghy in the drive “you’re the first customer I’ve had with a yacht” very rarely goes amiss, the “right big nose let’s get you sorted” can wait until the second visit; only joking!

Why not keep in contact with a Christmas card?

So if we assume that part of the mission is now accomplished, Billy now thinks of you as a friend. The next important point to remember is that as a friend Billy likes you to stay in touch.  One of the first things I would recommend is to send all of your clients a Christmas card every year.  Unless you have thousands of clients and can’t cajole or bribe someone to write the card and the envelope out for you, I would always recommend sending them a hand written card.  It needn’t cost a lot; as a broker I used to buy half decent cards just after Christmas to send the following year.  Of course I’m a skinflint, but it did mean my clients got a better quality card, and I know they appreciated it because most of them invariably sent me a card back, and you know they won’t send one back to Sainsbury’s or Barclays.

A tip here to big up your business is to make a Christmas graphic and message in a desk top publishing program and print it on one page of the card.  I can recommend Microsoft Publisher or even better Serif Pageplus as being cheap (in fact we’ve even found a free version here), easy to use and once you have the hang of them you can also use them to produce your own letter headings, business card designs, leaflets and advertising copy.

This is great now; Billy has already realised that you are a good friend of the family, and he will probably be wracked with guilt if he goes anywhere else for a loan or insurance.  So let’s do what we can to save Billy’s suffering.  He’s done his bit, now it’s up to us to do ours.  To save him feeling guilty about using somebody else’s services we need to make sure he doesn’t need to.

Send clients a birthday card so they know their mortgage adviser cares

I can’t really emphasise this too strongly, KEEP IN TOUCH.  The Christmas card thing was great but we need to do more.  One adviser I spoke to would always send his clients a birthday card as well.  I personally never did this but his logic was that almost everyone gets loads of cards at Christmas, especially if they have kids.  Birthdays however are another matter, especially if you’re into the second half of the great football match that is life.  I’ve been married for ages, have grown up kids.  I’m certainly not a hermit but I only get about six cards per birthday on average.  In fact I even get excited about the card and voucher for a free cream cake I receive from Sainsbury’s, every year, so how much more thrilling would it be for Billy to get a hand written card from his mortgage adviser and personal friend?

Consider a regular newsletter for your mortgage clients

Ideally you should aim for some sort of contact at least every three months.  This isn’t always easy and you can tend to run out of things to say, so this is where a newsletter comes into its own.  This can be as simple or as complicated as you like, I’ve seen both types and both have arguments for and against them.  The professionally produced, printed version can help to make you look professional and will always contain up to date articles, some of which may well be relevant to your clients.  The personal letter version on the other hand is cheaper, more intimate, can be better targeted and reinforces the bond of friendship between you and the client, but of course does take up more of your time to produce.  As with anything like this part of the equation is that you’re trading off time against money.

If you go down this route you have to make a brutal evaluation of your writing and communication skills.  If you aren’t so hot when it comes to the written word, don’t be afraid to outsource, persuade or bribe a friend, partner, or member of your family to do the job.  Just give them a broad outline of the issues and points you want the letter or article to cover, and remember keep it loose and chatty, not official or prissy.

Alternately if you don’t mind paying out for a more professional newsletter there are numerous companies who will produce one for you with varying levels of professionalism and content at varying price levels to match.

Get modern and consider an emailed newsletter

If you have the client’s email address information included in your factfind, another possibility of course is to use a professional email client such as Mail chimp or Icontact.  I’ve used both and I must admit, of the two Icontact seems more intuitive, but maybe that’s just me.  The good news is that they both allow you to open a free account, which is only limited in the number of people you can send the email to, so just give them a go and see which is best for you!

Increase sales, offer all of your clients, all of your services!

For a lot of mortgage advisers times are tough, mortgage clients are very difficult to find and then getting the mortgage through to completion, often seems a nightmare.  So before you make such a massive effort to find new clients doesn’t it seem sensible to make the most of the clients you already have?

Look at it like this, let’s assume it costs you say £200 on average for each new client you get.  You might not actually pay someone a £200 for the client but there are advertising costs and the time you take sorting through the two, three, five clients you can’t help before you get one you can. The actual number depends on the way you work and how good your leads are but I’m sure you get the idea.

This £200 average client might make you say £1,000 in proc fees and a bit of life insurance.  That would mean that 5 of them a month would gross you £40,000 per annum minus the £12,000 client costs making £28,000 net.  If you do further advertising to increase this number to 6 a month you would then make a further £9,600 (£12,000 – £2,400) net, bringing your total income up to £37,600 pa. (Don’t worry about how low these figures seem by the way as there’s also broker fees, insurance only clients and B&C renewals to be added to these figures in the real world)

However, if you could then just sell a little more insurance to these client’s with say the occasional B&C, critical illness cover or even a top up family cover life policy giving an overall average increase of £300 per client, that in turn would increase your net income still with 5 clients a month from £28,000 to £46,000 pa. Bearing in mind that a decent critical illness policy brings in over £800 in commission and a B&C around £100 initially and then every year on renewal, I don’t think £300 as an overall average is quite conservative, but even if you are desperately pessimistic and make it £200 per year it’s still £12,000 per year which is more than you made off the extra clients and with much less additional work.  And remember if you’ve done a good job, it’s always easier to sell to existing customers than new ones that don’t know you.

This is where a sales matrix comes in.  It’s all very well wanting to sell everything to everyone, but you have to have some way of tracking it.  If you have good client management software then that will certainly do the job, but if not you can use a simple sales matrix based on the spread sheet below.  As well as the numbers, this gives a graphical representation what’s been sold making any gaps obvious at a glance.

sales-matrix

 Sales Matrix Key Notes

Sold is self-explanatory, but remember in the case of an insurance review you really need to do this at least every two years.

Told means they didn’t want it at the time, but that doesn’t mean they will never need it so again, keep reviewing the issue.

Not wanted, Client already has the product or it’s unsuitable for the client such as when a client has a pre-existing condition which prevents them taking out CIC for example.

 As an independent mortgage broker is it worth using a sales matrix?

Now if you’re wondering if this is a worthwhile exercise, just grab a handful of client files at random, look through to see how many of them are like Mr Smith in the table above and have been sold almost everything. Then think about how much money you are losing, by not having fulfilled all of your client’s needs.  Or just as worrying, who then is selling them these products, are they using a sales matrix and are they just about to take other business from you?

Always remember, it pays to ring fence your clients wherever you can.  Everything they need which you don’t supply leaves the door open for someone else.  Everything you sell them helps to build a wall around them, keeps them close to you and keeps the competition out!

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