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Team-Building: Creating an Atmosphere of Positive Disruption

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When it comes to forward-thinking companies, it’s safe to say that any business leader could learn a lesson from Carvana, the online pre-owned car retailer.

When Carvana burst onto the scene in 2012, it completely disrupted the car sales industry. While many doubted that consumers would seriously consider purchasing a vehicle online from a “vending machine,” the company defied all expectations and became a huge success.

From 2017 to 2018, Carvana reported a 113% year-over-year growth in its number of retail units sold. During that same time period, the company also experienced a 128% year-over-year increase in their total revenue, jumping from $858.9 million to $1,955.5 million in a matter of months.

The moral of the story? Carvana saw a massive need in the car retail industry, and the company’s leaders knew exactly how to cater to their target customers. Today, Carvana continues to meet the needs of people who want to purchase cars without a dreaded trip to the car dealership.

Those of us in the mortgage lending industry could take a page or two from Carvana’s book. As we head into a new decade of home loan financing, now is an especially crucial time to take a closer look at our strategies for serving homebuyers effectively and for building up strong, confident, and forward-thinking teams within the mortgage lending industry. Without a concentrated focus on both of these areas, we cannot expect to make any significant strides toward our business goals.

Staying Ahead of the Curve

One of my favorite phrases that I use often at work is, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” This is especially important for those of us in mortgage lending, because we’re helping people make one of the most monumental financial decisions of their lives. Because of this, it’s essential that we find new strategies and paths that fit the modern homebuyer—instead of just relying on the way we’ve “always done it.”

A few ways to do this include:

  • Researching industries outside of ours. What is it about a successful company’s service level that makes it “the best”? Which lessons can we draw from their business strategies?
  • Bringing in other industries to increase our level of service. We should be constantly evaluating potential new vendors and reevaluating the ones we currently work with. If a specific technology solution is needed to streamline a process, for instance, we need to pursue that solution or create one ourselves.
  • Focusing on our own improvement. Understanding your competitor’s strategy is important, but it’s also essential not to dwell on what other companies are doing. Instead of comparing your organization with another, zero in on your company’s own improvement and embrace it. When it comes down to it, we should be focused on creating an environment of positive disruption as we work to make our companies and our industry better every day.

Empowering and Motivating Our Teams

While we need to stay focused on homebuyers’ needs and preferences—and anticipate how those needs will change in the coming years—it’s equally as important to ensure that we’re building up our team members and equipping them for success.

How do we do this? As leaders, we need to start with ourselves.

A manager is not simply a business leader. A manager is a mentor, an encourager, and an advocate for their team members. If your employees don’t feel supported and heard, they won’t perform in a way that will help your company reach its business goals.

As you think about ways to motivate your team members, here are a few ideas you may want to implement:

  • Promote free thinking. Never use the words, “we’ve always done it this way.” Instead, allow your team members to think outside the box (as clichéd as that may sound), and that’s when you’ll get the best ideas to drive your business goals.
  • Always be checking in. Don’t limit a discussion to one meeting. Encourage your team members to continue the conversation by touching base with them regularly. Don’t assume that they have no questions or ideas simply because they aren’t approaching you directly to share them.
  • Encourage people to be themselves. Differing opinions and motivations only make a team stronger. Plus, the best ideas are always generated when a group has a variety of expertise, personalities, and strengths.

While this may seem obvious, it’s also important enough to mention: always ask the person who’s performing a specific task or job what could be done to streamline a process, create an efficiency, or just make everyone’s work life easier. In other words, find out what makes their day difficult, and discuss effective ways to address these roadblocks.

Also, talk with your team members to find out which parts of their days really uplift or fulfill them. Ask them which responsibilities they enjoy most and if there are any tasks they would like to try. A quote I reference often is from Simon Sinek, an author and motivational speaker, who says, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.” Make sure you’re encouraging the passion you see in each of your staff members, and you’ll find that your team’s business goals will achieve themselves.

Bringing It All Together

So, do you have what you need to grow your business and succeed? Remember that change starts with you. In an industry that is always changing, we need to be willing and ready to embrace new strategies and methods of doing business.

If we don’t evolve with homebuyers, we won’t be able to meet their needs. Instead of simply telling homebuyers what to do, we need to make sure we’re changing to accommodate their goals and vision for the future.

If we focus on the needs of homebuyers and create outsidethe-box solutions that address and solve challenges in the home financing process, we should have no problem building thriving companies that employ satisfied people and serve happy customers.

About Author: Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker - Waterstone Mortgage - 3.5.2020
Rich Tucker, SVP - Loan Operations, Waterstone Mortgage, has nearly 20 years’ experience in the mortgage lending industry. He can be reached at RTucker@ WaterstoneMortgage.com.
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