The store sign blares, “Divorce Today…$199,” another trumpets, “Rolex Watches – Cheap,” and the next one shouts, “4 tires, $120.” Discounting is everywhere, advertising a common message – low price and cheap service.
Discounters wreak havoc on the rest of us who charge for a premium service. With so many businesses advertising low price, it makes customers ultra price sensitive. In your case, the customer is a real estate agent, and more of them are becoming price sensitive to fees charged by you.
What’s Your Fee?
The agent asks, “How much do you charge the client?” The loan officer replies, “I charge a point on the front and one on the back.” The Agent appearing stunned says, “That seems unfair, why are you charging so much?” The perturbed loan officer utters, “That’s what I’ve always charged.” The agent leaves, never to return again.
Hopefully this has never happened to you. Instead, you should expect the opposite when you understand how to get agents to support your fees. Rather than agents questioning how much you charge, they’re explaining to the client why your service commands a premium.
Marketing is your opportunity to shape their perception of your service, before appealing to them about a relationship. It should educate an Agent, ahead of you meeting them, about the quality of your service, which is in direct proportion to the size of your fees.
It’s like luxury automobiles. Seldom does someone walk into a Lexus dealership and haggle over price. Marketing has shaped their buyer’s perception of quality, prior to walking into the showroom, to defend the price.
How to Describe Your Service
Is your brochure shaping perceptions of your service? In many cases, brochures brag about service with unproven statements like, “We deliver great service.” And when a loan officer is questioned about fees, they struggle to prove the worth of it.
If you want agents to truly understand the quality of your service, your marketing has to express it. Begin by making your service tangible. If an Agent can’t see, hear, or touch it, they’ll create their own perceptions, one that won’t support your fees. It’s not good enough to just say, “We deliver excellent customer service.”
Here’s how to make it tangible:
See it – Many agents are visual processors. Use pictures, graphics and flow charts.
Hear it – Client testimonials recorded on CD or as an audio file loaded on your website.
Touch it – Use the finest, highest quality of materials and a variety of packaging.
Make It Trivial
For instance, develop an outline of the loan application process and describe it in steps, i.e. “Our Exclusive 12 Step Process.” Better yet, develop an outline of the communication between your office, the agent, and the borrower during the loan application process. Let the focal point be a flow chart with graphics, since it’s excellent for agents to visualize.
Be More Descriptive in the Details
When you describe your staff, mention the number of combined years of experience, “Our seasoned staff combines over 150 years of mortgage experience.” Use pictures and biographies to make an emotional connection. And as a personal favorite, use details to describe what’s involved, “Over the course of a loan, a production assistant, two processors, a manager, two underwriters, myself and 20 sets of hands will touch your file.”
You can create a supplement brochure that answers the most frequently asked questions. Questions should be answered in sequential order from easiest to toughest. About half way down the list, include questions that address your fees. A tool like this can help an Agent defend your fees when the client questions them about it particularly.
The Three Amigos
So why should any Agent care about doing business with you? Because of what you can do for the Three Amigos. Who are they? The same three people you care about – me, myself and I. Agents are people too, aren’t they? Well, maybe not…?
For example, if you’re consistent at producing referrals, isn’t this a reflection of quality service? And if the referral benefits the Agent, isn’t this a powerful reason that explains why your fees are a premium?
The exciting news is, the more an Agent understands how they directly benefit from your service, the higher a fee can be incurred. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Exactly! How can you describe servicing clients after the loan closes, so you produce referrals for the Agent (and yourself)? Since many agents have this gap in their marketing, they’ll appreciate you more.
By making your details trivial, being more descriptive, and educating how they directly benefit, you’re helping an Agent rationalize emotionally and logically why your service commands a premium. By doing this, they’ll be less likely to question your fees and help clients understand the value of your service and why it’s a premium.
Jeff Nelson helps loan officers increase loan originations by attracting quality relationships with real estate agents from the development of customized relationship-building strategies.