Tuesday, November 29, 2005

TUESDAY'S TIPS Quick tips for big results

Here's a collection of tips that should be helpful for a majority of originators.

CALYX USERS have you ever wondered how to import your data into Point? If your contacts are in Outlook here is an easy way to make it happen.

MORTGAGE COACH USERS sometimes need to help explaining the reports such as the Equity Repositioning Analysis. Here is something that you could send with the analysis to help your clients understand the implications.

ACT USERS can benefit from eGrabber's Address Grabber utility. It costs, but it is an easy way to take a contact that is Outlook and/or ACT! and move it between databases. It also is an easy way to copy contact info to the clipboard to paste in an email.

ENCOMPASS USERS are you aware that Ellie Mae offers a TON of free training courses. Go check them out.

Monday, November 28, 2005

THE MONDAY AFTER: Is Beta Better?

A software model for introducing products and services may have some potential for the loan industry, depending on your perspective

An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal today discusses the pros and cons of software companies like Google and Microsoft introducing products in an extended beta cycle. Here is a great quote from the article:
""I deplore it as a consumer; I admire it as a marketing professional," said Peter Sealey, a marketing professor at the University of California at Berkeley and former chief marketing officer at Coca-Cola Co. "I can't come up with anything else in the entire marketing world where marketers knowingly introduce a flawed or inadequate product [and] it helps grow your user base."
Then on the flip side, Microsoft Monitor comments on how he feels this is a deplorable practice. Personally, I'm in favor of this practice as I believe it allows companies to fix flaws and improve the quality of product when it is finally released.
The ultimate question for me becomes one of learning from this and seeing if there is anything we could extract from this model as originators. Personally, I think there are several ways to use this concept of "Beta Excuse" to introduce services to determine their value and gain feedback before investing completely in a process or service offering. I think this is prudent from a cost and resource perspective.
For example, rolling out a Client Care System that is incomplete could benefit the client and the originator by requiring them to dialogue about the client experience and determine the value of each step compared to the type of borrower. Rolling out parts of a system also allows the originator to "manually model" the process (ie-instead of setting up a complicated auto responder or automated mailing process, do it off a simple paper checklist) prior to implementing it as an automated system. Automation seems the Holy Grail of our business, but automation is only as effective as the systems designed behind it.
Finally, the best reasons behind the beta product release to a group of users is that it creates buzz. A certain group of people like to think of themselves as being the "First" to try something. They use this "Status" as cultural and social currency by telling others. The marketer gains leverage that is difficult to come by except for extreme novelty items. I'd like some comments from others about what they think.

Monday, November 21, 2005

TUESDAY'S TIP An easy way to get one contact from Outlook to ACT!

I like to type once, import many. This little trick will help you start with a contact in Outlook and then Import to ACT!

This may seem a little convoluted, but it works especially well for just a single contact and once you learn the sequence, it can be done in less than 20 seconds.
  1. Find your Contact in the Outlook Address Book
  2. Highlight the contact and then from the Actions Menu choose "Forward as vCard"
  3. A message will pop up with the contact's information enclosed as a vCard.
  4. Choose "Save" from the file menu of the email message.
  5. Close the email message. It will be saved to your drafts folder in Outlook.
  6. Open ACT!
  7. From the View menu choose "Email."
  8. Select the Drafts folder.
  9. Find the email with the contact's name and open it.
  10. Open the Attachment.
  11. A dialog will appear with Merge Options.
  12. Choose "Do not Change" on the left side and make sure "Add" is selected on the right side.
  13. The contact should be added to ACT!. Make sure to go back and delete the email from your Drafts folder.
Of course there are utilities that can accomplish this same thing (ie-eGrabber, certain Synchronization tools), however for the 20 to 30 seconds it takes, this might be a manageable solution to make life easier.

MONDAY MISHMOSH: Do you own a Mortgage Appliance?

All over the map today...

There is a company forming that will be offering Technology Appliances. This short article is a good read, and I think the concept is sound, I'm just not so sure I agree with the choice of imagery. I keep thinking of my washing machine.

Encompass is out of the gate with the newest 1003's for 2006 and the updated appraisal forms which were implemented this month. Here's the release.

I covered this last week, but if you are looking to automate, you need to read this.

Mortgage Coach made some changes to how "Announcements" on the software's Home Screen (aka, "Mortgage Planner Dashboard") are presented. Instead of a scrolling piece of text, the software presents the announcements like a slide show in the announcements area.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

WHEN TECHNOLOGY FAILS It still takes people

The mortgage business is a business of people, for people and by people.

Technology can replace human involvement in the loan process, and there are some who may resent its ability to take the place of a person. However, I look at technology as enabling me to work at higher and higher levels of thinking and creativity by freeing up time and offloading redundant or repetitive tasks. Besides, I also look at Technology as being like a child... needing constant supervision. The following illustrates one reason why I believe this is so.

Today I was just about ready to submit a loan, confident that I could help the borrower lower their payment. I also was confident that the value on the property would come in higher than the borrower has stated because I had run an AVM and those are usually very conservative. Well, dummy me, I didn't look at the AVM very closely and later discovered that all the comps had 1 more bedroom than the subject property.

Monday, November 14, 2005

AUTOMATION IMPLEMENTATION: It's all in how you play the game

When it comes to implementing automation, it's all in how you play the game

The mortgage business is a never ending cycle of paperwork and redundancies. The holy grail of the mortgage business seems to be "Automation"; the ability to perform specific tasks without human involvement. The problem many LO's experience is that automation is a cost savings yet expensive to implement in terms of time and money. One of the founders of GHR systems has done a remarkable job at slicing and dicing this issue in a Mortgage Technology online article.

Friday, November 11, 2005

FRIDAY'S FREEBIE Free Microsoft Training

Training classes can be expensive. Microsoft has stepped up their online training with some worthwhile classes.

You hire an assistant who is very capable and takes on new tasks and responsibilities with eagerness. (S)he is ready for more responsibility and make your marketing documents more effective but you have a hard time laying out the $$$ in addition to the time. Well, training $$ can be well spent, but first make sure they've gone through all the training on the Microsoft site. This is quality education and can be taken in bite size chunks.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

TUESDAY FUNNY Don't take this post too seriously

When people have too much time, it can be either disatrous or hilarious.

Check out this very funny (depending on your perspective) spoof on the mortgage world. Thanks to RS Nickel and his post on LoanToolbox. Apologies in advance for anyone offended.

Monday, November 07, 2005

A MONDAY MUSE: Get outside a little more often

We all have to look outside ourselves for ideas, motivation and enjoyment.

I want to plug a few non-mortgage resources today. Sometimes the best ideas come from outside our industry.

Duct Tape Marketing is a great blog crammed with nuggets that can be readily used and quickly implemented.

I'm on a cold calling routine right now having been "gifted" with some older, out dated leads. So, my antenae are up in regards to cold calling resources. Here's a great article about leaving messages. Well, actually its an infomercial that tells you "what" but not "how." But, it's enough of a reminder for me to forget being a salesperson and be real, direct, and honest.

Check out some recordings besides those on industry websites, like these.

Need to get a little pumped for the day. SellingPower has a daily motivator. And if you need to smirk, smile or simply laugh, here is my favorite comic in the whole world. Brad is a talent that will emerge sooner than later.



Friday, November 04, 2005

FRIDAY FREEBIE A free PDF creator

I ran across this in an issue of PCWorld.

If you can put up with an ad every time you print, you can have the ability to create PDFs for free. PDF995 is a great freebie. And if you don’t want an ad, the $9.95 (hence the name “pdf995”) is a steal for removing it. Given Acrobat’s least expensive creator is $299, this is a must have freebie that will enable you to send documents to your clients.

When you need to send something with encryption such as completed disclosures, you can use the “Signature 995” product.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

NICKELS AND DIMES: vForms charges a transfer fee... ouch

I’m a firm believer that business is for profit. I’m also a believer that the consumer shouldn’t pay for the cost of (convolution) unnecessary complexity.

Today I went to transfer my vForms license as I recently moved to GMAC Mortgage from Countrywide. GMAC is a standards based company so I can actually use the software again. My request for a new license key specific to my new computer was greeted with a mandatory $25 fee for transferring the license (as part of the transfer, they reconfigure the maps and other files if necessary).

In my mind, the transfer of the key should not require a fee if the services aren’t required. vForm’s CEO was kind enough to respond to my email complaint but made no effort to resolve the matter… yet. If vForms is willing to consider flexibility, I’ll make sure to post that too.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

TUESDAY'S TOOL Help your agents plan their business

If you are serious about partnering with real estate agents, you need to understand their business planning. Here’s a tool that can help.

Gary Keller founded one of the most remarkable companies in Real Estate, Keller Williams. His Millionaire Systems is infamous for being the brain dump of the top agents in the organization. One of the tools that is offered on the website is a business planning tool for real estate agents. You have to sign up to get the free information. However, it’s a great tool to help you understand what a Real Estate agent needs to think about to plan for success.