Jason Back, managing director of multi-award-winning brokerage The Australian Lending & Investment Centre, on driving efficiency in your business
A common problem with many new-to-industry – as well as experienced – brokers is the inconsistency of their results. Their inability to stabilise their desired revenue and, more importantly, their profit, means the industry suffers high attrition rates. This is especially true of new brokers as they work to develop their craft. Our industry spends significant time focused on marketing, and content and lead generation; however, this can be akin to watching someone catch a fish, reel it in, then ask: ‘Now what do I do with you?’ In an industry with low barriers to entry, are we properly equipping new brokers? And equally, are we adequately supporting experienced brokers?
The core skills development of a broker is not just obtained through a Certificate IV or diploma. As our industry continues to evolve, with greater focus on regulation, compliance, technology and the right outcomes for the client, we need to be better at everything we do. In an industry that serves over 50% of consumers, we need to ensure we are above reproach when we engage, deliver and serve the Australian consumer. If we are just taking orders, we will get left behind, and rightfully so.
Every great business starts from great foundations. W. Edwards Deeming once said, “If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.” Brokers, in general, spend too much time working on the skills needed for those one, two or three golden hours they spend in front of their client. A 60-day settlement equates to 1,440 hours; you have just nailed three of them – now what?
Many new brokers have no clear reference point, therefore they have developed an ad hoc approach to each stage of the client journey and cannot tell how well they have performed at each critical juncture. They believe their clients are happy with their experience. How does this lack of information help them?
We need to be more to our clients than just a ‘transaction’. While this is about sales, it’s also about marketing, HR, compliance, risk, legal, operations, business development, training, finance and much more – all the important facets of running a business. Here’s how to write more and sell less in three easy steps:
1. Process, process, process
At times we tend to overcomplicate our industry. In pursuit of delighting our clients with quality advice and timely service, we forget that we also work in an environment that is heavily process-oriented, with many moving parts. We don’t allow the time to set up clear and workable processes. Put simply, a process is a set of defined tasks needed to complete a given business activity, including who is responsible for completing each step, when, and how they do so.
At ALIC we have a process for everything we do. Through the use of detailed and endto- end processes it reduces the need for cognitive thinking in standardised work such as valuations, pricing and loan submissions, allowing our staff to focus on work that adds value to the client experience.
The importance of these tasks to the success of your business cannot be underestimated.
2. Measure and manage
Having processes in place is not enough. You need to understand if what you have designed and implemented works, and how well it works. If time is your most valuable commodity – and it is – you need to work efficiently through your processes to maximise your time by completing value-adding activities and minimising the distraction, waste and noise created by inefficiencies. There are over 80 different measurements I conduct on our business each month to ensure it is operating at maximum efficiency at all times. No matter what you want your business to look like or grow into, you need to measure your performance.
Using these metrics, you can get valuable insights into where your current processes are losing you time or costing you revenue – or, more importantly, how future customers can be analyzed, understood and corrected.
How will you know where you are going if you don’t know where you have been.
3. Customer journey
Without a clearly defined client journey, your customer will never feel ‘safe’. Clients approach brokers because they want choice, advice, service, competitive pricing and an easy process. They are confused about what to do. They don’t understand commissions. They may have trust issues based on poor perceptions and previous experiences. In my 25 years in banking, the most common complaints I have heard are not based on price, rates or fees; they are based on communication – ‘I had to chase my broker’, ‘My broker didn’t tell me that’, ‘I had to contact my broker to update me’. Like any great relationship, clear communication is the foundation for success. A fast ‘no’ can be better than a drawn-out ‘yes’.
At ALIC we have a clearly defined client journey. This is not only for our end-toend processing of their debt needs, but for the entire client life cycle, including before our client engages with us, their work with our referral partners, and after their loan has settled.
There are over 80 different measurements I conduct on our business each month to ensure it is operating at maximum efficiency at all times
Time to act
What do your clients say about the journey you take them on? What do they remember and, more importantly, what will they tell others about your customer value proposition?
Changing your business starts with you. You have to want to change, and you have to want to adopt best practice to succeed in this highly competitive market. It’s not always an easy journey, but if you’re serious about staying in this industry, it’s a journey worth pursuing.
Jason Back is managing director of The Australian Lending & Investment Centre (ALIC), recognised as Australian Brokerage of the Year at the Australian Mortgage Awards. He recently launched the Broker Essentials course after years of enquiries into the best practices and habits of a high-performance businesss – www.brokeressentials.com.au.