Cameron Price, co-owner: At Mortgage Choice Melbourne we had a very challenging year as we lost several staff, which forced us to rethink our processes and how we operated as a business unit. In saying that, we were able to hire three new team members – one broker and two customer service managers, (admin support) – who have fitted in wonderfully well and added to our team both from a work perspective and that of our overall environment. We lost two brokers, so we went from six to four.
Losing 33% of our customer-facing team meant a complete change of direction in how we operated. We decided that we wouldn’t try to hire additional brokers but rather would reinforce our admin support team and streamline our work practices. Our admin team, led by our office manager, Di Aparo, stepped up to take on further responsibility, thereby freeing the brokers up to do what they do best: face-to-face client meetings, lending strategies and business development. We still continued to receive fantastic support from our client base, both repeat clients and new referrals. Maintaining regular contact with our database through annual loan reviews means we stay top of mind.
Apart from the obvious brand recognition of Mortgage Choice, our biggest benefit in being part of a franchise network are our fellow franchisees. We’re lucky enough within Mortgage Choice to have a wonderful and diverse group of franchisees who are not only colleagues but great friends. We travel Australia-wide to visit other franchisees, share information and learn best practice and how we can tweak and improve our business. Conversely, we share our experiences and any changes we may have made. We have franchisees regularly visit and use our retail office, and we view the network as colleagues rather than competition.
Leads and lead conversion are the keys to a successful business, and apart from client referrals we regularly hold information sessions both off-site and in our retail offices. Lunchtime information sessions are a cheap and easy way to both inform and create brand awareness. We have a signed up company car used by one of our brokers, and our annual loan reviews with existing clients have also been beneficial, especially with the market in a state of flux.
A large majority of Australian borrowers have been affected by the recent lending changes, and our clients are no different. As an established business we have a large number of investors who are affected by rising investor interest rates and decreased borrowing power that have limited the options of many. To combat this we ensure we utilise our entire lender panel to identify the niches each has, and thankfully we’ve been able to assist the majority of clients. The lending market is dynamic, and we need to adjust now just as we have in the past. Our clients are well educated and understand that change is occurring and we as a client/broker partnership must take a long-term view to ensure goals are achieved.
The difference between a good brokerage and a top brokerage are the little things. Most brokers are customer centric, wanting to and achieving great client outcomes; however, we try to do the little things well. We ensure clients are kept informed along the lending process. We don’t forget the client post-settlement; we ensure the clients are contacted annually to review their lending and organise property reports or valuations. We ensure calls and emails are responded to within a two-hour window. And we thank our referrers. These things may seem trivial, but to the client they are vital.