How to develop a business plan that helps build your brand

There is nothing more crucial to your success than a thorough business plan. Professionals who achieve long-term success do so when they have a clear vision of their goals and how to reach them.

For James Laird, president and broker of record for CanWise Financial, who left one of Canada’s largest independent mortgage brokerages to launch his own firm, starting afresh meant putting in serious time to systematically and effectively build his brand.

“I believe the best way to build recognition in any industry is with results —quantitative, measurable results,” he says. “The mortgage industry is one of the most competitive, cutthroat sales industries in Canada. If you do not stand out from the pack, you will find yourself considering other career options.”

A mortgage professional, he says, needs to understand why a customer would choose him or her over all other mortgage options — whether it’s the best price, best service, best advice or best technology (or, likely, a combination of these). “If a broker does not understand their own value proposition, than neither will potential clients,” Laird says.

Being a specialist in your field is another way of distinguishing who you are. The typical inclination for mortgage professionals is to be all things to all people, says Wade Webb, a broker/owner and REALTOR® coach at AgentsBoost in Kelowna, B.C. “But people gravitate toward experts, not somebody who’s all things to all people. If you work for acreages, commercial, condos and residential properties, the client will shy away from you.”

While mortgage professionals need to know their niche, they also need to know themselves. Webb is a big believer in creating a personal brand — but doing it within the larger corporate brand.

“People have comfort in old brands, so when you start to believe that you’re bigger than the corporate brand, you’re going to hurt yourself,” he said. “Build your brand within your national brand, and make them even and equal in balance.”

If your logo or slogan doesn’t identify who you are and what you bring to the table within that national brand, then you’re just another commodity, says Webb. He recommends hiring professionals to help with branding or marketing efforts.

Next, it’s important to concentrate on referrals — and that means maintaining strong relationships with your customers. “The No. 1 way people find their agent is through a friend,” says Webb. “If you don’t have good relationships, you’ll never get that business, and if you don’t have other streams of lead generation to bring in new people, then you’re going to end up plateauing.”

One key strategy to employ is a daily planning session. A mortgage professional needs to schedule time in his or her day to go through the numbers and to build their brand within the brand. Putting in an “hour of power” each day is critical, says Webb, because a lot of professionals have great ideas but little time for follow-through. Make the time, hold yourself accountable, and good things should happen.

For every mortgage professional, having a strategic business plan in place can help you figure out where you need to go — and the best way to get there.

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