what does it take to run a branch
Ross Mortgage News

Branching Out: Tips on Being a Successful Branch Manager

July 5, 2019

Whether you’re hesitating over making an industry change or are simply looking for a new environment to start growing your mortgage business in, we’ve got you covered. Having been in business for over 70 years, our team has what it takes to help you reach your career goals.

In the mortgage business, a good branch manager is essential. What does it take to run a branch? What qualities distinguish great branch managers from the competition? And how can a great company enable great talent to become leaders?

Leadership and mentorship

First, anyone who wants to start or manage a branch needs to understand that their role is primarily about leadership and mentorship. We tend to think of managers as those in charge of the procedural day-to-day details. The most effective branch managers recognize that they have to manage people before they manage processes. They are leaders and mentors first and foremost, capable of creating and sustaining the kind of structural support, system, leadership and mentorship to effectively manage a team.  There isn’t a standard playbook for things like; how to properly plan and structure a work day, how to find new contacts, how to work with referral partners, or how to engage with consumers and show them value. Those things don’t always lend themselves to a checklist or a one-size-fits all solution. Effective managers empower their team to make decisions, but also put enough structural support in place so they know what to do and where to go when they need guidance or assistance.

Leading from the front

The best branch managers take responsibility when things go wrong. They don’t blame up and don’t blame down. More importantly, they make every effort to learn from mistakes, turning obstacles into opportunities and making sure their team uses missteps as a chance to improve for the future. For example, if a loan transaction isn’t closing on time, a strong branch manager can be working to turn that into a future relationship.

Roles and responsibilities

Mortgage loan officers, in most companies, are producers. Their main function is to bring in quality loan applications. That means understanding what a quality loan application looks like, so they don’t overpromise. They also need to understand that their critical tasks are related to building relationships and taking more loan applications. Valuable branch managers are adept at keeping everyone on task and in their lanes so that can happen. Getting high-quality applications in the door and having an operations team in place to perform at an extremely high level, is critical. It’s not just about clarifying roles and responsibilities, but about coordinating, communicating and optimizing individual and team success.

Generosity and inclusivity

The best branch managers often emerge organically. They are asked to lead not by those at the top of the organization, but from the bottom. They are the kind of people others want to work with, because they are generous with their time, knowledge and professional expertise. The most qualified leader isn’t always the top producer (a mistaken assumption too many mortgage companies make). It’s frequently someone who is a natural mentor, collaborator and coordinator. For that reason, good leaders are often grown from within, emerging from and perpetuating a culture of doing things the right way, treating people well, clarifying roles and being supportive. In other words: creating the conditions for growth and success. Talented professionals recognize those qualities and want to be a part of that. On some occasions, great branch managers even find their biggest competitors looking to join their team.

Freedom and support

The best leaders are adept at building and maintaining a strong team, and that requires recruiting. That’s why extensive transition assistance—helping new loan officers hit the ground running on day one—is so important. That extra early support allows them to keep doing what they’re doing, while familiarizing themselves with in-house systems organically over time. We had multiple newcomers last year who had their best month-to-month numbers to date in their first full month with us. Great branch managers also have no ego. They cultivate entrepreneurship by allowing individuals to create their own personal brand within the organization—and generate the kind of results that benefits every member of the team.

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