How Robert achieved a 73% growth in settlements and 3 award nominations in just 12 months.

Being the new kid on the block in a fiercely-loyal regional area isn’t easy. As a business, you’re competing with long held relationships and sometimes, change is not invited.

So, what does it take to compete and win clients?

Customer-centric thinking, community spirit, a BIG goal and a tight business plan according to Robert Simpson, a mortgage broker in the picturesque Southern Highlands region of New South Wales, where he operates a Loan Market shopfront with his wife, Trudy.

Robert joined the mortgage broker industry just two years ago. Before that, he’d spent 11-years representing furniture manufacturers and selling-on big-ticket items, it included a lot of travel away from Trudy and his two young children so Robert decided it was time for a career change.

After dabbling in broking part-time for almost 12 months under the mentorship of top Loan Market broker, Daniel Zarkovic, Robert decided to go all in. He set himself a BIG goal to break into the local market of the Southern Highlands and build his business up from scratch.

Fast forward to the one year anniversary of their shopfront opening, Robert was announced as a NSW-state finalist in the MFAA State Excellence Awards in three categories; Regional Finance Broker, Best Newcomer and Young Professional (go Robert!).

These nominations are a reflection of his passion and commitment to his customers, and his numbers aren’t bad either! He experienced a 73% growth in settlements in just 12 months.

So, how did he do it?

We broke out the business plan with Robert and got the lowdown on the 5 business areas he focused on in his first 12 months to achieve such phenomenal growth. Here there are:

1. Invest in a branded shopfront.

Understanding the market that you are trying to break into is essential, and as a “third-generation Southern Highlands boy” (Robert’s words) he knew that having a shopfront was essential.

“All the big players in the area have shopfronts. Trudy and I knew it was something we had to do if we wanted to have an impact and grow our business,” Robert said.

According to Robert, investing in the shopfront was an ideal choice to attract their target market and has had a huge impact on increasing customer foot traffic. 

“The shopfront has established our business as a part of the community, it’s convenient for our customers. We couldn’t imagine operating without it.

“It also adds to the professionalism of our business. Our referral partners know that we are committed and invested in our business and referring to us is a big value-add for them. “

2. Marketing in the local community. 

Robert invested a lot of time, energy and money into building his brand in his local community, all starting with the shop front.

According to Robert, using a range of marketing tactics such a Loan Market branded ute, radio ads in the local cinema and sponsoring the local football club, were essential in getting the Loan Market brand in front of customers.

“When locals see the ute driving through the main street to the shopfront and see Loan Market sponsoring the local football club, it’s a reminder that our business is here, committed and ready to help the local community.”

Robert also emphasised the impact of integrating social media into his marketing strategy, using it to build his brand presence and online community of customers and referral partners.

“We jumped on the three most popular platforms – Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram – and started building our pages through sharing client stories and rates. We also share content that Loan Market provides to help educate our clients on the opportunities that are available in the market.”

Posting regularly on social media, Robert added, has driven traffic to his business website where clients can book in for an appointment or enter their details through Loan Market’s personalised lead-generation tool, My Lead Generator.

3. Deliver the best client experience, fast.  

“We wanted to be the most significant brokerage in the Southern Highlands, and we knew that it would come down to supporting our customers to achieve their financial goals.”

However, it is not just getting customers the finance they need, Robert added, but the speed and efficiency in how you do it.

“We preposition digital tools to our customers upfront, inviting them to co-collaborate on the loan application with us.”

According to Robert, interactive tools such as Loan Market’s data collection tool the Online Fact Find speeds up the data collection process and creates a culture of accountability with the customer.

“Once the documents are in, we commit to finding them a solution in three days. We tell our customers that the faster they get documents to us, the faster we can help them achieve their financial goals. It gives them a sense of urgency and a little bit of FOMO [Fear Of Missing Out] to get started. 

“I know that some of our customers have started filling out the Online Fact Find within minutes of it being sent out!” 

4. Nail business operations with technology.

To build a mortgage broking business from the ground up – especially when you have little financial industry experience – you have to utilise all the technology that’s available to you according to Robert.

“We knew that if we wanted to grow we needed to streamline every part of our business and we achieved that with MyCRM.”  

MyCRM, Loan Market’s integrated technology platform, Robert added, has been an integral part in the set-up and growth phase of his business. This included Trudy learning loan processing in MyCRM and operating in the business as a Client Service Manager.

“It is the best platform for our business. We are 100% confident that when Best Interests Duty is introduced, we will be more than prepared with the built-in processes and tech in MyCRM.

“If MyCRM went down for us, it would be like Facebook going down for the world.

5. Support from the broking community.

With an ambitious growth goal in mind, it was important for Robert to have ongoing support from the get-go so he leaned in on a mentor relationship he has with Loan Market business owner, Daniel Zarkovic.

“In my first year of broking, Daniel and I had a standing appointment from 9:00pm – 11:00pm every night of the week. For someone who is as busy and who sees so many customers like Daniel, to give me time was a massive privilege and I took the opportunity to learn from him with both hands.”

Focussing on three key disciplines: speed, compliance and policy, Daniel and Robert workshopped scenarios, reviewed audits and streamlined processes.

“Daniel keeps me accountable, and I know he always has my back.” 

So, what’s in store for the future?

According to Robert, the first 12 months of growth have laid the foundation of the business. The next step is to scale by developing relationships with potential referral partners in the area.

“We want to establish ourselves as the mortgage brokerage of choice in the Southern Highlands, both for our customers and referral partners.”

Working with a range of real estate businesses who already help potential clients, he added, will build a bigger lead pipeline and generate more revenue.

“I want to be challenged as a business owner by writing more volume. It will be another crazy 12 months of hard work, but Trudy and I are excited to continue growing and expanding.”

Building your business up from scratch in a tightly-held regional market isn’t easy, but with an ambitious goal and a tight business plan, Robert blew it out of the park.  

We wish Robert all the best for the year ahead! 

PUBLISHED May 21st, 2020 IN Stories and insights

Holly Bagley

Holly is a multi-channel marketing professional with ambition and curiosity. She loves building things up from scratch, uncovering problems and finding creative marketing solutions. She gets a kick out of helping businesses drive measurable growth (yes data!). As an avid film-buff, Holly has a passion for story-telling across multimedia. Call her Holly "Spielberg" Bagley!