Playing to your strengths

Founder of awarded brokerage explains how to create and execute a winning business strategy

Playing to your strengths



Mortgage brokers are great at writing home loans, but what about creating business strategies? Otto Dargan, founder of Home Loan Experts, Brokerage of the Year at this year’s AMAs, explains how playing to your strengths can help you execute a winning plan

Most mortgage brokers are small businesses, and while they might be great at writing a home loan without expensive consultants or an MBA, the task of creating a strategy can seem daunting and can result in many brokers missing the mark.

The first thing to know about creating a successful business strategy is that you should be selective.

Newer brokers are happy to have a client, any client, but as their business grows they may become overwhelmed with too many opportunities.

While this might seem like a good thing, it often ends up with a small business owner working too hard on too many things.

A much better approach is to take the time to develop a formal written strategy that helps you focus on what gives you the best results and also the best quality of life.

If you miss the mark with your strategy, then you can waste years barking up the wrong tree, so pick a business idea carefully, making sure it is right for you. A good strategy is about focus.

Be specific

Entrepreneurs are opportunistic by nature and it isn’t uncommon for a mortgage broker to start several businesses or take on developing properties on the side. However, this lack of focus can take a significant toll on your core business.

This is why it is extremely important to make a decision about what business you are in and why, and then stick to it. 

Learn to say no to good opportunities so you can say yes to great ones.

It’s a daily discussion, not an annual event; your strategy should be printed and put on the wall and referred to throughout the year

A great place to start is by looking at what has worked for you in the past. Think about what customer types you have attracted and where they came from. 

Decide what not to do

To give a few examples, IKEA has totally missed out on the baby boomer market, despite these buyers having larger budgets than the millennials who are happy to purchase flat-pack furniture. Apple is the most expensive phone on the market, so has missed out on the people looking for budget phones, and Pizza Hut has missed out on the burger market.

But that’s OK. A great strategy is about focus, so it’s important to include what you won’t do as well as what you will do. This is often harder than deciding what you will do: you only need to be successful at one thing to have a great business.

A one-page strategic plan

We are a larger business of 150 staff, so we have a one-page plan for mortgage broking, our outsourcing business in Nepal, as well as for technology and marketing. 

A smaller broking business would just need one plan and should answer the following questions in as few words as possible:

  • Vision: Your picture of the future
  • Mission: Why does your company exist?
  • Objectives: Measurable goals you want to achieve this year
  • Our business: What business are you in?
  • Our target customers: Who will you work with?
  • Our value proposition: Why would they use us?
  • Our core competencies: What are you going to be the best at?
  • Our focus for this year: What are we going to do?
  • What we won’t do: List the distractions that you’re going to avoid

Ideally, you should have one vision, one mission, and a maximum of three points for each of the other questions.

Get your team on board

Your strategy should be created by you and one or two other staff; however, you’ll need feedback from your team to make sure you haven’t missed anything.

Once your strategy is decided, then your team can work out collaboratively how they’ll work to make it happen.

It’s a daily discussion, not an annual event; your strategy should be printed and put on the wall and referred to throughout the year.

As the year goes on, you’ll need to make tweaks to your strategy to make sure it’s on point.

Great brokers aren’t all things to all people; they tend to focus on a particular market or niche. Here are some examples of focus points that we’ve seen work well for our brokers in the past:​​​​​

• Referrer types such as accountants, solicitors, real estate agents or financial planners
• Ethnic groups and communities
• Borrower types, including investors or first home buyers
• Transaction types, such as construction
• Specific marketing methods, such as social media, events or networking
• Product types, including SMSF loans or low-doc home loans (for potential borrowers who are self-employed or small business owners who have limited access to documentation)

The key is to remember to play to your strengths.

Otto Dargan
Founder, Home Loan Experts

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