Mountain West Financial is a regional mortgage banker that succeeds by forming local ties. "We implant ourselves in the community," explains Doug Cavanaugh, operations coordinator of the company's Irvine, CA, branch. "We want to build relationships with everyone thirty, fifty miles from our office," he says.
The company had a hands-on strategy that emphasized establishing relationships in person, but its 10 agents didn't have a unified method for tracking their interactions and transactions with customers. Some used pen and paper, others opted for Outlook contacts and reminders. One-off tools managed some of their needs, such as loan calculations or lead generation. "Everything became this stitch-and-bolt process. There were too many systems people got frustrated logging in and out of," Cavanaugh remembers. What Mountain West needed was a single, customized solution.
What drew Cavanaugh to OptifiNow, besides a word-of-mouth recommendation, was that it could be tailored to Mountain West's needs. OptifiNow offers tools for lead management (Leads onDemand), sales (Sales onDemand), affiliate management (Lead Link), marketing (Marketing onDemand), and content sharing (Content onDemand). These products could be mixed and matched as required, and additional customization made sure the reps were able to input customer information that actually mattered.
"It was not an off-the-shelf canned solution," Cavanaugh says.
Deploying extremely customized, user-centric solutions is OptifiNow's mission. "At its core, the product was built to be flexible, [enabling customers] to deploy their business into the software," not the other way around, explains John McGee, president of OptifiNow. The results of the implementation, which went fully live in January 2013, were immediately apparent. Within the first three months, conversion rates increased from 6 percent to 8 percent. More than a year later, they're consistently at 10 or 11 percent.
Loan agents are traditionally very independent. "In our industry it's very difficult, because there are a lot of shops that let you do your own thing," Cavanaugh says. That meant the solution Mountain West chose would have to be user-friendly. "Our software is all about individual salespeople, and making them more efficient and effective in their everyday efforts," McGee explains.
OptifiNow has saved salespeople five to 10 hours a week, a big reason the implementation has been a success. "Once they sat down and used it, they liked it," Cavanaugh says. "It's customized to their work flow. It gives them information about themselves, shows them what's in their pipeline, and information about the team as well, and that's helped them adapt." Salespeople also like how it automates follow-ups or sends out a special note on a client's birthday, providing much of the nurturing salespeople used to have to remember to do on their own.
OptifiNow has been helpful both in the field and over the phone. Recently, with "the refi market in full swing," agents were fielding lots of phone calls about refinancing home loans. OptifiNow gave them a "more productive sales environment," Cavanaugh says. Within seconds, the system would route incoming calls to the next available agent. Loan officers didn't have to look up contact information, because it was already there. "If someone called in on the 800 number, it's going to pick up your phone record, and immediately a screen is there with your information."
The automation provided by OptifiNow has led to huge efficiencies. The cost per funded loan has dropped as automation has freed up agents, leading to a savings of $360,000 to date.
Recently, OptifiNow added social media capabilities to its portfolio, with the product Social onDemand. In a highly regulated industry such as mortgage banking, being able to monitor social media interaction is important. The tool also includes approved content, so agents can comfortably tweet about deals while ensuring compliance. "That became a valuable tool for us looking into the future," Cavanaugh says, and demonstrated OptifiNow's commitment to meeting its customers' needs as technology changes.
After implementing OptifiNow, Mountain West Financial saw:
- conversion rates rise from 6 percent to 8 percent in the first three months, then again to a 10 percent to 11 percent average;
- $360,000 in savings to date as cost per funded loan dropped; and
- agents save 5 to 10 hours a week through automation of tasks.