In his 4+ years as Branch Manager at NFM Lending, Richmond’s Greg Cowart has been a model of consistency. He routinely churns out big numbers, month after month, year after year. Hear how he does it and what he says it takes to get over the hump to stardom as NFM TV features him in November’s Top Producer Series.

Full Transcript is Below:

– [Narrator] Executive leadership. Industry news makers. Top producer insights. This is NFM TV.

– Welcome in to NFM TV. I’m your host Greg Sher. It’s that time, again. We love this segment. Every month we go around the country and talk to the top producers in our industry. Loan officers, real estate agents, and for the month of November, we are really pleased to go down to Richmond, Virginia, to speak to our very own, Greg Cowart. Greg, how are you doing?

– I’m doing great, Greg. Great to hear from you. How are you?

– I’m incredible. It’s so great to hear from you. I love your name by the way. Greg, you’re a 60 million dollar producer. You close 200 loans, routinely. Last year, you eclipsed that. This year, you’re on your way to closing above 200 again. Give everyone out there a couple of nuggets to your success.

– You know, one thing I would say Greg, is to definitely seek out people that are more experienced and wiser, and you know potentially a coach. I know for me, coaching has been really helpful as far as not reinventing the wheel. I think team. I’m big on team. Once you start heading into the 20 units a month range, you really do need a really well run team and systems, and I think it’s okay to know that you’re gonna need to invest a lot of your time in your team. At first, it may feel like you’re moving backwards, but I would encourage people as they’re bringing on their first team member to know it’s gonna take time, but that’s really the key to getting production up.

– And, of course, I want to mention the majority of your business is purchase business. Greg, for those that are watching that are two to six units, in that range, take us back in time to when you were closing two to six units, and what was the catalyst to getting you over that hump and on your way to stardom?

– One, I would encourage people, at least in my experience, Greg, go for quality over quantity, to really try to connect deep with fewer accounts, and for me, I know that’s worked. As my accounts have grown, my business with them has grown. I actually don’t work with a lot of accounts. Probably second would be to really connect with the clients too. It does seem counterintuitive, because I take more time with my customers, but I’ve found that it really does pay off in the long run with repeat business and referral business, as well. So, maybe a bit less is more.

– All right. So, let’s touch on those avenues here. Great stuff. Going deep with real estate agents, give us an idea of what that looks like. Is that taking them out to lunch? Is that touching them every week? How do you recommend people do that?

– Yeah, you know for me, I think you’ve gotta trust your gut, and you’ve gotta trust that inner voice when you meet someone on whether they’re a good match, and I do think you may need to spread that net a little wide at first. I really like someone just being very direct, you know I’m looking for a realtor partner, are you in a place where you’re looking for a great lender partner? And I think if you go around and ask that question, people will feel that connection and attract to you. So, yes, to get a few you may have to talk to a lot, but I would encourage that to happen at mixers, sitting in a real estate office, going by an office, really trying to put yourself out, get out of the office, and then wait for leads or relationships to develop.

– Excellent. I’m curious to know, at your level, doing five million a month, and sometimes seven, and sometimes eight, how much time you spend prospecting for new agents? Is that something you stopped doing? Is that something you’ll never stop doing? What’s that look like?

– Yeah, you know, this is an area I think the other thing I would want to stress to loan officers is that we’re all learning, even those of us who have been at it awhile or do more work. We’re all still evolving, and this business is constantly evolving. Greg, I’m not doing enough of this prospecting and I will tell you I’ve started to see these agent partners move heavily towards listing, and we still have great relationships, they’re just not referring me as many buyers. So, I think that’s something in 2020 I look forward to doing is practicing just what I preach. Getting back out there, really trying to find good relationships, and maybe grow some new agents. You’ve gotta, what is that, always be prospecting? You’ve gotta always be out there talking to folks.

– As the landscape has changed, and more discount brokerages have popped up, how has that affected your business and how you go about going after agents?

– Yeah, that’s a great question, Greg. That’s really been a thing in the past two years. It doesn’t affect my agents as much as it is affecting the customers, and I think we find ourselves as a team, really asking the client upfront, “Do you want a discount lender experience? Is that what you’re interested in?”, because that’s not what I’m selling. That’s not what I have. Or do you want to work with an experienced, professional, local, accountable lender. We’re getting that question out in the first conversation and really we welcome someone that says, “No, I need the lowest rate and I’ll work with Joe working out of a garage out of Montana.” That’s not my customer. So, in the more competitive world, we’ve gotta know what we’re selling and what we’re providing. There are people that want it. We’ve just gotta rule out early and quickly those that don’t.

– So, you mentioned also going deeper with your clients. Tell us about that. And because you’re willing to do that, what’s your referral base look like from those clients that you close?

– There you go. And this is maybe different for me, everyone’s gotta work in their own community, you know, Richmond is about 1.3 million, but even here, I’m probably 70 to 75 percent face-to-face. I really welcome the customer. I tell ’em it’s gonna make the experience go better and at this very desk here, some days I’ll be sitting with four, five, six customers over the course of a day. The face-to-face loan app is going to lead to less shopping, it’s gonna lead to a better loan experience, it’s gonna lead to catching surprises earlier, and in the end it makes it easier for the customer, because you’re getting off to a better start. So, I’m a big fan of the face-to-face. Pre-approval and, or, loan appointment.

– Greg, you’re background, like so many people in this business, is not mortgage. Nobody wakes up and says, “I want to do mortgage”, when they get out of college. You were on a completely different track. Talk about that track and how it helped you to become a great loan officer.

– Yeah, you know, my customers, the biggest compliment they can give me is when they leave the appointment and say, “I bought houses before, but I haven’t ever this kind of experience”, and Greg, that came from the fact that I used to be a school teacher, and I have a degree in counseling, and so I really do try to listen better than my competition. I try to explain better than my competition and my newest thing is to say to the customer, “I’m not going to decide for you, but I’m gonna show you the pros and cons of a couple of different options, and then allow you to make the decision of what’s best.” And in some ways that’s Sales 101, but those little touches, versus just the guy who’s quoting rates, you know the customers that I’ve been finding I’m working with really do appreciate it, and are referring more at a higher rate.

– Well, those are incredible nuggets. I know people are so appreciative that you’re willing to share it. You’re a very collaborative person. I can speak to that firsthand, pretty much an open book. I’ve got your contact information down below, Greg, so if anybody wants to talk to you, or become associated with you, they know just how to do that. Congratulations on your incredible success. Hope you end 2019 strong. I’m sure you will and I look forward to seeing what you accomplish in 2020.

– Well, to all the NFM family, I couldn’t do it without you, and I’m glad to be here. Thanks, Greg.​

– All right, Greg, thanks so much. You’ve been watching another edition of the Top Producer Series for November. We’ll see you in December. So long.