Loan consultant unpacks his business philosophy, borrowed from McDonald's
Creating a system that delivers consistent, repeatable service levels to customers is the business philosophy that helped Stephen Cardillo (pictured) succeed in the mortgage industry.
“My philosophy comes from Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s as we know it today,” said Cardillo, a mortgage loan consultant at Mattamy Home Funding. “He identified a business model created by the McDonald’s brothers that he could repeat over and over. Processes that could be taught and adhered to, so expectations were always met. Not that I equivocate my customer service levels with McDonald’s, but I adhere to the principles that allowed them to grow to what they are today - creating processes that deliver consistent service levels to each customer while maintaining an organized workflow freeing up time to troubleshoot when necessary.”
Cardillo joined Mortgage Professional America for an exclusive Q&A, where he shared more of his tips and tricks to become a top originator.
Mortgage Professional America: Can you give me an idea of how, when, and why you started in the mortgage business?
Stephen Cardillo: Started in May of 2003. A friend of mine worked at a mortgage company and thought I would be a good fit. I was initially nervous about going straight commission, but there was no better time in my life to give it a try, so I bet on myself.
MPA: What is the most memorable deal you’ve ever done?
SC: My very first deal was the most memorable, but not for the reason you may think. It was a refinance customer in Alabama that closed and was about to fund. Shortly after the signing, the husband decided that the mortgage was not right for him and rescinded the deal before it was funded. Being brand new to the business and straight commission, this was an eye-opening experience. This was followed shortly by me having to pay for a customer’s appraisal. The following Monday, when I came to work, a senior loan officer told me, “you’re going to make it in this business.” Confused, I asked, “why?” He said, “the previous week would have made most new loan officers quit, and you’re still here.” After that I honed in on my process and moved forward with becoming a partner with my customer and not an order taker. I am here to assist them in meeting THEIR goals, not my own. That’s where I failed my first customer, and I have never forgotten that lesson.
MPA: How do you set yourself apart from your competitors in the lending space?
SC: I actually listen to my customer’s goals and try and ask questions that help me better understand what they are trying to accomplish. Is it lower cash to close? Lower payment? Having less overall debt? No two transactions are exactly the same. It’s imperative you partner with your customer and make them part of the team in getting them to the closing table. This will ensure conditions are received faster and an open line of communication through closing. They will feel ownership in the process and not like they are one in 50 customers.
MPA: Can you share something about yourself that you’re working on improving and how you think your business will be better/more productive/run more smoothly once you’ve accomplished your goal?
SC: Improving yourself in business doesn’t always start out with a business-related improvement. What I am currently working on is being consistent in physical fitness on a daily basis. Even if it’s just a walk, jog, etc. Get outside and away from your desk for at least an hour a day, regardless of the temperature. When I have this aspect of my life in order, I find that the rest falls into place. I can handle stressful situations with ease and manage my tasks more efficiently.
MPA: Can you give me any quantification of your success in the past year, and what is your target loan volume this year?
SC: I closed approximately 252 units for $81 million in 2021. My 2022 is going to end up with around 121 units for $46 million.
MPA: What is your market outlook for the mortgage space this year?
SC: I have told several colleagues that I believe mortgage rates will improve going into and after the new year. The markets were reacting to the inflationary reduction measures by the Federal Reserve. Despite rates not being directly related to the Fed Funds Rate, it seemed that the market was pricing this in. We have started to see rates come down recently. That, coupled with incentives offered by homebuilders, will see the housing market start to rebound during the spring. This is an opinion, of course, but I feel confident in the mortgage space in the immediate future.
MPA: What advice would you have for any originator who is either starting in the business or has been in the industry for a long time and is having difficulty boosting their production?
SC: Take a step back and reassess your processes. For everything. Where are you wasting time? If you don’t have enough referral partners that should be the bulk of your day. Time is the one thing you can’t get back, so use it wisely. The other piece of advice is to answer your phone. It sounds simple, but it takes less time to answer the phone and have the conversation you need to have than to listen to a voicemail, call them back and possibly play phone tag.
MPA: Where will we find you on a Saturday at 10am? How do you unplug yourself from work?
SC: I have three boys, and all are involved with sports, so I am usually at an event for one of them. If there are no events, you will find me taking my boat out during summer. In the fall, winter and spring, I am usually knocking out the “honey-dos.”