What would ‘spark joy’ for mortgage brokers?  Lessons from ‘Tidying up with Marie Kondo’

Barely two months into 2019 and a trend has gripped hold of the nation – ‘Tidying Up’ with Marie Kondo. Marie Kondo, the Japanese ‘tidying up’ consultant, already has a bestselling book and accompanying Netflix series dedicated to helping people remove the unnecessary clutter from their lives. Should brokers also be looking to apply the principles of decluttering to their businesses?

The ‘KonMari’ method focuses on reducing clutter, increasing your awareness of valued items, deciding what to keep, and focusing on items that ‘spark joy’ – all with the aim of achieving ease and simplicity in daily life.

So what does all this mean for brokers? By reducing complexity, increasing the efficiency of application processes, and focusing on those clients and activities that deliver the most value, brokers can ensure they maximise business performance and client retention.

Lesson 1: Accessibility
Marie Kondo’s tidying method contains a specific strategy for organising clothes in a way that means they are easily accessible, letting you find what you need quickly. A broker’s files should be ordered in the same way. This is vital whether a brokerage is big or small, and even more so for those which still have elements of paper-based processes.

Just as Kondo arranges clothes so everything can be easily found and accessed, files must all be methodically sorted through. Old or irrelevant files should be discarded once the mandatory storage period has expired, and the ones which remain should be reorganised in a clear, simple way which ensures maximum visibility and ease of access. This is where end-to-end broker technology platforms can help, which are designed to automate this process for you and take the pain out of maintaining accurate client records – but you still have to put in quality data in the first place.”

Lesson 2: Look at everything together
Looking at every piece of clothing they own helps the people on Marie’s show to decide what they really care about and what can be discarded. The same goes for processes and data within a brokerage.

When case information is accessible out in a clear, visual and presentable way, it becomes easier to spot places in which improvements can be made. The Smartr365 MortgageKanban system does exactly this – and revolutionises the way you and your colleagues can view the mortgage process.

Kanban is Japanese for ‘visual signal’ or ‘card’. The Smartr365 MortgageKanban breaks the mortgage process down into a series of steps, which are represented visually as cards. Using these cards, brokers can move cases from left to right across the board once each step is completed. It’s a very visual and intuitive way of working, and advisers tell us they love the simplicity and image-based nature of the system. It clearly shows what work needs to be done, when and by whom – and automates much of the process. Like KonMari, the Smartr365 Kanban is all about making a broker’s life easier and freeing up time to focus on what matters most – providing advice.

Lesson 3: ‘Spark joy’ with your CRM
By organising clothes for accessibility and looking at them all together, Marie Kondo says we can then see which items ‘spark joy’ – and these are the ones that should be kept. The same goes for brokers. Nothing sparks joy in most brokers more than winning new customers and then helping them to secure that dream home. But how do you know which customers are your most valuable?

The Pareto Principle says that 20% of your customers represent 80% of your sales- so your goal should be to zero in on those 20 percent of customers who are essential for your business’ prosperity. But how do you know which are which?

    Dive into data. What do you know about each customer? What are their hopes, fears and property dreams? Which sports team do they support and where do they like to go on holiday? Nothing replaces the personal touch!

•    Review regionally. Where are your best clients based? Is there a reason you’re strong in that area?

•    Find your niche. Which customers are really ‘your’ kind of client? Those are the ones you’ll likely do your best work for.

•    Nurture your repeat clients. Those customers that always come back and require little maintenance can be among your most profitable. Don’t take them for granted!

Tidying up shouldn’t just be done in the springtime.  A functioning, ‘tidy’ back office is vital – especially as more and more borrowers opt for longer-term fixed mortgages, reducing transaction volumes and therefore the opportunities for brokers to have regular conversations. It’s vital to maximise every opportunity to ensure clients keep coming back, and going through the decluttering process can put you in a great place to do just that. Happy tidying!