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The Three Biggest Factors Standing Between You and Lifelong Customers

Aug 21, 2020

When Top of Mind made it our mission to help lenders keep lifelong customers — almost two decades ago! — the words weren’t as ubiquitous as they are today. Nowadays, “Client for Life” and its proxies (“lifelong customers,” etc.) are used by countless mortgage lenders, service providers and even Top of Mind competitors to describe the ideal relationship between originator and borrower.

We consider it a compliment that these phrases are so widely used, but we want to clarify what we mean when we talk about clients for life — and how to cultivate them.

What It Means


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For loan originators, earning lifelong customers is a career goal. Most loan officers and brokers aspire to reach a point where they can quit hustling for new leads and live off repeat and referral business.

For mortgage executives, lifelong clients mean bigger profit margins. Acquiring a new customer costs more than hanging on to an existing one — a lot more. Studies have clocked the cost of customer acquisition at anywhere from five to seven times the cost of customer retention.

For American consumers, being a lifelong client means choosing to work with the same lender across an average of seven lifetime mortgages. If we assume that originators earn an average commission of $2,500 per loan[2] — and plenty of you have LOs who net more than that — we can approximate the lifetime value of a mortgage client at $17,500. And that doesn’t even take referrals into account!

What It Takes

Keeping customers for life is simple, but it isn’t easy — if it were, everyone would do it. The key to cultivating lifelong clients is keeping in touch. As straightforward as that sounds, there are lots of factors that get in the way:

The Secret to Lifelong Customers

  • Things change
    LOs are generally pretty good at doing periodic client outreach by email. But when LOs rely only on email, their clients are only one click away from an unsubscribe. Even if a customer loves getting your emails, they may forget to tell you when their email address changes due to a new job or new internet service provider (ISP). Or, they may fail to realize your email is going into a spam filter.
  • Not enough hours in the day
    As “insurance” against the very real pitfalls of single-channel marketing, LOs need to take a multi-channel approach that includes text, phone calls and postcards. But as an LO’s book of business grows, it becomes harder and harder to take the time to check in with each client through a variety of channels. Plus, as mortgage companies seek to reduce overhead and personnel costs, more and more responsibilities have been added to the LO job description. Add to the mix a refi boom like the one we’re currently experiencing, and there simply isn’t enough time in the day.
  • Long buying cycles
    The average mortgage buying cycles takes anywhere from 2 to 7 years. Keeping in touch over such a long time horizon requires a great deal of consistency and dedication, especially as the LO’s book of business continues to grow — and the client’s contact info goes through more changes — over the years.

Overcoming these challenges is what Surefire CRM’s “Client for Life” workflow is all about. We make it not only doable but easy to deploy multi-channel marketing at scale with personalized, relevant content that will help you retain clients over the long term.

[1] Source: Mortgage Bankers Association and STRATMOR Group Peer Group Roundtable, July 2019

[2] Source: LBA Ware’s 2019 LO Compensation Report

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