MORTGAGE 101

by Mike Miles

 

Every Tuesday in the Shawnee Mission Post

Becoming first by putting profits last

 by Charity Ohlund, director of business development

November 14, 2017

 

Last month, Fountain Mortgage was voted #1 Mortgage Company in The Pitch’s annual “Best Of” issue. To be honest, I was shocked.

Don’t get me wrong. I know we are the best mortgage company, but we were up against some of the biggest and oldest mortgage providers in town. We are entering our fourth year of business as an independent and locally-owned lender, which is pretty much unheard of. People don’t just start mortgage companies. They are usually branches of larger banks. And it was a voting competition. I figured that if one of these firms simply required each of their employees to vote, we’d be toast.

But lo and behold, we got the big trophy. It’s a plaque actually, but a big trophy is the emotion it elicits when I hold it. Sure it’s just a small award, but it represents so much more for my co-workers and me.  And when I took a moment to think about how we came out on top, I knew it was because of the one big differentiator that we live and work by.

In short, we put profits last.

If you imagine a bullseye target, the typical company puts profits in the center, then customers in the next ring, then employees, and then mission. At Fountain Mortgage, it’s the opposite.

We put our mission in the center of everything we do. And our mission is simple: To educate and empower our clients to make the best possible financial decisions for their families.

Next, Fountain Mortgage makes its employees a priority, even before customers or profits. Mike Miles, Mike Anderson, and Matt Cochran hire the best people and then make sure we are supported, valued, and ridiculously happy in our jobs.

This creates a culture that ensures every employee is delivering on the mission and providing the kind of service that our clients will remember. And that completes the rest of the bullseye. If you take care of your employees, your employees will take care of your customers, and your customers will take care of your profits.

Before I joined Fountain Mortgage a year ago, I was working at a non-profit organization and very happy in my career. A big part of my fulfillment was having a crystal-clear mission that we all believed in. I was doubtful that a for-profit company, especially a mortgage company (an industry often akin to the smarminess of the used car business), could satisfy that desire in my work life. But I was wrong.

Our team talks about customer service every single day. We constantly share ideas and strategies for wowing our clients, bettering our knowledge, and becoming a trusted source of information for people chasing the American dream of home ownership. That heart-soaring feeling I got watching teenagers change their lives through volunteerism (check out Youth Volunteer Corps at www.yvc.org ), is the same feeling we all share when a single mom can provide a permanent home for her kids and sends us the video of the little girls screaming with excitement. Yes, we all cried.

I recently read this quote by Dee Hock, the founder and former CEO of VISA, and it encapsulates what our little company is all about. By putting our profits last, we have truly come out first.

"Money motivates neither the best people, nor the best in people. It can move the body and influence the mind, but it cannot touch the heart or move the spirit; that is reserved for belief, principle, and morality."

Mike Miles is one of the owners of Fountain Mortgage. You can find his column in the Shawnee Mission Post every Tuesday.