Matthew VanFossen, CEO of Absolute Home Mortgage Corp. (AHMC), smiled as he posed a very important question.
“What is the best way to take a mortgage application?” he asked.
“Look, here’s what we know,” he continued. “Inside a mortgage company, they usually have branches, and inside of the branch, they have loan officers. You can go to every branch and every loan officer, and they all do the same thing: They all take a mortgage application, collect documents and get it to their processor.
“But they all have a different methodology of how to get there. And sometimes, that methodology is different from branch to branch, and even within a branch, from loan officer to loan officer.
“If I talk to one loan officer, they say, ‘Hey Matt, when I take an application, I take everything by phone, because it’s how I develop the rapport with the customer. It’s the best way I talk to them about their life, their objectives and their goals. Then I go back to my loan origination system, I go input all that data, and then I call them back with an analysis.’ … And I talk to another loan officer, and they’ll go, ‘Matt, I only do web applications. There’s way too much business coming in. Every time I get a referral, I sent it to my website. They do the full application online, upload all their documents, and once I get that, that’s when I’ll do my analysis — and then that’s when my first phone call is with them.”
Those are examples of divergent approaches, but VanFossen said that both of them are right.
“The guy that spends the time at the rapport is right,” VanFossen said. “He’s developing a relationship, but he’s losing efficiency on the back end. And the guy that’s developing all this efficiency by sending the customer through the application may be losing the opportunity for customer rapport.”
That’s why VanFossen (a trained software developer in addition to his loan officer duties at AHMC) and his team developed The Big Point of Sale — cheekily shortened to The Big POS. He took what he and his AHMC originators wanted to see in a point-of-sale (POS) web application and used this wish list to create an accessible, affordable, easily configurable POS platform that different loan officers, even within the same company, can adjust to fit their own unique styles.
“It’s not our job as a software provider to tell [originators] that they are right or wrong,” VanFossen said. “It’s our job as a software provider to offer different solutions based on how an originator wants to work — to take whichever way that originator wants to work and make it better.”
That’s the big draw to The Big POS’ fully customizable experience, he said. The loan officer gets to decide how to tailor their web application to the experience they want their potential borrower to have.
When a prospective borrower accesses The Big POS platform, they’re offered a few simple choices to apply for their loan. These choices can be configured separately by companies or even by different loan officers at the same company. One originator can choose to offer clients a way to apply via phone, and if the consumer picks that option, The Big POS gives them a phone number to tap on mobile device.
Maybe a loan officer would like to offer a short application to collect data before reaching out personally, or a longer questionnaire that gathers more detail. The Big POS can do either by walking online applicants through a step-by-step process.
Do you want to have your branding visible in different forms throughout the application process? The look and feel of The Big POS can be altered to make sure your marketing is front and center. If a loan officer wants to add Spanish workflows to cater to Hispanic clients, The Big POS can do that, too. The platform can be customized to whatever a company or loan officer wants.
Another choice that VanFossen and his team made in creating The Big POS is what they call “conversational workflow.”
“When you go to a different system, you hit ‘apply’ and the first thing that the customer is met with is a book report,” VanFossen said. “There’s all these different sections and all of these things that you have to fill out to get your application in. It’s scary for a customer.
“When I take an application as a loan officer, I don’t [ask 10 questions at once]. I ask one question at a time, and that keeps the customer engaged and fully focused. … And after they’re done, what comes back is their tasks. It comes back and will tell them all of the documentation that they need to finish their application, and that they can upload the documentation directly to their portal.”
This documentation, he added, goes directly to loan officers and the company’s loan origination system once it’s uploaded. Meanwhile, the client can log in to a dashboard and continue to get direct system-to-system transparency. They can see what’s going on with their mortgage application, be in direct contact with their loan officer, sign their disclosures, or do any other necessary tasks throughout the loan process.
“Everything is one clean, easy-to-use portal for the customers while being completely customizable for the loan officers,” VanFossen said. “That’s what The Big Point of Sale does for mortgage companies. It creates a nice, simple experience that any mortgage company can get up and running without a big financial commitment.”
The last part, VanFossen reiterated, was a big part of what drove his team to build The Big POS and release it to the independent mortgage community.
“We hear all the time about how technology is a big solution for mortgage, right?” he said. “And that’s not wrong, but there’s a different problem: Technology itself can be and is getting very, very expensive. We wanted to make something simple. There’s no long-term contracts. There’s no complex pricing. There’s no fee to sign up for it. Just pay as you go, so that your independent mortgage companies could have some way to compete.”
Developer’s Mortgage Co. chief operating officer Taylor Stork adopted The Big POS at his company after being part of the software’s beta test phase. He said that The Big POS’ price point, coupled with its ease of implementation, made it a no-brainer.
“[A lot of] software solutions want $10,000 for what they call an implementation fee,” Stork said. “Then you get on their calendar, and you wait 30 days and schedule a bunch of calls. Sixty days later, you have something that you can actually work with, then you’re doing training with your sales force, or training with your operations people, or training with whoever you need to train. … That’s a huge investment of time, resources and money to never get back.
“When [VanFossen] showed [The Big POS] to me, what I realized is I can immediately implement this. I can immediately roll it out. I’m not tied to a product, I’m not tied to a process and I can immediately put it in the hands of my people. … That’s a beautiful option for a small to midsize mortgage banker or broker.”