The client builder

By Nick Gardner

A few months after opening his first Mortgage Choice franchise in Perth in 2012, Tyson Lewis’s career was knocked off the rails – a burst appendix kept him out of the office and hospitalised for three months.

Yet just months later his office won a state business excellence award for its outstanding performance. If ever there was a lesson in the benefits of building a business on solid systems and processes, this was it.

“It was a fantastic feeling,” says Lewis. “Credit to the team all round, they did a great job but even more than that it meant that we had the formula right. All the hard work that had gone into building a robust office system had paid off and that was immensely gratifying. If we could get through a year like that, we could get through anything.”

Eight years on and Lewis is going from strength to strength, and recently scooped another gong as Rising Star of the Year at the 2014 Business Excellence Awards.

Lewis began his career in broking after a conversation with a friend who saw his potential.

“I had been traveling around Australia for three years and after coming back to Perth I wanted a career that rewarded hard work,” he says.

“Thankfully I had a friend in the broking industry who was happy to take me on board. I went straight into broking immediately – no assisting – it was in at the deep end after a lot of training for the first month or two. The year was 2006 – the boom period in Perth so there was plenty of work to get me up to speed. By 2007 I was entrenched in the industry.”

His friend’s mentoring was invaluable and helped him polish his customer service techniques, which have led to a constant stream of referrals ever since.

“We spend about 80% of our time and money on earning customer and business referrals as opposed to traditional marketing,” Lewis says.

“One of the things we do is contact the customer every Monday, Wednesday and Friday right throughout the application process to keep them informed of where we are and how the deal is progressing,” he says. “This lets the customer know they are front and centre of your mind, which makes them feel good. But it also stops them calling to check up on how it’s going, so it keeps the phones quiet. It’s an excellent system.”

Lewis also rewards referrers with special events and gifts.

“All referrers get a gift voucher and we have dinners and other little events with top referrers. A while ago we had a lawn bowls party, which was great fun. And last year, for the first time, our top referrer was a client. So we gave them a $1000 bike shop voucher.”

Going forward, Lewis, who wrote $83m of business last year, says his recent expansion into financial planning should help boost income streams and grow the business more rapidly.

“We employed a financial planner last year so that we could offer a more holistic service to our clients. Obviously, one service leads to business from the other – people buying properties often need life assurance, income protection and other products, for example. But we’ve been doing a great deal of work reviewing clients’ super, which feedback suggests people really love. It’s something that everybody knows they have to do but never get round to, and having a trusted broker to refer you to their financial planner makes the process of choosing an adviser that much easier. A lot of people have ended up topping up their super or starting to plan for transition to retirement strategies. It’s working really well.”

Like many brokers, Lewis thinks more people should offer a broader range of services to clients instead of focusing purely on mortgage sales and low rates.

“The standard of education is getting better and the National Consumer Credit Protection regulations that came in are great, but there is still a job to do. About 52% of mortgages are processed through a broker but that means nearly half do not use our services and we have to ask why. There is so much value in what we do, it doesn’t cost the client anything, so there is clearly some work to be done in explaining the benefits to get more people using brokers.”

Published on: 31 January 2015.

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