Most businesses today rely on word-of-mouth referrals to some extent. But what if you could tap into a referral network and get an influx of high-quality referrals regularly? In this episode, Larry Montani, Branch Manager at CrossCountry Mortgage, discusses why referrals are a smart way to fast-track business growth. He also explores the referral partner system he uses to find opportunities. With more than 38 years in the mortgage business, Larry is not only an accomplished loan officer but an accomplished coach when it comes to the heart. Join him in this conversation to receive his wisdom that can take your business to the next level.
“Love is not love until you give it away.”
The Latte’s w/ Larry Shows
Catering To Your Clients
Changing Your Life Thru Your Top 10 Goals
Cultivating Your Past Client Database for Success
How To Bring Value To Your Customers & Stay Relevant
How To Build an Unstoppable Team
How To Generate Leads By Tapping Into Past Clients
How To Give More Referrals To Get More Referrals
How To Finish Strong
It’s All About Selling
How To Keep a Positive Mindset in a Less Than Positive World
Keep It Simple By Being Brilliant At The Basics
Sticking To the Basics
Sales Tactics To Help Your Business Explode
Top 10 Time Management Tips That Work
Ways To Inspire Change In Your Life
What Is Your Why?
The No Complaining Rule- John Gordon
One word – John Gordon
Watch the episode here
Listen to the podcast here
Referral Partners: A Business Growth Strategy That Works With Larry Montani
I’m overjoyed to have my good friend, Mr. Larry Montani, from CrossCountry Mortgage. He had been in the business for more than 38 years, not only as an accomplished loan officer but an accomplished coach. When it comes to heart, I don’t think there’s anybody that has more heath than Larry Montani. He and I both coached together in a coaching program and I had to tell you, Larry, I have so much admiration for how much love and how giving you were to your students. I’m honored to have you here. Thanks for showing up, Mr. Larry Montani.
Thank you. I’m honored to be here. I’m super excited to share, talk, and get caught up with you. It’s been too long.
I have never heard your story of how you got into the business. I know you’ve been in the business for a long time. You must’ve been sixteen when you got in the business, but they were still doing 1003s on paper back then.
That would have put you in 1986. Tell me, how did you get into the business? What were you doing?
I was interviewing in college. I interviewed with a person that was at Citibank Investments. I interviewed for the job. I didn’t get the job, but I ended up getting a job for a very big insurance company as an underwriter, not having any clue what that meant. I would take the train into New York City. I live in New Jersey and I used to see this person all the time.
Lo and behold, I’m on this insurance job and I get fired. It’s a blessing because I didn’t like it, but I was too scared to admit it. She ended up calling me up because she was opening up a mortgage division for City Court Mortgage at the time back in ‘86. I was desperate. I was out of work. I was like, “I didn’t know what I wanted to do.” I was living at home with my parents and I was like, “I have to find my way.” I got a job as a clerk in the mailroom.Be brilliant at the basics because basics are fundamental. Click To Tweet
The total bottom. I was pushing brooms. I did whatever. I didn’t care. Then got a job as an inside processor. I was a processor for almost 1.5 to 2 years. I went to inside sales, then went to outside sales. I ended up winning a service excellence award which they give out to twenty people a year in the country.
Right after that, I realized, “Maybe try this outside sales thing.” I started to speak my mind, which I came to realize you are not supposed to do in Corporate America. One day I got married and I said to my wife, “I want to take a shot. I want to go be an originator full-time for an independent company.” I did that for about ten months. I then opened up a firm with a friend of mine. We had it for years and then thanked the great demise of the mortgage industry. The company was no more. We went our separate ways and had a couple of other stops since then. I have been very lucky. I have helped over 11,000 people buy homes and I’m blessed because I still love what I do. It’s pretty cool.
What you were saying about being a loan officer and starting your own company would not happen nowadays. Doing that nowadays is super difficult. Back then, it wasn’t that difficult. It was difficult. You have to have a lot of confidence in yourself to start any business, but what you did, my hats off.
The truth was I was too young and dumb to know any different. I was like, “Let’s go sling some loans.” The company started with myself, my partner, and an assistant and we grew it to 160 people at one point, but if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have done it.
What I love about your story is you were willing to do anything, even the mailroom, to get your foot in the door. In this day and age, we live in a time in which people think, “That’s beneath me.” I tell people all the time, “If you want a job, go work somewhere for free. Show them what you can do, and then they will hire you.” Anyone will hire someone that would work for free.
Many years in the business, we are in a time right now in the business in which rates have gone up. People are starting to wonder, “What am I going to do to generate more business?” What’s 1 or 2 things you’re doing right now that would benefit our readers and give them more business that maybe they are not thinking about?
I’m big in doing seminars. Live events. When the pandemic hit, and all of the seminars we would do, we were all teaching events to help them in their lives professionally and then hopefully personally at the same time. You build credibility in the market and you get them to be known as the person that wants to not do loans but help them grow, so forth and so on.
When the pandemic hit, I’m like, “What am I doing with this?” Nobody’s around. It’s a ghost town city. Everyone was doing these coffee cloche deals on webinars. I’m like, “I got to do something.” I started doing that. I did two of them. The first two were in May of 2020. I’m like, “I’ve got to brand it.” I branded it. I called it Lattes with Larry. We do these educational webinars and we have done 28 of them since May of 2020.
What type of educational set? What are the topics?
We have so many. We have one coming up as an example, and the topic is, “How to build an unstoppable team.” It’s all about building a team and the other one might be, “What is your why? How you explore your business through your past clients.” It’s nothing to do with mortgages. What’s happened is that we get people because the world we are in with promotion through online sources. We get people from an average of about fourteen different states that show up to it all over the country. We are selling nothing. There’s nothing to buy. It’s created its own community. We’ll probably have 80 people at the next event. All Zoom.
What’s happened is, we are creating this community, but now we are leveraging that because now people see us a little differently that we are not the laws trying to get a deal and trying to help them grow their business. We are invested in them directly and indirectly. We send stuff to them afterward to try to educate them on what we taught. By doing that, we are building credibility in the market.
I was asked the question, “How much business do you get from it?” You can’t measure all the business you are going to get from. It could take years. We are building relationships in a different way versus the, “Let me show you what a good job I could do.” How about, “Let us tell you what we can do to help you grow your business. By the way, we do mortgages. If you so choose you want to meet with us, we would love that opportunity.” That’s one thing that we are doing.If you can bring your clients something that helps them, you're a winner. Click To Tweet
What I hear you saying is you are being a value to the entire community. Whoever that community is. It doesn’t matter what business you are in. I’m going to be a value. I’m going to be of service. I’m going to give you something using the principle of reciprocity. I love that. What’s the second thing you said you were doing?
The other thing we have done which sometimes have been proficient at it, sometimes not as much, but we are getting back to the basics. I’m a big believer that the old way is the new way. Be bringing out the basics because basics are fundamental. It’s that we are literally trying to give out from every client five names to them of services that they can use. It’s very tactical and purposeful. I could speak to a client. They might need a plumber, electrician, or financial planner or they could use a mover. The list is endless. They may need a restaurant to go to. Whatever. It doesn’t matter.
I figure if I can give out, let’s say some person reading this, does ten deals a month closing. They can give out five referrals for each closing. Referral partners and my definition of referral partner is everybody. It doesn’t have to be fragmented the real estate-oriented services. In that model, we’d give out fifteen neat names a month, 10 times 5. Now my partners are receiving an opportunity to help them grow their businesses. In so doing, it’s natural that they think of us because we tell them they need to.
We don’t ask for reciprocation back until we have at least given five names. One of our partners because we feel let’s put up or shut up. Let me get you leads. Let me help you convert them. You need me to follow up. We are creating this synergy between ourselves because we all have the same issues. You can be a well-driller, detailed car person, or an oil dealer. We all need people to work with. Why not work with each other and be like-minded thinking in that regard?
For the people that are reading, what are the five immediate services that you give out most often? You say, “We have a whole list.” I’m sure you can come up with 1,000 different things, but what are the five that you give out the most?
The ones who give up the most, we are in the mortgage space, are home inspectors. In New Jersey, we use real estate attorneys to close transactions. Real estate attorneys, homeowners, and insurance are the three natural ones. Then the ones that we give out equally as much as that include, and are not limited to, financial advisors, life insurance and attorneys who do will in the state plan because all of that is synergistic to buying a house.
When you give out those names, have you reached out to the referral partner to ask them how you want to refer me? Do you do it by email? There are multiple different ways, but how do you like to refer them?
The first thing we do is meet with the referral partners and have a conversation about the expectation we will expect once we refer them to business. As long as they want to be willing participants, we then ask the question, “What is the best way for us to promote your services, and how would you like us to position it?”
They tell us what they want because if I’m going to try to refer them, I want to do it in the most optimal way possible so that they benefit. They meet the consumer and the referral partner. At that point, I say, “Once we refer you five, we are going to follow up with me for coffee. Let’s see how those five are doing, and then I’m going to let you know how I want to be referred.”
What I’m on is, I said, “Do not refer me lead one until we have gotten you five.” The key thing that we do, I am sure this has happened to you ten gazillion times. Let’s say a realtor says, “I gave your name out to Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and you are like, “How about their number?” They will call you. I tell the clients, “I’m going to call on your behalf. I’m going to give you their information, but I’m going to call on your behalf these different service providers, based on the conversation we had.”
I’m going to ask them to call you, and they all have the same model of service platform that we have, which we feel is strong. Although it could always get better, we are all rowing in the same direction in terms of service, but I’m driving the lead directly to the referral partner. I’m recording which ones I gave to who so that when I do follow-up with them, it’s quantified so I can hopefully gauge their results for their benefit.
For those reading, what he’s doing is he’s giving the referral out in the way he wants to receive the referral. If you want a referral, no one wants to hear, “I gave the name and number.” When an agent tells me that or someone says, “I gave out your name and number,” I’m like, “Great. What’s their name and number so I can be prepared when it comes in?”If you can send something to someone else that hits home, they know you paid attention. Click To Tweet
Once I have the number, I will say, “Would it be okay if I want to hear from him tomorrow to go ahead and reach out and let them know?” Here’s another one for you. Do you have an email template of how you like to be referred? Maybe an email that you send to those referral partners so that when they want to refer you, you already have what you want them to say set up.
I don’t. Maybe that’s not smart because I’m a big believer. I’m good at overcomplicating things. I have come to learn the simpler, the better. I’m sure we all hear this, but I have said, “I’m going to dumb this down so far.” I tell people, “Anyone with a pulse who’s thinking of buying real estate eventually and wants to know their options, we want to talk to them.” That’s it. I don’t care if they don’t want to buy for 5 to 10 years, 2 months. It doesn’t make a difference to me.
Let’s be honest. They know we are in the mortgage business. It’s not so much what and how I want them to refer me, it’s about what they need them to listen for. They could be speaking to someone and missing the point of what they are thinking about and how it correlates to what we do in the mortgage space. It’s more about teaching them what to listen for in a conversation, then no one comes up to someone at dinner like, “I need a mortgage person.” That doesn’t happen, rarely. As opposed to, “My wife and I were thinking of selling our house and buying something else.” Now listen for that. That’s a game changer.
It’s I’m listening for the opportunity. With these referral partners, are you meeting with them on a regular basis? Are you reviewing what’s happening on those leads? How do you follow up with them when you know you’ve given them five leads and they hadn’t sent you anything? You sent them ten and nothing’s coming through the door.
I learned a long time ago and I was very rigid with this methodology. If I wasn’t getting referrals back, I was like, “This doesn’t work for me.” Then I came to realize, “If I have got someone that’s good and they are going to make my clients happy, I’m going to win from that eventually because my clients will say, “My mortgage guy got me this and that, and the next thing.” By nature, other clients go, “My mortgage person gave me nothing.”
It doesn’t have to be one for one. I do meet them as often as I can because we are in a context sport. It’s interesting. Meeting people is rare now. That’s unique. You ask someone to meet with them and they are excited. They are going to be social for a half hour a day. A tool that is totally underutilized in business is the phone, and I’m calling people all the time. That’s it. Call them up. What’s going on?
I can’t agree more. Especially at this time as business starts to wane, if people don’t want to talk to you, they won’t answer. It’s beautiful. You text them, “Do you have time to call me?” I don’t know why people want to text or social media, but in this day and age, especially as business starts to wane, pick up the phone, get out and call people. Back to the list of people that the service providers that you are using to generate business. What else are you using this list for? Are you using it to maximize business for yourself? Any tips you can give the audience?
We promote it. We have it on our websites and different service providers. We want to be the one-stop shop for everything they need in life. Not before they closed, but after. For example, on our Lattes with Larry, we have two people be sponsors. I let them promote their services. My deal is this. I came to realize this out of the book Mr. Shmooze. Great book, if you haven’t read it. It’s all about what can I do for you? My whole deal is how can I get you a business?
If I’m constantly thinking of the other person and trying to get them an opportunity, which satisfies the needs of our clients, then what happens is our clients shop us less because our referral partners are reinforcing who we are directly and indirectly. In the theme of keeping it simple, all I want to do is create relationships between clients and my partners, so they grow their business because then I’m in the middle and I was the driver to the whole thing.
Being of service. What’s your website so people can go and see what service providers you offer?
Do you ask all of these service providers? Do you have them promote your event as well?
That’s expected, but here’s what I have learned from this. If I go to meet you and I said, “I love to provide you the opportunity. Would you mind doing the same thing for me?” No one says no. What I want to do is not promote our events, but come to the events. What we do is I say, “Bring some of your clients. Bring some of the people that you work with because if you can bring them to something that helps them, you are a winner.”“Love is not love until you give it away.” Click To Tweet
Whether they ever interact with us or not, who cares? If you are a winner from this, then we helped you out. What’s happening is the attendance we have for these events has grown because they are speaking to each other. It’s primarily because we are not selling anything. We mention who we are, but that’s about it. We don’t talk about it.
Even when we coached together, the one thing that I noticed about you with all your students is they loved you because you went over the top and made sure that their experience was phenomenal. You have always had great connections with your students. Where did you learn that level of service? That didn’t show up like you had to learn that somewhere. Where did you find that desire?
The simple answer is my parents. I grew up in a very emotionally loving and touchy-feely Italian family. When you are younger, you like to get stuff. When I got older, I love to give stuff. At the beginning of my career, I wasn’t like that. I was all about more deals. I got to get more. How come you didn’t refer to me? I was going to stuff. Then a light switch went off and I was like I found myself loving, pouring into people. Maybe that’s when I had my children.
I don’t know when it started, but I love gifting people. I love trying to make them feel good because that’s what I would want. I don’t expect it. When I was coaching at a higher level, I felt a massive obligation to make sure that they had a great experience because I knew, I figured out early on, if they were tied to me emotionally and they knew that I had their back, the ability for them to have a successful experience was a layup. I took a vested interest because I felt that was the priority.
We think like you early in my professional career. It was like, “How do I get more business? How do I make more money?” What we are looking for is how do I feel better about myself? How do I feel better about my business? Then you realize at some point and you are like, “To feel better about myself. The more I give, the more value I give to other people, the better I feel about myself.” For those of you who hadn’t been in the business that long, the longer you get in the business, you have these goals and as you reach these goals, it adds more stress. If your goal is to make $20,000 in a month, you make it, and now anything less than that, you feel like, “I’m a failure.”
This is either a very simple thing to do that most people don’t latch onto. You’ve got to listen to them. If you can send something to someone who hits home, they know you paid attention. I remember one time, I sent you Barry Manilow tapes because you said, “I like to listen to Barry Manilow.” I’m like, “Cool.” I tell my assistant, “Send him Barry Manilow tapes.” I remember you called me up. We are cracking up because you liked a couple of his songs and I was like, “Cool.”
I didn’t even remember that until you said something about that. If you are reading and want to provide value, listening to someone’s conversation and delivering, like those little things say, “That guy was listening.” I love that. I will tell you another thing about Larry Montani. He stands out in a time like now. You need to stand out from the competition. I remember whenever we were going into the chamber after the summit, we would vote for whoever was going to be the next coach.
We walk into this room and on our chair is this t-shirt that says, “Vote for Montani,” or something like that. It all worked. I got to tell you that you stood out and you still stand out by providing an enormous amount of value. I appreciate that. Especially right now, we need new ideas in order to how to provide service to people. As we come to an end, what’s your favorite book or quote? What would you leave with the audience that you think would be most impactful right now?
When my son was at a soccer tournament many years ago, my wife had cancer at the time. We went to a bookstore. I never was in a bookstore. I remember looking at this Barnes & Noble. I go, “This store is huge. How many books were the stupid thing? Who goes and reads these things?” I’m too busy to read. I go and grabbed five books in the motivational business section, and then I started this journey of reading. One of the things I came to do as it relates to a book is writing in a gratitude journal on a daily basis. That came out of the book, The No Complaining Rule by Jon Gordon, in which I learned about the process of not complaining but doing something about it.
Then the next book I read that was his, which is probably my favorite is the book One Word, and would you come up with one word for the year that symbolizes what your goals are. I would tell you between the book One Word, like we do at Lattes with Larry, every year we do a one-word book review. The last time, we had 92 people. Every single person told us their work.
It was all emotional, exciting, and fun. I would tell you a gratitude journal which is a formal book, is something I do, and you asked me my favorite quote. I have many that I write in my journal every day, but if I was to pick one, it’s this “Love is not love until you give it away.” We all have bad days and we all have good days, but every day, if you use one thing from one person and make some level of impact, the rest is a bonus.
That’s what we try to do in the mortgage space. People are nervous. They are anxious. They don’t know what they are doing. If you can grease the skids and make them feel good, at the end of the day, doing business is easy. Execution can be difficult, but taking care of people, I don’t care what line of work you are in, should not be hard.
I’m sure you are full of love and many days moving forward because all you do is give it away your time. If people want to contact you, we gave your website earlier, but what’s the best way for them to get ahold of you?
They can email me. Probably the easiest way is Lawrence.Montani@MyCCMortgage.com. Email me. I will be happy to help anyone in any way that I can.
I challenge any of the readers to reach out to Larry because he will make time for you. Thank you again, Larry, for being on the show. I appreciate your friendship. I appreciate the times we get to spend together and have spent together. I look forward to continuing to grow together in the mortgage business. Thank you.
The feeling is mutual. Thanks, Heath.
- CrossCountry Mortgage
- Lattes with Larry
- Mr. Shmooze
- The No Complaining Rule
- One Word
About Larry Montani
The professionals at Team Montani have worked hard to become the respected mortgage consultants that thousands of homeowners trust. Our experience and personal touch will guide you through one of the biggest financial decisions of your life. The Team Montani business approach focuses on you, so count on fast processing times, up-to-the-minute communications and the right loan that fits your lifestyle. Our growth and excellent industry reputation are a testament to our commitment.
Team Montani recognizes that no two individuals are the same. That’s why there are no cookie-cutter solutions here. Our highly trained staff of over one hundred dedicated individuals originate, acquire, market and provide exceptional service for our customers. And because we offer a variety of financing options at competitive rates, you can count on our professionals to help you select what’s best for you.
Specialties: Team Montani is dedicated to assisting and empowering our clients in their home-financing goals. We employ the full range of our resources in order to provide the highest level of customer satisfaction. We sincerely believe in expansion through collaborative efforts. We focus to seek and execute opportunties in order to provide the highest level of benefit to our clients, agents, and Team members, without compromising.