In this episode of the Recruitment Hackers Podcast, VP of National Sales Recruiting at Nations Lending, Doug Opdycke, shares his journey into mortgage sales recruitment, from the early days to now, and how he keeps tech and tradition at the center of the experience. Automated text messages for recruiting? Totally. How to keep it personal? A simple “happy birthday” text to your talent pool goes a long way. And, don’t forget about humor, keeping it fun and simple.
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Max: Hello everybody and welcome back to the 'Recruitment Hackers Podcast'. I am your host Max Armbruster, and today I'd like to welcome to the show Mr.Doug Opdycke, who is VP of National Sales Recruiting at Nations lending. Welcome to the show Doug.
Doug: Thank you. Appreciate you and what you are doing and thanks back.
Max: Thank you. Doug connected with us listening to some of our content and feeling we were just talking about the fact that we are feeling a little cooped up in 2020 and that we miss the opportunity to connect with others and so this is the chance to connect and to connect with the audience as well. So for the audience, tell us what you do and the company that you work for?
Doug: Sure. Yeah
Max: That's about Nations lending.
Doug: Yep. Nations lending, I'll start with the company. Company is at top 80 lender in the US, traditional retail mortgage lender so our customers are first time home buyers but people who are buying you know moving up in the market place or in the last year we finance here in the US within a huge marketplace for so a top 80 mostly in the central US and I was brought on a year ago for national expansion and then brought my team from top five competitor with me over to the nations almost exactly to the day a year ago.
Max: Happy anniversary.
Max: So refinancing is a hot topic in 2020 you are saying?
Doug: Absolutely! In my lifetime I have not seen rates like this in you know in giving people opportunity to get into their dream home or first time buyers to get in the market when they didn't think they could not afford a home, so.
Max: Right. Alright, I am curious to hear more about this firms but perhaps before, for the first to understand where you're coming from, can you tell us how you ended up in recruitments? I am looking up at your LinkedIn profile now and I can see it was sometime in 2004.
Doug: Nah before that.
Max: No it was before this century. It was back in ...
Doug: You guys were calling me in grade school or before that. Let's not make fun of me too much. Like most folks I did not think I was going to end up a recruiter. 100% by accident, fun story. I had sold a company was trying to figure out what I wanted to do next and a recruiter, nice fellow, he had been calling me I had a non-compete and all through the year he would call and ask me-do I know a person this wasn't a bank card/credit arena but you know do I know a person in Salt lake city that I might give a name he could connect with and this went on throughout the year like I say, so he invited me and wife I was living in San Diego and he invited me to a dinner and I made the mistake of asking him 'you know the folks number I gave you, did you make any money at all?' you know how does that work, and I didn't know the industry one bit.
Doug: He happened to tell me that he made quarter money dollars on the leads that I'd give him and all of a sudden the steak and wine didn't taste as good as I thought it was going to because I was trying to figure out what to do. So I actually worked with him for a few years and learned it, he knew that I was going to start my own company, went on to start my own staffing company which I integrated into a mortgage company right before the credit crisis. So that's how I got in, again 100% by accident, just happened to ask the right question at the wrong time and decided to jump in.
Max: So you have been in this industry specifically not just recruitment but mortgage recruitments for a long time and I suppose some of that is because you know the people, you know the industry, so you go from one opportunity to another organically but are there some specific profiles and skill sets that this industry has homed in the recruiter in you?
Doug: In the arena, yeah absolutely, but I think like most one of the reasons I picked mortgage right is the freedom. I'd like to have some freedom in what I was doing, the other piece it was an industry that had when I had back when I got in it, there was a wide gap between the folks that were doing it for a long time and I didn't find any rookies any folks that were newer in the industry that changed probably in the last three years, but I saw this huge gap and so being a connector of people, I kinda just went where people weren't. Mortgage is really sleepy. They kind of it was old school recruiting it was a yellow pad, believe it or not and who did you meet at a conference and so some years ago and then you know stuck in it dabble the outside of edges and you go back to what is comfortable. The biggest part of the mortgage arena that I love is you know personal friends that it was one arena where you stay in touch really the rest of your life. So I have this round table of folks that either you follow me or that I follow them that you know they became colleagues and friends at the same time.
Max: There is always that advantage of you can probably dig and do a background screening on a lot of people indirectly you know where only one or two connections removed away from somebody in mortgage by now.
Doug: Yep. I would take that. The other piece in staying in one arena that's very much helped me and my team with that is you know when you get to know people and you like people, people refer you a lot of business so staying in that probably still today 65% of what I do is somewhat referral based. Now I might just be that I heard that you know you guys did a great job for my aunt and my uncle who lives in Florida, can you help him? but there is an awful lot of texts, quick conversations and to that I think a big part of a way that I recruit, I wanna help folks even if it doesn't help myself so if I can open the door and it's in a different arena or different part of mortgage I am gonna do that every time, just especially in these times I wanna help folks you know a lot of people got kicked in the butt that didn't have any idea in February and March that life was gonna change. So taking that platform and making it bigger than just mortgage and being able to help folks if they need it with an introduction could be any industry but staying put has allowed me to do that.
Max: Yeah. I heard that it's less and in 2020 would be explosion of volume and digital hiring and digital channels that it's a bit less about who you know and little bit more about what you know that now for a recruiter that there is more talent available than ever before if you know how to use the tools and so you're gonna be less likely to use the buddy network. On the flip side what you are saying is you are all scoring points with your network in order to build good karma and referral for the future. So the network remains critically important, though perhaps on the sourcing side less on than before, right. I mean if you source your talent digitally I assume.
Doug: Yep, a good portion. I think you nailed it too. If you were to look a year and half ago I came from a place that didn't have much technology to Nations and Nations afforded me this look into technology that I'd never experienced. A lot of your audience would laugh but I mean I didn't know what to do with the salesforce license. We had a team building out some work force but SMS I hadn't used. So when I got those tools..access to those tools and had a team that we were just traditional cold call recruiters and we integrated the technology with our network and those were bounce store steps they were something different. I think it was different I think out tech guys would tell you, you know I get there but I would call it 'too much ice cream' you know technology for me for that first little bit when I have access to some three hundred and thousand something loan officers, that is lot bigger than any network what I would have ever thought that I could built. So I am probably one of the few people that said 'wow'. I didn't fully believe it until I started using it, meaning some of the technology that's just coming out.
Doug: Specifically in my world, I used to scoff and laugh at text because I didn't like getting them. Text SMS technology.
Doug: And we probably half of our business came from SMS, starting campaign that's not how we ended it but we started a relationship that we didn't have. So I am you know honored to say 'Hey!' we are now we are adapters and we are catching up with probably the rest of your audiences with...
Doug: some of the mortgage
Max: I don't know. Sounds like you are quite advanced. Text recruiting is still a relatively fresh area. I mean I guess the early adapters were 5-10 years ago.
Doug: Some of them were laughing at us. Yeah but anyway.
Max: Well that's interesting. So are there some specific pieces to your text act that you would recommend for the text hiring or for people who are listening or who are looking for solutions?
Doug: Yep. So, it could be so redundant and stuff that you guys it is intuitive to your audience. A couple of things that we did that were just simple is, literally taking and looking up birthdays with a quick text first thing in the morning. I know it's your birthday today, I wish I would've known that and I would have texted you, and Happy Birthday by the way, which is awesome.
Doug: A lot of personal touches along with our brand 'Nations'. Here is a product that we would like you to learn about. Getting down to just even a 'Happy Birthday' right and making it first thing in the day. So we make sure they go out before 8AM, there is a birthday text and it's not just branded with and by the way now we are going to try to recruit you in the second paragraph. So some of what we have done is just take or what our call would be, but a lot of it's been congratulations when we see it, in our industry there is a magazine that comes out with top 200 you know loan officers and the top branches. Using that as an SMS but just to acknowledge our competitors without you know beating them over the head.
Doug: We call it beating them over the head recruiting has been you know helpful. And the other thing as you guys probably all do. Once we became a consistent show. Tuesday mornings you know we know within a half hour that there is gonna be a campaign going out, we know to our competitors. Once we got serious with it in building it into our everyday activities we started having some real success, with the text.
Max: Right. I don't think you are behind the curve at all. I am actually thinking of taking some of your ideas right to my product team and you know we send millions of SMS every month so I should've thought about it at all but I don't think we have automated birthday messages going on, which I think is a pretty cool feature for us to add so I am writing this one down.
Doug: I'll take it like I say we try to make things super simple.
Doug: Right. In the recruiting world and so we look at it and go like how simple can we make it, it's like you know how complicated, and then how many touch points. And that's the other thing that is broadcast. We are doing a little, I don't want to plug that slide dial is the one that we happen to users lots of them, but on the broadcaster's piece same thing is that we use a lots of humor with here to get some of our what we'll use a broadcast. Hopefully this will go out..this goes out after January 1st right?
Doug: Good good. Then I'm gonna say this or you'll leak it that part out, whatever. We're having some fun, making fun of ourselves is a recruiters. January 1st we have a campaign going out at 12:01 on social media making fun that we wanted to be the first recruiter to try to recruit you in 2021.
Doug: and then at 08:01 we have a bet going that we wanted to be the first recruiter in our space that reached out to you because there is so many recruiters in our space and it's just so competitive that we've actually decided to have a little bit of fun, it will be..we are gonna report back to you if this works but we are literally gonna take and have a little humor because there are so many people that we get you know you are the eighth or tenth recruiter this week that have called me, what do you have that's different? So you know, using that technology but then getting personal with it is what the team goal is.
Max: Brilliant! Brilliant! And you can make use of tools that will personalized as well as the outreach, so obviously using things like the first name of the recipients 'Dear Doug' etc etc but you can now also automate things like voice notes and even sending out videos and GIFs in order to give it a little bit of you know spunk and branding. Yeah.
Doug: Good points on your part. The other one that, and this is gonna be just kinda what we call 'down and dirty recruiting' we did it by accident and it's become part of our "whenever we can" now. We did a little, we are quick on the iPhone, a little twenty seconds in front of the competitors office coffee shop we all like to go. 'Hey Max I was thinking of you, I am right in front of your office, I am not bold enough to walk-in and try to recruit you in person but I'd love to have a coffee with you next time I am you know off to twenty fourth street.
Max: Yeah. Love it!
Doug: It was returned within thirty seconds because it was clever. The guy just said 'super clever. Next time you are buying me coffee, I can't wait to meet with you. Different than anything that I'd got this week'. Now I'll take a week. I'd like to say ever you can pattern me out, but you know we'll take it. So we are trying to use technology but put a fun spin with traditional cold call recruiting, which our industry is not an early adapter to just about anything. We wait for everybody else to make all the mistakes and then as an industry we have to go out reluctantly we come crawling in at the end. So trying to get the team up to you know what's new? What's exciting out there? How come we have a fresh take to what we are doing?
Max: I like it very much. I think just try to..I am thinking of all ways we can help people re engage with their talent pool and do that kind of messaging because yeah you generally, if you have a good database you know who your competitors are employing, so you can have a targeted campaign just for them and because you've been in the industry for so long you know every lender out there so it would make sense if you'll be able to use that, yeah. And yeah going back just on the way the industry or the market is changing, you're saying is your industry generally doing well? I know in the insurance phase, the insurance world and life insurance they are having a good due in 2020 and refinancing is the hot area overall. Would you say that the lending space has grown in 2020 or for your market?
Doug: Yep. Absolutely. Probably one of the top three years that I've ever had in the last twenty five. Some of the challenges have been, it's been so good but we are watching other people in other industries. You know and I'll use where I am here in Arizona, you know we've had a tough tough time with converting a lot of what is around us, is some warehousing, you know electronics, manufacturing and it's, that we've been growing as an industry you know watching others have to pivot or navigate that, has been tough but I were doing so well right and in the end I don't want to, knock on the wood, I hope this continues in our space but it's been an odd year to watch others really struggle and try to find their ways especially recruiting friends.
Max: I mean it's a bit countercyclical right, when business is gonna be doing great and everybody is gonna have money in the bank then you'll have a slow year.
Doug: Yeah. That's well said, well said but. You know seeing recruiters too that you know we are getting a lot of calls from other industries where they just can't recruit right or they can't recruit the way they had, so that's been a challenge but overall for our industry a top three in the last twenty five and really a time for people to pause and look at a new way to do business too. The tough times of covid have forced us to we don't get to jump on a plane and have a steak dinner. That would have been a majority of a lot of what I do was, coming in the town, face to face, breaking bread and it took a minute to get hold, 'hey! we can't just crawl and haul, we have to keep recruiting if we have to keep growing' and so you know all of this is forcing us to do that. And five different avenues and tactics to say much.
Max: Sounds like you are not running out of ideas there and found other ways to build rapport and that's gonna be..yeah..continue to be the same for many years to come. Looking back at 2020, are there lessons that you've taken away from this year or ways in which your industry has adapted?
Doug: Oh you are not going to cut me off guard a little bit, yes. But I think what we have to do to adapt is really slow down and it can't just all be about comp, because so many people did well, so we had to slow down and go wait a minute you can't just have a compensation conversation, right, you can't lead with compensation, everyone is doing well. So it's a time that you know I used a..mentor used to tell me you know I would feel horrible you hold up mortgage company and he said you know if people having to hit their brakes at yellow lights because they don't want to work here like I wanna slow down and look at that and go 'can we do very well?can we do incredible?' and still change the way we're doing, give people more time with their families those sort of things. So my recruiting team, we are really focused on you know 'Hey, get a little get better at your pitch, get better at your craft. Ask. Listen just listen better' and I think what we learned in you know in 2020 is, we didn't listen very well. We just kept yelling on message instead of listening to what people want. Right.
Max: The more competitive and the harder the industry is, the more you've to adapt your employer or value propositions to your audience and think like a salesperson.
Doug: Yeah, and again a lot more listening. Right like there is a lot more empathy, there is a lot more caring, but you are hearing. You know I tend to be storytelling I tend to recruit by story telling and but just hearing what people are going through and slowing down and going you know, it might not just be comp, it might be hey you know we just had this on a call I was today so it's just six weeks of working seven days a week fifteen hours like I don't really care about the money. I am already gonna split it in half and get divorced. Doug is joking, everybody is like I am gonna split my money in half like can you tell me you know hey I just wanna be able to do this and have baseball literally with my kids you know. So those are the things I am gratifying.
Max: Baseball is not legal anymore, Doug.
Doug: Oh you guys can't and you are closed down. Here in Arizona we are not closed down on anything so come on over. Everybody come visit.
Max: Anyway. The one question I would like to ask is to move back down the memory lane into the dark memories and to thinking about a terrible mis-hire that you've made. We make mistakes and of course retract you thought about your mistake and realize that could have been prevented or you decide you weren't going to make the mistake again. Can you walk us through that experience and you know for our audience to learn from your mistake?
Doug: Yeah, so like it was yesterday. Unfortunately I probably think about it far more than I should. I think our losses right we think about probably more than our wins at times. Quite frankly it was this, I knew of the gentlemen and his whole team. I knew of him because he did great advertising right. He was on every billboards on this town, he was on shopping cart, he was everywhere, and in our world that must mean you have a lot of production.
Doug: So it didn't quite match up. There was always an excuse to why he couldn't provide right any substantiation of income or this — there is no way you could be doing these things, you have to be incredibly successful. It was probably the largest sign-on bonus that I'd ever been involved with that just fell flat and it was one of those things where you walk to the room and everyone is looking at you like "that's on you." Like you're the one that pushed it pushed it and you know there were yellow lights there were things I could look at, but I had just decided it was gonna be the deal of a life time, right, like and probably the only time or first time.
I can't say the only time I had thought of my commissions ahead of slowing down and doing the right thing. I started getting literally added like you know month three it's gonna be this month four it's gonna be that, like I had my scrunchie and I got blinded just all that you know he wouldn't be there and doing what he's doing if he wasn't successful.
Doug: So I started finishing my own sentences without proof right like, well he has a good reason, as a tax attorney couldn't get us what he needed, but I know people that know him. So horrible mistake to just again I started finishing my own sentences and writing my own email with what I wanted to be true instead of slowing down and getting a lot more.
Max: Sounds like you got greedy, Doug.
Doug: I did. There is no other word to say that yeah. I got excited and I started wanting to cash the cheques before they showed up.
Max: Alright, that I think we've all made that mistake and doesn't matter whether you are selling a career or selling something else or you are selling a talent. We all get greedy sometimes, but it does hurt you in the end right? I mean you got your commissions still.
Doug: What does it look like. I earn on what they do. I got I got..
Max: You got nothing then
Doug: But you know relation-ly I did too, it hurt, because there were plenty of people that said you know slow down, are you sure Doug? Are you sure? And I just decided I was gonna be the smartest guy in the room like I couldn't be wrong and I just stopped listening and I stopped waiting, I was gonna answer-yes this is gonna be the deal of a lifetime.
Max: And in your world to somebody who is good at self promoting by bill boards and ad space and as you said it seem everywhere in the city, but for most industries we are seeing this kind of self promotion happening on social media now like people touting their success on Instagram or on LinkedOn or other places and endlessly promoting their own success. I guess there is a measure to which this is necessary for them to be successful but sometimes it's just a compulsive attitude that doesn't necessarily add anything to top line.
Doug: I 100% agree. The other thing and I think our team learned this at Nations. One of the things that we slow down and see is, if you are in front of..I am gonna make fun of it so it's not just a car or boat, a plane, a car or boat. It's very easy to connect on two or three or four parts of social media and it's just is the human being you are talking about the same human being five pages into a Facebook feed or LinkedIn? Or do they have a different lifestyle on every one? Right? Some of the things that we are seeing are really conservative with a nice suit on LinkedIn, we won't even talk about TikTok or whatnot, but is it congruent and does it tell a story? And it's slowing down and watching and looking because you are right we get a lot of people that are you know in front of whatever, now I make fun of planes if somebody can afford that, that's awesome, but you know they are just trying to build it before. I'm gonna have all these things and because of that you know I'll end up working.
Max: I see what you're saying. So they are so obsessed with self promotion that they are putting pictures of themselves in front of jet planes but then asking you for a 50K job.
Doug: There you go. Yeah that's right. They will build it and they come you know after the fact, yeah. I just need one break, Doug and then I can start buying all these things that I want instead of you know the success let them attain it.
Max: If hiring people who are in a commercial role but who are not over selling, over promoting, or pushing the envelope too far and threatening the trust of your brand, maybe a good tip there is go take a look at their social media profile and yeah see if this holds up.
Doug: And are they the same person all the way through, right? Are they trying to figure out their identity on social media?
Doug: Are they kind of fake on Instagram, but then you know on LinkedIn they are another human being, on Facebook where their family might be they really can't quiet brag as much as...
Max: I agree
Doug: As much as they lie during an interview, that kind of thing. Just you know we are in a mostly who we hire is commission based folks so that trust level, and it's somebody's home we have to be very careful that they're gonna handle it in a professional manner that isn't all about just the commission.
Doug: and can they do the right thing if no one is looking is a potent quality for what we're doing.
Max: So there you have it. In a world where people are hiring increasingly work from home commission based folks, trust and consistency of character is more important than ever, so Doug some really good actionable tips here for our listeners. Thanks for sharing and thanks for coming on the show.
Doug: Yep and a Happy Birthday. Celebrate well my friend and I appreciate you having me on.
Max: Pleasure. Thank you. I'm ready to go and celebrate.
Doug: There you go. Appreciate you. Thanks guys so much.
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