It was 25 years ago, and I didn’t know a keystroke from a backstroke. My wife, Cathy, and I, had just started a mortgage company in Detroit, MI, and thought we were on our way to fame and glory. What we did not realize at the time was lending can be fickle, and so are some of the clients that can come your way.
We had brand new Herman Miller furniture, a great location, and a state of the art phone system. Business cards were in hand, some fliers had been posted in Realtor’s offices, and we anxiously awaited our first borrower. Sitting in our ‘spiffy’ well lit office on a Wednesday morning, (shuffling meaningless papers), the phone rings and we jump with joy. My wife answers the phone and begins with; yes, yes, yes, okay, thanks. I look at her in anticipation of a jumbo loan client, and she smiles and says, “We’re pregnant”. Oh, boy, did we step on the gas pedal then!
It took me awhile to learn the ‘math’ side of the business, as I am a right-brained person. I have lots of creativity, but little number sense. The idea of ratios, LTV’s, debt-to-income, percentages, and the big one, SELF-EMPLOYED, almost drove me batty during my learning curve. But, as we all know, being a loan officer is not rocket science, so I finally reached a point of being comfortable with the process…I thought.
Two weeks into our business our third client calls to inquire about a mortgage. I am the lucky recipient of the opportunity, and schedule a meeting for six o’clock on a Friday with the Taylor couple. I’m nervous as heck, but anxiously await my first encounter with a prospective loan…followed by a closing…and a much needed commission check. Mr. and Mrs. Taylor arrive with their little three year old son (of a gun) Will. Immediately, I am unnerved as Will is already running around like a Snicker crazed gerbil.
I invite this nice couple, who both are engineers at Chrysler, into my brand new beautiful conference room, with the elegant mahogany table, special cloth chairs, and fancy vases with flowers (you see where this is going?), and we begin to exchange information. Meanwhile, ‘Wild’ Taylor is literally crawling across the table, dragging his shoes, kicking the paper work, and screaming for something to drink. Mrs. Taylor has one hand on her son, and Mr. Taylor is trying to tell me how much he makes, with overtime, bonus, and so forth. I don’t hear a thing…as sweat is pouring down my face and back, while trying to assess this whole situation.
It gets worse! Wild Taylor gets off the table, starts running through the office with a crayon, and begins to scribble images on the glass of the doors, AND a brand new framed picture I had on a pedestal in the lobby. Mrs. Taylor excuses herself and tries to chase him down while shouting her income and debts to me on the run. I don’t know what to do, save the office, the loan, or my sanity. Finally, from out in the hallway, I hear Mrs. Taylor, in a gentle ‘guilty’ whisper, say “Oh, oh, Wild Taylor poopoo on the floor.” I snapped and said, ‘sorry, but I don’t think you guys qualify’!
Mr. and Mrs. Taylor, gathered up junior, apologized, shook hands politely, and made their way out of my office. I will never forget that evening and have told people that story numerous times. I know in this business we have to take a lot of ‘crap’ sometimes, but we all have our limits.
(33 years later) Bill Early is a now a speaker and consultant with BillEarlySpeaks.com
He is also the President of PlumDog Financial, a mortgage lender in Asheville, NC.