Archive for May, 2004

Where we came from

The Chris Jones Group was originally sort of a joke, and not a very nice one, used by someone to describe the three or four people I worked with and shared ideas with about how to be a better businessman and loan officer. I always wanted to talk business, marketing, programs, whatever would give someone an advantage in securing more mortgage business, and this was attractive to others of the same mindset. So the joke brought itself into reality, as the two-three-four of us moved from company to company together.

And then, December of last year, we were down to just me. Ray had to go find work, and Wells was doing the same, as the last move away from our previous employer didn’t go smoothly and the business practically dried up. There was no Group. I was flying solo. And frankly, I liked it and got used to it. There’s a certain peace to knowing that if I didn’t show up at work on time nobody would know or care. Whatever money I made was mine. Didn’t have to share it with anyone. So I could be as good or as bad as I wanted and it didn’t matter to anyone but me and my family.

Well, yeah, except that I like to be a good loan consultant and I network well. I’m never satisfied unless I’m communicating that I have tools and I’ll use them to help people whether I make money at it or not. So business began to improve, and the referrals started to come in. I was handling it pretty well – though not as well as my clients deserved – until about a month ago. Keep in mind that I had already constructed this site and there were still three people on the “What is the Chris Jones Group” page. Part of me never lost the feeling that there was more to this than a solo flight. Late in April it became clear that I was getting to have more business than I could reasonably handle myself.

So Ray quit his job and came back. He was here about a week and it became clear that not only was there going to be plenty of work for him to do, but that we were STILL not getting to the marketing and client service we wanted to be doing. And then Wells lost his job.

He had always been the marketing and networking impetus when we were working together a year ago, so it was natural to bring him back on board, but the Group had gone from one to three in a matter of a couple weeks, and we wondered how we would be able to feed us all.

We needn’t have worried. Business exploded. Now, though, we were able to handle the growth and to still do some of the marketing and client service we wanted to do by making Wells the Overlord of Wow (that’s his official title), and we started brainstorming about how we could make this company something different. Not just a little different, but “wow – I can’t believe they do that” different. And the ideas started coming: barbecues for clients, weblogs, titles (I am the Resident Magician, Ray is the Supreme Director, and Wells is the Overlord of Wow) mailings, trips with our top referrers, even the Chris Jones Group Film Festival, of all things. We contracted with BrickRoadCards for some unique thank-you cards, birthday cards, and notecards, something unusual that would describe better than words how this is just not your typical mortgage company. It’s like a family. We try to put our unique spin on just about everything, right down to the folders that we submit loans to underwriting in (they’re a very bright purple).

We’re a long way from perfect, but we’re growing and we’re trying to get better at everything we do. Our corporate motto just seemed a natural: Get a Home for Every Person on Earth, Then Start Over – or the Alternate Motto: Remember, This is Impossible. But We’ll Do It Anyway. We’re making a start on that every day.