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Archive for February, 2013|Monthly archive page

Data Centralization – Get it Together!

In ACT!, CRM, Database Management, Goldmine, Loan Officer, Loan Origination Software, Mortgage on February 25, 2013 at 11:44 pm

It is not uncommon to have data in multiple locations, this is especially true in the mortgage industry where your company may or not provide you with data/contact management tools beyond Loan Origination software. Regardless of the tools your company provides, if you wish to keep a record of your contacts over your career, and/or want to do all or some of your own data mining and marketing, your own central database is a must.

This article includes both a Concept and Implementation section. I wanted to provide you with both Best Practices guidelines as well instructional tips on how to implement. Sometimes further instruction or assistance is needed; however, I do my best to point you in the right directi I will be referring to ACT! as the database tool, however the same basic strategies apply regardless of the database system you are using.

CONCEPT:

Whether you are new to the mortgage industry, or are a veteran loan officer, it is very important to have a real and manageable strategy and everyday protocol for getting and keeping all your contacts and their information in one database.

You should look at your database as the central nervous system of your business. This means all your contact info in one spot from day 1 in the business until you retire and sell your database. It doesn’t matter where you work, it doesn’t matter how many times you change where you work, and it doesn’t matter where you think you may work in the future, you should always have your own database of contacts and information available. You may have a specific agreement with your company management about obtaining and recording information which may impact this, and I am not suggesting you circumvent this, however, in general, you should have a central database for your contacts and related information.

Everyone in the pool

All of your contacts, regardless of type (yes even personal) should go into 1 central database.

This includes; Borrower prospects,in process, and closed, referral partners both prospect and current ( ie Real Estate Agents, CPAs, Financial Planners etc), your vendors (ieAppraisers, Title Reps, Builders etc) ,as well as your personal contacts. Anyone that you may potentially be in contact with, regardless of their role, should be in your database. In terms of personal contacts , in ACT! you can mark these private so if you are working with a team or have an assistant, you are the only one with visibility to these contacts and their information.

Wait ! What if you have different pivots to your business ? For example, what if you are a Loan Officer but also have a separate business tangent such as being a Financial Planning Advisor ? Same answer, in almost every case, regardless of the different tangents of the business you are running, all contacts and database management should be done from 1 central database.

With everyone in the same database, how do I find what I need ?

Managing all your contacts in one central database is step one. A close second is database organization which I address in my next article for Database Organization.

IMPLEMENTATION:

Getting your Data into your Database – Does it have to feel like herding cats ?

Herding Cats

If you are just starting out in gathering your data, the answer is yes. At least initially, gathering all your data can feel like herding cats. If you have contact information, and any loan information pertinent to those contacts in a variety of places, you usually end up working in a disjointed manner until you get them all into 1 place. You may have information in one or more of these places: Outlook, XLS Spreadsheets, Encompass, Point, or virtually any other loan origination software, Word documents, PDF, or even hard copy (cringe )

As I mentioned earlier, for the purposes of this article I will be referring to the ACT! database solution when outlining specific instructions. If you use another type of database system, I may be able to provide you some specific guidelines, or you can contact your own database tool support staff for assistance. The most common places you may have your contact and any related loan information are listed below.

Outlook. You can import contacts and your calendar from Outlook to ACT!. There is a wizard that assists you in doing this one time. In newer ACT! versions, you can also set this up to auto synch. I strongly recommend only synching one way (ie from Outlook to ACT!), as with a 2 way synch, you will likely end up with duplicate records. The instructional article(s) that address these can be found at:

Synch Outlook contacts to ACT!:
http://kb.sagesoftwareonline.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/13907

Synch Outlook contacts and calendar to ACT!: http://kb.sagesoftwareonline.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/27076/kw/outlook%20synchronization/related/1

These links are subject to change. If a link does not work, try Googling something like “How to Import Outlook contacts and calendar into Sage ACT!”

Looking ahead. Best practices for keeping the link between your Phone,Outlook, and ACT! smooth is to have a direct auto synch between ACT! and your phone so adding contacts and working with the calendar is consistently synergized in a clean manner between the two. You would still use Outlook for email management since your emails can be auto linked to your ACT! database from Outlook,and then use your phone and ACT! only for your contact management and calendar.

ACT Import Wizard New
ACT! Import Wizard Figure. Find in ACT! by going to File – Import and then select Next

Loan Origination Software. Unless your LOS is proprietary, and/or your management team will not authorize exports, you can usually create a report or export from your LOS that includes borrower info for import into your database. You would need the file in CSV format, or with newer versions of ACT!, you can import directly from Excel. It is important to format the information before importing to get the results you want. For example, in ACT!, contact name is one field which contains both first and last name. If your export file has first and last name in two separate fields, they would need to be combined before importing. Also, turn off duplicate checking in ACT! as it would potentially merge contacts with the same first and last name.

Automatic LOS to ACT! synch. We offer a service to set up an auto synch from your LOS to your ACT! database. This provides an auto synch of your loan file to ACT! as the file is updated through the loan process. The auto synch provides the most consistency and is a significant time saver. It is also a very flexible solution which means that if your company changes LOS, and/or you move to a different company that uses a different LOS, your synch can usually just be updated and the auto synch continued.

Excel or CSV. The import wizard in ACT! , mentioned in the Outlook section above, will allow you to import data from these file types into ACT!.As noted in the Loan Origination Software section,you will need to format the data first to make sure it matches the field types etc in ACT! before importing. You would also want to turn off duplicate checking in ACT! before the import.

The instructional article(s) that address this can be found at :
http://kb.sagesoftwareonline.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/26828/kw/IMPORT%20EXCEL%20ACT!%202013
These links are subject to change. If a link does not work, try Googling something like “How to Import Contact Data from an Excel®, Comma Delimited (CSV), or Text Delimited (TXT) File into Sage ACT!”

Hard Copy. Gulp…right, no fun really. There are two basic approaches here:
One is manual data entry. Some LOs will do this in the evenings while in front of the T.V. Others will hire a temp to get it done. A college job board is a great way to find a resource to help you with this type of project. If you have someone other than yourself do it, I recommend checking their work frequently, at least at first. I have had LO’s hand over the reins to a temp or assistant without much guidance or quality control and find themselves having to not only re-enter information, but also unravel updates and mistakes the person did to other areas of their database.

The other is to try and take advantage of some technologies that will convert scanned documents to Excel or CSV. You would scan your hard copy files and then use a convertor to get the data into an importable format. I recommend you Google something like “Convert scanned document to excel” to find one of these products. Make sure you just try to scan one or two documents and then converting to see how it comes out before importing to your database.

Rock Your Database!

Q2 Database Consulting Services can assist you with veritably every need you have around your Contact Management and Marketing needs. Please call or email today, we would be honored to assist you !

Author: Donna Quisenberry
Q2 Database Consulting Services
donnaquisenberry@sbcglobal.net
http://www.q2dbconsulting.com/
760 434 3431

Donna has been providing expert database consulting services, specializing in solutions and implementation for mortgage professionals, since 2001. She serves teams ranging in size from 1 Loan Officer to teams with over 1000 Loan Officers. Q2 Database Consulting provides ACT! Hosting as well as ACT! Strategies, Licensing, Implementation, Customization, Automated Data Synchronization, Data Imports, Upgrades, ,Marketing Strategies, Turn Key Automated Marketing, Training, Troubleshooting and Support

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