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Humanizing the Onboarding Experience

By Laura Schreiber, SVP of Onboarding and Development, Guaranteed Rate

Laura Schreiber, SVP of Onboarding and Development, Guaranteed Rate

A key pillar of the Guaranteed Rate value proposition is the support and resources available to train and develop our new and existing loan officers and processors. Our extensive platform and robust employee resource portal give our employees every tool they need to execute their job functions, and our business planning and development tools stoke their continued growth. However, new employees need more than training and resources, especially in commission-based industries like ours where new hires must become confident and self-sufficient within the organization quickly in order to avoid significant gaps or reduction in income during their ramp-up.

Guaranteed Rate prides itself on being a technology company that happens to do mortgages. That commitment is reflected in the tools and services we offer to our borrowers and referral partners. Despite this, we’ve historically relied on people and processes to manage the onboarding experience and have only begun to leverage tech to drive results in that arena in the last few years. Having built our onboarding platform—one brick at a time—over the last four years, I can say without hesitation that both people and tech are key to delivering a successful onboarding experience. But when it comes to delivering the company’s culture and all of the “warm and fuzzies” that come along with it, and truly acknowledging the unique emotions and fears that abound when transitioning to a new company, we’ve found that there’s no substitute for a human touch.

• The “Day 1” Experience

Sure, we can send folks to a recorded or virtual orientation session to learn about benefits or our company’s history, but an entirely virtual experience when a new employee is starting at a remote office or home can feel a bit cold.  And even with myriad support departments and help desks available, it’s unlikely new hires will know where, or even how, to direct their questions, especially if unexpected technical issues prevent them from logging into our network to access our company directory.  That's why we schedule "Day 1 Tours" with each new hire, during which we walk them through everything from equipment set up, to combing through their company inbox to prioritize important emails, to reviewing their training schedule, to answering any and all questions they have. Each call is different—some of them can last over an hour based on the needs of the hire—but almost every call ends with our new hire thanking us profusely, saying they couldn't imagine having to get up and running without us. 

"Our extensive platform and robust employee resource portal give our employees every tool they need to execute their job functions, and our business planning and development tools stoke their continued growth"

• Driving Adoption and Success

We have SO many unique tools that our Loan Officers can leverage to set themselves apart in the marketplace, deepen relationships, and streamline the loan process. It’s one thing to create a recorded training or user guide to show LOs how they work, but quite another to coach them on how to bring it all together and customize our platform for their unique clientele, business mix and market. A few years ago, we launched our “Up Your Game” platform, a series of coaching calls and workshops featuring top LOs, at all levels of production, from all over the country, who share how they’ve personally maximized different aspects of our platform to grow their business. We also partner every new LO with a Consultant Vice President, a tenured, experienced LO with a vast knowledge of all aspects of our process. The CVP works side-by-side with the new hire on all loan-level tasks during their transition, applying the concepts learned in training to their real-life scenarios and transactions. New hires who attend these calls and take advantage of that partnership acclimate to our platform better, tap into our culture faster, and close business earlier than those who rely on training alone.

• Reinforcing the Decision to Move

Ask any loan officer, and he or she will tell you that changing companies is one of the most agonizing experiences of their career. Even the most dissatisfied LOs hesitate when making a move for fear of starting all over at a company with new systems, new teams, and new obstacles to overcome in order to get loans closed. And since most LOs make their living through commissions and continued referrals from satisfied partners and clients, the stakes associated with transitioning to a new company and the risks of potentially stumbling through their first few transactions are sky high. At Guaranteed Rate, every new hire is assigned a dedicated onboarding specialist. This specialist partners with the new LO and their hiring manager to better understand the LO’s unique concerns going into the transition and the pain points they may have experienced at their previous company. This pre-start interview allows the onboarding specialist to customize a support plan that truly “meets them where they are,” prioritizes the elements of our platform that matter most to them, and surrounds them with tenured mentors in the areas where they need the greatest support. This bespoke, white-glove approach could probably be recreated via an intake form with selections that spit out training recommendations and timed communication drips; but when we recruit a LO, it isn't a paint-by-numbers process.  It's personal.  Relationships are built and promises are made.  Our team is an extension of that relationship, and delivering on those promises is the single most important thing we do.

A mentor of mine once told me that we seldom learn from our victories—lessons are learned in times of change and challenge. Every time we shepherd a new employee through transition, we push ourselves to think bigger and do better.  Our recruits chose us for this reason, and we owe it to them to deliver.

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