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Inside the mind of a top producer--Dennis Duncan.

AS ONE OF THE LEADING MORTGAGE PRODUCERS in the country, Dennis Duncan has market-proven advice for his fellow loan officers. This summer, he will have closed $2 billion in loans over the course of his career. He is truly "the $2 billion dollar man" and joins a small, elite group of loan officers who have produced more than $1 billion in their careers.

After graduating from Virginia Tech, Duncan wanted to get into the banking and mortgage industry, but was turned down because his grades were too good and was told he wouldn't be able to relate to people.

After spending two years in pharmaceutical sales, he became a loan officer and proved the naysayers wrong with his immediate success. He says he uses this as motivation. "It made me just want to work even harder," he says.

Nowadays, Duncan has surpassed all expectations. He was named top producer in units every single year from 1986-2007 while at Dominion Bank-shares, Mortgage Service America and Chase Mortgage. Mortgage Originator magazine also ranked him in the Top 50 Unit Producers every year from 1999-2008. In addition, he ranked in the top 10 in units for Mortgage Originator four times.

Duncan produced more than $38 million with 199 units in 2013, and more than $32 million with 267 units in 2014--and this is him slowing down!

Because of his tremendous prospecting efforts throughout his career, his client database has become incredibly large with about 6,000-8,000 prospects and past clients. About 40 percent of his business comes from this database and about 15-25 Realtors[R] make up another 40 percent. He says the rest comes from financial planners and builders.

My question for him was: "How have you created such a large database and how do you use it?" Throughout our conversation, the one word he used often was "communication." Duncan leverages communication in many ways, especially customer service and prospecting. He sends out newsletters and holds seminars for his Realtors to keep them updated on the market.

He also uses search engines and social media, saying it is important to be "Google-able." He explains, "If I move somewhere, [I make sure] people can find me."

Duncan uses social media as a way to brand himself and to educate Realtors and consumers. He says he wants to educate consumers "so they can know what they're about to go through when they sign on the dotted line on a contract." Another way he has prospected is by taking advantage of the jumbotron on the nearby Virginia Tech campus. He says he advertises during football and basketball games on the jumbotron and has signage around campus for maximum impact.

When it comes to the loan process, Duncan always inputs the customer's contact information in his database, along with the closing attorney, appraiser, and Realtor. After finishing each step of the process, he is able to communicate with every person involved. This helps create happy and informed customers, which ultimately produces more referrals.

After meeting with his customers, he has them complete the loan application online, which speeds up the process. However, he says he will also meet with the customer in person if they prefer. Once the application is completed, his team--consisting of an associate loan officer, a marketing intern and a team loan officer--handles the rest of the file to closing.

During the loan process, Duncan stresses the importance of customer service. "I think you have to be [a 24/7 guy]," he says. He explains how one client sent him an urgent email at 12:30 a.m. Because of his emphasis on excellent customer service, the couple had a bet that he would respond back to them before 7 a.m. the same morning. What happened? He responded by 4 a.m. the same morning.

He says, "I want them to feel comfortable with the process and I want them to know 1 will exhaust every effort to find the best program for them. If we run into obstacles, I'm not going to run and hide. I'm going to be there."

Along with his strong customer service philosophy, I asked Duncan to tell me about the professional practices that helped elevate him to a top producer. He shared four of his core business practices and approaches:

* leveraging his time;

* automating everything possible;

* maintaining his database; and

* learning about all the roles in the loan pipeline.

He stresses the importance of automating processes either through Excel[TM] or other programs so time can be spent on the customer rather than on paperwork. He also emphasizes his database, saying he asks every contact to refer somebody, even pre-approvals.

Additionally, he explains how working for a small, rural bank in his early years was incredibly beneficial because he was able to learn all the roles that go into getting a loan closed. He says it is extremely advantageous to be able to help with any issues that might arise with his teammates, such as the processor or the underwriter.

Wrapping up our conversation, I asked Duncan what advice he would give to other loan officers who want to become top producers. His answer: "You have to have the desire to help the customer." He says it is all about making it fun and rewarding. Even though it can be a stressful process, he says it is his job to give the customer confidence and education.

This column only covers a fraction of our discussion. To hear my entire interview with Dennis Duncan, go to and join our free Member Resource Center.

Casey Cunningham is the chief executive officer and founder of Alpharetta, Georgia-based XINNIX, The Mortgage Academy, a provider of leadership development and mortgage sales training. She can be reached at
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Comment:Inside the mind of a top producer--Dennis Duncan.(COLUMNS: THE RIGHT STUFF)
Author:Cunningham, Casey
Publication:Mortgage Banking
Article Type:Interview
Date:Aug 1, 2015
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