Experience.com (Formerly SocialSurvey) has declared Michelle Nikolay one of the Top 25 Loan Officers in America. Across 10,000 loan originators, Michelle has reached the top 1% in customer satisfaction. With the perfect “array of mortgage programs at competitive rates and fees”, and her consideration for her clients, she has found the secret to 5 stars among more than 62 reviews.
In her home life, you’ll find Michelle working in her garden. If it’s summer she enjoys being outside as often as she can. She has two successful boys whom she is proud of. Her eldest is finishing up chiropractic school at Palmer Chiropractic in Davenport, IA while her youngest has just finished his second year of pre-med undergraduate school. She and her husband have been married for 28 years and live in a small town of about 650 people.
Michelle attributes her long 17 years in the lending industry to the peaceful, little farm town she’s lived in most of her life. She’s inspired to bring that homegrown feel to her clients as well, always showing a sincere interest in the person sitting across from her during lending discussions. She spends at least an hour and a half with them to work through their mortgage needs. And she doesn’t stop there.
A recent VA loan she accomplished proved that taking time to fulfill your clients needs, even the ones they don’t plan on solving, can make the difference. The couple had sold a little land. This money meant they had to pay back all of their subsidy through their insurance which they didn’t have the means to do. Michelle made suggestions they didn’t expect, and opened doors to them.
About a week after the loan closed, the husband called me to thank me again for helping them and told me about the new vehicle he had bought his wife and how happy she was with it. Less than a week after that phone call, the husband died. While it is a sad situation, I am so glad I was able to help their situation so that she can stay in the house now without him.
Today, Michelle has her own lending branch, Premier Home Lending, which thrives on the values she brings to each lender-client relationship. Customers praise her knowledge and patience. It’s clear Michelle is valued for the great work she does for her clients. And it’s refreshing how persistently she cares for them. Congratulations to Michelle on deserving a place among the Top 25 Loan Officers in America in 2016.
We were curious about Michelle’s journey to consistently happy customers. Here’s what she had to say about success in the lending industry.
The process of originating and closing loans is complicated. How are you able to make it easy and seamless for your clients?
Typically, I spend at least 1 1/2 hours with them at the application. I do not like to do applications electronically unless the client requests it because so many questions are answered and the process is explained so much better in a face to face meeting. I also give them updates regularly — usually via email or text so they can look at it when it ‘s convenient for their schedule. Their realtor is also kept in the loop. I don’t leave my desk or phone hardly ever so I am almost always available for a phone call or text. Oftentimes my survey responses indicate that the client felt well informed through the whole process. That is huge, especially for first-time homebuyers who have no previous experience to draw from.
My clients aren’t just my clients. They become my friends.
Your customers have reported that you can be trusted with their most important financial decision, what do you do to continue to earn that trust? What does that trust mean to you?
My clients aren’t just my clients. They become my friends. We become facebook friends. I get invited to their housewarming parties. I send them baby gifts and announcements when they have kids. Or sympathy cards when their grandma dies. I buy Girl Scout cookies from their daughter. I try to establish life-long relationships. Financing a home is a major deal. I try to make sure that while I do this every day, I think it’s a major deal too. Being a small operation, I don’t advertise a lot. My previous clients are my advertising. The majority of my business comes from previous client referrals. I cherish that. It not only keeps me in business, it makes me feel good that they trusted me enough to tell their friends. And I would never jeopardize that.
In order to be successful, you often must juggle multiple customers and priorities. How do you show each and every client that you really care?
I try to make them feel like they are my priority.
Michelle went above and beyond expectations. She made the process of buying my first home way easier than I had expected it to be. She is very knowledgeable and was even able to get my interest rate down. I would not go anywhere else if I ever needed services in the future and she is the only person I would recommend. Very pleased with her. She’s a great person all around!!!
Article Witten by Rebecca Harris