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Mike Hickman
President, CEO and Broker
Seven Gables Real Estate
www.sevengables.com

How can joint venture partnerships prepare brokers for real estate market changes?
Mike Hickman: Like other organizations in the real estate industry, we are coming off of an incredibly busy year. When you’re experiencing the type of volume that we’re experiencing now, a combined effort between a lender and a broker is more important than ever. I think that most customers don’t understand how the purchase process relates to the lender and the broker. The closer we are in terms of communication, the better communication the customer gets from all parties. The closer we are in terms of fulfillment and operations, the better experience the customer is going to have closing their loan.

Through our joint venture partnership with CMG Financial, our fulfillment has been like clockwork—it’s been great. The customer experience is what drives our business; and what customers want, the right joint venture can give. If you’re focused on the process of providing the customer with a better experience, the right joint venture partner will take care of everything else.

What should you consider before forming a joint venture partnership?
MH: Choose a joint venture partner that complements what you’re already doing. For us, our lender partner takes care of the fulfillment side on the back end, allowing us to focus on taking care of the customers. Before forming a joint venture partnership, I’ve had a lot of agents call me expressing frustration with other lenders missing closing dates. We’ve even had banks say, “well that’s just a target date.” That’s a real disconnect when you’ve promised the customer an on-time closing. With our joint venture partnership, our agents feel confident with the experience they are promising their customers because they trust our lender partner. Trust is the foundation of any joint venture partnership, which goes back to shared values and cohesive company culture. The right joint venture partnership brings all of that together.

How do you align your vision with your joint venture partner? 
MH: The very first time I had a phone call with CMG Financial, the first question I asked everybody on the phone was “could you tell me about your values?” I listened very carefully to what they had to say because I was in this frustrated mindset from previous partnership experiences. And that led me to an instantaneous connection because—I know this about partnerships, I know this about joint ventures, I know this about friendships (whether they be in business or outside of business)—when your values are aligned, it works beautifully and it works smoothly. We’re a values-oriented company looking for other values-oriented organizations.

What services did you gain from your joint venture partnership?
MH: Combining marketing forces has been especially beneficial. Our marketing director has been able to leverage the in-house marketing agency at CMG Financial. The more creative minds approaching a campaign, the more solutions you’ll find. I’m really impressed with the look and design of our marketing efforts; it’s helped us establish a bigger footprint in our market.

What do you expect from your joint venture partnership in the coming months? 
MH: I’m very excited about it, and I’m looking forward to working together—our combined efforts will lead to something that a lot of people in this industry haven’t seen before.

To see the full interview, visit www.cmgfi.com/jv-partners/sevengables-chat.

Chris George is the CEO of CMG Financial. For more information, please visit cmgfi.com/jv-partners.

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