The top planner at a rapidly expanding mortgage banking company says these businesses can't afford to wait for profits to improve.
"Waiting for spreads to widen is a huge issue for all of us," said the executive, John G. Reed, first vice president for strategic planning at BancBoston Mortgage Corp.
"I don't think that's going to happen, and we need a less expensive way of doing business," he said recently at a technology conference sponsored by the Mortgage Bankers Association of America.
To take matters into its own hands, BancBoston Mortgage is gearing up to do much more than simply take applications in branch offices.
The Jacksonville, Fla.-based lender plans to step beyond bricks and mortar, tapping corporate clients, telemarketing, and air travelers as areas of opportunity.
The initiatives are part of an expansion drive by the company, which recently underwent a restructuring. BancBoston Mortgage was spun off by its parent, Bank of Boston, and created alliances with two venture capitalists and the mortgage unit of Barnett Banks Inc.
As part of its marketing effort, BancBoston wants to see companies include its mortgages in their employee benefit packages.
Companies could position the loan product as a supplemental offering, alongside life insurance or dental care, Mr. Reed said.
In another initiative, BancBoston is launching a telemarketing program that will cull customers from leads. The company has outsourced the effort, in which callers will use scripts to determine just how serious prospects are.
BancBoston is also preparing to take to the airways - granting frequent flier miles to people who pay their mortgages on time.
As reported this year, the company will team up with a unit of American Airlines in a venture that will pay one bonus mile for every $1 of interest paid.
One industry observer said the mortgage bank was on the right track with its efforts to take lending beyond an office.
"Anytime you can take a transaction outside the need for brick and mortar, you're probably going to add to the bottom line," said Charles M. Hebert, principal at Ferguson & Co., a consultant in Irving, Tex.