By now you know that when you’re a real estate agent, your past clients and a loyal sphere of influence can be your personal gold mine. Nurturing relationships with past clients and your sphere can result in dozens of referrals every year.
These are people who know you and trust you. They won’t hesitate to call you when they want to buy or sell real estate, and they’ll feel that they’re doing a good deed for their friends when they refer them to you.
That is, they will come back and/or refer to you if you nurture your relationships with them.
If they haven’t heard from you since you helped them buy a house six years ago, they probably won’t even think of you when they get ready to sell. If you do flit through their minds, it might be something like “I wonder if Mary still sells real estate?”
So #1 – stay in touch.
Remember that your sphere includes two kinds of people – those who are close friends and those you know only through organizations, previous workplaces, places you shop, or associations with your family members.
The close friends are easy. You’ll see them and talk to them regularly. With them all you have to do is remind them that if they have a real estate question you’ll be glad to help out – and that of course you’ll be glad for their referrals.
They aren’t going to forget you, but your past clients and the others in your sphere just might. Unless they hear from you with some regularity, you might not even enter their minds. So let them hear from you.
HOW should you keep in touch? With a gentle touch.
If you begin writing regularly to ask for referrals or to say “Are you ready to buy or sell yet?” your messages will soon go straight to the round file or the delete folder.
I believe the core of your “staying top of mind” marketing should include your market reports, your newsletter if you write one, and letters such as my Event-themed Keeping in Touch letters. (Just because they’re fun.) After that you can add your just listed and just sold cards, news about non-profit events you’re supporting, and of course updates about you. If you change brokerages or build a new website, do let everyone know.
Make it personal…
Since these are people who know and like you, it won’t hurt to add something a bit more personal. For instance, you could share the news that you have a new puppy or that you’ve decided to take up an exciting new hobby. If you’re going on vacation and someone will be covering for you, write and let them know that if they need anything while you’re gone, they can call __________.
And then… it’s a good idea to pick up the phone or send something personal now and then. For instance, if you come across an interesting article related to someone’s business, you could forward it in an email or tear it from a magazine and send it with a note saying “I thought this might interest you.” It’s just a way to show people that you see them as individuals.
Past clients are even more valuable than the people in your sphere.
These are people who know the kind of service you provide and may even have provided testimonials for you. They are the most likely to enthusiastically recommend your services to their friends and family.
One of the best ways of nurturing relationships with past clients is to be there for them after the transaction has closed – and to let them know that you’re there for them. Keep in mind that other agents in their lives may have disappeared as soon as the ink was dry on their purchase or sale.
To get off on the right foot, call a few days after closing to ask if there’s anything you can do for them. Buyers might want a recommendation for someone to mow the lawn or paint the bathroom. If they’re new to the area, they might like a recommendation for a hairdresser or a dog groomer – or a good place to go out for a celebratory dinner. And of course, there could be a question or concern related to the house or their closing.
Sellers might appreciate someone who will connect with the buyers and pick up mail that didn’t get forwarded properly. They might also have questions they forgot to ask at closing.
Ask for feedback…
About a week after closing, send a feedback request. Explain that their opinion is important to you and to your ongoing efforts to improve your service. If you aren’t sure what to say, use the sample you’ll find here as a guideline.
A few weeks later, send a note reminding them that you’re still there for them and inviting them to call if they have questions. Even people who have moved away might be curious about the selling price of a house down the street, so give them permission to ask you questions.
Both buyers and sellers might also appreciate a note reminding them to cancel the homeowners insurance on their prior home. My son’s agent didn’t mention it and he and I both forgot all about it for about 3 months after he sold his rental property. Thank goodness we remembered then – he got a nice refund.
Continue nurturing relationships with those past clients…
Do the mailings discussed above, but don’t stop there. Make an occasional phone call just to check in and show an interest in them.
If they’re buyers, stop by the house to see how they’ve changed it. Unless you know it wouldn’t be welcome, take along a box of cookies or donuts to share over coffee. If they’ve got small children, take along a small gift – like coloring books and crayons.
Whether your past clients were buyers or sellers, you won’t go wrong sending along a small gift, as long as it’s appropriate. Some people love pocket calendars while others would love a sports schedule for the local high school or college. Most people would use a notepad, especially if it has a magnet on the back.
This Active Rain post about past clients reflects the reality about how many buyers and sellers actually come back to use the agent they loved. The article is a few years old, but the statistics – and the reason for them – are still very much the same. The sad truth is, many agents don’t bother nurturing relationships with past clients.
More gift ideas…
Last week’s mail brought a promo pen that I thought was wonderful – a gel pen with a stylus on the end – and they were only about 55 cents each for 50 or more. Of course they’re imprinted with your name and contact information.
How about anniversary cards – for the purchase or sale of the house? Add a short personal note that relates to the house, the seller’s new location, or even their kids or pets. It could be something like “I hope Fluffy and Spike are enjoying their big back yard.” The topic doesn’t matter as much as the fact that they’ll be able to see that you’re thinking of them as individuals.
If you particularly enjoyed some of your past clients, make it a point to invite them out for lunch or dinner once a year. OR – you could have an annual party. Some agents do a summer BBQ or host a holiday feast for their favorite past clients.
Can’t you just use Facebook to stay in touch?
Of course you can, and it’s better than nothing, but is it personal? Will it make any one of those people believe that you’re thinking of them? Not unless you send them personal messages.
Otherwise it’s no more personal than a blog post.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
“Remember – if you forget about them, they’ll forget about you.”
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget
how you made them feel.”
― Maya Angelou
One more thing… remember to give
“Just like you can’t reap a harvest without planting seeds, so
you can’t get without giving.”
― Debasish Mridha
If any of your past clients or people in your sphere are in business, try to help them by referring others to them. When their services fit, add them to the resources page on your website.
If they volunteer and support a non-profit in your community, promote it to your friends.
Always say thank you for referrals.
This step is one that can’t be over-emphasized. People are pleased to help you, but they do want to be appreciated. If you forget to say thanks, they probably will never do it again.
Magnet Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of podpad at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Thank you key and email mailbox images courtesy of Stuart Miles @freedigitalphotos.net
giving gift Image courtesy of graur codrin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net