Are you ready for a statistic? Of course you’re ready for a statistic. Everyone loves statistics. Here it is: According to a market survey, 88% of home buyers say they would use the same realtor for a future home purchase. Awesome! Fish in a barrel.
Are you ready for another statistic? Hope you’re sitting down because this one is as pleasant as being slapped with one of the fish in that barrel: According to the same survey, only 11% of that same cohort will actually follow through on the repeat business.
So, what gets lost in transition? Well, you do.
It’s well known that a past client roster is your absolute best source of future business. But it’s also the easiest avenue to neglect, leaving thousands of dollars in potential future commission on the table.
The key to nurturing your network is through sustained activity; but not all activity is created equal. Here are 6 common mistakes that can cost you those great referrals and repeats and – most importantly – what you can do to fix them.
Mistake #1: You fail to stay in touch
There’s one of you, 16 reasonable waking hours in a day, and an endless pipeline of potential clients. The math is not on your side. Yet time and again it’s been proved that maintaining contact with your clients post-sale is what separates the wheat from the reputational chaff.
You already have an advantage: The industry bar has been set so low that clients don’t even expect their realtors to stay in touch after the deal has been signed. Think about that. But if you take the easy way out, not only are you leaving these fine folks hanging during their moving process, you’re also creating the impression that you ran off as soon as your cheque cleared and all those hours of togetherness meant nothing to you. You’re not that person, so don’t be that person.
While you can’t realistically be on call for every move-related query, there are two easy and incredibly effective things you can do. The first is to check in with your clients roughly once a week until their Move Day. The second is to make sure you set them up with a service like MoveSnap to handle every aspect of their move – from updating their address on all documents to finding a daycare in their new neighbourhood and hiring the right movers.
Bonus pro tip: Write them a thank you note. Like, with a pen, and paper, and your own hand. And send it in the mail with a stamp. If your clients were born in the 90s there’s a 47% chance it will be the first piece of mail they’ve ever received in a physical mailbox. What a differentiator!
Mistake #2: You don’t nurture leads
Unless you’re one of those rare people who feels empowered by rejection, no one enjoys cold calling. Sourcing leads is one of the most energy-draining and time-consuming parts of a realtor’s job, but it’s a crucial source of future business. The problem is, most people give up too easily when the lead isn’t ready at that particular moment.
The thing to remember is that even if your lead isn’t looking at that particular moment, don’t be so quick to throw in the towel. You never know when they may be in the market for a home and by staying on their radar, you’ll likely be one of the first names to pop up above their head in the form of your face on an imaginary lightbulb.
Keep the lines of communication open with a few key questions: Ask if it’s ok to contact them again in the near future, whether they’d be interested in receiving any of your marketing and trends materials, or whether they’d be amenable to sharing your details with any of their friends who may be looking. Let them know you offer a white-glove service like MoveSnap to support them post-close. While it may seem like risky and labour-intensive speculation, these cold calls can eventually turn into clients and their networks may become a new lead pipeline.
Mistake #3: You’re not on social media
Social media certainly isn’t for everyone. For some it’s even a necessary evil. But the key word here is “necessary”. (Did you think we were going to say “evil?” You thought we were going to say “evil”). Whatever your feelings, no one in a service-based industry can get away without it in today’s hyper-competitive market.
So, while you may not love the idea of spending even more time in front of a screen, realtors with social media savvy and a clear idea of their own brand can leverage social platforms to make smart, viral marketing collateral and keep an ongoing, top-of-mind presence in the warp-speed newsfeed zones.
Most importantly, social media provides the easiest avenue to keep in touch with clients and business partners. With some time investment and genuine engagement each day, your referral database can quickly transform from a pipeline into a firehose.
The best platforms for real estate professionals, in our experience, are Facebook and Instagram. In fact, there’s already a bustling community on Facebook just waiting to be tapped. Direct messaging and event invites will help you consolidate your outbound communications and make it simple to nurture relationships that often end up as repeats or referrals. Instagram, as well, is a visual medium that makes it ideal for showcasing listings and a bit about your own life.
Remember, your clients also want to know who you are as a person and you get to control your own image. You can also advertise your extra-mile services, like MoveSnap, so any current and future clients know they’ll be getting the full luxury service from door-to-door.
If you’re not already set up on these channels, stop what you’re doing and sign up.
Mistake #4: You don’t prioritize referrals
Our pals over at the Statistics Lab have even more jaw-dropping pieces of data: 82% of all real estate transactions come from repeat and referral business.
Yes, you read that correctly. People are far more inclined to tap a professional who they already know or who comes recommended by someone they trust. This is basic human nature.
Make sure you’re in regular contact with former clients, and nurture good relationships with other realtors, business associates and vendors. It also helps to return the favour. If you refer others and get them leads, they’re far more inclined to do the same for you.
Some tips for how to ask for referrals in a way that doesn’t seem too transactional include:
Keeping regular contact. If you’ve already put in the effort to do this, it won’t seem weird to be calling them out of the blue. Even sending your network the odd article or market update is a way of keeping the lines open. For top referrers, it can’t hurt to take them for coffee or lunch on a regular basis. After all, they helped pay for it!
Having an actual conversation first. Don’t hammer them in the first 30 seconds with your request. Spend a good 5-10 minutes catching up, asking how they’re doing, and engaging in genuine connection. You can slip in your request after goodwill has been established.
Not being wishy washy. It’s better to be clear and direct than to beat around the bush. You run the risk of annoying people if you say something passive like, “It would be great if people could recommend me to their friends and family”. Instead, try “I would appreciate if you could recommend me to your friends and family.” Et voila. Believe me, they get it.
Reminding them of the great experience they had with you and the extra services (like MoveSnap or a cleaning service) that you provide.
Mistake #5: You provide a cookie-cutter experience
While finding clients a house they love certainly isn’t easy, it’s the literal job description of a real estate professional. It’s no different, at least philosophically, than when you go to a restaurant and order food and your restaurant professional brings you the meal you ordered.
Restaurant staff don’t get rave reviews for the mere function of delivering your lunch close enough to your mouth so you can eat it; they are rewarded for the quality of their service and the experience they provide to you, the customer.
The ways you set yourself apart from every other realtor capable of facilitating a home purchase is where you stand out from the crowd and see your referral rates skyrocket.
The smartest way to exceed expectations is to ask your clients what their expectations are in the first place. This gives you the opportunity to exceed them off the bat if they’re reasonable.
If they’re looking for a detached home in downtown Toronto or Vancouver with all the trimmings for $400,000, it’s important that you keep their expectations realistic by giving them an accurate run-down of the market and where their budget fits into it. This way you offset any disappointment they may project onto you if you over-promise what they can expect.
But it’s the small, personal touches that turn any services into a memorable experience. You can really spin your reputation into gold by:
- Setting up a cleaning crew so they can literally eat off the floor when they move in (and they may have to, you never know).
- Showing up with snacks and coffee on their Move Day.
- Paying a handyperson to give them a few free repairs in their new home.
Most importantly, you can make sure they’re supported through their entire move and well into their new home adjustment by inviting them to use MoveSnap’s concierge service.
Mistake #6: You didn’t ask for one!
Thankfully, this one is a pretty easy one to remedy. It’s literally as simple as forming the words “I would really appreciate if you could write me a referral and share it with your network,” in your brain, then preparing the lungs, larynx, lips and voice box for deployment.
One of the best ways to land a sparkling referral is to ask during peak happiness. This can mean different things for different people, so remember: timing is everything.
In our experience, peak happiness is that sweet spot between the honeymoon phase of “offer accepted” to the brief window before movers’ dread sets in. Your clients are high off the glow of your outstanding service. While it’s still fresh in their minds, they’ll be far more amenable to dashing off a 5-star review and detailing how you repeatedly hit it out of the stadium.
If you’re strapped for time, juggling multiple clients, or simply don’t like asking for referrals, MoveSnap can step up and help. Our service includes a user survey where we collect glowing referrals from clients who are thrilled that their real estate professional cared enough about them to invest in an easy, happy move. If they’re already primed to love you post-sale, just imagine how enthusiastically your clients will be tossing up ALL the stars when you get them through their new front door, too.
Once you get on a referral roll, you’ll find the pipeline filled to burst. It starts with the confidence of knowing you bring a differentiator to the table and only snowballs from there. You’ve got this!