20 Apr 5 Ideas for Generating More Real Estate Referrals from Past Clients
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Referrals are the lifeblood of almost every business venture, particularly in real estate where almost half of agents’ clients come as the result of a referral. We all know that people are more likely to tell their friends and family about a bad experience than a good one, so getting referrals means working extra hard to inspire clients to share their positive experience working with you with people they know.
When you’ve been in the industry for a matter of years, you’ve built up a network of contacts – including many previous clients. Are you doing everything you can to leverage the influence of these happy customers to bring you new business? Maybe you think you’ve tried everything in an effort to draw referrals; then again, maybe you’ll find some fresh ideas in this list of ways to generate more referrals from past clients:
1. Maintain contact through social media. For all the distraction and drama they bring, sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram also offer the opportunity to easily keep in touch with former clientele. It sounds overwhelming to keep up with posting regularly throughout the week but if you set up your daily posts on Monday and schedule them to go out automatically, all you have to do is engage with your commenters and post a spontaneous tidbit every now and then as inspiration strikes.
How does all this social posting help you? People share helpful content. If you’re providing interesting and useful information – even if it’s just in small doses – your company name will get floated about and your clients will have you at the top of their minds when someone they know is looking to buy or sell.
2. Revamp your incentives. As an experienced agent, of course you know that incentivizing past clients to give you referrals can be an effective marketing tool. But are you maximizing its potential? Maybe you’ve been offering a cash bonus or gift card when you end up successfully working with your client’s family member or friend. These things can definitely motivate people to give out your name, but they’re not that memorable.
Try something with a different twist – a couple’s spa day, for example. Your client isn’t likely to go around chatting about the $50 check they just received in the mail from you as a referral incentive but you can bet if they’re planning a relaxing mini-getaway complete with massage, people are going to hear about it and it’s likely they’ll be hearing your company name right along with it.
3. Host a party. Once or twice a year make a list of your clients over the past few months and host a collective housewarming for them. You could hold this at your home, or at one of their new homes if they volunteer the space – the important thing is that you do all the prep, cooking, and cleaning up, so that all your clients have to do is enjoy the meal and the company.
The idea is that when people are going to a social event, they talk about it. They may even bring a guest. When someone in your client’s social circle is in need of an agent, your name is going to stand out because you’re that guy (or lady) who threw that party just to show appreciation for your customers. Who does that? Well, now you do and it’s going to set you apart from the competition.
4. Don’t neglect offline contact. While occasional emails should be an integral component of your long-term plan to stay in touch with past clients, offline interactions can also have a major impact. Drop your prior customers a Christmas card – this reminds them that you exist, and puts your company name out there yet again. Think of a time that your veterinarian has sent you a holiday card or a personal note on the anniversary of your pet passing away, just to show they care – these little touches are what keep your clients from forgetting about you completely, and prompt them to say positive things about you to others.
5. Dare to be different. When a company does something unexpected, they become the topic of discussion everywhere from social media to ‘round the water cooler. When BarkBox launched in 2011, they quickly became the talk of the town…in fact, lots of towns. A monthly treat subscription – like jelly of the month – but for dogs?? The idea was so preposterous that it actually worked.
Of course, you don’t have to be quite that extreme – but the idea is to create a signature for yourself, something that sticks in clients’ minds and causes them to bring your name up when they hear of a friend of family member who’s buying or selling. Leave a basket of homemade treats with a handwritten card in all of your clients’ new homes. Provide them with a full supply of lightbulbs upon closing (that’s one of those little details we usually overlook when moving, then end up short!). It doesn’t have to be fancy, just different enough to be memorable.
The most important thing to remember is not to underestimate the power of referrals. According to Nielsen, 84% of people worldwide see word-of-mouth recommendations as the most trustworthy source when choosing a product or service. This is significant because when your company name does get mentioned, it means that the person hearing it is likely to take the referrer’s word seriously.
Being ethical, consistent, persistent, and reliable is half the work – as long as you maintain high standards for your agency and take client care seriously, your customers will naturally be satisfied with their business dealings with you. Adding extra touches like incentives and regular contact will only boost the mutual reward gained by you and your past clients, and keep your name at the forefront of their mind when it comes time for people they know to seek out an agent themselves.
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