The housing crisis continues to be a resounding theme of today’s news reports. There is a presumption on many analysts’ parts that it will persist at a minimum for months to come if not longer. What, then, are you doing to insure your business remains sustainable and stable during this turbulent period?
The fourth quarter real estate market in regions around the country is slower relative to other quarters. In the Pacific Northwest where I am licensed, it is statistically the leanest period of the year. In my six years plus in the business, I’ve observed that some agents view this predictable seasonal softening as an opportunity to ease up on their professional activities. Experience dictates, however, there can be no more important period in your business than the fourth quarter if your intention is to enter the following year with a full head of steam. Agents who remain committed and focused benefit on a couple of fronts. Though inventory typically dips and there are fewer buyers in the market, those who are active tend to be more serious and motivated. The spring-time “looky-loos” have gone to ground. Sellers, in turn, are likely to have a more realistic understanding of market conditions and realities as winter sets in. With fewer active agents competition softens, too. Furthermore, the holiday season provides ample opportunity to remind your clients of their importance to your business.
The holiday season lends itself to great networking and prospecting opportunities. Here are some things I do which I find effective both as a means of wrapping up the year with thanks to my clients for the business they’ve sent, but also priming the pump for the coming quarter and beyond:
- I am in the habit of holding a client appreciation event in December, usually in the first ten days or so before the endless slate of parties get underway, but not too close to Thanksgiving from which I find it takes people a week or so to recover.
- Those I invite either conducted business with me during the year or referred it to me. As sports events are typically popular, I buy a block of tickets to our local minor league ice hockey team’s game. Ice hockey is not a sport widely played in Seattle and its novelty has proved popular with my circle. It’s also a more intimate setting than a forty five thousand seat stadium. Furthermore, gathering a sizeable group of clients in one setting reinforces for everyone that yours is a community of people sharing a common interest.
- Greetings cards, of course, are a staple of most businesses. As I prefer to keep my spiritual beliefs separate from my business, I send out a New Years card. It is holiday and religious neutral, while presenting a nice opportunity to wish clients the best for the coming year.
- Whether or not you should take on the expense of gift-giving is a personal choice. Between the closing gifts, referral acknowledgement notes and other gestures I make through the year, I find the appreciation party is effective. Were I to deliver personal client gifts (which I do occasionally), I would limit them to that core group who demonstrate through their referrals real advocacy.
- A phone call with well-wishes is sufficient in most circumstances, too, especially when reaching out those in your database with whom you may not have stayed in touch effectively.
Remaining busy, focused and in touch with your clients through the fourth quarter increases the odds your business will be churning comfortably in the new year.