I dedicated my most recent blog to the notion that, if you want to remain sane, while generating a higher, more predictable rate of return on your leads, then a referral-based business is the path to take. This isn’t a topic I can cover with five hundred, a thousand or even ten thousand words on a business blog. In fact, entire coaching systems exist to guide you towards a thriving referral-based model. I participated in one such system and while attending an introductory seminar, I was struck by a statistic the speaker shared with his audience; that on average agents retain less than five percent their past clients. For every one hundred purchase or sale transactions closed, five or less were the result of a past client referral. Who in their right mind would want to run a small business built on that model? ……..You’d be surprised.
I’ve had many occasions through the years to work with clients who, though they have worked with another agent previously, have come to me as referrals. I make it a practice to ask them why. The typical response: “my agent didn’t stay in touch with me.” In fact, often times, they couldn’t even remember their last agent’s name. Remarkable in my opinion!
If you wish to remain memorable to your clients so they send to you a continuing stream of referrals, here are some simple steps you can follow:
· Commit! Commit to your clients that you will place their needs first. Do so and everything else takes care of itself.
· Educate them. Explain to them that yours is a referral-based business, you are pleased to work with people of their caliber, and you appreciate any referrals they send your way.
· Reward them for the effort. Let them know, whether it’s a token gift, a nice note or perhaps your personal visit, how important it is to you that your clients put their trust in you and your service. Assure them you will take as great care of their referral as you have them.
· Stay in touch. Whether by phone or mail (I’m not a big fan of using e-mail as a marketing tool), get in front of your clients. Remind them of who you are and what you do. I send out a personalized mailer on a monthly basis. Typically I include something of value such as an article on current market trends or perhaps an announcement in support of local business. For instance, this month I will be following up on a mailer campaign I did earlier in the year in which I provided my clients with a form for recommending their own referrals, contractors, consultants, etc. For easy return, I included a stamped, self-addressed envelope. I have now compiled their replies into a community referral directory for this month’s distribution.
· Throw a Client Appreciation Event at least once a year.
· Be their real estate expert. It’s a great reason to stay in touch. If you hear of a new service in the neighborhood or have heard terrific things about a certain business, let your clients know about it. Update them on real estate market trends or the value of their home.
· Treat everyone with respect. Certainly, I have clients who consistently furnish me with more referrals than others. However, everyone is capable of being your advocate so take no-one for granted.
· Celebrate with your clients. Let them know you’re thinking of them when anniversaries or other significant dates approach.
· Personal notes. Time and again, I’ve heard from my clients that such a simple a thing as taking time to send them a personal note sets me apart. Oprah Winfrey does it. For her it’s an opportunity to express gratitude. For the recipients, it something of value…to be cherished, framed, displayed.
· Be prepared to give so you may receive.
Certainly doing your job well is first and foremost. Yet, by doing these simple things consistently and without expectation, your referral-based business will thrive and grow.