In survey after survey, the vast majority of home buyers and sellers say that they would not only use their real estate agent again, they would recommend him or her to family and friends. In fact, direct referral is still the number one way that folks find their real estate agent.
If you’re not seeing your share of referral business, it may be because you’re not putting yourself in a position to receive. These seven tips will ensure that you are taking the steps you need to in order to put yourself out there and field referrals each and every day.
Of course, one of the most important aspects of generating referrals is offering great service in the first place. That means communicating promptly, providing exceptional insights, and streamlining the transaction process as needed.
Remember, it’s not just your service that will be judged by your clients. Support staff, professional affiliates, and other service providers you recommend will become part of the overall impression you leave behind. Make sure that everyone on your team and everyone you use during the transaction, from loan advisors to home inspectors to closing officers, is offering the same high level of service and commitment to excellence.
Many agents are so focused on bringing in new clients and serving current clients that they drop the ball when it comes to following up with past clients. This is a big mistake since you are far more likely to earn a referral from a past client than to convince a cold lead that you are the right agent for their real estate transaction.
Treat past clients as you would any other member of your sphere of influence, reaching out on a regular basis in order to build and maintain the relationship. The more you stay in touch, the more opportunities you have to stay top of mind and to communicate your willingness to accept referrals.
It’s not enough to communicate with your sphere as if they were a captive audience for unlimited advertising and promotions. While sending them a photo of your latest listing might be interesting at first, they’ll soon tire of only receiving content meant to sell homes and promote your services.
Instead, find ways to engage your SOI by adding value to your communications with them. Provide needed closing documents to past clients at tax time. Send along information about your area’s homestead exemption or an upcoming property tax referendum. Provide a market report or offer an annual home valuation. Ensure that your sphere is eager to open every email from you, because it is designed for their benefit.
One of the best ways to stay in touch on an ongoing basis is by creating shareable content to distribute to your sphere of influence and on your social media profiles. Talk to local business leaders, review local restaurants, talk about the real estate market, or otherwise speak to the needs and concerns of folks in the area you serve.
Whether you write or share blog posts, host a podcast, or create video content, you’ll position yourself as the local expert you are. In addition, you’ll give past clients a reason to share your information and content with friends and family, along with a word or two about how much they enjoyed working with you.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has put a crimp in social activities in 2020, 2021 promises a return to more normal opportunities for one-on-one time. Celebrate with events designed to help you connect with your sphere of influence, including past clients and other referral sources. Host a picnic, movie night, or cocktail hour and invite your most valued and engaged cheerleaders.
Don’t like the vibe of a big event? Take time to write a handwritten note or offer an invitation to coffee or lunch near your potential referral source. It will give you a chance to get to know them better while offering you the opportunity to talk a little about your life, including your most recent professional successes.
Whether you offer a gift card or a finder’s fee, a little reward is always a fun way to generate excitement from referral sources. Whether you provide rewards as part of a temporary contest or on an ongoing basis, you’re sure to find that incentives make it easier to bring up the topic and motivate your sphere.
In order to make the incentive a little more personal, consider a reward that only you can provide. Whether you’re a woodworker, artist, or just a great cook, putting a little of yourself into your incentive makes it feel more special and more exclusive. Alternatively, offer the gift of time spent with you playing a round of golf, hiking a nearby trail, or attending a concert or sporting event.
When it comes down to it, one of the most important ways to ensure that you are bringing in referrals is to ask for them. While you don’t want all of your communication with your sphere to involve referral requests, you need to plant the seed so that you can reap the rewards.
Many members of your past clients may not realize how important referrals are to your business, especially if they found you in some other way. By including a call to action on your website, in your newsletter, or in your email signature, you remind friends, family, and former clients of the importance of sharing your information and expertise with others.