How to Create Raving Fans (and get more real estate referrals)
How to Create Raving Fans
1 raving fan is better than 1,000 satisfied customers.
Note: Curtis Bullock, CEO of the SLBR wrote a fantastic article about this topic in this month's Salt Lake Realtor Magazine, page 14.
A raving fan is your best word of mouth marketing tool. Not only are they most likely going to use you again and again for all future real estate transactions, but they will sing praises to your name from the rooftops of Facebook and Google. This is great exposure for you and your business. So how do you create a raving fan? Well, the answer is fairly simple (do things other agent aren't), but like everything in business there is no silver bullet.
I hear many agents (and other business owners) talk about how hard the market is and how they can't attract new clients or maintain the ones they have. First off, think of your business like a garden. If you are only watering your garden once a year, do you expect anything to grow? If you never fertilize your garden, do you expect quality produce? If you never till your garden or pull out the weeds, do you expect your plants to thrive? These are all important aspects of keeping a healthy garden and maintaining a healthy relationship with your clients. So many agents talk about how hard it is to get referrals but they never water, weed, or fertilize their garden, so to speak.
An agent who isn't trying to stay in regular contact with her clients will never have a thriving client base that regularly churns out referrals. Why would they want to say good things about her when she hasn't been in touch with them since their real estate transaction closed 2 years ago? A slick listing or buying presentation at the beginning of your relationship and a thank you card with a box of brownies at the end of a sale is not enough to create a raving fan. So let's talk about some actionable steps you can take to nurture your client relationships and easily maintain that relationship for years to come so it continues to bear fruit.
Step 1: Improve your constant and regular contact. During your real estate transaction it is easy to remain in frequent contact with your clients. But what kinds of things are you saying to them? If your contact is strictly on a business-only level, they will not see the human side of you, the side that cares about them as people. I think it would be entirely appropriate to find your clients on Facebook and send them a friend request. Through this fantastic portal you can learn about what happens in their family: birthday's, anniversaries, 1st place trophies from a little league game, etc. Why not send them a card in the mail saying "Happy Birthday" or "Congrats on winning your game!"?
Step 2: Make your relationship personal. Take a serious interest in their life and what makes them happy. Learn their birthdays, anniversaries, favorite vacation spots, hobbies, etc. When you treat your clients like people (imagine that) with real feelings, emotions, and interests, you are building trust with them. When they trust you, they will refer their friends and family to you because they know you will take care of their friends the same way you took care of them. Part of making your relationship personal is to give them a personal and unique client gift at the end of your transaction. The more thought you put into it, the better. You don't have to spend oodles of cash on this either.
Step 3: Show up when other agents don't. A popular idea is to provide moving day food. Another idea is to provide moving supplies like boxes and packing tape. Another idea is to re-key their home. I heard of an agent who shows up to the new house on the day of the move with his jeans and toolbox and offers to help set up things like lIKEA tables or putting shelves on the wall. An added bonus to this (if you haven't already figured it out) is you get to meet all their friends, family, and neighbors who came to help them move. A great opportunity to shake some hands, make an impression, and pass out business cards (just don't be that pushy agent who shoves his card in everyone's face).
Step 4: Provide the same service to each of your clients regardless of their net worth. An agent who bases his listing presentation and his amazing marketing plan for his $800k clients but leaves his $250k clients like a ghost town will not create a raving fan and get referrals. In fact, he runs the risk of a poor review on Google and Facebook and dissuades new clients because he treats them with inequality. If you hire a professional photographer for your expensive listings, hire that same professional for your less expensive listings.
Step 5: Under-promise and over-deliver. Getting little bonuses is always a treat. The trick to this is not to say something like "Well, I usually do XYZ for an additional fee, but if you sign with me today I'll throw it in for free." Instead, you just throw it in for free. They way I do this is sometimes I'll throw in a listing website with a shoot or include a flyer for free. I don't tell my clients I'm going to do this before hand (as a way to hook their business), I just do it and let them know afterward.
Step 6: Enable all your employees to give an exceptional experience. You've probably heard that each employee of Ritz-Carlton is empowered up to $2,000 to resolve a customer issue. Each employee. Can you imagine not having to say, "Well, let me ask my manager..."? Now, if you are running your real estate business from your home office, alone, as most real estate agents are, then you are the boss, right? You can empower yourself to give each of your clients an exceptional experience. When your business grows (when, not if) then you make darn sure each of your employees understands that this is a core company value. When you get busy enough, you could even consider hiring an employee who's only job is to send out handwritten thank you cards and client gifts. But for now, you can do all this on your own.
Alright, you might be saying, "Well those are great tips for my future clients or future business, but what can I do right now?" Great question. Here are some ideas to help you right now.
You may feel a little silly doing some of these, especially if this isn't how you usually conduct business. Well, in response to that, change is a journey of a 1,000 miles that start with one step. If you want to be Utah's rock star real estate agent who puts her customers first, it's time to show them that you recognize them as people not just paychecks.
When you put your clients first you will build their trust. When you build their trust they will want to tell everyone about you. You can even leverage this excellent relationship into a client testimonial video that you can put on your website or Facebook page. This goes a lot farther to showing people the human side of you when they are looking for a new agent.
Keywords: agent, client relationship, estate, marketing, photography, raving fan, real, salt lake city real estate photographer, trust
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