General Real Estate Library Articles on home buying, selling, marketing and 203k Consulting
Creating Referralsby Dirk Zeller
We all want an office in which the phone rings continually with offers of referral business. Does having this type of office sound like a dream? It need not be such a far fetched reality, though it requires diligent work with clients. There are a few key steps to creating a great referral business.The first step is to provide a high level of service in the first place. If the service is not exceptional, no referrals will be forth coming. One of the crucial factors in customer satisfaction is communication. When our client feels we have communicated with them clearly and regularly their level of satisfaction goes up. Clients can overlook other errors at times but lack of communication is rarely forgiven.
Another factor is to select the right person initially. There are people we can do business with who will never be satisfied. These people genuinely distrust everyone and everything. They are looking for problems that do not even exist. For example, I recently sold a listing I had obtained after another agent’s listing contract had expired. I went out, listed the home, and my buyers' agent sold it within 30 days at full price. We had a long escrow period and it closed on time. The seller received 19 days of free rent back. It was a perfect deal for her! The day before closing the seller then called me because she thought I had not earned my commission. She said I had not done enough ads or open houses. The key was she never was going to be happy. I made a mistake when I selected her as a client. I was paid well, but referrals are not forth coming from her. The truth is I would not want them because I am sure most of her friends are just like her. (People tend to enjoy spending time with people similar to themselves.) I am not interested in having clients similar to her because they will never be satisfied.
Another step toward obtaining referrals is to ask for them. There is no substitute for actually prospecting for referrals. To pick up the phone and communicate with your past clients is crucial. If you send out a pieces of mail, you will get a 3% to 5% return. If you make phone calls to all the people who received the mailing, you will get a 12% to 15% return. That is an extra 9% to 10% return from the same piece of mail. Who would not like to do another ten transactions from the same mailing? If your average commission check is $3,000, you will earn an extra $30,000 from the same piece of mail by just making a few extra calls.
Most agents mail, mail, and mail. They never pick up the phone to make the call. If you want to do a better job, you can track the effectiveness of your mailings by calling your clients. You can also get feedback of what kind of information in your mailings would be helpful to them. Your clients want to hear from you. If you provide quality service, they also want to help you be successful. If you did a good job for them they will want you to do a good job for their friends.
Do not forget to ask your current clients. The people you are currently working with can be your best referral sources. They are telling everyone they meet that they are either buying or selling. Their whole conversations revolve around their current activity in real estate. You want to hit them early on when their excitement is high. Do not wait; get the referral now. Your sellers are going to be on a high the first few weeks on the market. They may never again be so high on you. Enlist them into your referral army to find new clients. Convince them that finding new clients will help you sell their home because it will. If you have more signs, you will get more calls. More calls mean more leads, more leads equal more buyers, and having more buyers will give you a better chance to sell their home. Send them out to do reconnaissance in the bushes to find you buyers and sellers. They will be more apt to do this in the first few weeks of your listing than at any other time.
Your buyers are excited and talking to everyone about the home they want, especially if they are a first time home buyer. Do not miss the chance to tap into all their other friends who are first time home buyers. If they tell you about a few friends and one of them buys, you will get the others to follow quickly. They do not want to be left out or the last of their group to buy.
Lastly, understand you must to consistently contact your past clients in order to achieve success in referrals. Creating a program that helps keep you in constant contact with your past clients will yield the best results. You will receive a good 80% of your referrals from 20% of your past clients. You will have a small force of specialists who will do the bulk of the reconnaissance work. Reward them and praise them for their efforts. You will need to create a program to contact these people more frequently. The more you keep in front of these people; the more business they will create for you. You will need to contact these people at least monthly. To achieve the greatest results, you personally must make the calls or the visit in person.
Make sure to track effectively who is sending you the business. You need to know on which people to spend the most time, energy, effort, and dollars. You might be surprised who is your leading salesperson in the field. By tracking you can accurately reward the "top producer" of referrals. You could even have a contest and create a recognition reward for the most valuable past client, a MVPC award. People love recognition from others. If done right you could create a feeding frenzy of past client referrals.
Personal contact is the key. You need to personally call your client base with regularity. Do not miss the opportunity to increase the level of your referrals by 10% with a few calls. Calling past clients also might make your day, because they will often say how thankful they are for your good service.
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