Genuine relationships are at the centre of building a real estate business and setting it on a trajectory for growth, according to EAC director, Elizabeth Sargood, in her article, ‘The secret to long-term relationships in real estate‘.
In our Management Series this month, we explore four simple ways you can take better care of your clients during the sales process, and continue to build relationships post-sale, that lead to cost-effective repeat business.
There are many statistics that tell us how much it costs to win new business, compared to how much it costs to win repeat business. Some analysts say new business costs twice us much, some say up to seven times as much.
Either way, it is widely agreed it costs a lot less to win repeat business — to retain clients — than it does to go out and find new clients.
When it comes to winning repeat business, there are no tricks or shortcuts. Retaining clients is centred on building real relationships and then putting the time into maintaining those relationships from the point the sale is complete until the client returns and asks you to facilitate their next sale, purchase or rental.
Maintaining relationships doesn’t have to be difficult, or time consuming, and it can offer big rewards.
- Communication is key
It sounds simple, but the first and most important step in any relationship — be it professional or personal — is open, honest and frequent communication.
And while succeeding at this task should be easy, unfortunately, with multiple listings on the go, potential vendors to pitch to and buyers to call back, regular and transparent communication often falls by the wayside.
In fact, according to research, vendors say one negative of their relationship with agents is they often don’t receive enough feedback and communication during the sales process.
Start and maintain your relationship the same way — with frequent, transparent communication that adds value to your service.
To make things easier, you might want to develop a schedule of ‘checking in’, for example, contact vendor X, Y and Z on Mondays, A, B and C on Wednesdays, and set up some simple automated emails fed from information you enter into your database so you are providing personalised follow up and feedback at the click of a button.
- Be thoughtful
Research suggests one of the most important parts of an effective relationship is being able to empathise with another person, in this case your client. Empathising and then going a step further, by also supporting in simple ways that mean a lot to clients, can cement your relationship long-term.
A great example we recently heard, was an agent who had a busy client desperate to sell their property and purchase another — they were a couple and needed to do inspections separately as they had young children, but time was of the essence.
When the only time the current tenant in the home of interest could enable an inspection was dinner time, the agent knew this might be difficult for the buyer. To make things easier, she had a healthy meal dropped to buyer’s house prior to the appointment so cooking that night was one less thing they needed to worry about. The review from the client — who sold and purchased through the agent — was beyond shining!
The solution was a one-off, something very simple — just a phone call — but it won the agent a loyal client and positive word-of-mouth for years to come.
- Use retargeting to build and maintain relationships
Retargeting or remarketing is a great way to stay top-of-mind with clients — past, potential or repeat. Essentially, it is capturing a group of people who have already shown interest in who you are or what you do (they may have visited your website, clicked an ad or read an email) and ‘remarketing’ to them, with new, more targeted messaging.
Getting your message right is the basis of an effective communication or marketing effort. Knowing you have narrowed your audience down to a group of people who already know you and what you are about, means you can refine your message, make it more personal and more specific to their needs — this helps build the relationship.
As an example of how you may approach retargeting to help maintain and build relationships, have a look at your monthly newsletter to buyers (if you don’t segment into separate buyer and seller lists, that needs to be your first step). Create a sub-list of buyers who have clicked on a specific story within your newsletter. Create a new article on a similar topic, upload your list to Facebook, then create an ad that talks directly to that list, ‘If you liked our article about how to save for you first house, you’ll love our article about Government incentives for first home buyers.’
- Create an integrated approach to aftercare
To maintain a relationship after a sale, you need to make sure you stay in touch — and not just with the odd ‘can we appraise your house?’ marketing campaign or annual Christmas card.
Aftercare that is completely automated is not really genuine ‘care’, but a little automation can make your job easier.
Create a schedule of several touch points, using different media, that you can roll out through the year. For example, a monthly email with a personal article or suggestion based on topics they’ve shown interest in; a birthday card, a home buyer anniversary text, and a phone call.
In one swoop, program in all those pieces that can be automated (text, emails, cards) and schedule in that one call that will take five minutes out of your whole year, but will bring everything else together so it seems you have continuously been in touch! The combination of automation with manual communication streamlines your process and reduces your time commitment but allows the touch points to feel personal and thoughtful.
Creating solid and genuine relationships is at the absolute heart of any real estate agency, but actually investing enough to maintain them after the sale, so you can grow and nurture future business opportunities, is the true platform for success.