I have been working with several established real estate agents in the Boston area. We are working together to improve their business and generate leads. Some of them are just starting to do some regular “passive” marketing for the first time in a long time. Many of them are doing “active” marketing for the first time in their careers! That is right: they have not been calling people. An experienced agent can build on their existing book of business — that should be their largest source of revenue and it yields the highest return on investment in their marketing. By reaching out, those agents are bound to create activity. Let me give you an example:
Agent 1: She has been in the business for over twenty years. She committed to making 10 calls to former clients in her first two weeks with me. She got two appointments and she is confident those will become listings in the next three to six months. That is a 20% return.
Agent 2: He has been in the business for thirty years. He is afraid to call former clients. In one coaching session, he contacted a former client with a personal email and called a second person. He received an appointment out of the email and is confident that will be a listing in the next six to nine months.
Just with those two examples alone, we are averaging 25% return on those calls. If direct mail had that kind of response, many agents would be too busy to eat lunch! And even better news is that those efforts were FREE! That is right – I said it: FREE!
So, why are they hesitant to call? Well, if you haven’t kept up with something that you know you should, you might develop guilt. It could be they are apprehensive because they feel bad about ignoring what they see as a responsibility. Or perhaps they are afraid that the clients will have moved on – that the agent was no longer needed. Or, some agents fear they are interrupting a client’s life by calling.
All of this leads me to my theory: these agents have misunderstood the mission of their business. It is NOT to sell houses (one home’s sale does not a career make). The mission is to develop and foster lasting relationships and that is done by keeping in touch. We are not in the product business. We are in the relationship business.
So how can you build these relationships? Call former clients at least twice per year. You don’t need to say “hi – can you give me business?”. It can be simply a call to catch up. “Hi – I wanted to know how you are doing. How’s the new job?” You know… like a regular phone call. Then, every month send them an email newsletter or a market update about their neighborhood. Notice that in this scenario, we are doing a combination of “passive” and “active” marketing. And, if each phone call took 30 minutes and adding their name to the email newsletter list took 30 seconds, you have spent a totall of one hour and 30 seconds to maintain that relationship for one year. That is far less time than you will spend waiting in line for coffee or tea.
Below are 5 simple ideas for how to stay in touch:
- Make phone calls – you knew this would be the first one… right?
- Send out email marketing every month. Free for 2000 recipients through MailChimp.
- Send out direct mail 7-10 times per year.
- Send out closing anniversary or birthday cards. Handwritten notes are best.
- Send them a gift subscription to a local magazine.
These are all very simple ideas. But, if you put them into action, you will generate a lot of business and get value from your existing book of business.