By Jerri Udelson and Ken Tutunjian, authors of Beyond the Sale—for Real Estate Agents—How to Create a Great Business and a Life You Love
One of the best and easiest ways to grow your business is by cultivating referrals from past clients and customers, friends and family, real estate agents in other service areas, as well as other affiliated professionals (e.g., mortgage brokers, accountants, and attorneys).
But you have to ask for referrals directly. You cannot assume that people will automatically refer business to you. This is not a place where you can be a “secret agent,” hiding out in your office or behind your keyboard. You need to get out and meet people, reconnecting with those with whom you’ve done business in the past, as well as people you know in other contexts. It’s important to tell everyone that you are in real estate and ask them for the names of people who are thinking of buying or selling within the next six months.
Here are a number of suggestions that will work if you implement them on a regular basis:
1. Get to know professionals who would be in a position to refer business to you. These include mortgage brokers, wealth managers, accountants, financial planners, geriatric case managers, and trusts & estates and real estate attorneys. Invite them to lunch or for coffee and let them know about your business. Ask them for a profile of their ideal clients so that you can refer business to them as well. Schedule lunch and coffee dates every other week (preferably on the same day each week) so that they become a habit.
2. Establish reciprocal referral arrangements with agents in other states, cities, towns, or neighborhoods into which or from which your clients might be moving (e.g., urban to suburban or one large city to another). Referrals are a great way to help clients outside of your local area, and referral fees can be a significant source of income.
3. Send cards or small gifts for holidays and as thanks to your top referral sources.
Go through your database and mark the names of people who have sent you the most referrals in the past several years.
Make a separate list or spreadsheet of these top referral sources. Include all of their contact information and other relevant data on the list.
Create a program for contacting these people at least quarterly and sending handwritten notes and thank you gifts.
An important note: It may or may not be legal or ethical for you to pay for meals for referral partners or to send them thank you gifts. We suggest that you contact your attorney or real estate board for advice, as laws vary by state. It is, however, always appropriate to send handwritten thank you notes and to make phone calls to express your appreciation for referrals.
4. Hold an event for clients, customers, and referral partners “to thank you for your friendship, continued business and referrals.” The event could be as elaborate as renting out a museum and holding a cocktail party or as casual as hosting a summer barbeque.
5. On the bottom of any thank you notes or email blasts include text such as:
- “I appreciate your referrals.”
- Or, “Our business thrives on referrals from people who have had a great experience with us. If you feel we have met or exceeded your expectations, we would appreciate your passing our name along to others.”
- Or, “Please let me know if you have friends, family, associates or neighbors who could use an expert real estate professional to help them when buying or selling.”
- Or, “My business is referral-based. A referral from you to a friend or colleague is the best compliment I can receive.”
Each of these strategies will yield results if you take action consistently, establishing authentic connections with people, offering sincere help, and, of course, asking for business.
Jerri Udelson is a master certified coach, working with top-producing and aspiring top-producing agents throughout the country. Her website is EntrepreneurialCoaching.com. Ken Tutunjian is the accomplished manager of one of the top residential brokerage offices in Boston. You can purchase their book, “Beyond the Sale—for Real Estate Agents—How to Create a Great Business and a Life You Love” at Amazon.com or at TremontPress.com.
Copyright © 2018 by Jerri Udelson and Ken Tutunjian. All rights reserved.