Today, the Millennial generation is the largest group of people in the country, with a population of 75.4 million. These are adults in the approximate age range of 19-35 years old (born in the ‘80s and early ‘90s). This puts them right in the sweet spot of being the newest generation of homebuyers and sellers for your People Portfolio.
Studies show that each generation can be defined by unique characteristics. While it’s important to remember that generalizations aren’t always accurate—and that there are always exceptions to the rules—understanding these characteristics can provide some valuable insight.
This blog post will examine the key characteristics of millennials and offer some advice on how to develop meaningful, lasting relationships with the 18- to 35-year-old crowd.
5 Tips for Building Meaningful Relationships With Your Millennial Clients
Two phenomenal articles were referenced while writing this post: 2015 Is The Year Of The Millennial Customer: 5 Key Traits These 80 Million Consumers Share by Micah Solomon and 9 Things You Need to Know to Give Millennials Great Customer Service by John Rampton.
1) Provide top-notch technology
Millennials expect high quality technology. This generation has always had access to computers, software, and the Internet. And the younger half didn’t have to bother with the archaic MS-DOS operating system—they jumped straight onto user-friendly Windows. Millennials know how software should work, so a poor user-interface will frustrate them and put a huge damper on their client experience.
Make sure all of your client-facing web tools (website, MLS listing feed, mobile app, etc.) are intuitive and user-friendly.
Obtaining capital will be a challenge for Millennials. Some lenders have taken this process to a whole new level. For example, Sun American Mortgage is using a smart technology (The Accelerator) that allows borrowers to have a smoother, faster and more consistent loan application process all online. This approach not only aligns with this group of buyers but shows that you've taken the time to reduce friction and simplify the buying process.
2) Be mobile-savvy
A millennial’s smartphone is never out of reach. In fact, more than 4 out of 5 millennials sleep with or next to their phone. It’s with them at the dinner table, it’s mounted to the dashboard of their car, and it’s what they turn to when they’re waiting at the doctor’s office.
Compared to other generation groups, Millennials are twice as likely to use their mobile device to research products and services before making a buying decision. That’s why a mobile-friendly web presence is crucial. Ensure that your website has a responsive design (use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test), and make sure your email (if you use a template) is easy to read on small screens.
Millennials also text more than other generations, and more than 30% of them expect to hear back from you within 10 minutes after reaching out via text. Mirror the millennial behavior and keep your phone on you at all (reasonable) times. Let your clients know ahead of time if there are certain hours when you will be slow to respond—that way, they won’t think you’re ignoring them.
3) Stay alert on social media
Millennials may also reach out via social media (such as tweeting @ you or sending you a private message through Facebook) and they expect the same rapid response. For every social network that you have a profile, make sure the app is downloaded on your phone and set up to send you notifications any time someone reaches out. Go ahead and download the standalone Facebook Messenger app, while you’re at it.
4) Be open and authentic
One of things Millennial consumers value most is authenticity—they want to know who they’re buying from and how the product was made (or, in your case, they want to know who they’re trusting with this life-changing transaction).
Allow clients to know the real you. Face-to-face, be open and willing to share a few personal details about yourself (how many kids you have, what you did last weekend, etc.).
On the web, include personal details in your bio, such as why you’re in the real estate business, what you’re passionate about, and any causes you support (Millennials are drawn to socially-responsible brands). Show website visitors that you’re a real person.
5) Make it an adventure
Millennials aren’t just looking to make a transaction. They want an experience—something interesting, memorable...maybe even Instagram-worthy.
Think about what you can do to add a little zest to the homebuying/selling experience. Maybe invite them to a cool local coffee shop for your first meet-and-greet, or (if the seller will allow it) encourage them to bring their dog to the showing so he can scope out the backyard.
If nothing else, show a lot of enthusiasm. It’s contagious, ya know.
The Millennial Influence
If they haven’t already, Millennials will one day fill your People Portfolio. That’s why it’s important to understand what they consider to be a great client experience. They want to know you (as a real person, not just an agent), they want it to be an adventure, and they want to be able to use the very best digital tools throughout the entire homebuying/selling process.
Nurturing the relationships with your Millennial clients will also pay dividends, in terms of referrals: Millennials value the opinions of their peers, and they are more likely to consult a few people they trust before making a major decision. They also get along with their parents better than the generation before them did, and they have a lot of influence over their parents’ buying decisions.
The future of your real estate business hinges on your relationships with Millennials. I encourage you to continue to learn about the defining characteristics of this generation...all the while remembering that each Millennial is still a unique individual.
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