"Repeat and referral business is business that comes from people who have already trusted you enough to give you their money."
- Valerie Garcia, international speaker & business growth consultant
The vast majority of home buyers and sellers (89% of buyers and 73% of sellers) say they would use their agent again or recommend their agent to others.
That's why staying in touch with past clients should be a top priority for every real estate agent. Maintain those relationships, and your past clients are likely to do business with you again AND recommend you to their family and friends.
So, how do you increase your referrals and repeat business? Valerie Garcia, a speaker and consultant specializing in the real estate industry, hosted a webinar in which she shared 10 specific tactics for generating repeat and referral business.
And no, these aren't the generic tips like "stay top of mind" or "provide excellent service" that you're used to seeing in blog posts. These are real life, actionable ideas that you can begin to implement right away! So watch the webinar or continue reading to learn exactly how you can get more repeat and referral business.
10 Specific Things You Can Do Right Now To Double Your Repeat & Referral Business
1) Start with your mailing list (your database)
As Valerie admits, this is not the fun part, but it is the most important first step. Make sure everyone you know—family, friends, past clients, past coworkers, etc.—is in your database. You never know who might recommend you to someone!
If you want to be effective in your past client follow-up, you have to make sure all of your past client information in your database is accurate and up-to-date. Be sure to update client info during and after each transaction. And if you need to do a major cleanup of your database, start small, and reach out to just 5 past clients per day to confirm their information.
2) Segment your database, starting with just 2 "buckets"
Segmenting—or creating "buckets"—is a way to make your message more personal and relevant to those who receive it. Start small by segmenting your database into just two different buckets: prospects/leads/unknowns and past clients.
Now, take your newsletter that you send out each month, and create two different intro paragraphs.
For prospects, leads, and unknowns:
Hey there! This is my monthly newsletter full of helpful tips for those who are thinking of making a move in the Bay Area. I want to make sure you have up-to-date info on stats, trends & conditions that might impact your decisions. As always, feel free to reach out if you are ready to make your goals a reality.
And for past clients:
Hi friends! This is the regular monthly newsletter I send to folks who are buying and selling—you may not be looking right now, but some of this might help you keep an eye on the market and local happenings. Feel free to forward it to anyone you know who might need some real estate advice.
The rest of the newsletter will be exactly the same for both segments. All you have to change is the first paragraph to make it unique and relevant to your two different audiences.
By sending the newsletter to your past clients—and explaining why you're sending it—you maintain a presence in their inbox that doesn't feel spammy. And it gives them an easy way to make a referral!
3) Add a "Refer a friend" link to your email signature
Include a link in your email signature that says: "Know someone who needs expert real estate advice? Refer a friend!" When they click the link, it takes them to a landing page (a single webpage) with a simple form asking them to enter their friend's name, phone number, and/or email address. Set it up so you get a notification every time there's a new form submission.
4) Create a list of recommended local businesses to share with the community
This is one of Valerie's favorite tactics for generating referrals and repeat business! Because sometimes you have to give referrals to get referrals.
Here's how it works:
- First, reach out to the people in your database and let them know you are creating a list of great local businesses and services to share with the community. Ask them if they have any small businesses or services they'd recommend for the list.
- Once you've compiled a big list (and created a valuable resource for the community!), send it out to everyone in your database.
And there you go—you had a good reason to reach out, you engaged in some back-and-forth conversations about the recommendations, and you reminded them (without having to say it) that you are a valuable resource. And now that you've referred so many services and small businesses, those people will feel more inclined to reciprocate and refer you.
5) Send videos to keep things feeling personal.
As your business grows, so does your database. The more people you have in your database, the harder it is to get face-to-face with everyone and keep things feeling personal. A great way to remedy this problem is to create a handful of casual videos—just you, talking to the camera—that are generic enough to send to anyone, but still feel personal: "Hi, I was just thinking about you because it's your birthday! Congratulations on another trip around the sun. I hope this year is the best one yet, and I hope you have a great day celebrating!"
If you use Realvolve CRM, you can create a video library and use automated workflows to have videos automatically sent via email or text message to people in your database.
6) Start a "friends with benefits" Facebook group.
Valerie shared a great idea for showing customer appreciation—instead of hosting big (expensive) annual events, create a private "friends with benefits" Facebook group for all of your favorite past clients. In this group, you're not going to post your listings or talk about your open houses—you're not going to sell anything. Instead, you're going to do drawings and give stuff away! Theater tickets, box seats at the football game, a day spa pass—whatever you think would be exciting.
It's a great way to show your past clients some love and make sure they don't forget about you. If you can stay top of mind, you'll get more repeat and referral business.
7) Build a network of other agents, and showcase it.
If you're not already part of a referral network—a group of agents from all over the country (or world) that share referrals with one another—start building your network now! Reach out to all of the agents you've met at conferences, webinars, on social media, or elsewhere.
Once you've built that network, showcase it! Create a map that illustrates where in the world your fellow real estate agents are located, and put it on your website, on your social media sites, and even in your newsletter. Let everyone in your database know that if they want to move to another part of the country, you can connect them with an agent.
With this tactic, not only do you get to receive referrals from your partner agents, but you also create one more way to provide value to your clients and prospects.
The map image shown above is from a Facebook post by West + Main, in which they wrote: "If you are thinking about making a move into, out of, or around Colorado…we are here to help! Our team knows amazing agents across North America, and we would love to connect you to make sure that your move is as smooth as possible!"
8) Collect personal info about new clients so you can give thoughtful gifts.
Create a customer intake form to collect personal information about each new client. You can create a simple (and free!) form using TypeForm. Ask them to share personal details such as:
- Children's names
- Pets' names
- Special dates they celebrate in their family
- Favorite food
- Favorite place to spend a staycation
- Favorite restaurant
- Favorite beverage
- Favorite Saturday morning activity
- (and anything else you think might be valuable!)
Put these personal details in your database, and use this information to create really personalized closing gifts and client appreciation pop-bys. If you can gift your client their favorite bottle of wine as a closing gift, or send a birthday card addressed to their dog each year, your clients will continue to remember you in a positive light.
And later, when their friend asks if they know a good realtor, your past client will be happy to recommend the agent who always remembers Scruffy's birthday.
"There’s nothing more memorable, more impressive, or more appreciated than when someone takes the time to get to know you and then really personalizes the effort that they put into your relationship. And the reality is, this isn’t just a database, these aren’t just leads. These are relationships that we’re nurturing to fill our business for years and years to come."
- Valerie Garcia
9) Don't forget to ask!
Don’t assume that people know they’re supposed to give you referrals. Unless someone flat out asks, “Do you know a realtor?” it's probably not going to happen.
Valerie suggests a simple message such as this: “Hi there! Hope you are staying well. Thanks for always being such a great advocate for me. If I can ever help out a friend or family member with real estate advice, I would be absolutely honored.”
You can send this as an email, text message, or handwritten note. Use your CRM to automate this as part of a drip campaign.
10) Use your CRM as your superpower.
Using a robust CRM like Realvolve really is like having superpowers:
- You can see your entire history of conversations with each client in your database—all the phone calls you've made, and all of the emails, videos, text messages, and direct mail you've sent. You also have all of those personal details you collected from them, right there in your CRM.
- You can automate certain tasks, saving you tons of time and eliminating human error. Remember those video emails we talked about, and that referral request? You can automate those!
- Your CRM will remind you of upcoming deadlines and prompt you to take immediate action on things. You can easily get yourself on a schedule of calling 5 past clients per day.
- You can create a workflow—a series of actions that take place automatically—dedicated entirely to past-client nurturing. You can create a series of drip emails, text messages, and videos that will be sent to anyone in your database segmented as "past client." You can schedule outreach based on special dates, like a text message wishing them a happy home-buying anniversary. That same workflow can also include notifications to deliver a pop-by or give them a quick call.
Take advantage of all that your real estate CRM can do. And if you'd like to learn more about the automation features in Realvolve, schedule a consultation with one of our workflow experts!
Which repeat & referral idea will you try first?
I love how many practical, actionable ideas Valerie provided in her webinar. Some of these are so easy and quick to do, like adding a "Refer a friend" link in your email signature. And while others—like starting a "friends with benefits" group or segmenting your database—will take a little more time and planning, the effort will be worth it.
Note: This blog post was originally published on December 9, 2021. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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