Former clients accounted for 21% of real estate agents’ business in 2013. Moreover, a 2014 survey found nearly three-quarters of home buyers would hire their agents again or refer them to others. It’s data like this that shows just how important it is for you to build and maintain long-lasting relationships with all of your clients.
It’s not enough to send past clients a couple emails and postcards each year asking how they’re doing and offering best wishes. To be a successful real estate agent and secure repeat or referral business from them, you need to show you care.
Check out these 20 memorable real estate marketing tips for ways you can make a big impression on former clients with personal touches, including several great ideas from experienced real estate pros nationwide.
1) You can’t go wrong with some pizza.
With all of the commotion that occurs during moving day for new homeowners, they have little time to think about what they’ll have for dinner, go grocery shopping for the next few days, or complete new-home maintenance tasks. Help them out by giving a helping hand on their first day at home.
Valerie Garcia, Director of Training at RE/MAX Integra, noted many homeowners really only want a few things in their first day at their new residence. “As a consumer, there are only three things I’d want: a pizza on moving day, a complete digital copy of all my documents, and a locksmith on closing day to change the locks.”
Valerie isn’t the only proponent of pizza for new homeowners. Realtor and consultant Jodi Beekman of The Hemmert Real Estate Group stated she usually plans a pizza delivery from a popular place near her clients. “I have it delivered to them and their moving helpers whenever they want,” she said.
2) Throw a housewarming party and invite neighbors.
Hosting a housewarming party is another great idea that makes clients feel at home right away, according to Bamboo Realty Broker/Owner Sarah Schnell Jones.
“You can get printed invitations, snacks, beverages, and custom paper coasters and napkins printed for the occasion,” said Sarah. “It’s a great way to meet the neighbors. A custom guest book for the house is a great option, too.”
3) Take the housewarming party to the streets.
The term “housewarming party” doesn’t necessitate the festivity to take place in the actual home. California-based Realtor Mary Simmons-Maloney throws an interesting version of this social gathering for her clients.
“We do a taco cart in the street and invite all the neighbors to meet our buyers or say goodbye to our sellers,” said Mary. “People will come up to us later and say they met us at the taco party we did on a certain street or cul-de-sac. A keg and tacos outside means our clients don’t have to worry if their house is clean.”
4) Hire a cleaning crew to help clients spruce up their homes.
In the same vein as providing assistance on your own to clients, consider hiring outside help as well. Simmons-Maloney noted that having a crew come over to her sellers’ homes for a few hours to prepare their home for sale was a big relief to her clients.
“For my sellers, the best thing is I have a cleaning crew clean their home, and everyone tells me it was the best thing ever to not have to worry about cleaning a toilet after packing,” she said.
5) Get clients knick-knacks for their new residence.
Instead of putting all of your eggs in one basket with a big housewarming gift, you can buy a bunch of little things your clients can use on a day-to-day basis.
Head to the local market and buy them paper towels, sponges, paper plates, plastic cups, and other items so they can dine-in with ease during their first week in the new place. For the bathroom, you could get them small hand towels, hand soap, or potpourri.
6) Secure them a local membership to somewhere fun.
Getting to know their new surroundings is the next big task facing clients who buy a home in a new market. So, help homeowners become more familiar with their community by getting them a membership to somewhere interesting.
“For a family moving to the area, you can buy them a one-year membership at the zoo or children’s museum,” said Jones.
Other membership options include:
- Gift of the month, like wine or steak
- A short-term membership to a local gym
- Free rounds of golf at a local country club
7) Refer customers to your client’s business.
Speaking of referrals, get some love from clients by telling those in your network about their business. Whether they work at a major corporation or a niche small business, they’ll appreciate you promoting their company.
Use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ to spread word about new offerings or promotions — just make sure they’re aware of your advertising efforts so you get in their good graces.
8) Buy from their business yourself.
Personally help a client’s business by shopping there. If they own a car wash, give your ride a rinse at their establishment. If they run a catering company, hire them for your agency’s next event.
Don’t feel obligated to buy from them, but if they sell something you’d purchase anyway, why not shop at their company, help their bottom line, and gain their appreciation?
9) Purchase a personal gift that means something to them.
Did your client mention they love a certain film director or author? Order a DVD/Blu-ray or book on Amazon and have it shipped to their home with a personalized note. Is there an old antique they’ve been trying to find? Find it on eBay and gift it to them. Anything that means something special to the client is something worth looking into buying.
Whatever you purchase, follow up shortly after the item is delivered to let them know you appreciated their business and hope they’re doing well. This is a prime way to show you really listened to your clients — something they’ll look for in an agent the next time they want to buy or sell.
10) Send personalized cards for holidays, birthdays, and big occasions.
Everyone gets those fake personalized postcards from their dentist or local car dealership on their birthdays or a major holiday to make it appear as if they actually care. You’re in a position to actually make those personalized cards, but without any promotion in them, and with a genuine message. Greeting cards cost a few dollars and writing a personalized message takes 10 minutes.
Curaytor Co-founder Chris Smith noted he and his company try to discover as much as he can personally about former clients to ensure they send the right message to them at the right time.
“We try to find important life events to trigger a tangible gift, like the birth of a child or a big award at work,” said Smith. “We certainly think about what we send and make it relevant to why it’s being sent at that time. But the timing matters most I think. Going beyond the obvious birthday gift can really show that you are paying attention to what is happening in their life.”
11) Grab coffee or do a night on the town with a client.
Of course, if you live near your clients, you don’t need to send them cards if you can meet them in person. Arrange for them to meet you at the local Starbucks to grab a coffee and catch up. If coffee isn’t your thing, then see a movie or go bowling with them. The location and specifics of your meetup don’t really matter. What does matter is reconnecting with them and making them feel valued as a friend (which is how you should treat all clients).
12) Send them a gift card to their favorite establishments.
In a similar vein, send them a gift card to a local business to stay top-of-mind with them. A $5 gift card to a pizza place or the iTunes store may seem like the tiniest of gestures and not enough to lead to a big reaction from your clients, but people love random gifts out of the blue. Most businesses these days allow buyers to share gift cards via email and social media, so think of what your clients would enjoy.
Smith noted it can be difficult to get a client the right gift card based on their preferences if you don’t know them well, but there are general options that practically everyone enjoys. “I personally love getting Apple, Starbucks, iTunes, Best Buy, or Amazon gift cards,” he said.
13) Set clients up with a home designer.
Many homebuyers today want to make a big splash with their home interiors. Anne Jones, a Realtor at Windermere Professional Partners, said she occasionally connects her clients with a home designer to give them some inspiration.
“Because I sell to a lot of younger, move-up buyers, I’m finding that a consultation with a designer is well-received,” she said. “I feel them out first so they aren’t insulted. Many want the house they see online, but most aren’t sure where to start.”
14) Invite them to an office event.
Do you work at an agency or brokerage? The next time your company has a holiday party or conference after-party, invite your clients to attend. If your firm holds a seminar on buying or selling homes, see if past clients would be interested in attending. Even if the topic doesn’t greatly interest them, you can at least use the event as an excuse to chat with them and see how they’ve been since you helped them close.
15) Have an artist do a rendering of their home.
First-time homeowners often put so much of their finances into their new residence that they don’t have enough to spend on decor to fill their homes. Help them fill their walls with art that hits home by hiring an artist to do a rendering of the property.
“When it is a seller, we have a local artist do a painting or sketch of their home” said Stephanie Cline Lanier, Broker/Owner of The Lanier Property Group, Inc. “There are tears every time. We usually do a watercolor or black-and-white sketch.”
If you don’t have the scratch to commission a fancy painting of a client’s home, there are plenty of online apps and tools that can transform photos into all different kinds of art. For instance, with the Waterlogue app, users can turn their photos into oil paintings:
16) Give them a unique photo gift.
For clients who want something a bit more modern-looking, get them a photo gift featuring shots of their home’s interior and exterior: A photo book, calendar, or canvas can show you put a lot of thought into making their house look like a home.
“I do professional photography for all of my listings, so when the property sells, I make a custom album of the seller’s home,” Kristina Gershteyn, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson at Robert DeFalco Realty. “It is so very touching. Depending on the property sometimes I use the Mosaic app or for a higher priced property I use a site called My Publisher.”
Sam DeBord, one of the Managing Brokers of the Seattle Homes Group, stated he also likes to create a special photo gift for his clients, particularly if they buy a residence that dates back a while.
“For older homes in Seattle (1890s to 1940s) we try to get a historical photo from the city of the home in its original glory,” he said. “A nice black-and-white, framed 8″x10″ of the original house usually looks good enough for the homeowners to hang on their walls. And when friends ask how they got it, our names come up.”
17) Help support a cause important to your clients.
Have you noticed certain clients are advocates for certain charities, nonprofit organizations, or causes? Ask them how you can contribute. Simply showing a willingness to assist their efforts in raising awareness for a disease or donating to a Kickstarter for a good cause is more than enough to wow your clients.
18) Gift some custom appliances to them.
Imagine you’re a recovering renter who just purchased your first home. You now have a full-service kitchen at your disposal, meaning you can play Mario Batali and make grand meals for dinner parties. The only problem is you lack the necessary tools to create such a feast. That’s where you can help.
Sheri Moritz, Team Lead/Broker at Next Home Team, stated there’s one kitchen product that’s proven to go over well with clients.
“I’ve liked the Cutco knives that are engraved,” said Sheri. “They have a lifetime warranty and free sharpening. Also, I’m a fan of the spreader that reads ‘Thanks for spreading the word,’ which is great for referrals.”
19) Buy them the latest, coolest smart-home product.
Smart-home technology is a booming industry that’s on the rise. Many of these items can save your clients money on their monthly utility bills, so find an item that’ll lighten the load on their bank accounts. For instance, Sarah Schnell Jones noted one particular smart-home product goes over quite well with clients.
“There’s the Nest thermostat,” Sarah indicated. “When people see one, they always ask about it, so your buyer will be sharing your name often.”
There are countless other smart-home products and services that are affordable and can make a positive impact on your clients’ home lives, including:
- Smart garage door openers
- Smart water and plumbing monitors
- LED light bulbs and fixtures
- Smart smoke/carbon dioxide detectors
20) Connect them with the best local businesses.
If your clients have children or pets, let them know about popular day care services, babysitters, dogwalkers, veterinarians, and pediatricians. If they’re foodies, let them know the best places for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the area. The list goes on.
Yes, most people can find this info online, but if you have experience with certain companies near their homes, they’re more likely to trust your opinion over those of online strangers.
In addition to hooking them up with the best local restaurants and other businesses, Windermere Real Estate Realtor Marguerite Giguere indicated she loves setting up her clients for success in their new communities with a hands-on approach.
“I do a basket at closing with cool Tacoma[, Washington] swag and gift cards to a few of their new local neighborhood ‘spots’ like coffee shops, bars, and restaurants to help jumpstart their neighborhood orientation,” she said. “My favorite thing to do is take people out for a happy-hour drink a year after closing, but I don’t do that with all of my clients.”
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