Thursday, November 15, 2018

Keeping past customers coming back should be easy…

After all, you don’t need to “sell” them on your service and phone calls to them are warm and friendly. In addition, if you did your job right, they know, like and trust you.

So, why do so many agents fail miserably at retaining past customers? And how are you going to ensure, as you head into the new year, that you keep your past clients present?

Beyond this being a smart question, it is also an important financial decision.

The following are some statistics that explain why you should strive to remain top-of-mind with former customers and some tips to help you do so.

The puzzling facts

Nearly 90 percent of real estate consumers surveyed by NAR say that they would use their agent again and that they would recommend their agent to others.

Yet the same statistics show that, sadly, only 12 percent of consumers actually used an agent that they had worked with in the past. Dive deep into these numbers and you can easily see that real estate consumers want to use the agent they’ve worked with in the past,

Yet curiously, few do.

And, it’s a safe bet that they don’t because they forgot about the agent and went with one referred by a friend, family member or colleague.

A financial reality

“Depending on which study you read, acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one,” claims Amy Gallo at Harvard Business Review.

In fact, there’s a formula you can use to determine just how much chasing after new business costs you each year.

Divide your total marketing and sales costs (what you spend on gas driving buyers around, listing expenses, etc.) by the number of new customers you acquired during the year.

Scary, isn’t it? Those are some expensive customers.

Former customers, on the other hand, are gold mines. “Increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%,” according to Frederick F. Reichheld and Phil Schefter of Harvard Business School.

How’s your past customer list looking? If it appears dry and parched, it’s time to try nurturing it.

Customer retention strategies

Remaining top-of-mind with former customers doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor, although the larger and splashier the “touch,” the more memorable you’ll be.

Less expensive ways to keep in touch are the no-brainer methods that tend to fall through the cracks of the busy agent’s schedule.

  • Drip email campaigns
  • Monthly direct mail, of interest to your customers, such as newsletters and market updates
  • Birthday and anniversary postcards
  • “Or offer home maintenance reminders (e.g., changing out smoke detector batteries once a year),” suggests Melissa Dittmann Tracey at realtormag.org.

Face-to-face

Some experts recommend a quarterly face-to-face visit with former customers. Take them to coffee, happy hour or lunch. Or to get the most bang for your customer-retention buck, throw some sort of annual customer appreciation event.

It can be as lavish as the black-tie event Buyer’s Edge agent Steve Israel holds (complete with orchestra and catered food), or as simple as a casual backyard summer barbecue.

You might even consider an event that not only brings your past customers back into your sphere but benefits your favorite non-profit as well.

Kathy Broock Ballard invites customers, past and present, to “The Annual Erin Go Bra(gh) Party” on St. Patrick’s Day. She asks that they bring an item of clothing for the local women’s shelter and in return, lunch and an open bar are theirs to enjoy.

An agent in San Francisco holds a crab feed every year during Dungeness season. He holds it in partnership with a lender and title company to keep expenses to a minimum.

Don’t forget to ask

Whether it’s one-on-one or as part of an event, don’t forget to ask former customers if they know anyone who may be thinking of buying or selling real estate. Focusing your “ask” may bring better results, according to the late Jay Conrad Levinson, father of Guerilla Marketing.

Narrow “the universe of those you ask,” he suggests in the book “Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days.” For instance, instead of asking your weekend golf partner to thumb through his mental database of everyone she knows, ask her who else she plays golf with who may be thinking of buying or selling real estate.

The smaller you make the “universe,” the more likely your customer will be able to come up with a name.

Keeping in touch with the customers you already know and who know you is one of the easier parts of your business. By not periodically reaching out to them, you’re leaving easy money on the table for your competition to grab.

Start sending out a Community Newsletter to your clients each month to remind them of who to turn to for expert guidance when needed.

Need help targeting the perfect niche of buyers or sellers? Use our mailing list tool to create the ideal list (it’s easy) or call our support team for assistance at 866.405.3638!

PLUS: When you have time…here are 3 free ways we can help you STILL CRUSH IT in 2018!

1. Become a Listing Legend Free ebook.

Ready to take a vertical leap in your real estate career? If you’re looking for inspiration…and the tools and methods to dominate a market and go to the top in real estate…you’ll find them in this free book. – Click Here 

2. The 12 Month Done-For-You Strategic Marketing Plan.

The Real Estate Marketing Planner is a powerful 12-Month-Guide that strategically defines what marketing to do when. Four key market segments are included, Niche Marketing, Listing Inventory, Geographic Farming, and Sphere of Influence – Click Here

2. The Free Online ROI Calculator. 

Consistency and automation are the keys to success. Discover how effective direct mail marketing can dramatically increase your bottom line. Enter your statistics in our Free online ROI Calculator and click the ‘CALCULATE MY ROI’ button to see your results instantly! – Click Here

Also…check out these cool tools 

 Three Click Postcards – Just snap a home photo & create a postcard all from your mobile phone

MLSmailings.com – Automated Just Listed, Just Sold Postcards

Market Dominator System – Become a neighborhood brand

Want to Refer a friend or colleague? Refer them, Here. THEY get a Free $25 Gift Card and YOU become their hero. BTW, you also get a $25 Gift Card too (now that’s what I’m talking about)!

Whether or not to give gifts to real estate clients at or after closing is an often-debated topic.

Those in the “yes” camp struggle with coming up with a gift that is personal, but not too personal, and whether or not the gift should include the agent’s branding.

It’s a tall order, but, thankfully, we’ve checked with our agent network and, as usual, have some brilliant real estate closing gift ideas to share.

Stop hating on gift cards

No, a gift card isn’t highly original and whether or not to choose one as a gift depends on your relationship with each particular client. But, it is sure to be a welcome and much-appreciated closing gift for clients on a strict budget (maybe your FHA buyers?).

You can’t go wrong with a gift card from Lowe’s or Home Depot or any of the large home décor stores. If your client is an avid gardener, check if your local nursery offers gift cards. And, if you’re still stuck for ideas, how about a gift of delivery service with an Instacart or Uber gift card? The latter can also be used for Uber’s ride-sharing service. 

Artwork

Snap a photo of your clients and their kids and/or pets standing in front of their new home. Then, send it to an artist who can turn it into something family-room-wall-worthy.

Or, have the portrait made into “Just Moved” cards for the clients to send to friends and family. Pre-stamping the envelopes, by the way, is a thoughtful step that they won’t expect.

The internet is the best place to find talented, reasonably-priced artists who specialize in creating portraits from photographs. And, you can often find one who will do so in your preferred medium, from pencil to watercolor to oil.

Here are several websites I found while doing some online sleuthing:

  • Paint your Life
  • Portrait Painting
  • Instapainting
  • Portraits on Demand
  • A number of artists on Etsy offer portraits from photos 
The gift that keeps on giving, keeping you top-of-mind

How can a former client forget you when, each month, something amazing is delivered to their door?

No, they aren’t cheap (although some are surprisingly affordable), but subscription boxes are appreciated.

  • Meal boxes (there are a number of choices, such as Blue Apron, Plated, Hello Fresh)
  • Fresh flowers
  • Bagels
  • Bark Box or Rescue Box (for the dog “Mom” or “Dad”)
  • FilterEasy (yes! No more schlepping to Home Depot to pick up HVAC filters)
  • Gardening
  • Beauty items (for female clients, Birchbox is among the most popular)

Find other popular subscription services at impactbnd.com.

Consider keeping it local by gifting several hours of services that you know your client will use. These include:

  • Dog walking
  • House cleaning
  • Landscaping
  • Pool cleaning and servicing
  • Handyman
  • Organizing
  • Errand running 
Techster clients will love these

I joined my neighborhood’s forum on NextDoor.com and the most popular conversations among neighboring homeowners involve home security. Most of the homeowners either own or are interested in purchasing the Ring video doorbell. They’re offered at a variety of price points, with the least expensive starting at about $100.

Google Home Mini for less than $50 (a smart speaker with Google Assistant built in) is so popular that the folks at Google say they’ve sold “more than one device every second since they started shipping in October” of last year.

Instead of the keys to their new home, imagine handing your homebuying clients a smart lock instead. Yes, they’re pricey, but the popular 3rd generation of the August Smart Lock sells for only $129 and the Kwikset Kevo Blue Tooth Deadbolt is priced at slightly less than $150.

While the topic of whether or not to gift your clients at closing seems to be a matter of personal preference, most agree that if you will be giving a closing gift, keep your branding off of it.

Then, put some thought behind it. If it’s a gift card your clients truly need, then, by all means, gift them with one. If not, we hope our list helps guide you to the perfect real estate closing gift.

With client appreciation on your mind, right now is the perfect time to all of your incredible clients with a Customer Appreciation postcard.
Send the All My Thanks postcard to all of your past clients and let them know just how much they mean to you.

Need help targeting the perfect niche of buyers or sellers? Use our mailing list tool to create the ideal list (it’s easy) or call our support team for assistance at 866.405.3638!

PLUS: When you have time…here are 2 free ways we can help you STILL CRUSH IT in 2018!

1.  The 12 Month Done-For-You Strategic Marketing Plan.

The Real Estate Marketing Planner is a powerful 12-Month-Guide that strategically defines what marketing to do when. Four key market segments are included, Niche Marketing, Listing Inventory, Geographic Farming, and Sphere of Influence – Click Here

2. The Free Online ROI Calculator. 

Consistency and automation are the keys to success. Discover how effective direct mail marketing can dramatically increase your bottom line. Enter your statistics in our Free online ROI Calculator and click the ‘CALCULATE MY ROI’ button to see your results instantly! – Click Here

Also…check out these cool tools 

 Three Click Postcards – Just snap a home photo & create a postcard all from your mobile phone

MLSmailings.com – Automated Just Listed, Just Sold Postcards

Market Dominator System – Become a neighborhood brand

Want to Refer a friend or colleague? Refer them, Here. THEY get a Free $25 Gift Card and YOU become their hero. BTW, you also get a $25 Gift Card too (now that’s what I’m talking about)!