Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Letter to my clients

The team leader of my real estate group has a tradition of mailing clients a beautiful, glossy calendar with photos taken by a local photographer, and includes an end-of-the-year letter with it.  When I joined the team she encouraged me to write a letter of my own to be inserted with her letter and calendar that were mailed to my clients.

Despite having written this blog for 6 years at that point, my 1st letter to my clients was rather short and plain.  I had been an agent for less than a year and was truly grateful for the business that had come my way, so my letter was basically a big 'thank you' to my clients.

My 2nd letter (the following year) evolved a bit.  In addition to thanking my clients for their business, I also offered to assist them with referrals to service professionals they may need, such as a good painter, electrician, and handyman.  I also shared with them 3 local places I love to eat.

While both letters were perfectly adequate, none resulted in any feedback other than "thanks for the calendar - its beautiful".

So this year when it came time to write my end-of-the-year letter I wanted it to be different.  And better.  So I asked myself "Besides thanking them for their business, what do I really want to accomplish with this letter?"  The answer was referrals.  I want them to refer their friends, neighbors, and family to me.  And I want the letter to me more personal and less business-like.

In my 1st draft I wrote "Should you need real estate services again in the future, I hope you’ll feel confident calling on me again, and referring your friends to me.  As you might imagine, referrals are a very important element of my business, as well as being a sign for me that I’m doing a good job for my clients."  But after re-reading it the sentence sounded too passive and almost apologetic.  

Hey, I work really hard and deliver the best service you can get from a real estate agent.  The people receiving the letter experienced this, so why should I be passive or apologetic?  

So I re-wrote that section to say "Please pass my name on to your friends and neighbors who mention real estate.  As you might imagine, referrals are very important to my business, and I consider referrals to be the ‘ultimate compliment’.  I promise to give your friends and neighbors the same personal attention that made your transaction successful."

Asking for referrals:  check.  Now onto the personal part...

I decided to take a bit of a risk and share 3 of my highlights of 2013, one of which was getting married.  I'm not so delusional to think that my clients assume I'm straight, nor do I want them to assume that.  But with some of them our conversations stayed more on the business at hand and didn't spill over into the personal, so for some this may indeed be news.  

So the last paragraph read: "On a personal note, in 2013 I finally enjoyed the experience of going somewhere warm and sunny when it was cold and snowy here.  In February I spent a week in Puerto Vallarta Mexico, which I found to be beautiful and relaxing.  Believe it or not, I saw a woman there wearing a “Rehoboth Beach” t-shirt!  After Delaware implemented marriage equality legislation this year, in October I married my partner of 17 years.  In December I was treated to a surprise trip to Paris for my 50th birthday, which was even more beautiful and charming than I imagined.  Thanks to my clients Jim & Dawn for the excellent Paris travel tips!"

The feedback I received was truly heartwarming.  No one mentioned the beautiful calendar; instead I received email after email after email of congratulations on my marriage!  Even my macho client who wears the big cross around his neck said "Hey, I want to say congratulations on your marriage.  That's awesome." and shook my hand.

Maybe the world has changed more than I give it credit.  Maybe people think its amazing when 2 people stay together for 17 years, be they straight or gay.  Maybe the Universe gave me a virtual pat on the back for taking a risk and 'owning' my experiences.  

It seems there's nothing to regret when you live your life authentically.


anne marie in philly said...

smooches, dear!

see you and spouse in less than 60 days; can't wait!

BosGuy said...

Great post. And congratulations (again).

Ur-spo said...

I like letters; I hope your letter is well received .

Facing Traffic said...

What a great story... asking for the business is like asking for the job or the interview in a cover letter. Much more direct and shows strength