Friday, December 14, 2018

Outside the box

Today is my last real estate settlement of 2018.  It will be a happy day as my young clients get the keys to their brand new home; a home they didn't have to rebuild from the inside out like their last home.  I anticipate lots of smiles and excitement at the settlement table.

These clients were "walk-ins".  That means they just showed up at the office without an appointment and asked to speak to an agent, who happened to be me that day.  That almost never happens.  With the plethora of real estate information (and misinformation) on the internet, most people begin their real estate search online and have a good idea what they can expect to get and pay.  But I sat down with these clients and talked about what they wanted, where they wanted to be, and discussed details of their situation.

But in my 8 years of being a full-time agent, this has only happened to me 3 times.  That's right; 3 times in 8 years.  Obviously you can't build a business on 3 walk-ins in 8 years.  Fortunately my real estate team has done a lot to get leads by having a robust online presence, using our own team website and having profiles on public real estate websites.  We also advertise in local publications too.

But this year I was also struck by how much more business happens outside the office, which is making me think outside the box on how I can capture more of it.

As an example, I sold a home to a couple in 2012.  The wife referred a colleague to me in 2014 and that couple also bought a home from.  That couple referred a colleague to me this year and that couple bought a home from me too.  This reminded me how important word-of-mouth referrals are.  I need to think of some new ways to encourage my past clients to refer their friends and neighbors to me.  After all, I've already proven my value and trustworthiness to them so they can vouch for me when they refer others.

Another example:  2 independent clients to whom I've sold homes struck up conversations with strangers at happy hours (that's common around here).  Both clients referred those strangers to me and both have since purchased homes.  This reminded me that 'not all business happens in the board room', sometimes it happens at happy hour.  I need to consider the potential of capturing new business at happy hours.  

When the market is good and business is easy to get we can get a bit lazy with prospecting.  But as the market slows down and interest rates go up I don't want my business/income to go down too.  I need to think outside the box for ways to capture business.

I tried going to a couple of local business networking mixers but didn't find them to be helpful.  It was mostly people like me who were trying to expand their reach to new customers.  And although those people had the potential to refer their clients to me, these events were heavy with realtors so I never saw any benefit from them.  I think they're more effective in larger metropolitan areas.

Do any of you guys have any ideas to share?


anne marie in philly said...

something my HVAC guy does is "refer a client to me, have them give me my name, I get a $25 visa gift card."

put your card up on bulletin boards in supermarkets, libraries, any place with a bulletin board. make sure you have your own push pins.

a local realtor sends out phillies (baseball team) calendar magnets every year.

Sixpence Notthewiser said...

That sounds so cool! Congrats! As for ideas, the informal networking and the recommendations seem to be working, so why not do more of that? Also social networks could come handy. Many businesses have their own pages there now. You could promote yourself through Instagram if you stage any houses or chronicle the before-after process a la apartment therapy. ;-)

Travel said...

I have sold two homes through Realtors in the past 14 months. For the first one, I knew no one in town. I talked with three offices, two based on location, one on reputation. The broker that got the listing was very honest on valuation, and was the first person to show up in his office on a Saturday morning, about 20 minutes after the posted opening time. For the second one, we went with an old friend, he dated a neighbor of ours 18 years ago, and was still in the business.
So really the second one was someone we knew, and who we knew had been in the business a long time. The first one was the most professional of the three people we talked with, and he was the closest to on time the morning I walked in (he also owns the firm, and has about 50 people working in the office, he was showing up that morning to work on administrative work.)

Closing on sale 2, is 9 AM on Wednesday.

Ur-spo said...

Alas nothing to share - of value anyway.
None the less you sound a sensible fellow to be doing what you write.