How to Stop People from Grinding on You in Negotiations
by: Roger Dawson
Managers, brokers, and owners have the capability to bring revenue to their individual offices more than they realize and it's more than just recruiting and retaining agents. There is no question that recruiting is important, but why not prospecting clients as well? It seems a simple thing to keep in touch with the office client base and yet few offices do this. The agents work for the broker and therefore the clients are a good resource for the office. So use this as a basis for bringing in repeat business to the office.
Control the Client
Managers/Brokers have told their agents for years to keep in touch with their clients after the sale. How many agents are faithful to this? My answer is so few that it's a sad statistic. One of the largest consumer complaints is the agent's lack of communication according to the National Association of Realtors. That being the case, it seems absolutely imperative that the office take up the task.
Managers/Brokers have been reluctant to prospect to clients because they feel that their agents will get upset. When in reality, the agents are pleased. Why? Because when they call a former client and the client tells them how happy they are to be kept informed of the market they realize that this is a benefit to them. It is also interesting that a client who wants to sell and hasn't heard from the agent who sold them the house five years earlier will call the office to get the name of an agent.
I, as Manager, gave the listing to the agent who sold the house five years earlier when this happened. Would he have had that listing if the office had not been in touch with the client? I don't think so. This has happened to me as a manager several times and I can tell you that the agents who received the listings were very pleased that I had kept in touch with "their" past clients. I don't know for sure, but I would guess that it also helped with my retention because all my agents knew that I kept in touch with all the office clients. When a request for an agent came in and the agent had moved to another office, I assigned the listing to a new agent and the office received a 10% referral fee. This more than paid for the cost of keeping in touch with the clients.
Use a Simple Database Program
There are many different programs for this from Microsoft Works, Word, Excel, Access, to Act. Use whatever your staff is comfortable with. My theory is to create the task of gathering the information at closing and enter the initial data then turn it over to the staff to keep up. The staff knows that forwarding addresses for all the sellers are needed and that the entire database will be mailed to monthly so it could be a weekly job to enter data.
What to Send
Send postcards every month. Sometimes they could be holiday oriented with a personal message, but most should be on some sort of market success or market condition. All the messages should be positive no matter what. Sometimes you have to dig deep to find the positive, but it does exist. The postcards could have pictures of various landmarks of the community that your clients are sure to recognize; or some could have a picture of the office; others a picture of your entire staff out in front of the office. The point is that they hear from the office every month with something of value-information on the market or your appreciation for their past loyalty with good wishes for a holiday.
The cards should be all full color on one side and the message on the other in black and white. The message could be next to where you put the address label. Everyone reads postcards. A good size is 8 ½ by 5 ½ cards, but could be smaller. The cards could have your name on them, but most the time, from the office itself.
Every January the office should send another copy of the closing statement for every client who bought or sold a property during the previous year. They appreciate this thoughtfulness when gathering information for their accountants and realize again that real estate is a tax advantage.
Sharing what is to be sent to the clients monthly with the agents at a sales meeting is important. They feel informed and can follow up with their own note, card, or call to reiterate the message and give it even more impact.
Use the Internet
It is time that offices gather email addresses on all of their clients. Ask your closing agent to get their email address at closing on all of your office transactions. If you ask your agents and they are not using email to their advantage they will be hesitant to ask the client. The office can also have a telephone campaign to call all former clients and ask them for the email address so that they can be informed quickly on real estate market conditions. The staff can call several per day. You can also send out a postcard asking them for email addresses and offering a gift for all who enroll by email. There is no easy way to get your clients' email addresses-you have to ask!
The office should be advising their clients of new listings and how to view them on the company or office web site. We all know that clients want to have information and they also like being the "first to know." Using this email tool as an office will bring in more referrals and sales. Your clients can be your "sales force" with their friends.
There is no question about it, prospecting to your office client base is a win for everyone. Your clients are informed, your agents get more business, the office makes more sales. If the office is consistent in its follow-up, the results will be consistent.
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