Editor’s Note: The Playbook is a new RISMedia weekly segment centering on what brokers and agents are doing to ensure they not only survive but thrive in these challenging times. Industry professionals explain the strategies they’re employing and unique ideas they’ve formulated. Tune in every Thursday for another addition to the series.
“Logic makes you think, but emotion makes you act.”
So, sagely, expressed Kymber Lovett-Menkiti, regional director at Keller Williams Realty, Inc., District of Columbia, at RISMedia’s 26th Annual Power Broker Forum held last November at the NAR NXT, the REALTOR® Experience Convention in Orlando, Florida.
Lovett-Menkiti referenced how brokers can hold onto their agents through loyalty and constant support. And who’s to argue, since is there any virtue prized more in life than loyalty? It also counts big-time for REALTORS® and their clients when buying and selling houses becomes furiously competitive.
“Loyalty is my favorite when it comes to relationships with all clients, but particularly real estate transactions,” says Leslie Price, a broker/owner with ERA Venture Real Estate, Crossville, Tennessee. “I find that people want to be loyal but can sometimes feel unimportant to their past agent, and that can send them on the hunt for a new one. Becoming someone’s friend during a transaction is easy, but staying in touch after the transaction and cultivating the relationship over time is the key to having a loyal client.”
Knowing that an agent has their back during all the twists and turns throughout the process is not only key to the transaction at hand, but also for solidifying future referrals.
“Clients are quickly realizing that solid agents and solid relationships really do mean something again…and always did,” notes Craig McKenzie, a broker/owner with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate McKenzie Realty, Oak Harbor, Washington. “Unfortunately, in a fast seller’s market, sellers think every listing agent is a rock star, as their house is selling above list and with many, many offers. Obviously, reality is now starting to settle back in and, as the tide goes out, the naked are being exposed. Sellers don’t want naked in this market. They want results.”
More than just a business deal
“People want to feel valued, appreciated and remembered,” stresses Nikki McCarthy, director of marketing at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Lifestyles Realty, Jacksonville Beach, Florida. “This life is all about relationships. Putting in the effort to stay engaged with your sphere of influence does pay off in the future. It gives them the confidence to refer you to their friends and family because they know you are going to take great care of them. You need to stay relevant 365, not just during the transaction.”
Adds Jemila Winsey, a broker/owner with ERA Legacy Living, Richmond, Texas: “Loyalty or personal connections are everything. The clients you work with are with you because of you and the experience you provide during and after the transaction. This is the essence of our business.”
It can be challenging for new agents to get new clients and listings when many previous buyers and sellers decide to use REALTORSⓡ they’ve previously worked with. It’s a big part of the challenge for people breaking in. It’s been estimated that 250,000 agents will leave the industry in 2023, making it even more important to establish good relationships with clients that hopefully can yield return business.”
“I hear people saying they went with an agent because they bought or sold a house with him or her before,” acknowledges Ruba Wight, a property advisor with ERA Cayman Islands, Cayman Islands. “They feel loyal to them and have known them for years. This mentality makes it challenging for new agents sometimes. Yet, building that trust with close friends does lead them to list their homes with us. Knowing that we want the best for them. That we do care for them.”
The real estate industry is, at its core, a customer service business, like restaurants or retail, with people who need to be worked with on a one-to-one basis, the difference being that you’ll hopefully be establishing a relationship with them. Making a living is, of course, the number one goal, but doing so depends greatly on pleasing customers.
“I believe that we’re here to serve one another,” asserts Suzanne Dye, an associate broker with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate S.J. Fowler, Mesa, Arizona. “If you have a genuine interest in wanting to help your clients reach their goals, they’ll feel it. Caring about your clients and truly working hard to ensure the best outcome for them develops loyalty. I show that I care about my clients by asking a lot of questions to ensure I really grasp what’s most important to them. Then I work tirelessly to accomplish their goals. The care and concern I give come back around to me tenfold. I consistently gain new loyal friends/clients who love to refer me to everyone they know. It’s such an honor every time I receive a referral.”
Using social media to keep tabs
Once a successful transaction is over, maintaining connections with clients is vital. One of the easiest ways is utilizing various social media platforms.
“I rely on social media and the importance of an online presence utilizing a digital platform,” agrees Stacey McFadden, a broker associate with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Kansas City Homes, Basehor, Kansas. “Loyalty online is equally as important as in person. We live in a digital society. Sharing, commenting and reposting content results in a large client base for my business.”
Such communication can turn clients into friends. And it’s friends who will provide referrals down the road because they’ve gotten past the purely business aspect of buying or selling a house with you.
“I rely heavily on personal connections and take great pride in gaining a friendship from a client,” says Tim Grant, a REALTOR® with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers, Atlanta, Georgia. “It is always said that the ultimate compliment is a referral, and that’s true, but when a client-turned-friend’s daughter calls you ‘uncle’ and parents refer to you as a son, I’ll take that all day because I know I did right and will have that friendship and their business for the rest of my career.”
“The first contact with a client is key to connecting personally with them,” concludes Jenniffer Burnley, a real estate agent with ERA Legacy Living, Richmond, Texas. “If they feel a good connection toward you, then loyalty is a given. If you provide a wonderful experience and they see you work really hard for them, they will be loyal forever.”
4 key takeaways
- Staying in touch after a transaction and cultivating the relationship over time is the key to having a loyal client.
- People want to feel valued, appreciated and remembered, so you need to stay relevant 365, not just during the transaction.
- Using social media is key to turning clients into friends. And it’s friends who will provide referrals down the road because they’ve gotten past the purely business aspect of buying or selling a house with you.
- The real estate industry is a customer service business, so people need to be worked with on a one-to-one basis.