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Chairman’s Message: When Fear Holds You Back from Success

Quincy Virgilio: MLSListings Inc 2015 Chairman

Quincy Virgilio
2017 Chairman, MLSListings

In a season when Halloween and Day of the Dead are designed to conjure up your fears for a fun fright, it seems apropos to look at how fears can hold you back from realizing your full potential in your real estate career. Fear is what often impedes growth in the area of repeat business from past clients.

Does it feel awkward or uncomfortable to go back to a client after the transaction and ask for referrals? Are you uncomfortable because you already made a fair bit of money on their transaction? Or was it a bumpy experience and you’re worried about the pushback that might occur when you ask for more business?

Neither of these scenarios – nor any other reasons – should keep you from realizing lifetime value from past clients.

Get off on the right foot. The lifetime value in every client is based on nurturing the relationship. The goal with any client engagement is to ensure a positive experience throughout the transaction process. You should handle any problems that arise – behind the scenes, whenever possible. Things will happen despite your best efforts because many factors in the real estate transaction process are beyond your control. However, there are steps you can take that keep those difficult moments from tarnishing clients’ perception of you.

Start by having a frank conversation at the outset about the potential things that can go wrong:

  • Unreasonable buyer demands
  • Financing that falls apart
  • Homes you love but don’t win
  • Inspections that produce unexpected problems
  • Delays in closing

If your clients know what to expect they can be better prepared emotionally for handling challenges and that can make their experience feel more positive after the transaction.

It’s up to you to maintain the relationship. Once a property has closed and the thank-you gift has been delivered, what happens next will determine the ultimate value of that client to your business from that day forward. The key is remaining top of mind with your customers and the best method for doing that is using a strong Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. This allows you to easily and seamlessly stay in regular contact with your clients through different channels, and track those encounters. Whether it’s a phone call, lunch or dinner, or a postcard on relevant market data, a good CRM system will ensure that you remain in front of your client in a positive way.

NAR statistics have shown that an overwhelming majority of customers will do business with the same person time and again, yet a very small percentage of people do anything to strengthen, or maintain, that customer relationship.

Go the extra step to ask for referrals. Simply saying, “I’m so happy you are excited about your new home and the way we performed for you; who else do you know who needs my help in buying or selling a home?” can quickly turn into tangible new business.

If the buying or selling experience did not go as smoothly – even through no fault of yours – it’s best to do a “post-mortem” and ask the client for an assessment of how the experience went for them. Inquire about what you or your team could have done to make this an even better experience. They will appreciate the opportunity to talk about any issues. Often, that’s all they really need – to be heard and know that you care about their experience.

Manage your time and your contacts. It can seem impossible to maintain frequent contact with past clients when there are so many demands on your time. So how you prioritize your efforts? Start by categorizing clients and spend the most time on your best ones. Your best clients are the ones who’ve referred business to you in the past or with whom you’ve done several transactions. You’ll want to go the extra mile for these folks – take them out to dinner, send them a special holiday gift, invite them to a charity or sporting event. You get the idea.

That’s not to say you should only focus on your best clients. You should carve out at least 30 minutes each day to actively work your entire contacts database. Email market stats, send a handwritten note, make a few phone calls, etc. You should be getting referrals that equal at least 10% of the number of total contacts in your database. So if you have 100 contacts in your CRM, you should be getting at least 10 referrals every year.

Bottom line: If you allow your fears to prevent you from asking for feedback or referrals, you’ve lost a valuable revenue source for the future. One of the worst experiences for any agent or broker is seeing their past clients working with someone else. View every client as a lifetime relationship that requires care and nurturing to grow that bond. After all, if you don’t call them, why expect them to call you?

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