I was reviewing numbers this morning from my company’s year so far and one number really jumped off the page at me. For the first time in 18 straight months, we sold more houses to new investors with our company than to existing investors with our company. It was a small difference, but this was a number that we had always used to measure how good we were doing with helping existing clients with building out a portfolio.
How good were we doing with developing repeat clients?
So these types of numbers should always be measured and analyzed each month. It had taken us several years to develop the product, process and service levels to be able to expect our clients to be repeat buyers.
So with 18 straight months of having repeat sales outperform new sales, we knew there were bound to be months where it did not happen. The challenge for all of us is learning how to make repeat sales a priority and allowing those sales to be our growth catalyst. Here are two simple – but specific – steps you can follow to grow your business with sales to repeat clients.
Clean Up Your Marketing Message
First and foremost, I would suggest that you clearly define who you are and what product you are offering.
Are you a Realtor? Then offer the best and most up to date “inside knowledge” of your area and position your marketing to present you as the person with all the data and info. a buyer needs before they purchase.
Are you an investor who sells his properties to retail end buyers? Then market your properties as a step above any other property on the market with finishes they cannot find with other properties.
Are you an investment company that sells properties to investors? Then market your company as the best option for the needs of that investor. Whether they need help finding properties, finding renovations, finding management or any mix of all three, you need to be the most experienced, best connected and easiest to work with.
Of course, when marketing message meets reality, they had better line up! Most real estate professionals that I see make one of two mistakes if not both.
- First, they do not have a clearly defined message. They are all over the board with their messaging and rarely are they consistent. So they are inconsistently bad with their messaging. This confuses the market place and limits you from ever really developing a brand and message.
- Second, the service and the product being delivered to the customer does not line up with the marketing message. This is the most common problem and most of it comes from a lack of understanding what makes great companies…great. It is not the marketing or the message but the service and the product.
If you market yourself as an area expert or an insider with great market knowledge that maybe not everyone knows, then that is what you need to deliver. Pocket listings, pricing updates, news on jobs, schools, roads anything and everything and communicate that to your clients and possible clients. Make sure your actions and delivery match your marketing. If you market your properties as above the rest of the neighborhood with superior or unique finishes, then make sure your product matches that marketing.
While this may seem obvious, you would be surprised by the number of investors and real estate professionals who believe that marketing is nothing more than a bunch of words that really good companies say to generate more leads. They believe that having more leads will lead to more sales which leads to growth. So, in other words, growth has very little to do with service and product and everything to do with how much marketing you do and which message you are marketing. We have seen it happen time and again here in Memphis and it is already happening in Dallas. You cannot borrow someone else’s marketing message and attach it to your product. That will not work and instead of building repeat business, taking that approach will lead you out of business.
Do Things To Make Your Clients Say “Wow”
Recently one of my articles had some book references and one of the comments talked about Ken Blanchard’s book “Raving Fans.” This is an outstanding book about creating clients for life who love you, your service and your product so much that they will absolutely rave to others about how great you are. The focus of the book is outstanding customer service. Our company has done a study of this book and again – it is excellent! But why keep the focus simply on customer service? Why not try to create raving fans of your company by “wowing” them every step of the way?
Customer service is a really catchy phrase that every single company I have come across claims to be great at providing. No problem. But what else can you do to make a client go wow in the real estate business?
Gift baskets after a client purchases a house are a staple. If you are not sending a gift, you are missing a huge opportunity. However, if you are sending the generic gift basket with a couple of apples, a bag of pretzels and a magnet - you are missing the boat. If you are sending an expensive gift like a fruit basket from Harry & David or a cookie bouquet with cookies on sticks, or even a fruit bouquet, in my opinion, you are not creating a wow for you but a wow for the product you are sending. If you are going to send something, at a minimum make it about YOU or your COMPANY and help your client to remember you. So when they say “wow” they are thinking about you and the gift, not the company that the gift came from. You want them to recommend you – not Harry & David!
Take the time to brand the items you are going to send and fill your gift with practical items that will be used all the time, plus thoughtful items that may be used quickly. As a few examples, Memphis, Tennessee is known for BBQ. Our company has a client who is a baker and has a cookie company. We also have a client who is the printing and promotional business. We put together a basket full of items that told the story of Memphis and a company that loves close relationships. Instead of sending BBQ sauce in our basket, we went to one of the best known BBQ companies in the country located right here in Memphis and struck a deal to co-label their sauce. Now it has our name on it and the label tells a story about two family owned businesses (they are family owned too).
Instead of simply sending some home made cookies, we had cookies shaped like our logo and a thank you printed on them. We could have sent any little promotional filler in the box, but instead we had some very nice items like mouse pads with jelly rests for the wrists made and they all include our logo and bits and pieces of our companies story. We filled a gift box and thought about every little detail including having custom boxes made, custom inserts and filler paper all with our name, logo and message about building close relationships with our clients.
Who do you think gets talked about at the bbq grill? That company whose name is on the bottle! When a client is sharing those dozen cookies with the co-workers or neighbors, what is the topic of conversation? Every time a clients buys a house there is some type of thank you that is sent. Sometimes they are sets of books that we love reading. Sometimes it is a dinner reservation that we made in their name at a local restaurant. Sometimes it is a gift card sent on a birthday or an anniversary or for no reason at all. Sometimes it is a total surprise like an upgrade to a private cabana at a water park trip with your family that we happened to over hear about during a call. You can copy and do all of these things! They are simple and thoughtful ways to build your brand and provide a “wow” factor at the same time.
If you want to “wow” your clients then you have to listen and pay attention. You have to think about details and personalization. You cannot send plain white thank you cards that you stuff with your business card. Not if you want clients to know and understand that they are important to you and that you want to be a lifelong relationship. If you want to ‘wow’ your clients then you have to get creative and do things that they will remember.
I listed two big mistakes that I see a lot of entrepreneurs make when they decide they want their field to be real estate investing. I throw out the cliches about this being a people business. EVERY business is a people business. Unless their is a machine on the other end that endlessly spits out orders with no human interaction involved in a process, then a business will revolve at some point around relationships. I have been blown away in this industry by the lack of understanding (by some) of this very basic concept. If you are not liked…then you will not grow and you will certainly not have repeat clients. If you are not liked then you will never be trusted. If you are not trusted then you have no shot at building a repeat client. I have listed two very simple things and detailed how we achieve both. Feel free to copy us and put your own spin on it. That is what this business is all about. If you want repeat clients then a roadmap has been left for you and it is time you follow it. Take that road map…take these two suggestions and fit them to your company. Put your own touches on them and then build your repeat business!
By focusing on repeat clients that will buy multiple properties, refer multiple buyers or simply tell your story at the top of their lungs, any real estate company or professional can separate themselves and their company from their competition. I would love to hear what you do to create a “wow” with your clients or how any specifics steps you take to create repeat clients.
Photo: colleen2 Simple Ways To Ensure Repeat Clients in The Real Estate Investment Business by Chris Clothier