In real estate, it’s ALL about the numbers. After repair value (ARV), renovation budget, purchase price, days on market, cost of money, Realtor commission, and the list goes on. You get the point.
Besides your “deal analyzer” numbers, you also have your “marketing” numbers. Particularly, what kind of return are you getting by spending money on the various forms of marketing?
Although I have no statistical data to back up my claim, I would argue that for cost/effectiveness ratio, sending a simple card is a great way to get a big bang for your buck! For clarification’s sake, I’m not referring to this method in regards to finding deals, but rather to build relationships with existing customers.
In my model, I have a portfolio of land contract homes (owner financing, contract for deed, installment sale – all other names used for the type of transaction). It is essentially a rental portfolio; however, it is much more hands off since they are responsible for repairs and any other issues with the home. On this same note though, I “am” still involved in the sense that I am the bank holding the debt, so I do care about my asset (the property).
Whether you’re “the bank” (owner financed home) or “the landlord”, in my opinion, you can save yourself lots of headaches and hassles by building a relationship with your customers (remember, that is what they are!!!). In the event something goes bad (loss of job, divorce, unexpected medical bills, etc.), the “process” to gaining back your property can go much smoother depending on their “view” towards you.
Think about it. What do people’s mindset default to when they hear “banks”. Nothing good from what I’ve seen on the news or through simple observations. They’re greedy. They only care about themselves. It’s all about the money to them! With that sort of mindset, is it that surprising that when times get rough, people really don’t care if they’re making the bank’s life difficult? Is it surprising that you see homes get trashed out of pure spite? I’m not saying it is right, but when people feel like just a “number” instead of a “customer”, I can see how it happens.
What is a simple yet effective way to show people that you do care about them and that they’re NOT just a “number” to you?
Here’s a method I use…
Disclaimer: You can’t be “fake” about it. Meaning, you do ‘actually’ have to sincerely care about your customers and learn a few things about them. If you do this stuff just for the sake of doing it, it won’t come off very well.
I had these made at VistaPrint.com for a very cheap price (bought 100 of them for bulk pricing), but there are numerous places on the web that create these marketing pieces. You can see it is very simple. My logo, company name and slogan.
Do I think you need ‘official’ cards like this to be effective? I do!
Why? Because remember, while you are trying to build a relationship, you also want to come across as professional at the same time. It’s a delicate balance, but you don’t want to come across as a friend they can walk all over. You want them to know you care about them as a customer, but at the end of the day, you are still a professional business.
The first thing to point out is it is HAND WRITTEN. Sending anything with printing just takes away from the ‘personal touch’.
I always use blue pen. Not sure this makes any difference, but that’s what I go with.
That’s not my had writing either. It’s my wife’s. If you have terrible hand writing (like me), find someone who can write coherent words!
Keep the message short and to the point. In this case, it was the customer’s one year anniversary since buying her home from us on land contract.
The “P.S.” is probably the most important part. As I mentioned above, “this” is why you have to actually care about the customer in the first place in order to learn some things about them. In this case, during the purchasing process the buyer had noted how much she enjoyed landscaping and couldn’t wait to get the yard all fixed up. With that in mind, as you can see, our “P.S.” was simply, Hope you’re enjoying the landscaping 🙂 By doing this, it shows that she is NOT just a “number” but rather someone who we remember in particular.
I didn’t want to include a picture of this as I figured it probably isn’t in our customer’s favor to have her name and address published on the internet, ya know? Like the message, make sure you HAND WRITE the person’s address. I also include a professional looking return address label (again, we need to be mindful of that delicate balance). No prepaid things either! Use a good ol’ fashioned stamp! Show them that you took the time to peel and stick that stamp yourself. The envelope is nothing fancy, but it does let the customer know it wasn’t simply printed out in bulk with a thousand other people’s letter.