Last week, we hosted a webinar with RE Technology to share 65 ways you can build your referral business. We were also joined by Ginger Childs, a top-producing agent at RE/MAX Achievers, who has been a member of the ReferralExchange network for nine years. The webinar covered how to:
- Identify new sources of referral business.
- Use your current database to generate nationwide business.
- Expand your sphere of influence to cover the entire country.
As an agent, it’s important to think “any” and “every” — meaning “any” one, “every” where should know that you are a real estate agent. Any conversation, connection, or contact can turn into a referral opportunity. Wearing branded apparel such as a hat, polo shirt, scarf, or name-tag are just a few of the ways to show others what you do. Referral opportunities are all around you, and can be easily found in the groups listed below.
Group 1: Friends, families, acquaintances. When starting your business, your friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, spouse, and children should be your go-to source for referrals. These are the people in your traditional and immediate sphere of influence, who know you the best. You can reach these individuals via social media postings, holiday updates, social activities, sponsorship of friends/family events (e.g., family reunions) or by sharing your family tree with family members (e.g., Ancestry.com). For Ginger, the people she has met at her local gym over the years have been an excellent source of referrals.
Group 2: Not-so-chance encounters. These are referral opportunities that you discover in places you wouldn’t typically expect — vacation, business travel, shopping, errands, or garage and estate sales. Wearing branded apparel with your logo during these chance encounters can often spark conversation and create new business opportunities. Ginger for example, always wears her RE/MAX pin whenever she is out of the house. Don’t be afraid to say hello and get to know people — after all, these are how relationships are formed. Think up ways to bring up your real estate expertise/profession in advance — but be careful not to oversell yourself. Ginger makes a point to get out of the house at least once a day to hand out, at the minimum, five business cards. She stated, “When people get to know you, they trust you.”
Group 3: Professional contacts. Professional contacts such as your doctor, dentist, veterinarian attorney, accountant, financial planner, or insurance salesman are all sources who could recommend you to their loyal clients and people they know. This is a unique group because, like yourself, they are the subject matter experts in their fields and there is a higher trust level associated with them. They also have a pulse on the community, knowing when their clients are moving in or out of the area.
Group 4: Service contacts. Your service contacts might include your hair salon, drycleaner, nail salon, tailor, coffee shop, restaurant, florist, packing store, alarm company, or storage company. These businesses that you frequently visit also have a good sense of what is going on in the community, because that’s their daily customer. It’s important to nurture these relationships and make sure that they know what you do as well.
Group 5: Business focused. This group includes business-related contacts in the industry: FSBOs, builders, ex-agents, appraisers, seminar leads, moving companies, out-of-area buyers, mortgage consultants, open house prospects, floor repair/carpet/wood, contractors/roofers, painters, stagers, sellers moving to another city or state or past clients and their friends/family members.
There are several ways you can stay top-of-mind with your professional, service, and business contacts such as exchanging business cards, offering discount coupons from preferred vendors to your clients and creating flyers with their names for new homeowners. Often, if you refer business to them, they will reciprocate.
Group 6: Organizations, associations, groups. Simply put, people like working with people who have similar interests. These referral opportunities can be found in your book club, charity group, alumni association, sports team/league, church/synagogue, health/country club, men’s/women’s clubs, homeowner associations, and parent/teacher/school association. Connect with these individuals and generate awareness of what you do by holding a home buying/selling seminar, advertising, writing an article for a newsletter, getting a group of people from your office to volunteer, or by sponsoring key events. Ginger shared that she creates packets to drop off at different local businesses and clubs to establish herself as the “go-to” real estate resource in her community.
Group 7: Corporate relocation/partnership. This could include a military base, boarding school, regional retailers, local sports team, universities/colleges and small- to mid-sized companies in your area. Many of these companies and organizations don’t have a partnership with a relocation service; make it easy to serve as the relocation partner for these businesses and organizations by helping them find a home in your community, and using the ReferralExchange network to find them a top agent when they are moving out of the area.
Group 8: Advertising/marketing. The last group includes the different platforms you can use to virtually promote yourself including social media, web advertising, lead purchase programs, local paper/website/radio/TV, just-sold/just-listed postcards, and telemarketing. When marketing your services through these different channels and platforms, it’s important to hyper focus your targeting (e.g., ZIP codes, areas, demographics, language), follow up on your leads as soon as possible and adhere to the 80/20 rule — give the ones you don’t want to work to someone else.
Regardless of which groups you use to grow your business, there’s also a lot of value in expanding your network nationwide. For example, if you have clients moving out of the area or someone with a real estate need outside your preferred price point, there is still an opportunity there to assist them. As an agent, you can utilize nationwide coverage by focusing on what you do best — giving your clients the best real estate experience.