Vendors and professional resources can be a huge source of referral opportunities — but you must keep yourself top of mind with both them and your clients. Rob Morelli, CEO and Co-Founder of HomeKeepr — a home vendor recommendation app that agents can customize and give to their clients — recently joined us to share tools and tips that help maximize the potential of your network precisely to increase your referral business. Rob, whose company helps homeowners discover the best home service pros in their communities through “local expert” recommendations, shared how to accomplish all of the following:
- Generate the most value from your current vendor relationships.
- Engage your professional relationships.
- Stay top of mind and create true partnerships.
The value of professional relationships. Homeowners want personal referrals from people they know and trust. There are dozens of sites (e.g., Angie’s List, Yelp, HomeAdvisor) that can help your clients find someone to work with, but none of them offer the key element of a trusted referral. By recommending painters, plumbers, contractors, etc., you help alleviate the stress your clients may otherwise feel by having someone unknown work in and around their home.
A steady source of referrals. You can earn referrals from your professional partners through several different ways. First, they are often in touch with soon-to-be sellers, with 50% of sellers spending $8,000 or more on home improvement before listing. In addition, typical home service pro businesses rely heavily on referral relationships. Many of these vendors are often not the best marketers in the traditional sense, so they rely heavily on word of mouth and understand the value of referral relationships. These professionals are typically very well connected in the community, often times growing up in the community in which they provide their services. Keep in touch and maintain good relationships with these professionals so when they have a client who needs a real estate agent to list their home, they think of you.
Pros are connected to other pros. Your pros know who the best people are in their industry and the local community. The best plumbers often know the best electricians in town, and so on. Getting to know them will not only help provide introductions to potential prospects for you, but also connect you to other professionals in the community who can assist your clients with home maintenance needs. Because they are connected to these people through referral relationships, you know that the people they are connecting you with understand the value of a referral relationship as well.
It’s all about the referrals — give, then get. If you want to get referrals, you must first give them. The best way to get people to refer you is to give them something of value first. The best part about referrals is that you are connecting two people who both need the other side — a mutual benefit.
Communication is key when maximizing and building your vendor and professional network. Best practices include introducing yourself via a phone call or in person and letting them know that your referral program is a serious undertaking — not some hollow promise they’ve heard before. Let them know your referral list is exclusive, not something they can pay to be on, and includes only the best vendors. Emphasize the connection to “new” homeowners, which is a big opportunity for them, particularly when one considers how much people spend on their property when they are about to buy or sell a home. This is also a long-term business opportunity for them as they could become the clients’ “go-to” maintenance person. Lastly, suggest they post occasional offers for your clients. This is a way for you to pass along value to your clients as well as drive value back to these professionals. For example, have one offer per business per month for your clients — that way you can highlight each of the vendors in your network.
You don’t get if you don’t ask. Once you’ve described how you are going to drive business to the vendor, it’s your turn to explain your business and what you do. After all, their reputation is on the line, and they need to know that you treat your business seriously. Don’t be afraid to ask them directly for referrals. By sending business their way, you can’t assume they will refer business back — you have to ask. You should also ask them for introductions to other home service pros who would be worthy of inclusion in your program.
Never stop adding to your professional network. HomeKeepr has hundreds of categories of vendor types, so even if you know three outstanding electricians, there is always room to grow your network and contact list. Grow your professional network through referrals from your professional relationships and by finding out who your clients love (e.g., ask them on social media). Remember, everyone’s got their “go-to guy.”
Show them the finished product. Visuals last longer than words, so show the vendors in your network where you will be advertising their services and where people will find them, such as your website or a specialized app. If it’s on a platform they can share with their family, friends and clients, it will make a lasting impression and will show them how you are adding value.
Follow up and demonstrate your value. Whatever software or platform you use, it should be very clear when people are calling your preferred vendors so you can track it. If your clients are using your vendors, you want to make sure you follow up with those professionals to let them know that their new client came from you and ensure that they take good care of them. Rob noted that “Everyone wins when you support your community by supporting small business.”
Watch the full webinar here and get $50 off any HomeKeepr annual plan using code REFERRALEXCHANGE.