Never let a closing mean goodbye. Goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.* Forgetting is the last thing we want our clients to do.
The value of repeat and referral business is immeasurable. Your clients already know you, like you, and most importantly, trust you. When you work with repeat clients, your job is easier and more enjoyable. You don’t have to spend as much time and money on blind marketing that goes nowhere. You don’t have to work as hard to keep your pipeline full. There’s a key to making sure your happy clients come back: building better relationships through excellent communication.
Understand that building strong relationships with your clients takes time. If someone comes to you for real estate advice, someone who isn’t ready to buy for a year or more, don’t write that person off. Take that time to build a good relationship. Regardless if a client needs help today or down the road, be genuine. Schmoozy, high-pressure sales tactics won’t build trust. They might get the job done in the short term, but won’t garner a lot of repeat clients. Instead, have conversations. Share a little about yourself and then ask questions about them. Listen to the answers and ask follow-up questions. Show an interest in who they are, what they like and what their goals are. Don’t shy away from the hard conversations. People don’t want to talk about money. Do it anyway. Make them go through the pre-approval process. Talk about credit, how it works, and how to maintain it. Talk about LTV, debt load, closing costs on both ends, all of it, early. If you’re not sure about those things yourself, sit in on the conversation with your lender as they walk your client through the process from beginning to end.
In your communications with your clients, there are a few things to remember. First, understand how your client prefers to communicate. Sometimes text is preferred over a phone call. Some clients want face time. Some want email. Be willing to adapt. Do try to connect from time to time over the phone or in person regardless of primary preference. A personal touch does make an impact. Second, respond promptly or predictably. You don’t have to answer every call the second it comes in (we do advocate time blocking) but if your message says you return calls from 1-3 every day, make sure you do that. Be reliable and predictable. Follow up on conversations and questions, even if you don’t have the answer yet. It’s ok to say that you’re still working on something. Be more than an email address. Make calls, use voice mail if you have to, Skype or Facetime are great. Face to face for coffee even better – even if they aren’t in the market, even if they won’t be in the market soon. When you’re under contract, communicate regularly with your client, the agent on the other side, the lender, and the title company with an update of what has been accomplished, what needs to happen next, and who is responsible for accomplishing it. You can prevent a lot of misunderstandings just by making sure everyone is on the same page, and your clients will appreciate knowing how things are progressing.
Remember to have an attitude of gratitude. Say thank you to your client verbally, in a hand written note after the close, and after a referral. When a referral closes, write another thank you note. If that referral makes a referral, go back up the chain and thank each person who made referrals along the way to make the deal happen. Actively seek out opportunities to help your clients make business connections of their own. Do you have two clients who have compatible companies who might work well together? Make an introduction. Do you know someone who has a particular talent who might be able to really help another client stand out? Introduce them, too. Ask people what kind of help they need. Ask them if they know people who offer what others need. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with real estate, but it does have everything to do with being perceived as someone who is generous and useful to know. You can read more about this concept in Michael Maher’s 7 Levels of Communication.
Be seen doing good outside of your business. Volunteer in your community. Invite your clients to join you. You don’t have to slap a logo on everything you do or wear. You are the brand. If you are an active part of the community and you are trying to do positive things, people can feel good about supporting you. They can get marketing messages later, when they’ll be more receptive to them.
* From J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. The whole quote is “Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.”