Referrals are the mainstay of our business. They are the coveted prize. But how do you grow a referral business?
There are many ways to do so, but today, I’m going to focus on three: closing gifts, pop-bys, and friends and family events.
Closing Gifts. I do not give my clients a material gift. Gasp! Why, you might ask?? Isn’t the obligatory cheap bottle of wine or custom-made cutting board a rite of passage for all agents? Say it with me: NO.
While I do not give a material closing gift, I do give a gift in a different way. I offer the buyers a housewarming BBQ. For a detailed explanation of how to do this, read this article. But the long and short of it is that I throw a party for the friends and family of the new homeowners. I met everyone there. I make notes on my little list so I can reference back to them later. I try to get as many people in front of the house as possible for a photo.
After all the fun in the sun is over, I go back and incorporate all the data that I collected into my systems, I create a custom card with Send Out Cards or Hallmark Online and send it to each of them, add them to drip newsletters, add them to social media, and schedule a follow-up call.
When I call them, they already know who I am and it becomes a warm conversation. I always have tickets to events like minor league baseball, hockey, concerts, theatre. I always offer them tickets. I invite them to my appreciation parties and charity events as well.
Pop-Bys. When I am working with someone, I get to know them. I ask questions about their work environment, charities they belong to, likes and dislikes. The reason? When I identify that they work in a good environment that has exposure and people working there, I drop off goodies. Brownies, cookies, bagels, and muffins. It allows me to be seen and talked about by my client. I repeat this 2-4 times per year, and everyone is always happy to see me.
At Thanksgiving time, I will buy 2-3 cases of wine. I make a little tag and attach it with a ribbon which reads, “I am thankful for you.” Then I drop by their home and chat with them for a moment. If they are not home, I place it next to their door and send them a text.
Here is a cool little hack for you pop-bys: in Google Maps, you can create a custom map. Put all your clients in the map. This way you can connect to the map and see their address. You can color-code them by year, by likeliness to get referrals, dollar amount, really whatever scheme you desire. If you are in an area and have a little time to waste, pull up your map, grab a Starbucks gift card, and pop by.
These activities are being forgotten about because people are becoming lazy with the internet. But these activities will build a huge business on steroids. Connecting to people is the best activity you can master, so master it.
Make a plan to go like gangbusters for 4-6 weeks at the beginning of each year. It will set the year off right. The holidays are right around the corner, and that’s a great time of year to get started on something like this.
Friends and Family Events. Conducting these events seems like a ton of work, but it does not need to be. There are two ideas that I have conducted with great success. When you conduct these events, the goal is to mingle and reconnect with the customers you have worked with, and to further connect with current clients, and network partners. By doing this, you create a deep bond.
My first is a summer event. I buy a section of a AA baseball game. This keeps all my people in one section. I purchase 100 tickets at $6 each so it is $600 in tickets. I then contact all the people I want to connect with and invite them to the game. I send out e-vites, emails, and call. Once I find out how many tickets they need, I send them or leave at will call. A week before the event, I send a reminder and instructions for the tickets. This event is always well-received and is a great time for all.
The second is closer to the holidays. I rent a restaurant for the evening midweek (because midweek is cheaper). I have an amazing buffet. I do not pay for beverages, just the food. This costs about $1,000. I also have a nice band or musician playing, which is another $500. I have them bring a gift for the local children’s charity event and we deliver those gifts. This event is very popular and the rewards have been huge.
For my A+ clients I worked with that year, I invited them to the Christmas Carol at the local theatre. These tickets are about 35 each so it is reserved for A+ clients only. Typically, I send out about 25 tickets and I bring my children. This is more intimate and my favorite event. It does not feel like the holidays until I do this event.
I budget 5,000 per year for events. This 5,000 has returned so much more in ROI than anything I have ever tried or done. It really has become the most critical piece of my business. I understand that in the beginning you may not be able to do this, but put it in the plan and work towards it. Start with one event. Then add another. Maybe even start with smaller events quarterly. But when you are able to connect with people, you are able to thrive.
Till Next Time,
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