Brandon Cornett

Article Summary:

How to earn more client referrals with a proper follow-up program.

How to Improve Your Client Follow-up

If you're a real estate agent, client follow-up should be a major part of your real estate marketing program. Whether it's a postcard mailing program through a direct mail vendor, or just a series of well-timed thank you cards after the transaction, you need some form of follow-up.

Why so important? You probably already know, but for those just joining the real estate ranks:

  • Proper follow-up generates repeat business by keeping you in touch with past clients.
  • Proper follow-up generates referrals by showing you still care after the transaction.

Follow-up brings other benefits to the table, but referrals and repeat business top the list. And if you've read any studies on where real estate business comes from, you know how important these factors are -- especially referrals.

Execution
So, how do you strengthen your follow-up? One way is to make it more specific to the individual client. Another way is to make it more human. Combine the two, and you've got a follow-up program that will maximize your referral and repeat-business rates like nothing else.

First, let's look at ways to make your follow-up program more specific to the individual. The basic execution is simple, thought it does call for a bit of note-taking during the relationship.

Step 1. Keep notes on your clients.
Throughout your business relationship, make notes about your clients. They might include a range of topics -- hobbies, interests, decorating styles, other neighborhoods or areas they were interested in, number and age of children, future plans. You get the idea.

What you're doing is gathering useful information about your clients that will allow you to tailor specific "touches" later on when doing your follow-up. File these notes away in your customer database, filing system, or wherever else you keep client information. And remember, the easier it is to do, the more likely you'll stick to it. So find something that works for you.

Step 2. Outline your follow-up program.
You need to put your follow-up program on paper for several reasons. First, the manual act of writing things down engages the creative side of your brain. You'll be surprised at all the ideas popping into your head as you map out your follow-up program.

Secondly, you need to write your program down to make sure it achieves the number of contacts or "touches" you're striving for. Opinions vary on the number and frequency of touches. I would suggest monthly, especially in the beginning of a follow-up program (when you're most likely to get referrals from still-happy clients).

Go for a balance of automation and personal contact. Why? Because a program that's 100% personal contact (phone calls, for example) will be exhausting to maintain. In the other extreme, a program that's 100% automated (like a scheduled mailing program) will be too impersonal. You have to combine the two.

You have the best chance of generating referrals during this first year. In the second and third years, you might choose to reduce the number of phone calls, while keeping the newsletter and auto-mailers going.

Do you now see the value of collecting this information along the way? It's invaluable later on, when you're preparing your well-balanced follow-up program. And can you just imagine the surprise when Jane says, "Wow, she remembered that I like Feng Shui ... I forgot we even talked about it!"

Now that's referral power.

Step 3. Carry out your follow-up program.
This is where all the previous lessons will pay off. Just by having a procedure for your newsletter and a well-managed client database with good notes, you've finished half of your follow-up legwork in advance. The rest is simply filling in the blanks, keeping tabs on your schedule and sending your materials out.

Summary
A balanced follow-up program -- one that mixes personal, one-to-one contact with automated elements like postcards -- gives you the best of two worlds. It's easy enough to manage across a number of clients, while at the same time surprising your clients with specific information delivered in a personal way.

Brandon Cornett is the author of "The Modern Guide to Real Estate Marketing" and several other e-books. His articles and commentary have appeared in numerous real estate magazines, including Broker Agent News and Real Estate Magazine. Sign up for Brandon's FREE newsletter at: www.Arming your farming.com.

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