Almost every company knows that it is more expensive to acquire a new customer than to service an existing one. I say almost, because there are plenty of companies out there who don’t seem to understand this principle at all. Well, either that or they simply don’t care.
In real estate you need to not only have repeat customers, but you need to generate referral business from past clients. Many seem to find this a tall order and so focus only on obtaining new ones. Maybe that is why there is a sudden explosion in real estate blogging. However, in today’s world staying in front of your past clients and referral partners is not that hard. From a purely effort perspective I think it’s a lot easier than blogging!
Real estate is a people business. People have short term memory. They are constantly bombarded with new and irrelevant information. You could be Superman and they will forget you after you whisked them away as they were falling from a burning skyscraper. That is why it is so important to consistently stay in front of people. In fact your relationship with your clients can be the foundation to your future success. How you manage these relationship is more likely to determine your future sales volume than any amount of blogging.
From personal experience I have found that long term customer loyalty is not simply earned by the level of service you provide your customers. You can walk your buyer (borrower) through one of the most amazing closings they have ever been through, but if you don’t have a means for them to reach you, then it means nothing in terms of future business. Nada, no-thing. You will not get any referrals from them. Maybe you’ll receive one referral that first month but after that you’re history. That is where an effective CRM system comes in.
Just think of the last great car salesman you ever worked with. You may have felt you received the best darn service, price, everything that fine sunny day when peace prevailed and all was well with the world. But do you have his number today? Can you pick up the phone right now and get a hold of him? The most likely answer is “no”. If that is how you’re running your business, then you’re spinning your wheels and leaving thousands of dollars on the table
A complete customer relationship management (CRM) system does not need to be expensive and complicated. It just needs to be consistent, accurate and organized. Here are the main features of a good CRM for the real estate business:
1. Prospect campaign: Here you enter the basic contact information for any prospect you receive. Do not forget to obtain a valid e-mail address. Then depending on the budget you’re working with you can then run a postcard, e-mail or newsletter campaign. I suggest 8-10 touches a year. I do a rapid fire 8 week e-campaign to win their business right away. If things do not materialize right away then I settle for a slow drip by sending a quarterly hard copy newsletter and 4 e-mail newsletters a year.
2. Transaction management: This is where you shine. You set up an alert in your CRM to notify the borrower/buyer of major milestones during the transaction. Call them a day before the inspection period is over, call them when the appraisal comes in. Send them a post card with a last minute checklist four days before the closing. I suggest a standard program for all clients, so that when they refer someone they know the kind of service their referral will receive.
3. Past client campaign: The whole darn enchilada lives here. A thank you card and gift several days after the close is a must. However, beyond that I suggest 8-10 touches a year. I have set up my CRM to send four seasonal post cards, four holiday postcards and four quarterly newsletters. I also send an e-newsletter from time to time. That’s a lot of touches, but I think in today’s climate it is necessary.
4. Business referral management: Referral partners include those professionals who send you referral business. It could be the HR mangers you work with, RE attorneys, Estate Planners, CPA’s etc. In know as a mortgage professional this component of relationship management is very important to me. With so many lenders going out of business I need to let all my business referral partners know that I’m still here. I suggest you stay in touch with your referral partners at least once a month.
Last weekend, we received a call from a past prospect. In late 2004, while working on a loan prequalification, they had decided to move out of state. We kept in touch with them over the years. They ended up moving back to Arizona this summer. As soon as they were in a position to buy, they called us. It’s as if we picked up right where we had left off. That is the power of an effective CRM system and to this day blogging hasn’t done the same thing for my business – just yet!