In 2006 I sold my real estate agency in Victoria Park. In many ways it was a sad time bringing an end to many business relationships that had served me well for many, many years.
Along with making a significant contribution to my finances my years at pfr taught me many wonderful business and life lessons. Some were good, some were true ‘learning experiences’ that I hope I don’t have to go through again.
But if I’m honest, it wasn’t pfr that taught me, it was the people. And one of those was my ex-business partner, Jay Wood.
Most who know Jay know someone of uncompromisingly high standards. He expects the highest standards of service from his team and even higher standards from himself. He can, in equal measure, drive people crazy with his pursuit of quality all the while delighting his clients to a point where they became his friends for life.
It was shortly after Jay joined my firm (He was a Carlton supporter and almost didn’t get a start, but that’s a story for another day.) that we were having a conversation about telecanvasing. It was one of ‘those’ talks that a sales manager has with an up and coming recruit. I was extoling the virtues of hitting the activity numbers. In short I believed that activity produced results. Jay, on the other hand, was far from convinced.
For Jay, success would come, not through cold calling but through developing quality relationships. Nothing I said was getting through. As the debate continued our positions began to polarize.
And then Jay, through gritted teeth, snapped: “I’ll take quality over quantity any day!”
Right there the new recruit had planted his stake in the ever-shifting sands of prospecting techniques. If he was to have a career it was going to be built on a deep sense of duty mixed with a genuine concern for the welfare of his clients, not on hitting the telecanvassing numbers.
That was 1994, and 18 years later little has changed. Today Jay’s business is based almost exclusively on repeat and referral business. So when I decided to write a story about using the sale to settlement period to maximise repeat and referral business Jay was the first person I turned to.
Far too often I hear of agents making a sale and then communicating with the buyer only when something goes wrong. That’s no recipe for building brand advocates!
So just how does Jay and others with an enviable track record for repeat and referral business do it?
Here are a few tips that will build a network of people who can’t wait to sell your services to their friends.
Don’t wait to be asked. Be one, two, or even ten steps ahead. Think on behalf of the buyer. You know what they’ll need so get the ball rolling to avoid delays and problems that can arise in the days leading up to settlement.
It’s not uncommon for us to receive the advice from the buyer’s agent more than a week after the offer has been accepted. Doing that puts the buyer’s settlement agent on the back foot from the start. But more importantly, it shows the buyer that the agent has already lost interest. It’s no way to get people to sign on to becoming one of your brand advocates! Instead, make it your office policy to get the confirmation letters out to the buyer and the settlement agents the very next day. Now you’re well on the way to making people say wow!
Communicate more than you think is necessary
Sales often occur quickly, especially when there are multiple offers, so a close working relationship with the buyer is the exception, not the rule. The period between sale and settlement is where the agent can stamp themselves as a true professional but that only comes from lots and lots of communication. A daily call, email, or text is certainly not out of the question.
Hand-deliver the keys
Yes, it’s easy to leave the keys at reception and get the buyers to drop in when they’re ready. But that sets you apart from no-one! Get on your bike and hand deliver them instead. Think about it from the buyer’s perspective. They’ve got removalists to arrange, routines to change, and a new mortgage to pay. The more you can take off their plate now the more they’ll remember you when they decide to sell.
Provide every buyer with a handover package
Now that you’re hand delivering the keys go the next step and provide them with a package that contains any user manuals, spare fittings, connectors, allen keys, attachments, and alarm codes. Be prepared to explain how things work and why they’re important. They’ll be blown away that you cared.
Invest in a pre-settlement house clean
Homes that are vacant collect dust, especially around doors and in the corners of patios and garages. And all too often sellers leave the place in less than stellar condition. All of this creates another job for the buyer and takes the shine off what should be a great experience. So consider paying a cleaner to do a quick vacuum, mop and dust. It’s nothing fancy and won’t send you broke but it will ensure the home is ready to move into.
Give a gift that demands a wow
Back when I was running around we gave buyers a gift basket. It was a way to say thanks and say congratulations on their purchase. But in the context of commissions that are often measured in the tens of thousands of dollars a gift basket just doesn’t cut it. The job of today’s agent is to listen closely to find out what the buyer’s are passionate about. Let that guide your gift giving. Giving a gift that makes people smile or laugh or cry with joy has it’s own rewards. As Jay says, be prepared to “blow them away”.
Build a team of trusted third party suppliers
Most home buyers don’t have contacts such as a timber pest inspector, a building inspector, a finance broker, and a settlement agent. Make it your job to develop a close rapport with these people so the buyers don’t have to. Let them know the importance of speed and punctuality. Make sure they know your standards. Let them know that everyone plays an important part in the transaction and that proactive communication is expected as the norm. Doing so will ensure that your deals get put at the top of the intray and actioned first. And that means less delays and a smoother settlement.
If you take just one of these tips and put it into practice you’ll significantly increase your income. Do them all and that increase will be a quantum improvement in what you’re earning today.