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— by Rett Harmon

Five Ways to Better Connect Clients with your Community

When my business partner, Curtis North, and I made the leap of faith to open our brokerage, it was mostly because the place we wanted to work for didn’t yet exist. We both enjoy selling Real Estate and still actively do so today, but we needed tools, technology and ways to differentiate ourselves from the rest of our competition. One of the core values of our venture was a desire to build a deeper connection with our community.    

We chose Novus as the name for our brokerage because of its Latin meaning of “new and exceptional.” We wanted to reshape the way that most Real Estate companies think of themselves by not only providing Real Estate expertise, but by also staying up-to-date on inside-information about the area in which clients are hoping to find a home. In that sense, it is our goal to be known as “The Community Expert….oh and we sell Real Estate, too.”     

There are a lot of strategies for building your knowledge base about your Real Estate district, but here are five specific ways that we serve our clients by connecting them to the community.

1. Create a list of local service providers.

Whether or not we realize it, as REALTORS®, we are the connectors in our communities.  When a new family moves to your town and you help them find their home, you create a bond. It’s not just the house they ask you about. While there are some questions that are off the table due to fair housing, we can answer the questions our clients have about loans, home inspections, insurance, doctors, dentists, mechanics, salons, restaurants, plumbers, electricians, dry-cleaners, and photographers. You name it, and I’m sure you have been asked for a recommendation at some point in your career from a client, and sometimes it’s hard to remember these places when a client puts you on the spot. Thinking in advance and having a ready-made list of these providers for your reference is imperative.  

2. Be friendly and confident when giving recommendations.

Being a connector is a great honor and responsibility.  Have you ever been to a new restaurant and asked the waiter, “What do you recommend?”  Think about the answers you have gotten. If your server is friendly and confident, you immediately feel better about your choice in the location you picked for dinner, even if you don’t like the type of food recommended. On the flip side, think about the time you asked and got the answer, “I don’t really know,” “I don’t eat here,” or “I haven’t worked here very long.” Ugh! That little voice in your head is telling you, “We never should have eaten here.” At this point of dinner, either way, before you ordered you have a feeling about the place based off of the recommendation or lack thereof from a stranger. From time to time, I get requests for certain services that there is only one or few options for.  If I do not know much about a company or did not have the best experience with said company, I still make my client aware of the business. I always do so with caution and without slander. Back to our restaurant analogy, if you ask the waitress, “How is the salmon?” and she replies, “I don’t eat fish, but the salmon is really popular here,” you would appreciate her honesty, rather than just hearing simply “I don’t know.” Ultimately, if you don’t have a referral for your client when asked, reach out to your local network of peers and try to offer a solution for your client, and then update your list if appropriate.   

3. When referring a service provider, it’s best to start with just one.

When a client asks me who to use for financing, I always only refer them to only one lender. When it comes to home financing, there are many options out there and they are all highly regulated. Some have lower rates and higher fees, and others have the opposite. Bottom line, the cost is very similar to most. I think one of the most important things to consider is service and responsiveness.  I know you can get both of these from my preferred lender. I tell my clients that, after talking with the recommended lender, they ought to refer to my list of other great lenders. It’s always smart to save your “list” until after your client has already made one phone call–if you start out with handing over a full list, your client may feel overwhelmed and waste time making unnecessary phone calls.   

4. Share local events on your social media and website.

Make your website and social media account the place where people go to learn more about what’s going on around town. Provide brief descriptions of fun things to do in the area. Not only is it important to be aware of local businesses, but you can also be sure to keep up with seasonal local events and activities for residents to participate in.  

5. Participate in your own community.

Show up at events. Get to know local small businesses, and always ask around for other recommendations from your friends and co-workers. Networking and being social is a fun way to build your own business. Also, it’s important to build your own connections with the members of your community so that you can feel more confident about the recommendations that you are making to your clients.  

All in all, it’s important to be knowledgeable about local businesses so you can gain the trust of your clients and get to know your community yourself. You may be the only point of contact in the area for your client, especially if they are moving in from out-of-town. Take the time to connect with local businesses–in the Real Estate world, it’s important for everyone to work together and connect your clients with your community.  Who knows, your connections and referrals to other businesses may even come back around to you in the long run.  

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