Future (and Pandemic) Proof Your Real Estate Business.
When inventory is tight and buyers are getting desperate, what’s a real estate agent to do?
You should have already been doing it —nurturing your database. Keep in touch programs are the key to success in real estate. As an agent and broker since 2001 I can attest to that fact and testify to the pain you will feel when you realize a prior client bought or sold with someone else. I don’t think there is much else that burns as hot, nor as long as that sting. Admit it, we’ve all experienced it or had a nightmare that woke us from a deep sleep in which we were living that experience.
Historical Overview: 2020
Let’s take a quick look back at 2020 and what we, as agents and brokers, saw in the moment. In
January. Things were looking great! We had a strong market, great mortgage rates —we were ready for a stellar spring market.
February. Lots of talk of COVID. What might be coming? Real estate kept chugging along.
March. It all came to a screeching halt. People panicked, agents panicked, brokers feared what might happen. We all faced a really weird apocalyptic scenario and uncertain future. We were restricted from many of our regular activities. In Pennsylvania, agents couldn’t even show a house. It was rough. We all kind of freaked out, and began canceling services we thought we didn’t need, tightening the purse strings as we anticipated the worst.
April. Wait a minute, I think we’re getting the hang of this. Everyone is working remotely, and we have awesome technologies to work around the “in-person” limitations. We got this, we’re resilient and resourceful.
May. Those January, February, and early March closings are happening. We check the pipeline and realize it’s looking a bit bleak. The inventory is drying up as people realize they need more space, or as they get out of the big cities because everything is closed. Wait a minute… How did we get here?
June. Dry doesn’t begin to describe the inventory situation. We start working our database and contacts, calling our neighbors, hanging flyers on door knobs. We are going old school with masks on and hand sanitizer in tow. Some of you even had hand sanitizer printed with your contact information, clever.
A Higher Level Review
Let’s take a higher-level look at what happened. Consistency is something we’ve always been told is essential in real estate. To keep top of mind you have to be in front of your SOI, past clients, and leads. What happened when you shut down the services that helped you do that? You lost visibility when you needed it most.
Don’t You Forget About Me…
You can’t very well keep a pipeline primed if people are panic selling and buying with the first agents sign in a yard they see. Why didn’t they call you? They forgot about you because you forgot about them.
I know this is true because I’ve been guilty of it in the past and I have heard the tale over and over from agents I have coached, trained or mentored. In March, many agents ground their business to a halt, shut off their CRM or lead follow up services, and stopped sending KIT emails and messages just when their sphere needed them the most.
Where were you? In a situation like this you need to be in contact with your SOI and past clients, nurturing that relationship, keeping in touch as both a real estate advisor and as a human being, reassuring them with your expertise that their home values are stable – or increasing – and you’re there for them whatever their real estate needs might be.
We, real estate agents, are reactive creatures. We are often too quick to react and forget that our business is more of a long game, we are working 3, 6, 9 or more months down the road, so when you stop “feeding” your database with great content and messaging, providing information and being top of mind, you essentially close the spigot and shut off the entire flow of future business.
“It’s too late to do anything”
It’s NEVER too late to do something, especially when it comes to the people who know you and trust you. The ones who have worked with you before are always happy to hear from you. It is human nature to forget things, or to not stay in touch or on top of things —people forgive us, we just have to forgive ourselves and move forward. When we forget something, we’re a special breed of animal that tends to beat ourselves up and our self-concept takes us down all sorts of crazy roads where our not keeping in touch has caused a climate shift and catastrophic weather changes. Yea, we matter but we aren’t THAT important.
The most human thing any of us can do is to acknowledge our humanity. No one is perfect, we all drop the ball occasionally, we have the right to take a day off or spend time with our friends or family. We need to forgive ourselves because everyone else will. How do you recover from being human? You don’t, own your humanity —love yourself and don’t be so hard on yourself. Embrace the flaw of personality that is human emotion and thought, that we all make choices when faced with a stressful situation, good and bad, especially when faced with the unknown.
More Human than Human.
It’s part of what makes us human and allows us to evolve from our more primitive selves, the survival instinct, the fight or flight that is such a primitive part of each of us, we have zero control over it. When that primitive part of our brain takes over, we might not realize it until it is too late. Hindsight —as they say— is 20/20, and this past 2020 is happily in the rearview mirror, so it’s time to refocus on now and get ourselves future-oriented and future proof our businesses.
Back on Track.
How do you get back on track? Easy. You just do it, as the shoe company urges you. Excuses are like cars, every real estate agent has one, so put it in the garage and start pounding the pavement. Here are 5 tips to get your real estate business and communications back on track for 2021.
- A Mea Culpa is Good.
Admitting, and accepting, you dropped the ball or fell out of communication is essential, and you’ll survive the confession and apology. Sometimes we think “it’s been too long, I shouldn’t bother reaching out” —there is no such thing as “too long” when it comes to keeping in touch or reestablishing contact with people who know you and like you. Anyone in your sphere of influence should fall into that category.
Send a re-engagement message. They are some of the most popular ones in the Happy Grasshopper and LCA Nurture systems. Those messages frequently have the highest open and reply rates. Why? Because people miss hearing from you. Consciously or subconsciously, we all want and need to feel known and liked. Even saying, “Hi, I’m sorry” may be enough to re-engage.
- Turn the Switch Back On.
Remember when you canceled your CRM or shut down your Keep in Touch program? Turn it back on NOW. It’s never too late. Make an effort to get it going promptly. Be certain to ensure that the first message is one that reads as personally as possible — canned messaging, newsletters, and market updates won’t cut it here. Send the first message, then make sure your next one is cued up for a few days later and makes reference to the first one. You’re back on track!
- Meet Your SOI at THEIR Place of Need.
What does your SOI need to know most right now? The only way to know is to ask them, so make that a part of your reengagement email. Put an emphasis on the personal relationship first — make sure they are doing ok in life before assuming that they need your help in real estate. You haven’t been in touch, so you don’t know if they lost their job, caught covid, or lost a family member. Jumping straight into real estate is in bad taste and doesn’t show them respect as a person. Express sincere concern for them and their family. You are there to help them whenever they need you. Make sure they know they can call, text or email anytime.
While you don’t want to make assumptions about their needs, it’s ok to reassure them that everything will be ok in the real estate market. Your goal is to show them that you care and to help them if they need it. You are their real estate expert, sure, but you can provide far more than just transactional help.
- Get Your Multi-Channel On!
Got text? Yes you do. Hopefully your CRM or messaging software lets you send text messages to your SOI, in which case you should be doing it. Quick and short personalized messages that make the recipient feel special and connected. A great one to send, “Hey, it’s Maya, just wanted to reach out and see how you’re doing? How is it going?” So simple, and so effective.
The next channel you should use… voicemail drops. You know it, you can even send the exact same message I just suggested for the text as a pre-recorded voicemail drop and then using a technique similar to the SlyDial system you just slip right into their mobile voicemail and comfortably land there for the person to listen at their convenience. I would modify the message slightly, like this for an ideal response:
“Hi! It’s Maya, I just wanted to touch base and catch up, it’s been a while – sorry about that, crazy last year, right? Anyway, give me a call or shoot me a text if you prefer. Hope you’re well!! Talk soon!”
- I Got Nothing…
Wait, you didn’t have a keep in touch program running before? Why not? Look, the key to success in real estate is retention. Whether you’re a broker or an agent, you want to retain the clients you already have. The cost of new client acquisition is high, consider what you might pay for lead generation, so why in the world would you not have a consistent keep in touch and follow up communication plan? Seriously? I’ll wait if you want to try to come up with a good excuse.
The BEST investment you can make in your business is to reinvest in your past clients. For instance, if you had a SOI of 200 people you could put that all into LCA Nurture and send a comprehensive communication plan that engages and retains your past clients and sphere. You’ve already got a CRM? That’s ok, it works with most CRM’s, LCA Nurture delivers content that works which you can use with your existing CRM, or use it as a stand-alone product. LCA Nurture helps you send content that gets responses, delivers results, and makes your life easier. If you don’t use us, you should use someone for great content, it is just basic business sense.
The next time you pay for that expensive lead generation system, or add a new contact into your CRM, consider what your communication strategy is
Do you have a solid annual communication plan? If not, you need LCA Nurture. You’ll get the replies you deserve, and the business you desire. If you’re focused on retaining your existing customer base you will always be more successful then if you were only focused on recruiting new customers, or leads. Your acquisition costs are lower with the people who already know you and love you, and there’s no guarantee a lead will need you. You will spend at least 3x more to acquire a new customer than you will to retain an existing customer, any good business owner knows this.
When you take your eye off the ball — which is retaining and nurturing your existing client base, you will be playing an uncertain game which guarantees you will always be working hard to chase goals. Instead, focus on retention and customer service and put those goals clearly in your rear view mirror.
If you are not getting replies to your messages, you’re not sending quality real estate content. The most important step to recovering your real estate business after a panicked year is to commit to your past clients. You have already proven yourself, they need you now, so get back in touch with them to get back on track in 2021. It’s really the only way you will find the inventory we’re all looking for, I can tell you I’ve had two recent listings just from sending my own messages via the system behind LCA Nurture.
What’s your excuse?
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