Is your database in the dog house?

Relationships. They are the glue that binds real estate agents, the dream of home ownership and the people who desire it together. They’re why agents wake up morning after morning ready to generate leads – to see who out there in the world needs their services. And relationships are why those same agents stay in touch with their databases on a regular and systematic basis, right?

Wrong … sort of.  Before you stop reading, hear me out.

According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2011 Home Buyers and Sellers Study, 72 percent of buyers and sellers said they would refer their real estate agent to another friend or family member, yet only nine percent of agents followed up!

That means a whopping 91 percent of real estate agents DON’T do one of the fundamental activities in real estate: stay in touch.

As an industry, we need to come together and collectively decide that we’re going to stay in touch with the right people, at the right time, and with the right message.  As an individual agent you might see this as an opportunity to capitalize on the fact that your peers aren’t doing the activities that will produce results. In this case: a constant stream of communication coming from you!  And having a good Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) program makes it so much easier to get those communications out.

One of the cool things about this data is that it really is an opportunity for you to check in on the status of your relationships with your database and find ways to remind your contacts that you care … and that your services are always available to anyone looking to buy, sell, or invest in a home.  Before we dig into some ideas to get the conversation going with the right people, at the right time and with the right message, there are a few housekeeping items we need to address.

1.  Find the delete button. Yep, I said it. Delete some of your contacts. I once read a stat that said a real estate agent only needs a database of around 200 – 300 contacts if it is worked properly. If you have a 5,000-person database and you’re not getting referrals, it’s time to take inventory to see which eggs have gone bad.

2.  Fill in the blanks. Now you have a database filled with only those people who have proven to be great clients, great referrers or great contacts (you know, the people who know EVERYONE). If only you had a reason to call them! Wait, you do! Eighty percent of your contacts are probably missing information or have had life events that would change the communications you send them. This is your chance to call them and find out how they’re doing. “Oh, you got married, what is your husband/wife’s name?” “Oh, you just had a baby! Congratulations, what an exciting new chapter in your life. I would love to send the new guy/girl a birthday present! When is it?” By the way, if you don’t have the basic information – name, number, email, birthday, anniversary – for the heads of the household, that’s step number one.

Now you’re ready to move into the actual content management solution.

3. Leverage Life Events. I alluded to it above, but it deserves its own bullet point. The life events that you can use as an opportunity to reach and make someone’s day are crucial. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and even divorces are moments when you can pop in and let your clients know you care. This may seem like database management 101, but so many agents aren’t doing it at the highest level possible. By the way, if you have a CRM that includes calendar reminders or action items, set some time aside to set them up now!

4.  Big Ticket Holidays. There are a few days during the year when you can really take the previous tip to the next level. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and even the Fourth of July come to mind. But have you thought about Mother’s Day or Father’s Day? What if you took the time to call all your past clients and wish them a Happy Mother’s Day? If this feels uncomfortable to you, start by calling clients who consistently refer business to you.

5.  Homeownership Holidays. On average, buyers “move up” every five to seven years. What if you set up calendar reminders to wish your client well on the first anniversary in their home, a first-time buyer’s anniversary, a client’s five year anniversary or even the tenth anniversary of owning a home? If you’ve done a good job of staying in touch, you will get their business again.

6.  Dinner’s on me. There are 12 months in a year. If you take the time to have coffee, lunch or dinner with ten people in your database every month, you will have face-to-face time with 120 people a year. Add ten dinners to your monthly marketing budget – and make sure you get to the gym on a regular basis – and see what happens. If you start getting more referrals, then you will know it’s working.

7.  Client Appreciation Parties. Budgets are still tight, but showing your clients you care with an annual bash that’s all about them is a great way to create a memorable experience that lasts well past midnight. Some low-cost ideas might include a wine tasting event, paper-shredding party or getting together to raise money for a good cause.

Relationships don’t just live online. People want to work with people. They want to interact and have an experience with someone who has their best interest at heart. A CRM that reminds you to send that email or wish your client “Happy Birthday” is a great way to leverage your relationship status, but also remember that face time counts. After all, Steve Jobs didn’t make it a basic App on the iPhone or iPad for nothing.