The key to developing and maintaining a successful referral program is knowing how to maintain a relationship with people who can make referrals to you.
This presence will facilitate repeat business and referrals from satisfied clients.
How To Maintain A Relationship With Clients
The key to maintaining ongoing relationships with real estate clients is keeping in touch with them.
However, knowing how and when to keep in touch can be challenging.
By keeping in touch too frequently, you risk annoying your contacts and having your message lost in the advertising clutter.
On the other hand, not keeping in touch frequently enough makes it difficult to maintain a sufficiently strong presence to generate referrals.
A thorough knowledge of your clients will help you determine what frequency is best for keeping in touch with them.
If after reviewing your client base, you are unsure as to how often to keep in touch, ask them.
Send them a simple survey asking them three basic questions:
- How frequently they would like you to keep in touch with them. (Offer 4-5 choices):
- bi-monthly (every other month)
- What information would they like to receive? Once again, keep it simple, with choices such as:
- market trends
- home maintenance
- tax issues
- What format of keeping touch do they prefer?
This survey can help you learn how to maintain a relationship with clients.
It does however also offer significant real estate marketing benefits.
In sending the survey, you let clients know you value their opinions. We all like to know that some one values our opinion.
And when you tell them about the survey influenced your decisions, you confirm how seriously you take your contacts’ opinions.
Occasional surveys will help you learn more about how to maintain a relationship with clients.
How To Maintain A Relationship With Your Contacts
In addition to knowing how to maintain ongoing relationships with clients, it is also important to know how to maintain a relationship with your network of contacts.
From a marketing and business development perspective this relationship is quite different from a social relationship.
Family and Friends
The bad news about asking family and friends for referrals is that they are generally too close to you to offer objective unbiased opinions.
It’s also possible that while they know you as a family member or a friend, they may know little if anything about how you serve clients.
The good news is that they can promote your personal characteristics to people you don’t know but need to know.
Let your family and friends know about the kind of clients you would welcome as referrals.
By referring their clients and contacts to you, referral partners help generate quaified leads.
Individually and collectively, you and your referral partners make up a mutual referral system that offers very significant benefits.
As a result, it is critical that you know how to maintain a relationship with your referral partners…and vice versa.
The best way of learning how to maintain a relationship with your referral partners to agree upon the mutual expectations that define and guide the relationship.
Once these mutal expectations have been clarified, your responsibity is to meet..or exceed…them.
These are the people that everyone meets as they go about their daily lives, doing business in stores, offices and other work places.
They include the contacts made through networking activities and participation in clubs, organizations, community events, social activities, religious services and so on.
While these people may know nothing about how you serve clients, they probably do know people you do not know…but needs to know.
One final comment about maintaining relationships by keeping in touch.
Once you start keeping in touch you must continue the practice as part of a referral program to generate qualified leads from your contacts.
Interrupting or even worse ending your practice of keeping in touch with out an explanation can reduce the effectiveness of your referral program.
Email Marketing Helps You Keep In Touch
Email-marketing has become one of the most powerful communication tools available to keep in touch with your clients and contacts.
It is fairly easy to start…and once set up can function virtually automatically.
Everything you do off-line to keep in touch, can be done on-line with email marketing.
As an added bonus, everything you do repeatedly off-line can be automated on the Internet.
From a marketing perspective, an email marketing system is one of the easiest ways there is to produce consistent results.
If you are not using such a system…you should be.
If you would like some help in maintaining relationships that are critical to your business, I’d be happy to coach you through the process.