The "Write" Way To Referrals And Return Business for Real Estate Agents

Repeat business “insurance” can be as easy as an old-fashioned thank you letter. Kentucky writer and marketing consultant, Angela Allen Parker, helps you sit down and say thanks to your clients with a pen and paper.

The “Write” Way To Referrals And Return Business

Congratulations! You made the sale. You have helped someone find a new home
or sell an old one and your job is complete. Or is it? What you do now will
make the difference between a one-time client and a lifetime of loyalty, repeat
business, and referrals.

E-mail does have a valuable role when quick responses and efficiency are an
advantage. It is a godsend when marketing, responding to client questions, and
handling the details of a client’s transaction. But, as soon as the sale
is closed, send a letter — a real letter. Overnight delivery of contracts is
necessary in the real estate business. But a good, old-fashioned, hand-written,
snail-paced and stamped “thank you” letter is memorable. It is like
a breath of fresh air among the form letters, bills, and sales pitches your
client receives daily.

But, I’ve been striving for high-tech service solutions for my clients!

The use of technology is becoming more important to the Real Estate industry
each day. A recent survey done by the NAR®* states that 71% of the buyers
and sellers for the first quarter of this year used the Internet to buy and
sell homes, compared to 41% in 2001. However, the use of technology cannot replace
personal customer service. Properly utilized technology tools allow you more
time with your client since they simplify accessing, handling and filing of
information. Those tools will also free up your time for things like writing
personal follow-up letters.

Letters are an unexpected, but pleasant method to maintain contact. Handwritten
“notes” take only a few seconds and mean much more to the recipient
than the less personal forms of communication. Unlike e-mail and form letters,
personal letters and notes are always welcome.

I hate writing letters, I never know what to say. Help!

What should you say in this letter? First and foremost, thank them for their
business and their confidence in you. Then “fill in” and personalize
it by mentioning a few details. For example:

  • If you know their youngest has just started first grade, wish that child
    well by name: “I hope Ashley does well in Phillips Elementary. Entering
    the first grade is such a landmark occasion – for you and her!”
  • If you know that an ailing parent has predicated the move, offer your best
    wishes for their recovery or note your concern if the condition is ongoing:
    “Paul, I do hope your mother is feeling better this week.”
  • If you know the relocation was due to a new job or a new business, wish
    them well in their new endeavor: “I am sure you are going to enjoy the
    business community here, Ellen. You may want to participate in the Chamber’s
    Small Business Roundtable next month. I would be honored if you would attend
    as my guest.”

Tell the client you enjoyed working with them and why. Be specific. Find something
they did or said that made life enjoyable or easier, even something as simple
as the prompt return of your calls. If they were picky and challenging as a
client — thank them for knowing exactly what they wanted and for being patient
during the search process that eventually resulted in the perfect home for them.

Ask them to keep you in mind for any future needs, either their own or those
of their family and friends. Offer to be their resource so they feel comfortable
calling you with questions that may arise long after the sale.

Ok that’s fine, but can you give me an example of an actual letter?

Sure! Let’s say you just sold a house to Gale and Rob Smith. During
the course of working with them, you learned that they were seeking a quiet
neighborhood closer to both sets of grandparents and settled on Center City
as the best midway point.

You also know that their daughter was popular in her old school and is concerned
about making new friends here. You know that when they announced the move from
the country to the city, the couple purchased their son a new bike — something
that he has always wanted.

These are all tidbits you collected during the normal conversations with this
couple during the course of your work with them. You made notes. You listened.
With this, you have enough information to write a memorable personal letter.

Dear Gale and Rob –

Congratulations on finding your new home. I appreciate the trust you placed
in me during your search and am honored to have had the opportunity to assist
you during your time of transition with such an important family decision.
I’m sure your parents will love having you and the grandchildren closer
for more frequent visits.

Candlewood is a charming area and you have selected a beautiful new home.
I’m sure Sarah will make new friends quickly in the neighborhood and
in her new school. The cul-d-sac will be especially enjoyable for Rob Jr.
with that shiny new bike!

I have enjoyed working with you both and find it refreshing to work with
such a positive, enthusiastic couple. I would welcome the opportunity to help
you with any questions you may have now or in the future. Also, if any family
or friends need information on real estate in this area, I would be pleased
to help them as well — just have them give me a call. If I don’t know
the answer, I’ll find someone who does.

Welcome to Center City and welcome home!

Jane Agent

Why is this one letter so important and what do I do for an encore?

The difference between a one-time client, and long-term or lifetime clients
begins with that first letter after the sale and continues with regular contact
with them at least once or twice a year thereafter. Help them keep your name
in mind. Drop them a quick note. Handwrite it.

Keep up with your clients after the sale. If you hear that a past client gets
a promotion, has a new baby, receives an appointment to a charity board, or
is elected to office, you have an opportunity to drop them a note. Even if what
you hear is bad news (like a death in the family) – taking the time to
send a heartfelt note or card will keep you in touch with them and let them
know they are in your thoughts.

What about clients who sell and move away? Should you attempt to maintain contact
with clients relocating out of the area? Yes! Even when your client sells a
home and moves out of the area – they probably have family and friends
that remain behind and they may decide to move back later.

My memory isn’t the best, how can I keep up with all this information?

The only way to do this effectively, especially if you have a large client
base, is to take extremely good notes. If you don’t currently use a good
contact management database, set one up. Any time you hear or see anything about
one of your clients – scan it and attach it to your database. Keep notes
on conversations and any other details.

Check or have someone else check the local paper for information about past
or current clients, or investigate the use of a clipping service. Add any information
to your database and be sure it’s in a format you can pull up quickly
to reference if they happen to call you.

The key to developing lifetime relationships is staying interested and involved
with your clients — and regular personal contact is the only way to effectively
utilize that key.

EDITOR’S NOTE: writing personal notes is certainly a powerful way to build your referral business. However, if you want the benefits of doing so without the hassle, just find a VA who can do it for you!

* 2003 National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

© Copyright 2003 by Angela Allen Parker of Wicked Wordcraft

This September 2003 article appears in the monthly” Word Magic” column
in the newsletter.