Last month we discussed how to court expired listing clients. This month we will discuss how to build an expired listing niche for your real estate business and why you should consider “niching” as a powerful way to expand your business.
Resuscitating Expired Listings (PART III)
So you are considering “niching” your services? Great move! Niche service providers have a definitive advantage over their “generalist” competition. Why? Because they aren’t trying to help everyone. They specialize in the one area where they truly shine. It may seem like a big step, but it’s a move that will benefit you, your business, and your clients.
Why Niching Works
Specializing makes you an expert because you can spend less time trying to stay abreast of everything and more time digging into your particular specialty and serving the individual needs of your niche’s clients.
If you can niche — if your local market will support it — do so immediately!
Think about it… if you want a specialist do you go to a generalist? Why would your target market settle for a generalist if you offer them specialized services, a better knowledge base on the intricacies of their particular situation, and more “tailor made” assistance to their needs?
And…unlike most specialists… it’s not going to cost them any more to hire you. How can they lose?
What are My First Steps?
Can you niche your services? You will need to do a bit of legwork and will need to ask yourself the following questions:
- As a single agent, how many clients can I comfortably serve per month?
- What is the market share in my area for my chosen niche? (Research this)
- Can I make a living if I can capture only 10-20 percent of that market share?
- How much money will that net my business per month and is it enough?
Doing a bit of research and running the numbers on your local market will quickly determine if your preferred niche is feasible in your geographic area, and may help you to determine if you can specialize in multiple niches – a service type niche, listing type niche and a geographically limited niche. For instance, you may want to niche expired listings for single family homes in the Walt, Georgetown and Santyne subdivisions of a particularly large real estate market.
Common Objections to Niching
Fear is usually the driving force behind objections to niching services. Some of the common objections to niching that I hear from clients include:
- “I’m just getting started, I may do that later.” If you are just getting started, you can begin marketing this niche now and save the time, money and effort of “rebranding” your business in the future when you determine that specialization is the key to success.
- “I can’t afford to turn away business right now.” You can’t afford to compete in a market of generalists. You need a marketing plan and a business plan to outline the best methods to bring your desired client type to you. Niching is the key to serving the clientele you most desire. Specializing will help you draw in more real business, while minimizing the number of “soft” clients that call you.
- “The agent across town is a generalist AND a top producer!” This, which I call the “it’s the way we have always done it” argument, demonstrates a dedication to tradition rather than a willingness to embrace innovation. More than likely, this “generalist” agent has been in business for years, has built up name recognition and has worked hard, often foregoing personal time to serve clients and spending more time “on call” than “off call.” Hard work over a period of years always pays off. Always. So, you want to compete with that agent on his or her own turf? You want to enter this race against that agent with THAT lead on you? Or do you want to build your own playing field where you can star? It’s your choice.
- “I want to help everyone.” Just because you market your business in a specific niche, and just because you specialize, doesn’t mean you must turn away referral business. One of the
biggest advantages of specializing or niching your services is that it gives you the OPTION of helping anyone who comes to you. If a client referral isn’t someone you want to assist, you have an easy (and professional) way to say no, “I’d love to help you with your condo search, Mrs. Smith, but that’s not really where I do my best work. I specialize in helping people who
have had their listing expire. However, I can refer you to Jane Doe, of Condos-R-Us Realty across town. She’s the local condo expert.”
Niching to Network
Niching helps you to market to your target clients, ensures that your referrals are happy with your service (even if you refer them on) and helps you to build beneficial networking relationships with other real estate agents in your area while advertising your own area of expertise within the local business community. For instance:
“Jane, this is Joe Agent. A Mrs. Dorothy Smith called me today looking for a condo. I specialize in expired listings, but I know that you are the local condo guru, so I sent her to you.”
When Jane thanks you for the referral, you have an opening. Use it:
“You are more than welcome, Jane! If you ever have an expired listing client you would like to refer on — just keep me in mind. Have a great day!”
Niching Brings Balance
It’s exhausting to try to be all things to all people. After all, work is only one facet of your life. You must work a certain percentage of your waking hours to support yourself. Why not do your best to enjoy the time you must work? Why not work more effectively while enjoying your work and the clients you serve? Niching your work can improve your quality of life.
A generalist approach to life is great! You can sample a bit of this and that and go back for more of what you really enjoy. Niche your work so you can generalize in your life. Making your work day more effective means you will have the energy and the time to enjoy sampling what life has to offer in your free time.
Why Niche Expired Listings?
Your desired clients are already familiar with the process. They are frustrated with the service and results they have had. They are probably looking more critically at potential agents than they did the first time. These are all good things for you.
You can gain a quick lead over your competition with this particular crowd. Simply provide better service and deliver that service through more active, personalized venues with innovative modes of communication in shorter, more frequent timeframes. Additionally, other agents may consider these folks “difficult clients” and may be less willing to assist them. That’s to your benefit, especially if you receive more referrals from other agents.
Often, “difficult client” is another term for an under served client. Maybe they DO require a bit of handholding. Maybe they NEED more follow-up calls. Maybe you WILL have to work a little harder to serve them. But, if you niche, you will have more time to devote to these clients, since you will be spending less time trying to learn more about a broader range of real estate issues to be “all things to all people.” You will spend your time serving your clients rather than beefing up in the hope that you will capture more clients of varying types. You will be working for the “bird in hand” rather than being out “beating the bushes” for business.
Praise For (and from) Difficult Clients
Remember, people who have experienced bad service are more vocal (and often more demanding of the next provider) than those who have only enjoyed good experiences. This also works to your advantage. Why? Because these folks are also much more likely to tell people when they find excellent service. Comparative experiences are usually to your advantage when you are painted as the “savior” agent in their personal story.
Having had a “bad” experience, they will be more appreciative of a good one. That means more referrals and more return business and “spawned” business. It puts you in the enviable position of being directly and positively compared to your competition by your most satisfied and vocal clients.
Choosing to serve this client type will deliver excellent “word-of-mouth” advertising – the best possible form of marketing.
Niche expired listings and deliver impeccable service — it’s great for your business!
© Copyright 2005 by Angela Allen Parker of Wicked Wordcraft
This article first appeared
in the “Word Magic” column at www.epowernews.com
in June 2005.