If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that long-lasting relationships are the core of any real estate agent’s business. The data backs up this widely-held belief, too. The National Association of Realtors® 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers reports that 40% of buyers found their agent through a referral from a friend or family member and 12% used an agent they had used before to buy or sell a home. That means more than half of all real estate transactions in 2013 were referral based. It’s a staggering number.

When it comes to building long-lasting relationships, however, you’ll need to show that you’re truly grateful for your clients’ business. Traditional client touches like postcards to remind of time changes and “just listed” newsletters will no longer suffice. You’ve got to do more than send a gift card to the local hardware store or show up with a gift basket.

One of the best ways to show you’re grateful is to do something unexpected, to create a bit of surprise and delight in a client’s day. Check out these five simple gestures that will help you stay top-of-mind with your clients. We’ve even included some technology options to make it a bit easier to show them you’re grateful for their business.

1. Send a handwritten note: It may sound old-school, but in today’s digital world, a handwritten note can really stand out from the crowd. Pick an hour each week that you dedicate to sitting down with a pen and paper. Whether it’s a simple note to say “thank you” or a quick birthday wish, let your clients know you appreciate them with snail mail.

If you can’t find the time — or you’re afraid your clients won’t be able to read your chicken scratch — consider a service like Handiemail or Postable.

2. Break bread with them: If you’re in your client’s neighborhood, arrange to meet them for coffee and catch up. If coffee isn’t your thing, meet for brunch. The location and specifics really don’t matter. What is important is that you’re reconnecting with them and are letting them know you value them as an important part of your circle of friends and associates.

If you don’t have time to catch up with everyone personally, tweet them a coffee or send them a gift card to their favorite spot in town to let them know you’re thinking of them.

3. Think local and be memorable: Rather than give traditional closing gifts like a bottle of wine or a housecleaning service, think local and be memorable. Maybe your clients just moved to the area and would enjoy a trolley — or, if you’re catering to adventurers, an aerial — tour of their new city. Is there a don’t-miss hometown restaurant you can send them to for dinner? How about a painting of the home by a local artist?

I know an agent who signed her clients up for a shrimp boat adventure after they bought a vacation home off the coast of Georgia. Help your clients learn more about their new community while thanking them for their business, and you won’t be forgotten.                

4. Calm the moving-day chaos: We’ve all been there. It’s moving day, you don’t have any food in the fridge, and you certainly can’t find the plates and silverware. Sending a pizza can be a simple way to let your clients know you’re thinking about them even after you’ve collected your commission check.

You could also send a complete digital copy of all their closing documents, hire a locksmith to change the locks, send over a handyman for a few hours to help with random projects or hook them up with a babysitter. Let your clients know you’re grateful for their business while taking some of the chaos out of the moving process. They’ll be grateful to you for your thoughtfulness!

5. Support your client’s business: Show your clients you’re grateful for their business by returning the favor — it’s simple enough. If they own a bakery, buy some sweets for your next open house. If they run a car wash, take your car in for a bath. Don’t feel obligated to buy from them, but if they sell something you’d likely purchase anyway, why not give them the business? You’ll be helping their bottom line and will gain their appreciation.

Those are just a few ways you can create a lasting impression with your clients by showing you truly care. When your gestures are genuine, you’re more likely to win their referral and repeat business in the future.

What are some ways that you’ve shown your clients you were grateful for their business? Tell us what you’ve done for past buyers and sellers in the comments below.

Andrew Flachner is chief real estate enthusiast at RealScout, the collaboration platform for agents and their clients.

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