New business deals grow naturally from personal contact. It’s often during informal conversations with acquaintances that you will find out something that helps you sell. You will learn that Tom at the end of your block is being transferred out of state; that your son’s teacher’s daughter is moving back to town; or that a former client is dreaming about a vacation home.
The more opportunities you have to visit with people – lots of people – in a sociable way, the faster you will build your real estate practice. With that in mind, consider planning a client appreciation event for 2005 that includes everyone you know. It will bring you nose to nose with people who might need your services. Besides, people like to feel appreciated, and it builds tremendous good will. Here are a few ideas:
- Host an old-fashioned picnic at a park, with foot races, games and skits.
- Plan a December holiday gathering with cider, baked goodies, a visit from Santa, and sleigh rides or hay rides.
- Plan a luncheon or a brunch. These are good alternatives to evening events, especially during the holidays when people are busy.
- Reserve a block of seats at a pro baseball, basketball, football or hockey game.
- Sponsor the screening of a new movie or an event at a playhouse or symphony.
- Host a formal-attire party.
- Hold a Halloween party, Easter Egg Hunt, or Fourth of July event.
- Try a square-dance or salsa-dance theme party and provide for lessons.
- Organize a block party with your neighbors.
- Coordinate a wine tasting.
The key to a successful event is to plan well in advance. Decide the month of your event at the beginning of the year and visualize everything that will need to be done. Schedule each step on your calendar. Here are some tips to help you get started.
- Develop an invitation list.
- Choose a date and send out “Save the Date” cards.
- Predict which and how many of your clients will respond. You never really know, but the ratio is usually three invitations for one attendee.
- Arrange for location, food and beverage, and special help as far in advance as possible.
- Send invitations 30 days before the event with an RSVP time of 10 days before the event.
- If you have too few responses by the RSVP date, invite new people. Work the phones. Call those who have not yet responded, and ask everyone who has responded to bring friends and family.
- If you have too many responses (unlikely), make arrangements for extra refreshments and anything else necessary to accommodate your guests.
- For an office or home event, be at the entrance to greet each guest.
- Have guests wear name tags.
- For “arranged location” events, send good maps and directions with your invitations.
- For parties, plan a couple of fun activities, such as races or face painting at picnics or movies and popcorn at indoor parties.
- Arrange for 5 percent-10 percent more food and drink than you expect to use.
Tips for success:
- Have the event catered.
- Have a photographer on hand. Send a newsletter afterward that includes photos from the event. Send this out to everyone you invited, whether or not they attended, to show how much fun it was. Or, with permission, post the photos on your Web site.
- If you have a team, free them from working at the event so they can mingle. Hire outside help if needed.
- Do not discuss business at the event unless you are specifically asked, and in that case, ask to phone the individual later to discuss details or book an appointment. Focus on fun at your event.
- Don’t be discouraged if the first-year turnout is small. Year-to-year attendance tends to grow.
Repeat your event each year and the results will be phenomenal! It takes a lot of planning to pull it off a great event, but rest assured, it will pay off in business and in fun!
Howard Brinton is a real estate sales motivational speaker and the founder and CEO of Star Power Systems, a sales training organization that offers tapes, books, videos, conferences and a club that distributes selling techniques from the nation’s top producers.
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