Client relationships — everyone talks about them, but they don’t necessarily maintain them to the best of their abilities.

  • During a panel at Inman Connect San Francisco, Matt Beall of Hawaii Life real estate and Houston Realtor Jena Casey outlined three things to help build and keep client relationships.
  • Casey keeps tabs on her former homebuyers and asks them to update her on the state of the house.
  • Beall said he'll massage a lead before handing it off to an agent, stressing the importance of learning a client's behavior before taking the dive.

SAN FRANCISCO — Client relationships — everyone talks about them, but they don’t necessarily maintain them to the best of their abilities.

Sending clients texts on their birthdays or befriending them on Facebook shows that you’re at least attempting some sort of relationship, but being extra nice and attentive isn’t something most people plan out.

Having a spreadsheet of clients’ interests, birthdays, family members and the last date you’ve spoken with them might sound like a lot of work, but according to Jena Casey of Intero Real Estate in Houston, that’s exactly what to do if you want to increase referrals.

“I’m not building my business off my first $15,000 check,” she said at Inman Connect San Francisco. “I have a family business that I’d like to hand over to my son one day, and I want first-time buyers working with my son.”

So how does she make sure her family name will hold even more weight in 20 years than it does right now? Along with Matt Beall of Hawaii Life real estate, Casey outlined three things to help build and keep client relationships.

Be generous, but unique

Casey keeps tabs on her former homebuyers and asks them to update her on the state of the house.

If the air conditioner broke in the home of a client from five years back, she’ll make sure it’s replaced. She also has pumpkins, Redbox codes and popcorn and other “corny gifts” delivered to their homes to maintain a friendly presence.

“I bought books for some of my pregnant clients and wrote ‘From your family Realtor, Jena,'” she said. So when one of those women reads their child a bedtime story, they’ll be reminded of their Realtor.

Beall also appreciates the value of a personal touch.

“Look at your Facebook. At the end of the day, you don’t have 4,000 [real] friends. You have, like, five. You need to monitor those relationships,” he said. “It’s not enough to just click the ‘like’ button or monitor people behind the convince of your laptop.”

Don’t jump down their throats

Beall said he’ll massage a lead before handing it off to an agent, stressing the importance of learning a client’s behavior before taking the dive. “The world of online lead gen has shifted to ‘How do we really interact with this pool of a quarter-million people?'” he said.

Casey said her client database is divided into three tiers: one for return clients, one for clients who are getting ready to make the move but aren’t all the way in, and one for people who’ve never bought or sold with her but provide good referrals.

“Don’t ask for a sale on a phone call with someone you haven’t talked to in a while,” she said.

Help them become part of their new community

Beall serves a resort market where many of his clients don’t live full time, so he tries to make them feel at home from the start.

“In a resort market, you sell a home to these people, but they don’t know anybody in the community,” he said. Beall counteracts this buy taking multiple clients out for dinner at the same time or throwing parties simply so they can make some new friends in the area.

Casey likes to throw housewarming parties for her clients after they buy a house. According to her, it’s a cheap way to ingratiate yourself further with the buyer while also showing the buyer’s friends and family your level of dedication to client happiness.

“It is kind of back to the basics,” Beall said.

Email Thomas Mitchell

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