Many real estate agents talk about and talk up their database, especially how big it is. But what do they actually do with it? Too often, I see agents simply using their database in no more effective manner than a digital letterbox dropper, to inform clients of their latest listing or sale.

Many real estate agents talk about and talk up their database, especially how big it is. But what do they actually do with it? Too often, I see agents simply using their database in no more effective manner than a digital letterbox dropper, to inform clients of their latest listing or sale.

I’ve always been a firm believer that the most clever use of your database is simply fostering genuine long-term relationships.

You might not close a sale, but you start a relationship — a relationship that can be strengthened through your database. At my brokerage, we focus on creating a rich profile of every client that goes way beyond a name and number to include, for example, information about the children, pets and hobbies. The more information your database holds, the more powerful it can be.

With a rich database in place and examples from other service-based industries, a good agent will develop a communication strategy that provides opportunities to stay in touch with clients before and between those times when clients “need” our services. 

Do you have a plan about how to build relationships with your database? Here are five ideas to get your started:

1. Be generous with gift giving

I’ve always believed that the money invested in client gifts pays back dividends. But any old gift won’t do. Gifts need to be thoughtful and personalized for the client.

For example, I might purchase a gift voucher for a special fine dining restaurant that’s around the corner from where my client is moving. We find that going beyond a utility gift and reaching for a “treat yourself” gesture is always welcomed with wow-factor feedback.

2. Leverage partnerships

Being part of the Ray White Group, we have access to other business unit assets, including Ray White Marine. We regularly take our high-net-worth clients out on Ray White Marine superyachts, so they get to experience the entire Ray White brand offering.

However, partnership offerings don’t have to be so lavish.

Approach local companies, and discuss what special deals they can offer your database. Negotiating offers can be a win-win for you and the partner business.

Ideally, choose companies that are in the business of all things home, for example cleaning, gardening, DIY, etc.

You could also partner with clients who offer a service for a value-add in the form of free marketing. I’m proactive in referring my small business owner clients to my overall client database where their offering (be it lawyer, plumber, interior designer, mortgage broker, etc.) will be relevant.

3. Hold exclusive seminars or events

Clients love to be given special “invitation only” treatment. You can do this by organizing educational seminars or special events that are held at nice venues and with no expense spared on catering.

Be selective with who you invite, and make sure the actual invitation looks as sleek as the event itself.

At my brokerage, we’re event gurus, having successfully organized events including “girls only” movie nights, superyacht cruises on Sydney Harbor and exclusive lunches for high-net-worth customers.

Such occasions are a fantastic chance for face-to-face relationship building time, and clients get value not just from the event itself but also from interacting with like-minded fellow clients.

4. Implement an annual check-in call

This is a simple but effective way to keep in touch with clients — and it’s not a task to be delegated to the office junior or administration team.

Every agent should schedule a check-in phone call with their entire client base once each year, ideally, on the anniversary of the last transaction.

That way, you can easily lead into an organic conversation by saying “I’m calling to check your contact details are up to date,” or “I’m calling as it’s been a year since we last spoke, and I wanted to know if I could do anything for you.”

Another great tool to use during such calls is any property reports you subscribe to. Should the client be keen to receive a report, for example, on recent sales data for specific areas, then you have the perfect excuse for a follow-up email.

5. Send targeted, event-based communications

This is one area where simple digital marketing can be effective. It’s a really easy way to send a personalized message that keeps you, as an agent, top-of-mind.

Pick three or four events to anchor your communications around, such as Christmas, birthdays, tax time, etc.

In most cases, email will be the most suitable medium, but there could be times when a text message is also appropriate.

These communications can be even more effective when used in conjunction with the annual check in phone call. Do, however, focus on quality over quantity; clients want a touchpoint that looks professional and contains relevant content.

Too frequent or low-quality communications can have the opposite impact than that intended and can damage your brand.

Any agent can sit at his or her desk and send emails, but I believe the energy and focus we place on using our database for non-transactional activities is a genuine opportunity to stand out.

Set yourself apart by creating a variety of experiences to bring your relationships to life.

Chris Wilkins is the director at Ray White Drummoyne in Sydney, Australia. Follow him on Facebook or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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