Appliances, sports memorabilia, wine or treat box subscriptions, paintings of the property, spa days and bottles of champagne in the fridge — these are some of the common ways agents show their gratitude to clients at the end of a transaction.
Good agents are always on the lookout for new and better ways to express gratitude and cement long-term relationships. I talked to many agents over the past couple of weeks, asking what they do. Here are some of the best ideas they shared:
Lopping off locks out of love
One agent who has truly absorbed the spirit of giving is Tricia Kenney with Treeline Realty Corp. in Fort Myers, Florida. She tells the story of her clients who had a 4-year-old daughter who was fighting leukemia and going thru a series of chemotherapy.
“The daughter always wanted me to hold her,” Kenney said. “She would play with my long hair (she had none). So, when we closed on their house, I went and had 13 inches of my hair cut and donated it to Locks of Love in her honor. Not really a closing gift, per se, but it meant a lot to my clients.”
Kenney told me that, today, the little girl is in remission and has her own gorgeous hair back.
Kenney’s story brought tears to my eyes, but you cannot give up your hair for every client.
Sometimes it’s worse to give a bad gift than no gift at all.
When trying to figure out what type of gift to give clients consider this: Nick Najjar believes, a good gift meets certain requirements; it’s useful, leaves a lasting impression and is high-quality.
Gary Keller said, in The Millionaire Real Estate Agent that the best gifts also have a shelf life.
Breaking bread with the community
Work hard, play hard. That’s the kind of work-life balance many of us are after, and for agent Tanya Delahoz, it’s a goal that’s become reality thanks to the fact that her boutique brokerage is based in Breckenridge, Colorado.
Running an agency in a vacation destination doesn’t mean that life is always a party, but it does inspire Delahoz to throw one every now and again — namely, an annual community dinner that’s worlds away from your typical client appreciation affair.
“The majority of my clients are second-homeowners,” she told me via Facebook. “The purpose of the community dinner is for them to gather at a relaxed social event, make new friends and clink wine glasses over shared experiences. They love it!”
This year’s summer soirée will be hosted on the lawn of a historical museum, where lucky guests will dine with Dwell Summit beneath the stars.
Honey-baked and hand-crafted
Bill Jordan in rural Kaufman County, Texas, sends his clients “a nice sized honey baked ham.” He does the same for anyone who refers a client to him.
When he is helping sell an old family home or ranch, he goes the extra mile.
“Cattle and cotton were once the backbone of the local economy,” he said. “I hand craft a wooden pen for them that’s made from a tree on that property.” A more thoughtful gift would be hard to find.
Bundling a gift with your service
Something local is also what Melissa Boucher, a broker with Windermere, gives to her clients.
“I always write a thank-you note, buy a home warranty for a year, and lately [I] have been buying a monogrammed large LL Bean tote and filling it with celebratory and practical moving items,” she said.
One of the things she often includes in the tote bag is a glassybaby — a beautiful locally handmade glass votive candle holder with an inspiring backstory.
Supporting a cause
Other real estate agents give into their animal instincts when it’s time to say xie xie (thank you in Chinese). Jason Walker with Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Manhattan is an ardent animal supporter who occasionally gives dogs he has rescued to clients as closing gifts.
Walker travels overseas to rescue homeless dogs. Four of them have become the new companions of clients.
“On top of finding a client a great place to live,” Mr. Walker told a local paper, “I also secure a forever home for an animal in need.”
Make it an experience
Mike Donia, a Realtor in Toronto, has given clients Ferrari rides, 1,000 bouquets of fresh flowers and $3,000 of Godiva chocolate — flown in direct from Europe.
“Real estate has become cutthroat,” he told his local paper. “A lot of people are even cutting their commission. My feeling is if I take you and your son down to a Toronto Maple Leafs game and walk you into the dressing room, it’s like Mastercard. It’s priceless.”
A gratitude state of mind
Some believe that showing gratitude shouldn’t be an “event” so much as a state of mind.
“It begins with the first interaction and continues long after the transaction,” said Frank Chimento, vice president at Elm Street Technology who advises agents and brokerages and gives national talks on persuasion, influence and rapport-building strategies.
“If it is reduced to simply an engraved steak knife or a home warranty, then the concept of showing gratitude has been missed completely.”
The gift that keeps on giving
The agents I spoke to are not sure whether gift-giving leads to more referrals or not. Even so, every one of them feels it is the right thing to do.
The story of one gift that definitely did lead to more business was told to me by Julia Liao, a broker associate with Surterre Properties in the California Newport Beach area.
She talked of a client who was in difficult financial situation. Liao sold their home quickly at the peak of the market and also helped them trade down to an affordable condo.
“I thanked them with a three-night stay at one of the best hotels in Newport Beach,” Liao said, “while they were exhausted from the moving process.”
Over the years, the clients’ financial situation improved again and again. Every time they moved up from one home to another, they asked Liao to handle both transactions for them.
“There were multiple sales and purchases during that time, until they retired to another state. I cannot thank them enough for what they have given me: their trust, support and best endorsement,” she said.
For more ideas on client gifts, check out Inman’s gift guide.
And if you have given some amazing client gifts or showed your gratitude in other memorable ways, please share in the comments section below.