It’s an eternal question in real estate: is it more important to attract new clients or hold on to the ones you have? While the correct answer might be “both!”, successful luxury agents know that service after the sale is key to client retention — and retention breeds referrals.
It’s been said that there is no other industry where customer service is more essential than it is in real estate. So how do today’s agents craft a program that will build and sustain long-term client relationships? The following tips illustrate how you can cultivate lifetime clients by concentrating on effective customer service strategies.
Celebrate the closing
The time directly following a sale is an exciting one, but channeling some of that energy towards a meaningful gift can build important connection points between you and your clients.
Brittany Patterson Hill and Phyllis Patterson, Vice President and Senior Vice President of Patterson Real Estate Group at TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, make it a point to bring a one-of-a-kind gift to the walk-through or closing, such as a custom print of the client’s new home. Featuring the closing on social — via Instagram Stories, for example — can also give your client their moment to exhale and enjoy.
Be a trusted resource
When buyers are moving to a new neighborhood, they may be in need of local services. The Pattersons refer clients to packing and unpacking services, movers and professional organizers. “We have a fabulous licensed and insured handyman who works exclusively with our group and is on call for us and our clients,” says Phyllis.
Be an expert on more than homes — have the knowledge on hand to get your clients settled. “I feel strongly that if I can’t tell the client what pools they should look into joining, where to get their nails or hair done, who is a solid dog walker, and even the postperson’s name, then I should refer to them to someone who can,” Brittany echoes.
Especially in the luxury market, you never know when a client will be looking to sell one of their homes or add to their portfolio — or when a client will have a friend or colleague who’s in the market for a new agent. Staying top-of-mind is key, especially when you consider that in 2018, only 12 percent of home buyers hired an agent they’d worked with in the past, according to the National Association of REALTORS® Buyers and Sellers report.
“We check in with our clients via email or text after a week, 30 days and six months after their move,” says Brittany. “Most agents shy away from so much contact; they want to close the deal and be done. We want to know everything. If something has turned up in the house, if they met a dear neighbor or found the perfect dog park, coffee shop or school for their child — no detail is too small. Selling our clients a house is only the beginning. What happens before and after closing is what makes you stand out.”
Make it personal
Thoughtful gestures breed customer loyalty. Sending birthday, anniversary and holiday cards is an easy way to extend your best wishes to your clients, but taking a more purposeful tack can also resonate. “We hold client appreciation parties, host seasonal exercise events with food and cocktails after and sponsor local fairs and historic events all year long,” says Phyllis. “Brittany also invites clients to her home many times during the year. This creates a personal friendship, with many forthcoming referrals.”
Adds Brittany, “We also contribute to the community clients have found, whether that’s through charity groups, blogs, events or personal connections. We are here to aid in the connection process and we want everyone to love and benefit from our fabulous community. The goal is to always focus on the customer experience.”
That experience only begins the day clients sign their paperwork. An ongoing focus on personal service after the deal is done gives agents their best chance at engagement without an expiration date.
About Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC
Founded in 1976 to provide independent brokerages with a powerful marketing and referral program for luxury listings, the Sotheby’s International Realty® network was designed to connect the finest independent real estate companies to the most prestigious clientele in the world. Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC is a subsidiary of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY), a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services. The Sotheby’s International Realty network currently has more than 22,000 affiliated independent sales associates located in over 960 offices in 72 countries and territories worldwide. In 2017, the brand achieved a record global sales volume of $108 billion USD. Sotheby’s International Realty listings are marketed on the sothebysrealty.com global website. In addition to the referral opportunities and widened exposure generated from this source, each brokerage firm and its clients benefit from an association with the Sotheby’s auction house and worldwide Sotheby’s International Realty marketing programs. Each office is independently owned and operated.