In challenging times, it’s a smart idea to revisit the fundamentals of good business. This April, go Back to Basics with Inman.
Online leads have plummeted. Open houses are no longer allowed in many areas, and door-knocking is impossible if you are under a shelter-in-place order. In today’s COVID-19 environment, how can you generate new leads while simultaneously staying top-of-mind with your clients and referral database?
An excellent way to begin is by providing your clients information that can help them with their finances. The California Association of Realtors has compiled a list of financial resources to help you weather the COVID-19 pandemic. The list also contains resources you can text or email to your clients, as does Inman reporter Patrick Kearns’ article on the new stimulus package. This way, you’ll help your clients while staying top-of-mind.
The telephone is back in style
Many baby boomers recall talking on the phone with their high school friends and sweethearts for hours. In today’s COVID-19 environment, phones have made a comeback as a powerful way to connect for both personal and business reasons.
What to say when you call
When you contact past clients or reach out to your sphere, be curious and ask questions. “FORD” — which is an acronym for “family, occupation, recreation, and dreams” — is a proven way to achieve this goal. Here are some “FORD” questions you might ask.
- I’m just checking in to see how you and your family are doing.
- With your kids at home, how is the home-schooling going?
- Are you having to work from home, or are you still going into the office? What has that been like for you?
- I was really bummed to hear we can no longer work out at our local gym. How are you planning to stay in shape?
- I know you had just started remodeling to create your dream kitchen. How is the work proceeding on that project?
Notice the use of “how” and “what” questions. These so-called “open-ended” questions create detailed responses while also strengthening your connection. If the people you call bring up a challenge they’re facing, share any ideas or resources you may have to help them cope.
Share a new resource or tool
After catching up with the person you’re calling, share CentrIQ, which has a great app almost everyone will appreciate. While it’s extremely useful on listing appointments and for buyers, it’s especially helpful to homeowners who are on lockdown at home. Here’s a script that explains how CentrIQ works:
“One of the reasons I was calling today was to share an app I just heard about called CentrIQ. To use it, take a picture of the serial number on almost anything that has a plug in your home. CentrIQ will provide you with a copy of the user manual, warranty information, where to find replacement parts, as well as whether there has been a recall on that appliance. Would you like me to send you a link?”
The pro version of CentrIQ is free. They also offer a “pemium pro” version that lets you private label their full year of updates on the person’s property including notifications about what needs to be serviced, recalls and much more.
Marry high touch with high tech
Greg McDaniel advocates marrying high touch with high tech. He recommends watching Facebook for anniversaries, birthdays and other special events.
For example, if COVID-19 forces someone to celebrate their anniversary at home, and they post a picture of themselves enjoying guacamole and frozen margaritas, pull the picture off of Facebook and put it on a SendOutCard.
McDaniel has been doing this for years. He says, “Nine times out of 10, the next time I see them, that picture is displayed somewhere prominently in their home.”
All-purpose, cold-calling script
Whenever you’re prospecting, never say you have a client unless it’s true. McDaniel has been making daily calls using the following script:
“Good morning. I’m Greg McDaniel with ABC Real Estate. I’m calling because the telephone seems to be the safest way to reach out right now. Due to the low interest rates and the lack of inventory, many buyers are still looking for a home. Would you consider selling your property if I could bring you an offering price that would be suitable to you?”
The purpose of this call is to assess whether the homeowner is a potential seller in today’s market. If the person answers with a “yes,” he uses “FORD” to learn more about the person and build a connection. Virtually everyone he has contacted has been genuinely happy to talk to another human being on the phone.
If you can still conduct in-person showings, the next step is to set the appointment using an alternative choice close:
“I could meet with you at 4 p.m. this afternoon or tomorrow at 10 a.m. to preview your home. Which time works best for you?” (Be sure to follow social distancing guidelines!)
If you’re under a strict lockdown where showings are prohibited, have the owners use FaceTime, Facebook Live or YouTube Live to “walk” you through the property. This allows you to set a more accurate asking price. Also, ask them to take interior and exterior photos that you can share with potential buyers.
Contacting for-sale-by-owners (FSBOs)
McDaniel uses a similar approach with FSBOs. Rather than trying to push himself on them, he begins the conversation by allowing them to vent about their experience trying to sell the home themselves.
“Good morning, John. I’m calling today because it seems the safest way to reach out to people. I see you’re still advertising your home for-sale-by-owner. I have to ask, how is that even possible because your home looks absolutely gorgeous.
“I’m talking to a lot of other people like you, and they’re pretty frustrated right now with the process. I’m curious, are you still interested in selling? If so, I specialize in getting properties sold, not just listing them. I would love to show you what I do to get your property sold, provided you’re still interested in selling now.”
If they’re interested, send them your digital pre-listing package, and set a Skype or Zoom meeting to discuss how you can get their house sold in today’s COVID-19 market.
Absentee owner, probate or vacant house campaigns
You can alter the script above for absentee owners, probate or vacant properties.
“Good morning, Jane. This is Greg McDaniel with ABC Real Estate. I’m calling today because it seems the safest way to reach out to people. I noticed in the public records that you don’t appear to be residing at 456 Maple St. at this time. Is that information accurate?
If Jane answers, “yes.”
“Given the low interest rates and the shortage of inventory, many people are still searching for a home even in this market. Would you consider selling your property if I could bring an offer with a price that would be suitable to you?”
As above, send them your digital pre-listing package, and set an appointment to discuss via Skype or Zoom.
If possible, go to the property, take photos of the house, the backyard and any amenities you can access if they’re in a condo or subdivision. Create a collage, and use SendOutCards to send it to the owner. If the property is vacant and you can go inside, take photos of the serial numbers on the appliances and send the owner the CentrIQ information as well.
For even more ideas, including what McDaniel calls the “Goose that laid the golden egg, i.e., FRBOs,” check out today’s video. The FRBO discussion begins at about 27:00 minutes.
Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.