Whether you’re brand new to the biz, you’ve just had immense growth this year and are playing catchup, or you’re simply looking for fresh automation ideas, here are nine systems every agent can use for a steady stream of referrals.

We all know that consistency is the key to growing a successful real estate business, but the industry is nothing if not predictable, especially when you’re just starting out. What can you do to ensure consistent growth with ease at any point in your career? 

Whether you’re brand new to the biz, you’ve just had immense growth this year and are playing catchup, or you’re simply looking for fresh automation ideas, here are nine systems every agent can use for a steady stream of referrals.

1. CRM (customer relationship management)

First things first, you need to have a good CRM system that allows you to: 

  1. Organize your existing sphere of influence
  2. Easily enter and track any new contacts and leads. 
  3. Update any contact you’ve interacted with. 
  4. Ideally, be smart enough to help you prioritize your tasks and time when reaching out to these contacts.

Being organized is the key to success in any business, but especially in real estate when agents are always on the go. 

2. Client outreach 

Once you have your CRM in place, make sure to keep in touch and provide value. Be sure to devise a system that is a mixture of automated and bespoke outreach to create a consistent experience that feels custom to each recipient. 

Use a drip email system to send helpful information like monthly market stats on local neighborhoods or cities but annually mail your contacts a printed and bound CMA (comparative market analysis) showing the value of their home and how much equity they have in it. 

Take opportunities like the holidays to invite clients to gather for an appreciation party, or stop by their homes with a mini Christmas tree or something of value that they will appreciate. 

Think about what would be meaningful to them and yet easy for you to accomplish — like a drive-through pie pick-up for Thanksgiving that is COVID-friendly.    

3. Community involvement 

Successful real estate agents are always deeply connected and very active members of the community. Being an involved citizen is an authentic way to build your referral base, and you’ll also make some great friends along the way. 

Strategically choose a few events and organizations to align yourself with, give your time generously, demonstrate your real estate knowledge when relevant, and watch leads and referrals naturally unfold.  

4. Networking 

Similar to being involved in the community, attending networking events is a great way to meet other people and generate leads. Interacting with other business professionals, such as attorneys and financial planners, is also a smart way to build a referral base

Developing a database of trusted resources you can share with your clients will only make you more of a trusted adviser to them. Plus, you’ll better ensure that they think of you next time they are ready to buy or sell real estate. 

For example, I frequently call my real estate agent for advice on local vendors, and she often gives me preferred pricing as a client of hers. My agent has secured her position as a local expert in my mind, and I would never think of using anyone else. 

5. Social media 

As we have seen evolve during the pandemic, and now beyond, social media is a vital source of generating real estate leads. You don’t have to be on every social platform, but you should pick one or two that you can consistently post to and then create a content schedule for yourself with a good mix of personal and professional content. 

Make sure to set up a sustainable program. And once you master that, take a look into boosting or sponsoring posts or ads with a good landing page and message.  

6. Online leads 

Make sure that you have a system in place that generates leads for you even while you sleep. The best way to do this is with an airtight online system. If you have a good process for quick response, incubation and follow-up, investing in online leads might be beneficial. 

Whether leads from your own agent website or paid leads from media platforms, the key is to respond quickly, provide value and follow up regularly. 

This is another reason to find and use a good CRM — you can follow up with listing alerts and automatically pull market data and other valuable content. 

7. Marketing 

I recommend the 80/20 rule when investing in your own sphere of influence versus mass marketing. However, for many growing your sphere, it’s essential to expand your presence by moving into a new geography or price point. 

In this case, some simple processes around consistent marketing can be helpful. For instance, farming a geographic region to move up your price point can be effective. Still, it takes time and usually only reaps about a 3 percent response rate with consistent and compelling content. The key is to send content that is valuable to the recipient. This is true for targeted marketing online as well.  

8. Surprise and delight with your client experience

Above all else, if you want to convert a lead and drive more repeat business and referrals, you should systemize a way to surprise and delight your sphere of influence. 

Do this by not just following up but by exceeding expectations and anticipating needs

A few examples: 

  1. If a client asks for a painter’s referral, don’t just give contact info; offer to come by and walk the property with the painter to provide guidance and expertise. 
  2. Follow your clients on social media and send handwritten notes or gifts for special occasions like welcoming a new baby to the family.
  3. If a client mentions that schools are essential in a homebuying decision, don’t just provide a list of school scores. Instead, set up an opportunity to tour schools and meet with principals and teachers.  

9. Relocation resource 

When considering brokerages, make sure you inquire about the relocation department and how that can benefit your business. At our brokerage, The Agency, we have a fantastic relocation department that allows our agents to help their clients buy and sell homes anywhere in the world. 

Having a service like this increases your lead opportunities — both incoming and referrals — so it’s good to know what any potential brokerage offers.

A strong relocation tool or network that you can trust turns you from a local agent into a global agent with infinite possibilities.  

Creating a steady stream of leads and referrals is what will help you grow your business and increase revenue. As real estate agents, it’s something that we think about a lot, but we need to find the best practices that work for your audience and personal business. 

In my experience, the above nine tactics have returned positive results for agents. But, as always, finding your rhythm and the practices that work for you will come naturally over time as you set up your systems. The best part about this business is that we can shift our strategies swiftly for the best possible results.

For more on automating your systems, check out this post.

Rainy Hake Austin is the president of The Agency in Los Angeles, California. Connect with her on Instagram

Show Comments Hide Comments
Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription