Are you receiving Inman’s Broker Edge? Make sure you’re subscribed here.
The best way to build a thriving business is through repeat customers and referrals. In an effort to chase the next transaction, many agents lose sight of their most valuable assets: past clients, friends and family.
Heidi Harris out of Raleigh, North Carolina, has a 99.7333% repeat customer rate of past buyers who list their homes for sale with her.
This amazing client retention percentage comes from a systematic approach to keeping in touch with her sphere of influence and past clients. Following are the systems she uses to build deep and fruit-bearing relationships.
1. Annual family and friends events
Harris hosts three family and friends events each year. Each of the events serves a different purpose. They include a women-only event in late winter or early spring, a family picture day during the summer and a Thanksgiving pie event in the fall.
Here are the breakdowns of each of these events.
The ultimate girls night out
“Let’s face it, the women of the house are making the majority of decisions when it comes to choosing a Realtor,” Harris said.
The women are asked to bring two of their favorite wines to the party. One bottle goes on top of the table and one goes in a box under the table.
The women at the table do a blind taste test, not knowing who brought which bottle of wine. The woman who brought the wine that everyone at the table votes as their favorite wins the box under the table with a bottle of all the wines brought by the women at their table.
“There isn’t a better ice breaker for women to make new friends than getting a little tipsy with ladies the guests meet at the wine tasting party,” Harris said. “This has led to me being the connector for new friendships and deeper, personal friendships for me as well.”
Someone she casually knew came to her party and became a closer friend after the event. That friend recently bought a $1 million-plus home from her. She believes she may not have received the opportunity to sell that home to her were it not for the event.
The event involves an invitation to every woman she knows.
“The ladies bring the wine, so that limits the expense. I have my closing attorney, mortgage lender, moving company, home inspection company and my Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices office kick in sponsorship money each year to cover the costs,” Harris explained.
The cost to her is zero after the sponsorships.
Harris uses evite to email the invitations and encourages the women to bring a guest. This helps her expand her database and to connect with other potential future clients. This event provides her with a great way to build brand equity with her community and her past clients.
Family picture day in a sunflower field
In North Carolina, there are gorgeous sunflower fields in full bloom during the summer. These fields are used as the backdrop for Harris’ family photo event.
The only expenses are for the photographer, an ice cream truck and a few drinks to keep the families hydrated before and after their time with the photographer. The sponsors pay the hourly rate for the photographer and the ice cream truck.
They use SignUpGenius to set photography appointments with four slots available each hour. They email the entire database and let them know that slots are limited. Once all the slots are booked, they send an email letting everyone know the event is sold out. This provides yet another quality touchpoint for Harris’ database, as well.
Thanksgiving pie day
Harris said she initially fought this event because she felt like everybody did this, but now that she does them, she loves them. They email all past clients and let them pick a time during a 30-minute window on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to pick up their pie in the cul de sac at Harris’ home.
The location adds to the personal nature of the event, and many people will get out of their cars and spend some time with the entire Home Sweet Heidi team as they continue passing out pies to the clients.
This event is limited to only past clients, which provides a bit of exclusivity and acts as a thank you for their business. They order pies from a certain restaurant in Raleigh, and the costs associated with this event are covered by sponsors.
With all these events, Harris makes sure the sponsors get over-the-top exposure. She includes them in the invitations and provides a list of everyone who attends. She wants to make sure they get value above what they spend. This has led to true partnerships for these events.
2. Monthly postcards to database
Harris farms her database like she would a geographical farm. She sends postcards each month with a mix of market updates, local events and family/team details. The market updates are clean and information-driven. The local event postcards include details on community activities and events for the coming month. The family and team postcards are more personal with a family photo and details on who they are as people and not just agents.
The consistency of a monthly mailer breeds trust and provides the team with the ability to stay top of mind when the opportunity arises for them to refer someone or to buy/sell.
3. Social media daily posting
One of the most powerful tools Harris uses to continuously connect with her sphere of influence is posting daily on Instagram with a mix of posts, reels and stories. The Instagram posts include personal and business videos that entertain and educate her growing following.
The videos include home tours, reels with trending music, personal stories and team highlights. This mix of posts that are always available on her profile page acts like a resume for those who find her profile. The profile is where quick decisions are made about whether to follow someone. These posts are the ones that act like a filter to weed out the people who may not be a good fit for her and to attract her ideal clients.
She uses Instagram Stories to share the details of her day. The stories tend to be more personal, and her authenticity in stories gives her the ability to deepen the connection with the people who follow her.
Instagram was responsible for more than 20 percent of the Home Sweet Heidi team’s business in 2021, so focusing on creating daily content for Instagram is a priority for Harris and her entire team. You can check out her Instagram here.
4. Hour of power
“The hour of power is the hour I carve out each day to be around people in my sphere of influence and meet new people,” Harris said.
This hour of power involves activities including phone calls to friends, birthday parties for her children’s friends, and tennis lessons with a group of women. Although these help her fulfill her personal need to step away from the business and just enjoy the company of others, this hour of power has led to more business.
“One of my friends from tennis lessons is building a $3 million house with me, and our average sales price is $400,000. Even though my hour of power helps me keep my sanity, it also feeds my business,” Harris said.
If you’re looking for consistent growth in your business, make sure you are devoting time and effort to the people who already know, like and trust you. These relationships are the seeds for future growth. Nurture them and watch how your business grows.