We’re in a decade of realtor volatility: unprecedented flatlining of first-time buyers, consistent growth of transactions year over year, and yet another record-breaking year of new real estate licenses distributed. So with 1.6 million+ Realtors already competing for clients across the US, how can someone new to the space effectively jumpstart their business? We asked two high-performing realtors at the top of their careers, Darcy LaBelle (Compass) and Rick Franz (Windermere), to discuss strategies for building a thriving business through referrals.
While sending a closing gift is a no-brainer decision for most real estate agents, LaBelle and Franz argued that a one-time gesture of gratitude isn’t enough today to secure a long-term client advocate. Building — and continually investing in — your referral channel is what separates the top performers from the rest. Data bears this out: 68% of sellers using a Realtor found them through a friend or family member.
Here are four pro tips they shared for building a vibrant referral channel:
1. Start investing before the first sale
The Realtor relationship naturally builds with every call, email, and road mile agents put in during the transaction process. Franz specifically called out how he uses gifts to cement his place in the story they’ll remember later: “Celebrating milestones during the process shows you’re with them every step of the way, and that you’re focused on the relationship, not just the transaction.”
“For example, if the sellers passed inspection after they put a lot of hard work and sweat into some DIY repairs, that’s worth celebrating!” Franz suggests that showing clients appreciation and excitement with an unexpected gift pre-sale “is a worthwhile investment you’ll never regret.”
2. Patiently cultivate the relationship
Engaging year-round with your client base is a great way to stay top of mind for the word-of-mouth referrals that turn into new clients. According to Franz, special gifting moments like holiday and house-ivesarie gifts are simple ways to build bonds with clients, both new and old. But it’s important to celebrate your clients’ important personal milestones such as new babies and work promotions as well.
3. Make it about them, not you
“Real estate gifting is a way to maximize connection in a very competitive market,” Darcy points out. “But it’s important to demonstrate that you heard and see them, and that you took the time to acknowledge who they are and tell that story with your gift.” That means sending a gift experience that’s tailored to the client’s interests and lifestyle. To mix things up occasionally, you can even send a curated choice of gifts and let the client make the final selection.
Whatever you send, don’t skimp on the gift message; tell your clients why you chose this particular gift for them. Top agents know that — unlike physical goods — a good story lasts forever.
4. Make it authentic
In addition to being creative about her gifting, LaBelle is also quick to adopt new technology to build her brand. Leveraging the Knest Real Estate Platform, LaBelle was able to announce her recent move to Compass with a landing page that included a special gift for her clients and partners along with links to her listings and new website. So much better than a generic landing page, LaBelle reports “At the click of a button you’ve simplified gifting but still with a personal touch.”
Learn more about Knest by Knack, the simple real estate gifting platform for everything from Referral and Houseiversary gifts to Thank You gifts for your support team (landscapers, mortgage brokers, stagers, etc.). Try it today and your first gift is free with consultation (a $65 value!).