An agent’s ability to network – whether it’s with a mortgage lender or the landscaper – shapes a client’s experience when buying or selling a home and also can determine whether the client will refer or rehire the agent in the future.
Having a strong vendor network can lead to new business. However, meaningful vendor relationships go beyond compiling a list of phone numbers or putting a link on your website.
Here are three basic strategies – and specific suggestions for implementing them – that can strengthen your vendor relationships today and help you earn referrals tomorrow.
1. Interact on social media: Agents often post homes for sale and homes sold to their social media profiles. Likewise, many home maintenance and remodeling professionals post “jobs well-done” to theirs. An agent should be his vendor’s biggest fan. Sharing photos of newly installed cabinets or a finished basement on your page and tagging the vendor puts your favorite vendors in front of a valuable audience. Even more important, it shows your social followers – past and future clients among them – the kind of service they can expect to receive when they hire you as their agent.
2. Meet face-to-face: Many agents meet clients for coffee or lunch, but when was the last time you offered to do the same with your title lawyer? Keeping in touch with vendors in a meaningful way helps to keep both parties informed of each other’s business and helps you to better anticipate how each vendor will interact with clients, which can pay off down the road as you learn your vendor’s strengths and tap them for the clients who need them the most.
3. Publish a permanently accessible vendor list: Many agents hand out a list of service providers at the point of sale, but these lists get lost. At a minimum, make sure that your clients can access a vendor list on your website. A vendor page or access to a downloadable file means your clients can get in touch with these trusted professionals long after the sale is completed.
Some agents and brokerages offer a more robust online presence for their vendors, including messaging and scheduling capabilities. These features add value to both the vendor and client, so they’re a good investment.
Always remember that exchanging money or goods for referrals is illegal, per RESPA. But strong vendor relationships built on trust, friendship and mutual support lead to more sales from referrals and repeat clients. The bottom line is: When your vendors and clients benefit, so do you.
Mike Pontacoloni is director of marketing at OwnerAide, a real estate technology company.