A woman in her mid 60s inherited enough cash to purchase her first home. She had $80,000; however, it’s difficult to find a house for that price in her home town of Nashville. Enter William Willoughby, broker-owner at Music City Group Real Estate in Nashville, who came through for this buyer by finding a little HUD home that needed a water heater and other renovations. It was a good brick house in a nice neighborhood, but he just couldn’t put her in the home, shake hands, and say good-bye after the closing. He felt compelled to make sure she found the right workers to get the remodel completed in the 30-day deadline given by HUD.
“I told her I would stay with her for 30 days and be her project manager. I lined up all the contractors to make it a home that she could live in,” Willoughby says. Since then, he has helped six of her family members in buying and selling homes. “Nurturing our past clients and making sure we are here for them is a top priority.”
Treating clients well, even after the closing, can lead to more business and possibly a friend for life. In fact, 64 percent of sellers who used a real estate agent found those agents through a referral by friends or family, and 25 percent used the agent they previously worked with to buy or sell a home, according to the 2016 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.
Here are seven ways your agents can go above and beyond for their clients after a closing:
- Automatically do seven-day and 30-day follow-ups. Tell agents to make it a standard practice and add these follow-up dates into their CRM or calendar. Agents should call their clients to see how they are enjoying their new home and ask if they need anything. Usually by then, people are elated they have made it through the process of finding a home and moving, Willoughby says.
- Remember special dates. Agents should make sure every past client is on their personal holiday card list. Consider mailing birthday cards or closing day anniversary cards, says Keith Bliss, broker-owner at Bliss Real Estate powered by EXP Realty in Raleigh-Durham, N.C. The number one rule is to stay in touch with clients the way they prefer you to stay in touch, he says.
- Show up when they are moving in. Bringing over a bottle of wine, a pizza, or an item that signifies the area will go a long way with clients. Willoughby and his agents give a piece of wall art native to Nashville showing different communities. During the visit, agents can ask if the clients need any local recommendations or contractor referrals.
- Be visible in your community. Encourage agents to be active in their markets while communicating their community efforts through client-targeted newsletters, emails, or Facebook posts. “They really are watching you and what you are doing,” Bliss says. Let clients know what’s going on in their town or neighborhood by posting about new businesses or housing developments with photos and Google Maps. Clients should know that their agent has his or her finger on the pulse of what’s going on locally.
- Become the go-to real estate resource. Whether it’s now or in the future, agents should always be open to giving free advice to a former client, whether it’s for flooring recommendations or a home valuation. An agent’s door should always be open for conversation, so don’t act too busy, Bliss says.
- Host an event and invite former clients. Your brokerage, team, or individual agents could rent a bounce house, sponsor at a local community fair, or give out candies (on a float!) at the local 4th of July parade. Whatever the event may be, send clients a personal invite. And, if your company supports a local nonprofit, get clients involved with you.
- Create (and update) a list of contractors and vendors. Compile a list of service providers your agents can email to their sphere. It can be useful, even those folks who bought a house 10 years ago. Or, create a client survey and ask former customers to rate their deck builder, home inspector, dog groomer, hair stylist, or any other service-oriented business which they have used in the past year. “Instead of being their resource, use them as your resource. This way, the information is current and it’s relevant,” Bliss says. His brokerage compiles the information and sends it to agents’ past, present, and new clients.
Above all, be creative in how you deliver value to customers, no matter what stage of the homebuying or homeselling process they’re in. “Let your clients know that you are there to care for them and will help them in any way you can,” says Bliss.