Every week, we ask a real estate professional for their Short List, a collection of tips and recommendations on an essential topic in real estate. This week, we talked with Tom Plant, a broker associate with Greenwood King Properties, who shared his simple ways to keep in touch with past clients.
7. Staying in touch is essential if you expect referrals from previous clients. There have been many times that I have a new client and learn they have had a previous transaction with another agent in our brokerage. That agent just did not remain in touch. One of the things I do to stay in touch is also an essential part of providing service beyond expectations. In Texas, the printed contract provides for estimating taxes at closing and stipulates the parties will adjust at the end of the year if the taxes are different from the estimated amount. Early in January, I pull the tax bills from every closed transaction the previous year, check the taxes against the estimate and send my client a letter explaining the computation. If the other party owes my client money, I provide a draft letter to send requesting the payment. If my client owes money, I tell them they should pay if contacted. However, I also tell them that very few buyers or sellers remember to check the actual taxes.
6. If buyers or sellers have a really good experience with you, reminding them subtly is a great way to stay in touch. A week before the anniversary of the transaction, I send a happy anniversary card in which I write something like “I can’t believe it has been six years since we closed on your home. I hope you and your family are still happy there” or “I can’t believe it has been eight years since we sold your home at 123 Street. I hope you are still happy in your new home.”
5. Birthdays are a great opportunity to reach out to your previous clients. Everyone loves to get a birthday card. I send cards to anyone in the family whose birthday I have in my client profiles.
4. Monthly mailings are a must for your sphere of influence. Every past client should be on your sphere list. I know with each mailing I get less than five seconds of my previous client’s attention. But in that five seconds they have noted I am still active and have not forgotten them. This week I showed a $2+ million home to a client I had not shown in more than 3 years. During the showing he told me how much he appreciated my keeping up by mail.
3. A short telephone call normally is appreciated. I try to call to just say hello or to discuss a mutual interest at least once a year. I want my previous client to feel I am contacting them just to keep in touch. I keep it short and do not ask directly for business. I let my mailings do the direct ask.
2. Others will advise you to have client appreciation parties, take previous clients to lunch, or drop by the previous client’s home with a small gift. Except for a very few clients with whom I have developed a strong friendship, I do not do these. The reason is they just do not fit the way I do business. I would not come across to my previous clients as being genuine. If these approaches would work for you, you should add them to your ways to stay in touch.
1. The truth is that there are a myriad of ways for an agent to stay in touch with their previous clients. It simply does not matter how you do it, just be certain to do it. Use approaches that reflect your image and way of doing business. Stay in touch, do not give up your previous clients to your chief rival in that other brokerage firm, or even to the agent sitting at the desk next to you.
Tom Plant is a world travel who holds advanced degrees from both Rice University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He credits his analysis, businesslike approach and dedication to personal attention as the drivers behind his success.