Although expanding your sphere of contacts and generating brand-new leads is a worthy goal, it can be even more worthwhile for your luxury real estate business to spend time developing and implementing a strategy to collect referrals. When it comes to earning the trust of someone new, nothing works better than the reassuring words of someone with whom they are already familiar. No matter how good you are at your job, the words of your past clients will always hold the most power in establishing your reputation and brand.
While asking for referrals feels uncomfortable and awkward, not taking advantage of this strategy can cost your business many future successes. If every client refers you to two friends, and even a fraction of those friends work with you and refer you to another friend, you’ll enjoy a steadily multiplying stream of warm leads who have already heard of your excellent services.
Use these five tips to streamline your process of requesting referrals and enjoy the benefits of your hard work as word of your incredible service spreads.
Time it right
Luxury real estate agents commonly make the mistake of asking for referrals either too soon or too late. If you’ve just helped a client purchase their dream home and you email them two days after closing asking for a referral, you’ll probably never hear back from them. More than likely, this isn’t an insult to your service but rather a result of poor timing.
Immediately following closing, new homeowners and recent sellers are generally still working through the overwhelming process of moving, starting a new job, and getting settled in a new place. Therefore, no matter how much they appreciated you and your expertise during the process, they may need more time and mental energy to think through who might be interested in your services or even to write you a review.
On the other hand, if you reach out to someone for a referral six months after their closing, it might be too late. This approach might not come across as genuine, or it might even appear that your business is struggling and you’re reaching out to past clients for help. Waiting six months to request a referral can work fine if you’ve already been in touch with these previous clients. But if your request would be the first contact you’ve had since your work together ended, plan on reaching out sooner and including it with a check-in on their new home.
Check-in and help out
Once you’ve worked with clients, they become a permanent part of your network. Even if you sold the homes years ago, develop a schedule to follow up with every past client periodically. Those who stay in the area can become a part of your “pop-by” schedule, and you can drop off small gifts at their door or send mailers every once in a while to stay top of mind. Regardless of their location, create a rotating schedule to give each past client a call every few months. Hearing from you should never feel out of the blue or jarring.
Continue to connect with your past clients and help out whenever possible. Helping out doesn’t have to mean mowing their lawn. Instead, it can be an extension of the services and expertise they already know you can provide. If it hasn’t been long since you’ve worked together, ask about their new neighborhood and home. See if they have any questions about the local area that you could help answer. If they mention a home maintenance issue, give them the name of your favorite handyman.
When you check in regularly and position yourself as a helpful member of your past clients’ community, you open the door to staying top-of-mind in case of future real estate needs and casually requesting referrals periodically. Make the majority of your interactions positive and help out any way you can, so the times you’ve made their lives easier far outweigh the times you’ve asked them for favors in the form of referrals.
Spaces like your email list and newsletters aren’t just for prospective or current clients. They’re for your past clients, too. You can provide value through market updates, local insights, and expert takes on the latest in real estate to present and past clients to stay relevant.
While personal check-ins go a long way, many real estate professionals who have been practicing for years end up with a very long list of past clients to reach out to, and it’s easy for these chats to become infrequent. At the very least, mass communication efforts and widespread information sharing can help you reach these past clients and keep your name fresh in their minds. That way, the next time they speak with a friend looking to move, they’ll think of you.
Depending on your communication style and ongoing relationship with your clients, you can even add a quick referral request in your emails. Even a simple “If you know anyone looking to move here, please send them my way!” after your sign-off might jog someone’s memory and send a new lead to your inbox.
Make it easy
When requesting referrals and reviews, the best way to ensure a high response rate is to make it as easy as possible for your past clients to complete your request. Make the referral process easy by providing exceptional services when you work together. That way, they will have no problem thinking of positive things to say about you.
Reviews can be just as impactful as direct referrals and play a significant role in any luxury real estate marketing plan. However, the review process can also be very clunky. It’s tough to know what to ask for when attempting to build a collection of reviews on five different sites, from Realtor.com to Zillow to Facebook. Offer a few different options and provide every necessary link to make it as easy as possible for your happy clients to leave positive reviews. Encourage them to copy and paste their review to various sites, and let them know you’re excited to post their review on your luxury real estate website with their consent.
When it comes to making requesting referrals easy, your occasional reminders and emails will likely carry most of the load. You can also write up a quick and nonspecific template your past clients can use as a social post or email to their contacts. The less brain power your request requires of your past clients, the more likely they’ll follow through on it.
Generating a healthy stream of referrals is much easier if you ask for them. Once you’ve wrapped up work with a client, consider your timing and include a heartfelt request for referrals alongside a genuine connection and check-in. Let them know how much working with them meant to you and your business, and emphasize your growth goals and desire to serve as many people as possible. Consider your relationship with that client, and tailor the tone and approach of your request based on past communication.
Although you might feel uncomfortable the first few times you ask for a referral, the process will become automatic and straightforward once you’ve established a healthy system. From there, you’ll enjoy the ripple effect of all the hard work you put in for each client.
The bottom line
Referrals can be a goldmine for real estate agents who prioritize their clients and consistently provide excellent service. No matter how impressive your website copy is or how many entertaining videos you share online, nothing will make new contacts trust you more quickly or deeply than a direct referral from someone they know. To make this process simple and less daunting, follow the above tips. For more tips on how to generate more referral business, check out our article about the power of forming strategic partnerships with referral partners.