4 min read
Past clients are an often neglected and untapped business resource by a lot of agents. Depending on their stage in life, your former clients will probably be in need of the services of a real estate agent between two to five more times in their lives, and that’s being conservative especially if they’re investors or first time renters.
Unlike potential clients who have to go online to view your profile, performance stats and reviews, you already have existing relationships with your past clients and they already know firsthand how you work. If they had a positive experience with you initially it’s not expensive or particularly time consuming to shore up their business again in the future.
The best agents have a thoughtful ongoing plan to foster their relationships with their past clients. So, consistently keeping up with previous clients should be a part of your goals and marketing plan that you set out every year.
It’s worth noting that you shouldn’t keep in touch with old clients just for the sake of being in touch. You’ll probably end up doing more harm than good if you send past clients spammy emails or flyers every other week just to remind them you’re there.
The key to keeping in touch and reaffirming your professional relationships is to make contact in valuable and meaningful ways with past clients. Here are four ‘value add’ ways to consider trying out.
1. Touch base using referrals.
Receiving a referral from an old client gives you the perfect opportunity to reach out. As soon as a referral mentions a past client, you should call or send a message to the old client thanking them for the business.
During your call give your past client some valuable info and look for other opportunities for future contact. For example, if they’re interested update them about the market in their area and recently sold properties near them. Try asking open-ended questions about their house, family or job. If they mention they’re considering a renovation send them the details of a good builder or plumber that you know.
If the referral does eventually buy or sell through you, it can be a nice touch to send a small gift (think a bottle of wine, Gold Class vouchers or flowers) to show your appreciation to the referrer. Being as helpful, gracious and grateful as possible to clients who send you referrals will snowball and bring you more and more great referral leads down the line.
2. Just listed and just sold updates.
Consider sending out your just listed and just sold postcards or emails to your past clients. If they had a good experience with you they will be happy to see that you’re busy, active and successful in your marketplace. Don’t forget to send these to past clients that have moved to a different neighbourhood. One day they may look to return or know someone considering a move to the area and send them your way.
There are two considerations when putting together a e-newsletter for your past client mailing list:
With an e-newsletter it’s so important to strike a good balance between delivering relevant and helpful content to clients and doing it at the right time. The max frequency for emailing past clients is about once a month and the minimum amount is quarterly. It’s really up to you and what is manageable and realistic in your situation.
In regards to the content you definitely want to steer clear of bragging about how many sales you’ve had and other pushy self promoting updates. Aim for three or four articles that are informative, locally based and give value to readers. For every email you go to send ask yourself ‘Would I find this helpful in my past client’s shoes?’ if the answer is no, don’t bother sending it.
Work on a quarterly market update with property stats and data for your area, record sales and bargain buys. People love reading about what their neighbour got for their place or how property prices have grown in their neighbourhood over the past three months. Given time if you consistently provide past clients with useful little nuggets of information, they’ll come to view you as their local real estate guru.
4. Thoughtful gifts.
If all else fails, you can never go wrong with a card or small gift on the anniversary of someone’s home purchase or move in date as well as holiday cards. Better yet if you’re feeling generous, many past clients would appreciate the gesture and effort it takes to personally hand deliver a gift to their place. This may only be an option for a select few of your clients. Choose them carefully as not everyone will be in favour of an unannounced visit at home.
It’s important to remember that not all of your old clients will want to stay in touch and that’s ok. Over time you’ll determine which methods work best for you, get a sense of which clients want to stay in touch and what strategies to use to suit the needs of each individual past client. Keeping past clients in the loop is a vital part of building up your referral business and long term success in real estate.