by Muhammad Farooq
As a REALTOR®, I am always thinking about my client base – how to build it and how to maintain it.
This is important because people are vital to our line of work. We must keep in touch with recent clients as well as generating leads from new prospects and previous clients.
Solid information is essential. Having a good database where we can store data makes it easier and faster to make use of that information. Keeping on top of our database is an important part of our business. Since we deal so much with people, we must spend time updating client lists and inserting detailed information that we can use when we need it, from wherever we are.
To build and maintain my client base, I have come up with a range of techniques over 10 years in the field. First, I use traditional methods to meet people such as attending open houses, knocking on doors and making phone calls. I usually call up my clients every three to four months and send handwritten notes on greeting cards, as well as sending newsletters, emails and holiday gifts.
Second, I use social media. I work mostly with Facebook and LinkedIn to develop and maintain virtual connections with people. I designed my own Facebook page where I get leads on a daily basis. While on LinkedIn, I exchange information with my fellow REALTORS® as well as other professionals from all walks of life.
To market myself and my business, I employ two kinds of techniques. Branded activities involve distributing flyers that include my photo and full contact information. These also include direct mail. I send clients and prospects monthly postcards, newsletters and e-zines, and I make sure that people can find me on the internet. The unbranded side of the equation involves classified ads and editorial style ads.
Although technology is important in real estate, it will never eliminate the human touch. To my mind, open houses, knocking on doors and meeting people are still among the most effective prospecting activities. They still work very well for me. However, I find that cold calling and giving away business cards on a random basis are less effective. Having a strong presence on the internet and using social media are the modern ways.
Most of my referrals come from past clients who were pleased with my professional services. To me, the best time to ask for a referral is right after the agreement of purchase and sale is accepted and signed by all parties. That’s when my clients are most excited and enthusiastic, and the quality of the referrals is at its highest at that point. If I wait until closing, several months pass, the clients are busy packing and their enthusiasm can wane in the stress of moving.
Newcomers to the field will learn that this work is not for everyone and that it’s harder than it looks. It demands specific aptitude and a particular mindset. Offering to help out busy, more experienced REALTORS® at their open houses is a good start. They can’t be in two places at once, so if you approach them on a Tuesday or Wednesday when they’re planning their week, you’re helping them and meeting new people yourself – which may lead to increases in your own client base.
One of my favourite things about working in real estate is the variety of people I meet on a daily basis. Every person I meet has a different mindset and their own attitude. If you’re sociable and like to meet people, this is the best work in the world.
Muhammad Farooq is a real estate broker at Re/Max Real Estate Centre Inc. in Brampton. He is a volunteer member of the marketing and communication committee at the Ontario Real Estate Association.