Believe it or not one of my favorite things to do while traveling is research other state's real estate markets. Yeah, on vacation, I sort of work. Most of you may do it without really thinking about it. Sometimes it's a collection of real estate magazines that I look over page by page. Sometimes I visit new subdivisions. I've gone to county board meetings on land development (not because I wanted to, but I was wrangled into going). I been to 2 of those not in my market.
If you're in real estate you find that it's a 24/7 part of your life. Sort of like that ugly mole you try to hide when you go out in public. It doesn't go away, you don't flaunt it and it never lets you never forget it is there. That may be a gross analogy, but it's how real estate gets under your skin (or on it)!
One of the benefits of being able to visit other markets is all of the information that just jumps off of the different types of property. You find different construction methods, different models, different floor plans, different reasons that drive prices and of course the different types of agents. I've never gotten into a conversation with an off duty agent that didn't become an intense question and answer session. If they are working they might not be as receptive to an intrusion by a looking loo real estate agent. Never bother a working agent with shop talk for curiousity sake!
Not being a competitor allows the agent to drop their protective shield and opens the door to a interesting array of marketing tips and advice. I always end up feeling like it was time well spent.
Recently I got into a converstation with an agent (Ben) who was going to his local Chamber of Commerce lunch meeting. I knew Ben was an agent because he wore his NAME TAG!! Imagine that. No secret agents there! We were both in waiting endlessly in line at the post office. Anyway Ben said he usually tried to go to the meetings, but something always came up until he met a senior businessman (we'll call him Carl) who told him that it was the most meeting to go to - ever! So now he goes to every one he can possibly attend.
Curious I had to urge Ben to go on with the story. Ben said he used go to the lunch meeting go for the ham sandwich, chips and soda since it was a $2 in the hat kind of a thing. Cheaper than lunch at the fast food places. He belonged to the Chamber and was an active member.He didn't like to go to too many meetings for fear that he would be asked by some sweet town folk to help with a bake sale or sit an information booth at the local grocery store for the Chamber membership drive. He wolfed his ham sandwich made all the necessary eye contact and hit the road. If he left without any "sticky notes" with future appointments for one thing or another he thought his two bucks was well spent!
But his older, wiser influence Carl, had told him that he got a client every time he went to the meetings. Carl was not a real estate agent. That was key. Carl had to find and engage someone in a conversation who was not in his line of business. He then would start small talk with that person about the meetings, how they took his time away from other cash earning jobs and how he had to find a way to make at least a "commission/sale" off of every meeting. Carl set out to make a weeks wages off each meeting and did! That usually got the attention of the other business person.
Then Carl said the meetings took on a whole new appeal to him. His business had become 25% more successful with each monthly lunch. Once he told Ben the real estate agent the beginnings to the story the agent was hooked. As I was while Ben was telling me.
So he continues, "Every time I went to the lunch I made it my focus to find and seek someone I had not yet met or done business with before. I would introduce myself and ask many questions about that persons line of work. When I was satisfied that I could find a client for that person I explained my line of work." Then before parting ways I would tell the other business member that I would like to help them with their business. After all, that's what the Chamber was all about right?!"
Carl went on "I would tell the other member that I might be able to send a client their way, but I would need time to go through my resources and find the right kind of client suited to that particular member's business." Usually a broad smile began to spread across that person face. They loved the thought that this member had taken an interest and was committing to actually trying to help them.
Carl exchanged business cards with the other. He said he was going to call within the next week. Maybe sooner if the right person came along before that. All he asked in return is for that member to do the same for him. Carl explained everything he needed from the other member and asked that the person do whatever they could to match his effort.
He always said to thank the other member profusely. Tell them you will work your very hardest at fulfilling that commitment and that you are looking forward to a long happy future of business referrals. He then said he did everything in his power to call with not one but two business referrals well before a week was up. Carl wanted to make the strongest impression on the recipient of his referrals knowing full well that it would come back to him twofold if not three or four. Carl also said he almost always had repeat referrals and life long business partners. He repeated to Ben "Always offer to help them first, promise to help, do more than you promise, ask for their help and thanks them over and over!" It's not over when you send them one or two clients this is a referral network that goes on forever.
You might not be able to refer clients to say - a Brain surgeon. Or a jet pilot. So this may not work on the fair trade side for all business members. But for real estate it IS the most appropriate way to build your business refferal network. It does work. You have to try it. We all got to live somewhere!?
Don't continue to refer business to someone who has turned out to do poor work. Someone who doesn't reciprocate regularly, but don't write them off entirely. Always ask for business. You never know who might know someone who is looking to move, downsize, upgrade or even jump into the housing market for the first time. And it doesn't mean you can't connect with anyone outside of a busienss meeting network. I met Ben at the post office and he shared his story with me. Thanks Ben, I needed that!
This is just one of the lessons that I had learned previously, but had just let drop to the wayside for one reason or another. As part of my re-establishing myself in active real estate sales I am going back through many of my notes to again practice smart real estate. We'll see what other great bargain basement ideas I can pull out of my old basics of real estae book of business.
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