Today while preparing dinner I realized I needed a couple of things from the grocery store. Mind you I said a "couple". My daughter was coming for dinner so I needed to make sure I had more than just enough for my husband and me. I needed more potatoes and wanted some carrots. Since I was busy preparing other things for dinner I ask my husband to go to the store - I told him I wanted a 5 lb bag of potatoes and a bag of carrots. When he came home he had the potatoes but no carrots. Instead he had a bag of onions. Now how do you get onions from carrots especially when I had told him twice already what I needed - before he went to put shoes on - then as he was leaving he turned to ask what he was to get - potatoes and carrots I replied. In a matter of 5 to 8 minutes that it takes to get to the grocery store he "forgot what I said".
Have you ever gone out of your way to do something you felt would be special for someone, only to later find out they forgot all about it. Makes you wonder why you ever go to the trouble to do something good! Maybe they did not forget but acted as if "that was nothing special".
As a real estate agent or REALTOR® we work very hard to get our business to begin with while we often work even harder to get a transaction to closing. Then there are the times when a seller thinks you haven't done enough to get the house sold while all the time you have been trying to get the price lowered or something taken care of that would improve the way the property shows. The price does not get lowered, no improvement is made, the house does not sale and the seller will not extend the listing with you. Wait, that seller just listed with another agent at the price you were recommending all along and the improvements were made. Wow - you wonder how the other agent managed that!! If that has happened to you do you remember how that made you feel? Okay so some of us just say NEXT! But still you were upset, hurt, mad or really teed off and don't tell me you have forgotten all about how you felt. For some it was not a seller but a buyer you felt you could trust and had a really good relationship with, therefore you did not have a "Buyer Agency Agreement" signed. "Oh they won't buy without me!" or so you think! How did you feel when they called to say they had found the perfect house and oh by the way it was a "for sale by owner" or you didn't answer your phone so we called the listing agent. Now don't try to tell me you don't remember how you felt - I sure remember how I felt when it happened to me.
Not all is bad in real estate. I've had way more good happen during my 22+ years in real estate than bad. I remember getting a beautiful vase of flowers and a Thank You note from my very first buyer. I was thrilled - I did not know people did such things for an agent. You can imagine how good I felt when the big basket of fruit from one of my seller's arrived. I have a scrape book of thank you card and letters that I received over the years. Then there have been just as many transactions where the only thing I received was a hug and thank you as we walked out from the closing. Regardless of how I received their gratitude I always had a very warm feeling in my heart; I knew I had done my job well.
Can you relate to any of the above? I dare say many agents can. Now, shall we take a look at the other side of the deal?
For years I did not stay in touch with past clients on a regular basis, especially buyers or sellers that stayed local. Oh I sent the occasional post card that said I had just listed or sold another house. I might have sent a "Thanks for your business" card at Thanksgiving or maybe I sent a Christmas/Season's Greeting card with my business card stuck on a magnet for the refrigerator. Once in a while I did send the calendars and I once sent a check-book style calendar for their purse. Sorry guys but you could have put them in your jacket inside pocket. Looking back I wonder what in the world was I trying to do. I was just doing what everyone else seemed to be doing and my thoughts were "if it works for you surely it will work for me". Work? Work what? I had no idea then and I'm not really sure I do even today. I just know that I now understand what, when and how I should stay in touch with my past clients.
When at home and you get your mail out of the box, if you are like most people you scan through each piece until you see an envelop that is handwritten and appears to be personal. You stop to open that piece of mail don't you? It's just a card form the salesman where you purchased your car. Did he say something like "Hi (your name), Today I saw the cutest puppy and I couldn't help but think of you. I remember you talking about your dog and how you enjoy training dogs. It's funny how little things like that will remind me of someone I know and I can't seem to rest until I say HI. I hope you are doing well. (signature) Okay, that sounds a little trite but you get the picture. No business is mentioned and the only purpose was to make someone feel good. I don't know about you but the fact that the person took the time to handwrite a note in a pretty greeting card and send it to me makes me feel good. Often I will stand it on my mantel or if at the office on a book case. I may even take it down to show someone. I can't do that with an e-card or email. Greeting cards have always been warm and fuzzy while emails and e-cards are cold and hard.
Let me end this with something that I hope will make you stop to think about what and how you stay in touch with your past clients.
"People will forget what said.
People will forget what did,
but people will never forget
how you made them feel."