Funny - yesterday I posted a blog about getting contact information from open house visitors that ended with a "stay tuned for the next episode" teaser... and got slammed with "I'm doing an open house this weekend, please tell me what to do" notes.
Okay, okay, okay. I hope I didn't overpromise in the blog - I don't have any secret phrase or magic sign-in sheet that will ensure names, numbers and email addresses* from your visitors, but I'll give it a shot.
The question I left you with was "How can you INSPIRE open house visitors to WANT to give you their contact information?" Not how to manipulate it out of them, but rather get them to offer it to you because they want you to have it?
The answer is awfully simple.
You DO (or should) have something a bona-fide buyer wanna-be wants. Not market reports or newsletters or lovely gift baskets, but KNOWLEDGE.
You know more about the real estate market and the houses in it than they do. You know the current inventory. You know which houses are priced right and which ones, well, aren't. You know that homes built by THIS builder cost more than ones by THAT builder, and why (and whether they're worth the extra). If the neighborhood of your open house is out of the buyer wanna-be's price range, you know of alternative neighborhoods that might work for him. If your open house is On The Lake (and priced accordingly), you know how much of a break a buyer wanna-be can get to be Not On The Lake, But Close. If a buyer wanna-be really wants a big yard, you know where he can find that while staying close enough to town to suit him.
When I say that you know all these things, I don't mean that you have a handy-dandy printout next to your personal brochure and sign-in sheet describing other houses for sale. Nor do I mean that you've memorized your MLS and can spout off DOM's and PSF's and List-to-Sold Ratios with abandon.
I mean that you have a conversational familiarity with your local real estate market. And you're more than willing to share your knowledge and expertise with anyone who is interested.
Which leads me to the next point. Not everyone who comes to an open house is a good prospect for you. In fact, most probably aren't, for reasons you're already aware of. Just let ‘em go. Don't be rude, of course, but don't fret about getting their digits or demonstrating your expertise to them. Just let them wander thru, politely and pleasantly answer their questions, and relax. You may leave your open house with only one or two folks to follow-up with and that's okay. It's perfectly fine to cherry-pick your future clients, selecting only those with whom you have a natural rapport, who seem to be open to hearing from you again.
Here's the thing. For me (and many of y'all), trying to create rapport with every warm body who walks in the door is exhausting. And discouraging. I'm just not all that charming, and frankly, not everyone wants to be chatted with even if I were. In fact, most probably don't. By the end of the open house, if I've tried to build rapport with everyone who came in, I'm an emotional mess, especially since many of them have probably rejected my advances (I don't handle rejection well). But if I save my emotional energy for those with whom I "click," I CAN be awfully darn charming!
So, what's the punch line?
1. Be conversationally familiar with the neighborhood, amenities and alternatives to the neighborhood of the house you're holding open and be willing to freely share your knowledge with visitors, and
2. Save your emotional energy for the visitors with whom you feel a natural rapport. Be pleasant and polite to everyone else, but don't stress yourself out trying to get contact information from them.
If you've done a good job preparing for your open house and you choose your targets wisely, you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that many visitors will initiate further contact with you. Either they'll offer up their contact information voluntarily or they'll ask for yours.
If this isn't happening, it's not because you aren't aggressive enough, clever enough or sly enough to coerce those names and numbers from your visitors. So if you want to beat yourself up over the "effectiveness" of your open houses, don't go there. Focus instead on how you can better demonstrate to your visitors that you are the guy or gal they're looking for.
*None of this should be construed to contradict my opinion that open houses are held primarily for the SELLER's benefit, not the agent's. The owner of the home you're holding open expects you to be first and foremost trying to sell his home, not hungrily prospecting for leads for yourself. To read a practical implication of this philosophy, refer to Susan Haughton's comment on the previous blog