Again and again, as I sit with agents both new and old, big and small, the same topic comes up; how's your book look?
I like to tell agents the story of two professionals in my life. The first is my vet - he sends my dog a postcard every year on her birthday. Then, his secretary calls me when she is due for shots. The second pro is a dentist I once went to. One year he sent me a reminder postcard and I went in, but the guy who came out to dig in to my mouth was somebody different. Turns out that my dentist had retired and sold his business to this nice gentleman. So - did he buy the chairs? The building lease? Yes, all that, but what he REALLY bought was my dentist's book of business.
Let's cast our eyes around the landscape for a moment, shall we? Let's look at our attorney, our doctors, our dentist, our therapist - the professionals in our life we are Real Estate pros share a lot in common with them, don't we? We're all small businesspeople trying to build a business over our careers. But - and it's a big but - there's one thing we as agents almost never do that these people do. That's view our customer list as a "book of business" - an asset - that can eventually be sold.
Nope, almost no agents I've come across speak in those terms to me when I'm sitting with them. I was pretty bad myself, in my agent years. Settlement over? Hey, see ya later lets do lunch sometime and my phone is ringing and I've got an inspection this afternoon.... on to the next deal. Ok, sure, sometimes we have half-decent drip follow up programs that we put them in, but for the most part we ignore our past clients year 'round. We can barely muster up the energy to get a good recommendation from them after closing for our marketing.
Then there's the prospects we work so hard to earn. Sitting open houses - dreary - to meet one or two new people a week. Hanging door knockers. Buying a booth at the fair. Maybe next week we mail them a handwritten note and file their sign in sheet in a lower drawer (guilty, me). Or, what about the folks whose business cards we get here and there - do we diligently transcribe those precious contents into our book of business? Nah, too much work. Need an assistant for that!
And finally - the family and friends. Have we stopped by all those pesky cousins, aunts and neices to re-introduce ourselves as businesspeople and hand them a stack of cards? Yes, I'll get right around to that when I have time from my busy Facebook schedule. Or next Christmas when I see them.
In the end, even if you know an agent who's already doing all of these things - I'm still willing to bet they miss the forest for the trees. Are they faithfully maintaining their book of business - past clients, sphere of influence and new countacts - for the express purpose of building a marketable asset down the road? "Yes, I have 2,130 contacts in my book of business and I can tell you the last time I touched each one of them, and how - pick a name from the list."
I view the setting up, diligently massaging and building onto a book of business as the foundational activity of any Real Estate professional. No exceptions. It is the first priority of every new agent just establishing their sphere, as well as the top priority of any veteran top producer looking for the spin-off business it provides them.
So this is how I see it playing out. You organize based on these three key categories and start marketing to them. All different - no cookie cutter newsletters or nonsensical email blasts. Massage them in unique ways. Some folks will move into the middle category (hopefully lots!). You should know the exact number of people in each category and be able to explain how you plan to reach them and nurture them until it's time to sell the whol shooting match. Making sense?
So go and start getting your book organized! I may want to buy it one day...