Connect with Your Clients with an Annual Client Review
The holiday season is a great time for people to connect and reconnect with each other. Every year at this time agents ask me what they can do to connect with their clients in a big way during the holidays.
While I do agree that it is nice to get a holiday greeting of some sort, I feel it is much more productive for your business to focus your energies on making a strong impression that pertains to your client's real estate investment - their home. Therefore, I encourage agents to enjoy the month of December and focus on providing their clients with an Annual Client Review in January.
This review is an in-depth analysis of the neighborhood surrounding their investment. It is personal, it is detailed, it has photography and it has substance. Clients love it. It makes a strong impact long after you have sold them their home. It also helps to keep you connected to both your client and their real estate investment. When they go to sell one day they don't have to wonder if they should call you to find out the value of their home, they know that you know the value because you have been watching their investment year after year.
The Annual Client Review (ACR) is a snapshot of the market at a moment in time, and provides information to your client about the value of their home based on recent sales activity. Please don't think this is the same as preparing a traditional comparative market analysis (CMA); the ACR focuses on the relationship that exists between price per square foot and tax assessed values, evaluating sold properties in the surrounding neighborhood over the last year.
I often suggest that my clients complete ACRs for their clients during what is typically a slow time of year - the holidays. Many agents find their business is a little slower at this time of year … and many of them are often panicked when the first of the new year rolls around and there's no business on the horizon. However, the ACR can be done any time of the year. Some of my clients prefer to complete this on the anniversary of the home purchase. I liked doing mine in December and early January. My business was slower then, and completing these for clients at this time of year guaranteed that I would get calls from my clients - and their friends and neighbors - when I needed them most - at that slow time at the beginning of the year. As a result, I always got my year off to a great start.
I'm often asked why I think the ACR is so helpful in cementing relationships with clients. As I mentioned above, it allows you a natural opportunity to make contact with clients, which is especially important if you haven't been good about keeping in touch. It also positions you as someone who has their finger on the pulse of the market. Finally, you're delivering information not when you're trying to "win" their business (as is often the case with the CMA you present at a listing appointment), but simply to provide information that a client might find beneficial. That's great client care!
When my coaching clients hear about ACRs they're usually excited to get started … but then their fears set in. Agents have legitimate concerns about how much work is involved, how long it will take to complete an ACR, and sometimes they worry that a client's property is not worth what it was when they bought the home. While these are valid concerns, let me share a few thoughts with you:
You may be concerned that ACRs require a lot of work. Yes and no. They require some work, but not as much work as a CMA. I believe 100% in the value of an ACR, and if I were actively selling today they would be a cornerstone of my client care program. And I think you all know that anything of value that you provide is going to require some effort on your part.
You don't have to do an ACR for each client each and every year. I did, and I think that's the best plan of action. But if you have a lot of past sellers, or if you're short on time, you could create ACRs only for your clients who bought in the past year. Or put clients on a rotating cycle - perhaps you'll do an ACR every three years for them. You may even choose to do them annually for some clients, and less often for others. It's your business, so you get to decide when to provide the ACRs. In my business I did them every year and for my coaching clients I recommend they do them each year as well.
There will be cases when the value of a client's home has decreased. There's just no way around this. But your clients don't live in a vacuum - they have a general idea what is happening in their area but it is your job to be the first professional to tell them the truth, no matter what that is. But whether their value is up or down, if you want to be the agent of choice you had best provide that information to them.
Are you intrigued by this idea? Are you looking at your pipeline thinking you would like some additional business come January? Don't wait for Santa! Have the Annual Client Review guide and template delivered to your door! You can receive my Annual Client Review Client Care System, which includes the manual and instructions for successfully completing the ACR, as well as the editable Publisher files and tutorials for just $79.95. My Club Zebra PRO members can purchase this system for only $54.95 - a $25 savings! If you're not a Club Zebra PRO member and you want to learn more, click here.
By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI - The founding partner of The Lones Group, Denise Lones, brings over two decades of experience in the real estate industry. With expertise in strategic marketing, business analysis, branding, new home project planning, product development, and agent/broker training, Denise is nationally recognized as the source for all things real estate. With a passion for improvement, Denise has helped thousands of real estate agents, brokers, and managers build their business to unprecedented levels of success, while helping them maintain balance and quality of life.