3 Simple Steps to More Referrals

Real estate service worth talking about.

Generate referrals by providing outstanding, extra-ordinary, unexpected customer service worth talking about.

Referrals are the best type of business. They’re usually easy to work with because they’ve already crossed the trust barrier and, they’re more profitable. (Studies show it costs 7 times more to acquire a new client than to do repeat business with an old one, or with a referral.)

Here’s a simple, 3-step system to encourage more people to refer you using the acronym: EAR.

E – earn
A – ask
R – recognise/reward

Step 1: E—Earn Referrals by “Wowing!” Your Clients

Do you know there is 1 real estate professional for every 134 private dwellings in New Zealand?* That’s stiff competition.
*Calculated on 13,242 active individual real estate licenses (source: REAA Monthly Licensing Statistics 30/9/14) and 1,776,000 estimated private dwellings Sept 14 (source: Statistics NZ).

To generate a continuous stream of referrals, outstanding, extra-ordinary, unexpected service before, during and after the transaction is required. This isn’t simply doing the job to the customer’s satisfaction; it’s providing service that makes you a topic of conversation at the housewarming party:

“The agent, Tom, was amazing. On settlement day he popped around with the keys and a beautifully gift-wrapped bottle of champagne. Then on move-in day we unexpectedly got a delivery of pizzas, courtesy of Tom. He phoned a day or two after that just to see how everything had gone and later in the week popped in with a “welcome to the neighbourhood pack”. It had a stack of discount vouchers from local businesses he’s teamed up with – a 2 for 1 lawn mowing service, a free child’s cut with an adult haircut, a free DVD from the video store and more. We’ve just received what looks like is an interesting monthly newsletter. He really made us feel like we were important.”

Tom made it easy for his clients to talk about him by “wowing” them with outstanding, exceptional and unexpected customer service.

Step 2: A—Ask for Referrals

You’d be surprised how many of your clients haven’t even thought to refer you. Some may even think you’re so busy you don’t need referrals. It’s your job to ask. And if you’ve “wowed” your clients, then you’ve certainly earned the right to do so.

Ask for Referrals In Person

At the end of a transaction simply ask:
“Just before I go today, I have a favour to ask you, but only if you’re okay with it. Referrals are a really important part of my business. I’ve noticed over the years that when people are in the process of buying and selling they often run into other people thinking of buying or selling. Who do you know that might be interested in my real estate services? What are the names of 2 or 3 people you suggest I speak to?”

Referral request card

Click the image to download a template referral card in Microsoft Word format.

Send a Referral Request Card With Your Newsletter

Two or three times a year (I suggest August and January just before the busy periods), include a small referral request card with your posted monthly newsletter.

Step 3: R—Recognise/Reward

All parents and psychologists know that if you reward good behaviour, it is repeated.

By recognising and rewarding all referrals, whether or not they result in new business, you encourage your clients to refer again.

At minimum, thank the referrer with a phone call and a handwritten thank you card. A small gift e.g. chocolates, movie tickets or a gift voucher are always well received.

When the referral results in a sale, instead of the standard $500 cash referral fee, try being creative: a bottle of your client’s favourite wine, dinner vouchers, flowers, a gourmet cheesecake.

Action Steps:

  • What one thing could you add to your sales system to “wow” your clients?
  • Make asking for referrals part of your sales process.
  • Include a referral request card with your next newsletter.
  • Make it a habit to thank every person who refers you.

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