Out-of-Town Prospecting

Make a vacation presentation

January 1, 2003

Many real estate professionals cheat themselves out of an off-hours life. Too often, we find ourselves eating on the run, missing our children’s recitals, and, sacrificing date nights with our spouses. And yet, we still feel guilty about taking time off.

I’ve developed several techniques to help salespeople overcome the separation anxiety that prevents them from leaving the office for a vacation. My favorite is the vacation presentation. It can transform your next vacation into a lead-generation opportunity, at a minimum of time and expense, giving you a guilt-free break that could pay for itself in full.

Here’s how it works.

You identify individuals who own property in your market but reside in your destination area. Then you schedule appointments to meet with them during your trip. Several factors make these prospects attractive—they fall outside the reach of your competition’s local marketing efforts and offer a foothold into a new area. I’ve also found that they have a high propensity to sell real estate.

After you and your family select a vacation spot, you can begin searching tax billing records to track down your prospects. Individuals who own property in your town but have tax bills sent to your destination are a match. You’ll find these public records online at your local assessor’s office or through a title company professional whom you do business with. Since these records also reveal property-type information, you can focus on a specific category of real estate that you’re experienced with.

Next, about a month before your vacation, send your prospects a letter. For example:

Dear prospective client,
I’m writing to introduce you to my real estate services in Long Beach, Calif. I believe you own real estate located at 123 Main St. in Long Beach; I found this information using public property tax records. If this is incorrect, please forward this letter to the correct party. If I’m completely off the mark, please accept my apologies and deposit this letter in the trash.

I’ll be visiting your area on the big Island of Oahu, Hawaii, soon. If you’ve ever considered talking with a top real estate professional in Long Beach, I’d like to meet with you.

I’ll be in town from Dec. 10 through Dec. 23. I’m staying at the Royal Hawaiian (phone number). Ask for Walter Sanford’s room, and let me know when you’d like to meet. You can also call my office in Long Beach at 800/792-5837 before I leave.

I’m one of the top salespeople in the area and I can offer you many services, such as:

As you can see, we may have some common areas of interest. And I often find that face-to-face meetings are more productive than impersonal telephone calls. If you have any interest in an update on your Long Beach property, don’t hesitate to call me toll free at my office, e-mail me at walter@waltersanford.com,or call the Royal Hawaiian while I’m staying there.

Sincerely,
Walter Sanford, Real Estate Broker

This letter not only introduces you to prospects but also tells them what they really want to hear—what you can do for them. Plus, you give them the opportunity to follow up in person. Direct mail, e-mail, and phone calls can be effective when dealing with an out-of-state customer, but they can’t compare to a face-to-face meeting.

This strategy has brought me success on trips to California destinations as close to Long Beach as Catalina Island, Big Bear Mountain, and Palm Springs. I’ve achieved even greater rewards in such far-flung destinations as Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Wyoming, and even Europe.

One caution: Be sure to leave time for relaxation.

After all, that’s your main reason for taking a trip. Not to mention that working too hard during your vacation can cause rifts with your spouse.

Another of my favorite vacation strategies involves sending update cards to important clients postmarked from my vacation spot. I let them know that I’m on vacation but also mention that I’m staying in touch with the office on a daily basis. It shows your clients how seriously you take the business and lets them know that you’ll get their message at any time.

Well executed, these vacation strategies will allow you to enjoy more of life in this demanding business. Some people say that you shouldn’t mix business and pleasure. But in a business as all-encompassing as real estate, sometimes that’s the only way to pull yourself away from the office. Setting a few manageable goals during your trip allows you to enjoy yourself without feeling as if you’re slacking off.

  1. An estimate of your Long Beach property’s value, based on comparable properties
  2. My own fair rent guide that examines how much similar properties are renting for
  3. Referrals for property managers, handymen, electricians, and plumbers
  4. Counseling on 1031 tax-deferred exchanges
  5. Introductions to the best lenders in town, should you be considering a refinance
  6. Lists of other investment properties to purchase in the area
  7. A complete marketing plan, if you’re selling
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