10 Ideas for Building Referrals

According to the 2011 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Home Sellers, 61 percent of sellers chose their agent based on a referral or had used the same agent in the past, while 50 percent of buyers found their agent through referral or had used the agent previously.

Here are a few quick things you can do to get more referrals:

  1. Develop a memorable, 60-second oral description of what you do — “I help people find the home they’ve always dreamed of” — and use it to describe your work to new acquaintances. —Ivan Misner, Business Network International, San Dimas, Calif.
  2. Attach a Post-It note reading “FYI” and your initials to your newsletter or to an article of interest, and give it to clients. The note helps attract people’s attention and makes the correspondence seem more personal.
  3. Offer real estate advice via your local paper or radio station to establish your presence in the community.
  4. Choose a unique gift to send to past clients and referral sources each year — a special cake, a Halloween pumpkin, a spring flower arrangement — then repeat the same gift for several years. People will come to expect the gift and associate it with you in their minds.
  5. Donate an annual amount to a local charity in the name of all your past clients and notify them of your gift.
  6. Offer to work with a local insurance agent to help home owners reevaluate the adequacy of their property insurance.
  7. Work with a local college to present an annual economic forecast breakfast. Speak about the real estate market and ask one or two local business leaders to share their ideas on the future.
  8. Take up a new interest. It will expose you to a different group of people who you might not otherwise encounter. If you’ve always been a sports fan, try a reading group. Or take group golf lessons if your idea of exercise is walking from the car to the mall.
  9. Ask. Let people know that you welcome referral business.
  10. Don’t take referrals for granted. It’s five times more profitable to spend advertising dollars retaining current customers than acquiring new ones, according to Bain & Co., a Boston-based strategic consulting firm.
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