Referrals are the most important lead source for every successful real estate agent. Why? Quality real estate referrals have a closing ratio of upward of 50 to 70% compared to just 10 to 30% for a typical online lead.
Many agents tell us that while they want to build a scaling business supported by referrals, they also want to serve their communities, support small businesses, and become a visible, reliable expert for the markets they serve.
Parkbench unites these goals, creating a mutually beneficial ecosystem that supports local businesses and agents, while at the same time super-charging your referral game. Let’s take a closer look at what Parkbench is and how it can build your real estate business and enrich your neighborhood.
What Is Parkbench?
Parkbench is a real estate lead and referral-generating platform designed to foster beneficial relationships between agents, local business owners, and community members.
Parkbench allows one real estate agent in each community to set up an online platform at Parkbench.com, which operates like an independent website.
Packed with local news, coupons, and special offers from local stores and restaurants, Parkbench online community platforms attract those searching for local businesses, information, deals, and things to do in your community. Agents can also highlight individual business owners in interviews that will appear on the site.
Because business owners in your community often hear about people thinking about buying or selling a home, they are excellent referral sources. Herein lies the magic of Parkbench. Local businesses get to highlight their work online through the agent’s interview and in turn, they become de facto referral sources for the agent. Thus, the site is designed to serve the community, local businesses, and the agent all at once.
If the local business owners in your community—owners of hair salons, restaurants, landscaping companies, and so on—are all your biggest fans because you show support for their business, they’ll support you by regularly sending you referrals.
How Is Parkbench Different From ‘Traditional’ Lead Generation?
With Parkbench, you’re given the tools to succeed, the resources to learn on your own, and the training to go out and actively forge new relationships and referral sources. Training includes up to five hours a day of live group coaching.
You pay a flat fee determined by the size of your market and the average selling price of a home in your community. Then you can get as many leads and referrals as you want with the interviews you conduct and the connections you make. Also, there’s no cost for the coaching, training, or support you get on Parkbench. Once you’re in the club, you’ve got access to all the tools you need to be successful.
The Parkbench sites also provide a lead capture tool. When visitors sign up for the community newsletter on your site, their contact information goes straight to your database. The best part is, Parkbench assembles and distributes the newsletter for you.
Finally, the connections you make on Parkbench have lasting effects and can result in multiple transactions over the years (another major benefit of referrals), as opposed to other internet leads that may result in a single sale.
How Parkbench Works: 4 Easy Steps to More Referrals
Though there are many ways that Parkbench agents can develop referrals, here are the four most important steps for generating real estate leads on this platform.
1. Launch Your Community Platform
The first thing to know, and this is crucial, is that there is only one Parkbench Local Leader® per community. This means you’re not competing with another Parkbench user one neighborhood over. This exclusivity is a major reason Parkbench works.
After signing on the dotted line and becoming a Parkbench Local Leader®, you’ll have a hyperlocal, interactive community platform live in as little as 48 hours.
You’ll only need to supply:
- Brokerage info
- Social media links
- Contact info
Your site then automatically connects to local news and deal sources, which aggregate the most up-to-date information on events, local happenings, and community developments.
This hyperlocal platform serves as the hub of your Parkbench referral generation wheel; it’s a place prospects can go to see what’s happening around them, and more importantly, to learn exciting things about their local community and hear from its most influential business owners.
2. Interview Local Influencers
Once your Parkbench platform is up and running, it’s time to start filling it with interviews and highlighting local businesses and influencers. Nervous about conducting the perfect interview? Not to worry: Parkbench gives you the skills and strategies needed to successfully create interview content that your interview subjects will be excited to share.
Here’s a great example of an interview Parkbench agent Adam McDowell of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Chicago did with Rita Alviar, an owner of a local yoga studio:
You can do video interviews or meet in person and Parkbench provides interview questions and templates.
3. Distribute Your Content
Once you’ve got your platform up and running and have some solid interview content with influencers in your community, it’s time to get the word out. Share your content on social media, with your email list, and with anyone who might get value from learning about your interviewee and their place in your community.
Encourage your interview subject to share the content too. The more people who see this content, the better for their business and the better for yours.
A lot of this is done for you. Once that interview is complete, the interviewee has their own login so they can create a profile and share it within their own networks. They also get added to your newsletter.
4. Follow Up With Your Influencers, Leads & Prospects
After your interview content is live, the final step is to establish a follow-up routine to nurture your new relationships.
Though every agent is different when it comes to their follow-up approach, here are a few techniques that will ensure you leverage all opportunities:
- Cold Leads & Prospects: Chances are you’ll have people interested in getting more information about the interview or about your real estate services. Have an automatic response email set for anyone who reaches out, and make sure to follow up with a phone call.
- Referral leads: If your influencers have passed along your referral leads, make sure you’ve got regular, weekly communication set up with them to meet all their needs. Email drips and property alerts are a great way to do this, as are sending regular text messages to keep in touch. Be available and be ready when they are ready to move forward with a purchase or sale.
- Local influencers and interview subjects: Put a monthly call on your calendar to stay in touch and make sure you are top of mind. You can also turn a monthly call into a stop-by at their place of business, or better yet, be a customer! Eat in their restaurant, shop in their store, and make it a point to be a visible and engaged customer.
How to Master the Follow-up Phone Call (+ Scripts)
Why Parkbench Makes Sense for Your Business
Now that you know what Parkbench is and how it works, let’s look at some reasons it can help you quickly generate a steady stream of leads and referrals.
- Exclusivity: Parkbench Local Leaders® have exclusive access to their entire community. Parkbench only allows one agent to operate in each area, so the money you spend on this service won’t be spent competing with other agents on the platform.
- Community building is powerful: The best marketing efforts are the ones that actively work to build a community around your product and service. Tying your business to community development efforts is an effective way to establish long-lasting referral relationships.
- When local businesses do better, you do better: “A rising tide raises all boats,” which means when the community is doing better, your business will do better. The Parkbench method of referral generation centers on the promotion of all local businesses.
- Unparalleled Parkbench coaching and support: Parkbench support, mentoring, and training are top-notch, with access to a large learning library of written and video training material and as much live coaching as you want. Training incorporates every step of the interview process, including video editing—instruction that would cost tens of thousands of dollars a year elsewhere.
How Much Does Parkbench Cost?
For the majority of agents, Parkbench costs between $3,500 and $6,500 a year and is commensurate with the population of the community you’re serving and the average sale price of a home in your area.
Higher median home prices in more populous cities result in higher costs, but one additional property sale of $200,000 will cover costs at even the highest end of this range.
How Much Time Does It Require?
The number of Local Leader® interviews you conduct will determine the amount of time required to be successful on the platform. You can plan on spending five to six hours on Parkbench each week, including follow-up time to cultivate relationships with influencers and referrals.
While this may seem like a big time commitment, you’ll be dealing with warm, responsive leads—making your time spent with Parkbench prospects more efficient and profitable.
How Agents Are Generating Referrals With Parkbench
We reached out to a couple of real estate professionals who are actively using Parkbench to hear about their experiences and the success they’ve had. Here’s what they had to say:
Ashley Colgate, Greeley, CO (Greeley Real Estate Services)
“I knew Parkbench was going to work for me when I did the first few interviews and I felt a genuine connection with people. It wasn’t a distant, stiff, awkward, interaction; I felt more connected to that person and to my community through it. I loved that right away. And then, when I got my first referral from Parkbench, it was a done deal.”
“I’m not a big marketer. I like to do business on a repeat and referral basis and build strong connections. I’ve always believed you build relationships first and do business second. When I approach a business owner now, I have something of value. It’s all about them and not about me.”
Is Parkbench Right for You?
If you’re looking for a new networking approach that creates more genuine referral relationships, Parkbench is a perfect fit for you.
The number one complaint we hear from real estate agents is that Parkbench is too expensive and takes too much time. Ultimately, Parkbench requires an investment of both money and time—but there’s a big opportunity to become a local market expert and earn referrals from your community.
Parkbench is an excellent platform for agents who want to drastically expand their sphere of influence, provide a service to their community, and generate leads in a more authentic way.
Over to You
Are you a Parkbench user? How has your experience on the platform been? Tell us in the comments below.