Any successful real estate agent will tell you that their most important lead source is referrals. Why? Studies show that quality real estate referrals have a conversion rate of upward of 50%, compared to just 1% or 2% for a typical internet lead. So if you want to level up your real estate business, you need to focus on referrals.
The only problem is that referrals are hard to come by, and it can take years to build up enough to run your business. Luckily, there’s a much easier way to get tons of referrals and develop stronger ties to your community: Parkbench.
Let’s take a closer look at what Parkbench is, how it works, and how it can benefit your real estate business.
What Is Parkbench?
Parkbench is a real estate lead and referral-generating platform that gives real estate professionals the tools they need to leverage connections in their community and turn those connections into buyers and sellers.
They do this by providing agents with online platforms for their local community, then teaching those agents how to reach out to business owners and local influencers to interview them and give them a place to promote their business, activities, and so on. Business owners in your community are great sources of referrals because they hear about people considering the homebuying or selling process very early on.
Imagine how many times a manicurist or an interior designer hears about someone considering a move? With Parkbench, these are your new referral sources.
Plus, since Parkbench community platforms are also packed with local news, coupons, and specials from local stores and restaurants (all automatically populated for you), you’ll also capture leads from people searching for information about your community.
How Is Parkbench Different From ‘Traditional’ Lead Generation?
If you’re wary about getting started with another lead generation company, we don’t blame you. Real estate lead generation can be expensive, the results are far from guaranteed, and the experiences that one real estate agent can have in one market can be vastly different than the experiences you have in your market.
Luckily, Parkbench is different from traditional online lead generation. For starters, Parkbench users aren’t plugged into a larger system like Zillow and provided the same exposure and strategy as everybody else. You aren’t just a name and a face on the side of someone’s search results; with Parkbench, you’re given the tools to succeed, the resources to learn on your own, and the training—including up to five hours a day of live group coaching—to go out and actively forge new relationships.
This sets you up as the go-to referral source for all of your contacts before any other real estate agent in your market, referrals that convert, on average, at a rate 10 or sometimes 20 times better than cold internet leads.
Next, with Parkbench, you don’t pay by the lead, or even by the impression. You pay a flat fee determined by the size of your market and the average sale 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.
Finally, the connections you make on Parkbench have lasting effects and can result in multiple transactions, as opposed to other internet leads that may result in a single sale, but not much else. Think about how much time, money, and effort is required for “traditional” online lead generation. Wouldn’t you want those efforts to contribute to sales year after year instead of just one?
If the local business owners in your community—owners of the hair salons, restaurants, landscaping companies, and so on—are all your biggest fans because you show support for their business, they will show you support by continually sending you referrals.
How Parkbench Works: 4 Easy Steps to More Referrals
Now that you’ve got the basic idea of what Parkbench is, let’s dig into exactly how the process works. Though there are a LOT of ways that Parkbench agents can fine-tune their process to get more referrals (the Parkbench learning library offers Parkbench clients an extensive selection of articles, video content, FAQs, and live coaching), here are the most important steps for generating real estate leads on this platform.
1. Launch Your Community Platform
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. Parkbench has streamlined this process so that you have very little work to do; you only need to supply things like headshots, brokerage information, social media links, and contact information—they handle all of the heavy lifting.
The folks at Parkbench then take this information and use it to put the finishing touches on your platform, which automatically connects to local news and deal sources aggregating 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.
Next, let’s take a closer look at how Parkbench makes it easy to build lifelong relationships with local business owners—the people who will ultimately turn into your best referral sources and biggest fans.
2. Interview Local Influencers
Once your Parkbench platform is up and running, it’s time to start filling it with interviews and spotlights of local businesses and influencers. Not born with the skills necessary to conduct the perfect interview? Not to worry: Parkbench goes above and beyond to give you the skills and strategies needed to successfully create interview content that you will be proud of and 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:
Even though much of the real estate marketing industry has been turned on its head thanks to COVID-19 and the lockdowns, the Parkbench strategy has never made more sense. Local businesses are looking for new, ideally free, ways to promote their business, and you can conduct video-chat interviews from the comfort of your own home. When we start to get back to business as usual, your interview subjects will always remember your outreach and partnership with them.
3. Share Your Content & Encourage Your Influencers to Share It Too
Once you’ve got your platform up and running and have some fantastic interview content with influencers in your community, it’s time to get the word out about it. Share your content on social media, share it with your email list, and share it with anyone who might get value from learning about your interviewee and their place in your community.
In turn, encourage your interview subject to share the content too. The more people they can get to their spotlight, the better for their business (and the better for yours!).
4. Follow Up With Your Influencers, Leads & Prospects
After your interview content is live on your hyperlocal platform, the final step to success is establishing a follow-up routine to make sure that you can continue to nurture your new relationships, move any referral leads you’ve received down the sales funnel, and give your prospects reasons to commit to you as their agent.
Though every agent is different when it comes to their follow-up approach, there are a few can’t-miss techniques that will ensure you don’t miss any opportunities:
- Local influencers and interview subjects: These are your most important contacts because they are the ones who will continue to send you referrals. Put a monthly call on your calendar to stay in touch and make sure you are top of mind. When it is safe to do so, convert this monthly call into a stop-by at their place of business. 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.
- Referral leads: If your influencers have passed you 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 (or scheduling through your customer relationship management (CRM) software) regular text messages to keep in touch and be ready when they are ready to move forward with a purchase or sale.
- Prospects: Chances are you’ll have people who are visiting your hyperlocal platform to consume your content, and who will end up reaching out to you to ask for more information about the interview or about your real estate services. It’s a great idea to have an automatic response email set for anyone who completes one of these lead forms, and make sure to follow up with a phone call as well.
Why Parkbench Makes Sense for Your Business
Now that you know what Parkbench is and how it works, let’s look at some reasons why it can help you generate a steady stream of leads and referrals quickly.
- Exclusivity: Unlike becoming a Zillow Premier Agent, Parkbench Local Leaders® have exclusive access to their entire community. Parkbench only allows one agent to operate in each area, so you know the money you spend on this service won’t be spent competing with other agents doing the same thing.
- Community building is powerful: The best marketing efforts are the ones that not only inform, but also actively work to build a community around your product and service. Since finding people a new place to live is inherently about building community, tying your business to the act of overall community development is a great way to establish long-lasting referral relationships.
- When local businesses do better, you do better: To borrow a phrase from one of my editors on The Close, “A rising tide raises all boats.” Meaning, when the community at large is doing better, your business will do better. The Parkbench method of referral generation centers on the promotion of other businesses—businesses whose owners are more likely to send you referrals if they are happy and successful.
- Unparalleled Parkbench coaching and support: I know I mentioned this earlier, but it bears repeating: The Parkbench Local Leader® support, mentorship, and training are top-notch. Not only do you get access to their large library of written and video training material, you also can participate in as much live coaching and training as you want, which is something they do three hours a day, five days a week. Parkbench will train you on every step of the interview process—including video editing. That sort of coaching would cost you tens of thousands of dollars a year elsewhere.
How Much Does Parkbench Cost & How Much Time Does It Require?
For the majority of agents, Parkbench costs between $3,500 and $6,500 a year. The cost is determined by two factors: the population of the community you’re serving, and the average sale price of a home in your area. The higher the medium home value or population, the higher the cost of the platform is.
Remember though, even if you are paying near the maximum amount for Parkbench, say, $6,000, it will only take one $200,000 sale to make this platform worth your while.
The amount of time required to be successful on the platform will depend on how many Local Leader® interviews you are conducting. Agents who are leveraging the power of Parkbench are reporting a minimum of two hours of time every week. If you also count the follow-up necessary to create and cultivate the relationships formed using Parkbench with influencers and the referrals they send you, plan on spending five to six hours on Parkbench work each week.
While this might seem like a lot at first, remember how much time you spend on the generation and nurturing of cold internet leads. It may take upward of 12 or 15 points of contact before a cold lead will start actively responding to your messages; a hot referral lead like the ones you’ll get through your Parkbench network will likely be responsive to your first message or two, making the time you spend with these prospects more efficient and more profitable.
How Agents Are Generating Referrals With Parkbench in 2020
It’s one thing to hear about Parkbench, but it’s another thing altogether to see it in action. 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 tired of the hit-and-miss nature of traditional real estate lead generation and are looking for a new networking approach to creating great referral relationships, Parkbench may be a good fit for you. There’s definitely some investment required—both financially and time-wise—but for real estate agents who can commit to the Parkbench approach, there’s a big opportunity to become a local market expert and earn referrals from your community.
If you’re the sort of real estate professional who’s always had success with their sphere of influence, think of Parkbench as a great way to dramatically expand the reach of your sphere.
Bringing It All Together
Parkbench isn’t your typical online lead generator. With a platform designed to foster mutually beneficial relationships with the business owners and most important local influencers in your community, Parkbench is all about creating connections with people who will be your clients and send you countless other clients for years to come.
Are you a Parkbench user? How has your experience on the platform been? Tell us in the comments below.