According to a study done by Outbound Engine, successful real estate agents get up to 75% of their business from real estate referrals and word of mouth. The same study shows that on average, only about 20% of past and present clients are referring their family and friends to you, leaving a lot of opportunity (and money) on the table.
We’re here to help you boost that average. We spoke to 11 top producers across the country and asked for their best advice on how to get more real estate referrals, here’s what they said.
1. Invite Your Past and Present Clients to Must-Share Events
A surefire way to get your clients talking about you with their friends and family is to invite them to be a part of events that they can’t help but talk about afterwards.
Top one percent Chicago Realtor, Akos Straub, has perfected this strategy, here’s what he has to say:
“My best referral sources are private and intimate events for my past and current clients, usually for no more than 20 couples or families.
For instance, next month I’m offering a private screening of the new Aladdin movie at a downtown AMC theater. I reserved all the seats for the Saturday morning show, I’ll offer popcorn and drinks and a gift bag with Aladdin-themed items. When an attendee gets asked how their weekend was, they are for sure going to mention my name and the event.”
2. Share Your Favorite Spots In Town
Your past clients are less likely to give you real estate referrals if you aren’t top of mind. So, create media, real estate and non-real estate focused alike, and encourage people to share your content.
South Florida luxury listing aficionado. Brad Cooke, suggests putting together messages and media about great local spots:
“I am constantly keeping my name in front of clients with advertisements, postcards, e-blasts etc. regarding new listings, but I also include content like “My Favorite Places”. Whether it be restaurants, bars, dry cleaners, or car washes, people share when they read something they agree with, so just give them a reason to share your message.”
3. Stay Relevant By Sharing Important Market Information
Realtors who think their clients’ interest in real estate ends at the closing table are Realtors who don’t get as many real estate referrals as they could. Remember, buying real estate is an investment. Sharing relevant market information with home owners gives them a snapshot of how their investment is performing, and makes it easy for them to share when a friend or family member starts wondering about making an investment themselves.
Manhattan luxury real estate agent, Alyssa Martin, uses this strategy regularly, here’s her take on it:
“You’ve got to stay up to date on the latest real estate trends, and you’ve got share those trends. I share valuable information with past and future clients, both to educate them and to stay on their minds. Most people don’t use the same agent twice, I want my clients, their friends, and all New Yorkers to know that I’m consistent, caring, and tenacious.”
4. Create Some One-On-One, In Person Interaction
If your clients are local, make it a point to grab a cup of coffee and catch up. Using their purchase or sale of real estate, you have a built-in conversation starter. Use that opportunity to hear what they’re up to, share what you’re doing, and ask if there’s anybody they know who might be interested in the sort of real estate help you provide.
New York and New Jersey super broker, Rahul Ramchandani, uses this strategy regularly, and makes sure that he asks for real estate referrals every time.
“We stay top of mind with our clients so when one of their friends or family mentions that they’re looking for a new home, SR Real Estate Group is almost like a reflex. We try to take them out for lunch or coffee, catch up on how things are going, and ask for a little shout out and remind them how many of our clients come through referrals. While it all starts by providing our clients with excellent service and a memorable experience, the follow up afterwards is just as important.”
5. Crossover Your Prospecting and Referral Game
Some of the most fertile client opportunities come when your different marketing efforts hit the same person with different messages. Your own neighborhood is a great place to make this happen, and is a strategy that Brooklyn expert and New York real estate rockstar, Marie Bromberg, shared with us:
“I regularly prospect Bushwick—the neighborhood where I live—and it just so happens that a parent, whose daughter went to the same school as my daughter, got my postcard in the mail, and we matched. This person was a part of my school circle, but my extra touch with the postcard helped to make the connection.”
Pro-Tip: If you are looking to capitalize on referral strategies like Marie Bromberg’s, you’re going to need to get your real estate postcard game in shape. Check out our article all about real estate postcards.
6. Give Away Branded Merchandise
Giving swag to your clients at the closing table is a nice addition to a closing gift, but it’s also a sneaky way to create more referral opportunities if it’s done right. A water bottle, a keychain, even a hoodie with a great logo and some sort of local message on it is something exclusive, something your client’s friends and neighbors are going to ask about.
Canadian real estate marketing professional, Cody Tritter, gave us the inside scoop on how to take this strategy to the next level:
“Many real estate agents brand their company around their name, but not a lot of consumers are big on rocking a ‘REALTOR JOHN XYZ’ Shirt. Our name and branding allows us to create more wearable and shareable material, something important if you want to get referrals out of it.
We have huge success with REP YYC products (YYC being our city’s airport code), this has generated great organic buzz and real estate referrals for us within our client base.”
7. Ask for a Referral at the Happiest Moments
There are many instances in a real estate transaction when you get to celebrate victories. The closing table is one for sure, but don’t forget about the moment you find that perfect property for a buyer, or the moment your seller gets a full price offer, just to name a few. These are perfect moments, when emotion is high, to subtly remind your clients how important referrals are to your business and that you’d love to help their family and friends with their real estate needs as well.
We heard more about this strategy from commercial real estate guru, George Smith:
“The best way to get referrals is by asking for them at your client’s happiest moment.
For example, I was once able to negotiate three months of free rent for a client. I congratulated them on their great deal and asked them right then and there if there was anyone else they knew that I could also help. Ask and you shall receive!”
8. Be Authentic in Your Post-Closing Communication
The more specific a message has been tailored to a person, the more likely they are to respond to it. If you pay attention to not just what your client needs but also who they are, you can use that knowledge later on to make very effective outreach messages, and up your referral rate big time.
New York apartment expert, Shanna Sharp, gave us this example:
“I keep detailed notes on each client and send content that appeals to them specifically.
For instance, I noticed a group of my past clients were major foodies and home cooks. Not being a great home cook myself, I wrote a blog-like email of my failed attempt at a pumpkin curry one fall. At the end I jokingly asked for referrals since I should probably stick to real estate as my cooking career was clearly not taking off. I got multiple referrals that helped me have a strong fall/winter.”
9. Ask Your Clients for a Testimonial and Share It Anywhere You Can
Just getting your clients to suggest you to their friends and family is only half the battle when it comes to upping your referral game. Once your name has been passed on, you’ve also got to have something for those soon-to-be new clients to use to make their final decision to reach out to you.
Multi-million dollar listing broker, Dominic Longcroft, made this suggestion:
“Ask past clients to write you a testimonial, then display that testimonial on your personal website, your blog, even your social media. You want to instill confidence in your clients and referrals that you can take care of their business.”
10. Schedule Your Outreach to Former Clients
We all know that there are about a million daily tasks required of us as Realtors, and that’s usually just before noon on a Tuesday. It’s easy for small tasks to slip through the cracks, but those small tasks can often mean the difference between a former client who sends her friends to you for real estate help and one who doesn’t.
Stay on top of your post-closing communication by establishing a communication cadence; a plan that will dictate what messages you’re sending to what clients and when.
Tennessee real estate authority, Sheila Reuther, explained it this way:
“I’ve sold residential real estate in the Nashville area for 30 years. The key to repeated referral business is continued and consistent contact. Obviously, you need to do a good job for your clients, but those clients passing your name on to others is what matters here.
Keep your name out there whether it’s mailers, phone calls, or social media. Remember the little things about people. A small detail can go a long way.”
Pro-Tip: If you’re struggling with getting that post-closing communication figured out, you need a good CRM that can help automate a lot of your outreach. You can read our in-depth review of the best real estate CRMs if you want to do some digging.
11. Offer a Discount or Rebate
Everyone likes a good deal. Whether you’re buying something on sale at the grocery store or negotiating the purchase of a new home, if you feel like you’re getting a bargain, you feel good.
Andrew Weinberger takes this knowledge and applies it to his real estate referrals game:
“The most effective method to generate real estate referrals that I’ve used is to offer a discount/rebate on future business. Essentially, I let my clients know that I’ll give them a discount on commission if they list in the future, and that I’ll extend the discount to their friends and family.
This is simply a way to pay it forward and encourage real estate referrals by offering a great deal.”
Over To You
Have a great way to get referrals we didn’t cover here? Let us know in the comments.