The consumer retention conundrum. Why don’t consumers come back to us when they are in the market again?
How much business did you leave on the table in 2012? Our industry is missing out on a huge opportunity to capture repeat business with real estate consumers.
Consumer retention is critical for long-term success. In fact, many industries live off of repeat business. You would think our industry would be the same; however, the 2011 NAR Member Survey stats tell us a much different story about our consumer retention strategies. Unfortunately, focus on repeat business is practically non-existent for the majority of brokerages.
- Only 18% of brokerages received repeat business;
- 6% of agents with 3 to 5 years of experience received repeat business. You can argue that makes sense since consumers don’t move that often;
- When you look at agents that have 6 to 15 years of experience that number is only 17%; and,
- Even when you look at the most experienced agents with over 16 years of experience, only 38% receive repeat business.
What’s going on here? The fact is most agents close the deal and move on. Consumer retention isn’t on their radar.
Most real estate agents or their companies don’t make the effort to maintain a solid relationship after the closing. Yet every closing is a huge opportunity not just for referrals, but also for future repeat business. But that future is typically a few years ahead, and our industry is not known for its robust or innovative business planning.
For today’s educated consumers, the standard real estate marketing strategies are destined to fail. You won’t gain repeat business with outdated consumer retention programs such as “Happy Birthday on the purchase of your home” postcards or cookie recipes at Christmas. Our audience is savvy, and lets face it, they won’t give your marketing attempts a second thought.
Our current consumer retention strategies don’t cut it. Our role should be that of trusted advisor for anything related to real estate and home ownership.
I have bought many homes over the years and don’t remember any agent, or for that matter, any brokerage, making the least bit of effort to develop a relationship with me after I bought my home and they got paid. The good news is I am in the real estate business so it’s not hard for me to find agents. I just pick up the phone and call one of my broker friends.
Most real estate consumers do not have that luxury and that is why consumer retention is such a huge opportunity every agent and brokerage should be looking at.
So how can you maintain a genuine relationship after closing? Here are a few post-close marketing suggestions:
- Send regular correspondence (email, snail mail, etc.) that provides relevant information such as mortgage amortization information, updates on neighborhood sales activity, or general market information;
- Place a call from time to time to see if there is anything the homeowner might need. Even if it’s something you can’t help them with, it’s an opportunity to point them in the right direction, and, most importantly, connect with them on a personal level; and
- Focus on social listening, and then engage with them on your social networks. Make them part of the conversations you are having. They can see what you are up to and you can see what they are up to, etc.
There is a huge opportunity for agents and brokerages to increase the value of their businesses just by closing the gap between those consumers that go elsewhere the next time they are in the market and those that come back to you. This not only means repeat business but additional referrals from happy clients, not to mention additional opportunities to engage them if you have ancillary businesses such as insurance and mortgage. Maintain your connection and you’ll be top of the call list when they’re back on the market for a home.