I have been dwelling on whether or not to Post on this subject, but I think it is fitting right now. First we will work on identifying current Fans, and keeping them, then we will start work on transforming clients into our Company Fans. In recent years we have all seen a shift in the real estate industry from efficiency, and speed to service and assistance. While the 10 day process from contract to closing still occurs, it is now the exception not the rule. I don’t believe this is a bad thing, but an opportunity to make some life long clients instead of customers who get in and out as quickly as possible and develop no real relationship, and no real loyalty. While this process is not an easy one, it is something we can all do with no specific skills, or classes, it is something that takes time more than anything else.
What is a Fan?
Well it seems silly to ask this question in South Louisiana right now, because we see evidence of it every day. Whether it is the Saints Flags fluttering above car windows or LSU decals on every single car’s back glass (My European relatives thought that all the cars came like that from the factory). Baton Rouge is the only city I have been in, where it is perfectly natural to see grown men wearing bright Purple and Gold from head to toe on a daily basis. Fans by definition are supporters, enthusiasts even, in some aspect of your business or company. There is something about the way your company works or a specific employee that is essential to that fans business. Identify what that trait is, or why your current fans became fans in the first place.
Products don’t make fans, service does.
While I agree with about 90% of the above statement, there are some people who this does not apply too. MAC heads come to mind, not the guy who has the Ipad and the Iphone, but the guy who has the pad, the phone, 9 different Ipods, a Mac top and an Apple Tattoo. If you sell PC’s, don’t talk to this guy. But for the “normal” people service is where it starts, and in today’s economic outlook, it is a good place to concentrate on as well. But you will need to expand your search from just “customer service”.
Service doesn’t make Fans, Individual Service does!
We tend to group people, especially in business. It makes life tidy and easy to organize. This is something I am trying to break from in my own work day. Realtors, Brokers, Lenders, Agents, Bankers, Developers, FSBO’s, these are all groups that are made of individuals, who want and require different things. It is impossible to look at that list and imagine making Fan’s out of them. Does every Lender want 24/7 access into our online GFE calculator. I doubt it, there are some Lenders that I could say, “if you use the GFE calculator I will give you a Buick,” (which I wouldn’t because that would be a RESPA Violation) and they still wouldn’t trust the computer to give them accurate numbers. And that is Okay, we have processors to give that information as well. Don’t force the Fan into the Process, adapt your process to the Fan. Then educate Fans on why your company uses that process. A Fan will trust you, and allow you to serve in his/ her best interests. Make sure as your business grows, you don’t leave out the Fans who got you there.
Fans Can Be Profiled.
Profiling has gotten a bad rap here recently, but when it comes to gaining Fandom, it is essential. You might know a client likes coffee, but a fan will know where the pot is, and know how you take your cup as well. As a sales rep, it is a good idea to share your fan’s profile. Whether you store it in the company contacts database or just tell others in the office, the important thing is to let everyone know when a Fan is coming in. It is an opportunity to share a fan, it is a lot of work to maintain a client let alone a Fan, so share the load with the office. The more relationships the Fan has, the less likely that Fan is to stray.
If it sounds like Fans are a commodity or an asset, well lets be honest they are. Keep them YOUR commodity. I promise you the competition is eyeing your fans, and why wouldn’t they? If a Builder only uses one realtor for all of his properties, there are several other agents waiting for a mistake to be made. Track your fans happiness, and give some appreciation when needed. If your fans start using the competition, find out why, IMMEDIATELY. Don’t wait 6 months, and then wonder why you didn’t get invited to the Christmas party. When a fan makes a switch, they tend to get very vocal about it, they want everyone they know to use their “NEW GUY”, they need to know they made the right decision, and will work to prove it. This is great if you’re the “NEW GUY”, not so much if you’re the one without the Christmas Card.
Make sure your sales force has internal Fans, those people in the office who work hard to actually deliver the product or service on time and correctly. This isn’t always easy, communication, respect and appreciation is Key. If the sales force doesn’t have fans in the office, it is difficult to develop new ones outside the office. Just as No one wants ME processing closing documents, most processors have no desire to give a presentation to a room full of agents. But we can’t deliver the service fans require without the trust that our fans are being taken care of.
Treat office/ admin employees well. Those fellow employees are your internal customers and need a regular dose of appreciation. Thank them and find ways to let them know how important they are. It sounds silly, but I used to walk into each office and give a small round of applause, what started as silliness turned into me just letting the people who made my paycheck know I was thinking about them. Treat them with respect and chances are they will have a higher regard for your fans. Appreciation stems from the Outside In and from the Top to the Bottom. Treating customers and employees well is equally important.
Next: Turning New Clients into Fans!
Gareth Beale is the Marketing Director for Choice Title LLC, you can respond here, or contact him directly Gareth@choicetitle.com
His weekly Blog can be found here.