A woman walks into a local self-storage company. She says to the owner, “We’re listing our home soon and need to declutter. How much does a storage unit cost? The owner behind the desk asks, “Congratulations on your upcoming move. Do you have a real estate agent, yet? If not, I can recommend one.”
That scenario plays out among local businesses all the time, especially those that are connected — in even a minor way — to residential real estate. Examples include cleaners, real estate lawyers, home inspectors, garden stores, florists, interior designers, home stagers, junk removal companies, and even local convenience stores.
Of course, you want those real estate referrals. So how do you get them?
Some are obvious, such as real estate lawyers and contractors. Those businesses are directly plugged into the real estate industry and regularly get asked for, or have the opportunity to offer real estate agent recommendations. But don’t forget those businesses that are on the periphery, yet can still recommend you two or three times a year. For example, self-storage companies.
Once you’ve made a list, get in touch with these business owners and introduce yourself. If possible, invite them for a coffee or lunch.
Don’t ask for referrals during the first meeting. That sends the wrong message. As entrepreneur Marissa Levin points out in an Inc. Magazine article, “People… refer others that they know, like and trust.” So your initial goal should be to establish and build the relationship.
After that first meeting, however, it’s important to remind these local businesses that referrals are an important part of your business and you appreciate their recommendations. Studies show that you’ll get more referrals if you consistently communicate that you welcome them.
A technique that has worked well for many real estate agents is to set a goal of reaching out to a new referral source once a week. That’s fifty in a year. Not all be end up referring you, of course, but if just 10% do, that’s five local businesses sending real estate leads your way. It adds up fast.
Staying in touch is key. If you have an automated real estate marketing system, then put the local business owner into your database so they get regular email and direct mail updates from you. That will ensure the referral source hears from you regularly, which builds the relationship and makes it much more likely they’ll refer you.
When you get a referral, show your appreciation. Call, email, send a thank you card or even a gift.
Most importantly, look for opportunities to refer your local business contacts. As a real estate agent, you’re able to refer movers, storage facilities, cleaning services, decorators, contractors and so much more on a regular basis. If you successfully refer just one or two business owners within your network with each new sale, you are likely to receive referrals from the people you referred. Business relationships based on trust and reciprocity are virtually guaranteed to become a source of steady and long-lasting referrals.
Reaching out to local businesses takes some work, but it’s worth the effort. Learning how to get real estate referrals from local businesses will up your quality and and quantity of leads.