As a recent first-time homebuyer, I can attest that the entire viewing and purchasing process is a whirlwind of information. My inbox quickly filled up with correspondence from realtors, lenders, insurance reps, and attorneys because I researched my options like a savvy little shopper; there were days when I couldn’t remember my own contact info, let alone the info I received from dozens of other businesspeople.
In the end, I had to sort through the correspondence and select my representatives. What could my real estate suitors have done to get my attention and propel themselves to the top of my list? A lot, actually. Even if your business isn’t related to the housing market, pay attention anyway; you just might learn something you can apply to your field as well!
Here are 6 things you can do to get prospective homebuyers to remember your name:
1. Make contact when you say you will. Self-explanatory, right? You’d be surprised. Of all the places I contacted, only two of them bothered to get back to me within 48 hours with the initial information I requested. Chances are, your potential clients will be psyched about the idea of buying a new home, so it doesn’t hurt to respond to inquiries as soon as you get them. That promptness may differentiate you from competitors and gain clients’ trust in the process.
2. Pick up the phone and call your buyers. There are many things in this world that I’m perfectly okay with purchasing online (including a wedding gown and rings, believe it or not), but a new home isn’t one of them. Email is wonderful and convenient, but don’t forget about the benefits of an old-fashioned telephone conversation! It may take a bit more effort but you’ll make an impression on your clientele. When buyers have a zillion questions, it’s just easier to ask and receive instant answers than it is to play the waiting game with emails. Plus, it’s refreshing to match a voice to a name (especially when dealing with such a large purchase). There’s a level of trust that goes along with it…
3. Always include your signature in email correspondence. When you do have a conversation via email, always include your signature at the bottom of your replies. This will keep your name visible at all times and give clients the means to contact you if they’re on the go. Email signatures make the transaction smoother for smartphone users, too. For example, one realtor emailed a couple of times but never included his signature – only his first name – which made it difficult to find his phone number or website on my iPhone when I needed it. I’d much rather have that information readily available every time than scroll through 18 emails to find it!
4. Have a functional website that matches (or exceeds) the quality of your competitors’ websites. It’s not necessary to have an expensive web design in every case, but your site should rank among the sites of your rivals. Is your website easy to navigate? Do you give users the option to search for what they need and to contact you if they need additional help? Are your prices or fees clearly outlined (or at least mentioned somewhere)? Also, make sure that your website displays on primary web browsers (Firefox, Chrome, IE, Safari) as well as on mobile devices. It’s unfortunate, but you’ll be at a disadvantage if your site looks horrible on a tiny smartphone screen.
5. Give them a free gift. Granted, this one could be tough if email correspondence is the only point of contact, but it works wonders for in-person appointments and meetings. One agent was thoughtful enough to give away a folder/notebook combo with her name on it, which came in handy to make notes on various properties. She even provided a small tote bag for me to store my copious stacks of paperwork! These freebies, in addition to her thorough service, branded her name into my head pretty quickly.
6. Practice what you preach. You won’t get far with buyers if you have a picture of your smiling face plastered on every square inch of your site and then you’re rude and unresponsive when someone contacts you. This scenario actually happened to me! The representative decked out his website with beaming mug shots and catchy slogans, but he seemed more than inconvenienced by my initial questions and was quite short with me on the phone. Needless to say, he wasn’t the rep I chose in the end. Back up your claims or else people will run the other way!
Let’s face it, homebuyers are stressed out and they have dozens of questions they’d like answered. They’re not likely to wait around for you to get back to them whenever you please—there are plenty of alternatives they could turn to instead! If you want the business, then you have to work for it. Answer emails and phone calls as lightning fast as you’re able, check that your website is up to par, and demonstrate that you’re the best man or woman for the job. And please, please, PLEASE be patient with first-time homebuyers. Chances are they won’t know their you-know-whats from holes in the ground, so take the time to respond to every “stupid” question that comes up. You’ll be amply rewarded if you do…trust me!
What else could mortgage lenders, insurance agents, lawyers, or realtors do to keep their names at the top of the list? Can you think of any other industries in particular that could benefit from these tips?