Referrals hold serious value for real estate agents. In fact, for some agents, referrals might even be their bread and butter — the main way they attract, find, and close business.
A new report proves as much, showing that 17 percent of agents earn anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 annually thanks to other agents’ referrals. Another 20 percent earn at least $10,000 from them.
Do you fall into one of these categories, with referrals making up a big chunk of your income? If not, do you want to? Here are 7 ways to up those referrals and get more agents, brokers, and other professional vendors to recommend you:
1. Partner up.
Consider offering a package deal with other vendors in your area. Partner up with a mortgage broker and put together a first-time buyer program. The broker can waive certain fees on the loan side, while you contribute a few hundred from your commissions. Pooled together, it can mean $1,000 or $2,000 off a buyer’s purchase — seriously incentivizing them to use both your services. You could even do more specific programs, like one for first responders, teachers, nurses, etc. Get creative and figure out how you can both benefit from a shared offering.
2. Incentivize and reward referrals.
Always reward vendors who are willing to refer your business. Maybe you send them a Starbucks gift card along with your thank you note, or maybe you up the ante with each referral they give you: a $10 Amazon card here, a free movie pass next, then dinner at a nice restaurant on the third one. Make it worthwhile for people to send you business — and to keep on doing it.
3. Become a resource.
One of the best ways to get more professional referrals is to simply become a known resource in your field. Do you specialize in vacation homes? Host seminars on buying vacation properties. Have handouts and brochures around the topic and give those to vendors. Launch a shareable video or blog series. Become the go-to source when buyers, sellers, and industry vendors have questions in your area of expertise. Then, when clients come up in that category, you’ll be first to mind every time.
4. Check in often.
Work on building a strong relationship with your referrals by checking in with them regularly — and not just after a referral (or when you’re seeking one). Take them to coffee, set up lunch dates, or just send an email once every few months to see how they’re doing. Is there anything you can do to help them? What’s new in their market? Start a conversation and see where it goes.
5. Attend events and trade shows.
Networking is vital if you want to up those professional referrals. For one, your existing network can only take you so far; it has limits, and reaching beyond those can be the key to increasing your referral-generated income. When you attend networking events, you want to be sure and meet people outside your geographic area — ideally those in cities and states neighboring yours. You never know when they might have a client heading to your neck of the woods, and as the only vendor they’ve met in the area, you’d be a shoo-in for that referral. Work on building your network of far-off vendors, as well as those in closer quarters.
6. Make referrals easy.
If you want to maximize referrals, make them as easy and simple as possible. Give your vendors plenty of branded materials, like business cards, brochures, flyers, and more, and include your website, social links, and phone number in your email signature for quick reference. When they’re ready to refer business to you, finding your contact info should take only a few seconds max.
Referrals should be a two-way street. If someone is going to trust your skills and experience enough to refer business to you, you need to trust theirs, too. That means sending clients their way when there’s a fit, and returning the favor whenever possible. Make sure you keep a folder of vendors you plan to refer clients to; include their cards, any brochures they have, and contact details. Once you do refer a client their way, make sure to send an email or note giving the vendor a heads up. This lets them adequately prepare for the customer and ensures they know you referred them — a win-win all around.
A Great Experience
Whenever you’re building your network of referrals, make sure you’re paying attention to more than just service offerings. The products and services they offer matter, of course, but you also want to ensure they deliver a good client experience. Will they care for your clients as you do? Will they help and guide them? Will they answer their questions and field their calls? Be diligent in finding vendors who fit your standard of care.