Real estate is a people business. Brokers are most successful when they make connections, build deep networks, and nurture professional and personal relationships from the ground up.
Unfortunately, 2020 has put a dent in those abilities. The COVID-19 pandemic has made physical interactions difficult, forcing many brokers into remote, work-from-home arrangements — far from other brokers, vendors, and other partners they might come in contact with.
However, building new client relationships and fostering existing relationships is still possible virtually. Here are five ways to build relationships during the pandemic.
1. Create a weekly check-in list.
Regular, consistent communication is critical when in-person interactions are off the table. To make sure you’re continuing to nurture those seeds you planted, create a list of clients, potential clients, and vendors to check with on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
When you reach out, it doesn’t have to be a full-on phone conversation each time. A simple, personalized email or text will do, asking how they’re doing, what challenges they’re currently facing, and if there’s anything you can help with. You don’t even have to talk shop if you don’t want to. Sometimes a “Happy Friday” or funny meme can be enough to take that relationship one step further.
2. Find ways to reduce their burdens.
Let’s face it: there are a lot of challenges that come with pandemic-era buying and selling. There are health concerns, difficulties with scheduling, homeschooling and childcare issues, and any number of problems. If you can ease any of these burdens — even just one — you’ll gain immediate clout in your client’s eyes.
Maybe that means conducting after-hours showings via FaceTime or investing in some PPE for the client to view a home safely. Even very small gestures can go a long way for a client who’s feeling defeated.
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3. Use tech to your advantage.
There are plenty of tools that can make communicating with your clients easy and consistent. Send personalized, automated texts with options like Smart Alto or SendHub, or install a chatbot on your website to make sure no leads fall through the cracks. You can also use scheduling tools like Calendly to make client meeting requests a breeze.
There’s no hard-and-fast prescription here, but evaluate where your communication capabilities are lacking, and look for a tool or two that can help you improve. Chances are there’s one out there.
4. But be human about it.
Not everything has to be polished and professional. Though it’d certainly be nice to have a perfectly quiet house for that Zoom call, sometimes the kids or pets just won’t let that happen. It’s OK — and it may just be relatable to your client more than you know.
Always remember: Your clients are struggling with all this change, too. Ask how they’re coping. Make small talk about the difficulties of remote work. Let them know it’s not always easy, but you’re there for them if they ever need anything.
5. Be accessible.
You don’t have to be available 24-7 — nor should you, but make sure your clients have plenty of ways to reach you if necessary. Knowing they can easily seek your guidance can offer some much-needed confidence in this uncertain world.
Offer up your personal cell number for texting, and give out your Skype ID or Facebook handle for easy online chatting, too (just keep the app up on your computer when checking email). You might also want to set “office hours,” so clients can have accurate expectations about response times.
The bottom line
Times are strange, and those old relationship-building methods you once used may not be relevant anymore. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. With the right tools, a proactive communication strategy, and some good old empathy, strong client relationships are still within reach.