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Building Your Business through Referrals

by Marilyn Urso


Creating Word-of-mouth Success


Any successful real estate agent will tell you that a large portion of his or her business originates from referrals. Real estate is certainly a "word-of-mouth" business. 

As a matter of fact, 41 percent of consumers report that they selected their agent based on a referral from a friend, neighbor or relative, according to recent research by NAR. Furthermore, statistics from the 2012 NAR Member Profile show that, for 38 percent of agents surveyed, a quarter or more of their business was repeat and referral business from past clients and customers. So how can you generate more referrals for your real estate business?  

5 Building Blocks for a Great Referral Business

1. Family and friends are your best resource. They know and trust you, and the feeling is mutual. You want to work for them to be sure they get the "best deal" out there when they are buying or selling. Keep them informed regarding market conditions and your successes, and don’t forget to ask for their referrals (often).

2. Clubs and organizations are your next best resource. Whether it's the local PTA or the Chamber of Commerce, make sure everyone knows you are a Licensed REALTOR®. Don't be a "secret agent." Clubs, such as Rotary and Kiwanis, have frequent meetings and often need volunteer speakers. Offer to give a presentation on the local real estate market or some other real estate topic. You can also get your company to sponsor events, or perhaps you can provide a door prize for the meeting. "Always be networking" should be your motto when you are part of any organization. 

3. Neighbors are another great resource, even those that you don't really know well. I have always put flags out in my neighborhood for Memorial Day. One day I got a call from a neighbor who wanted me to come over and list her home for sale. During the appointment, I asked if she was going to interview any other agents. She said: "Absolutely not! No one else ever put a flag at my mailbox." Neighbors appreciate the little things.

4. People you do business with are a resource we seldom think of for getting business back. Your gardener, mechanic, dry cleaner, beautician, barber or the clerk at your favorite deli need to know that you are a real estate agent. Ask them for referrals – after all, aren't you giving them business on a regular basis? Perhaps they'll let you leave some cards or brochures on their counter. I always provide extra pens to my sphere of influence, and they appreciate it and use them gladly. Oh and don't forget your postal carrier. He or she knows who everyone is on the mail route and is a great source of neighborhood information.

5. Past customers and clients will give you some very qualified leads. You've already done a great job for them in their sale or purchase, so they will make sure their friends know all about how great you are as an agent. Don't forget to get a written testimonial, or better yet, a short video testimonial from them whenever you can. It can be a simple answer to the question, "How did I help you the most in your purchase (or sale)? Can you please make a great post on Youtube or Facebook or other social media?"

3 Steps to Create a Referral-based Business

1. Build your database. Who do you know? Make a list with all their contact information. Missing an email address or other data for someone? It's a reason to give them a call or drop a note to get it. And don't forget to offer your help if they have any real estate needs.

2. Keep in touch regularly: five to seven times in the first two months and then every five to six weeks. Once the relationship is established you can drop it back to four to six touches per year. Be sure to provide value with every touch and don’t forget to ask for the referral.

3. Hold a Client Appreciation event, help organize a block party in your neighborhood or volunteer to work on a community project for your organization or club.
 Getting people together for family fun or fundraising always builds good will.

I saved one of the best resources for referral business for last. It is of course the Women’s Council of REALTORS®. Over the years, I have done many great referrals to my friends from WCR all over the country. I always know they will provide the same superior service I would and I have never been disappointed, nor have my clients or friends who were referred. 

So what are you waiting for? Make that list and get those referrals. Oh and by the way, if you know anyone who’s moving to Long Island or moving to your area from Long Island, give me a call. I will be happy to help!

Whether you are new to the business or ready to retire, your sphere of influence is bigger than you realize. Build a good database and stay in touch regularly with them all. Use all methods of contact – from handwritten notes to Facebook, or just drop in randomly to see how they are. 

Marilyn Urso
, CRB, GREEN, GRI, PMN, SRES, has been a licensed REALTOR® since 1993 and a member of the Women's Council for most of her career. She is a broker/owner, along with her husband Frank, of Long Island Village Realty, Inc., in Syosset, NY.  Marilyn is also a licensed instructor in New York and certified to teach several NAR designation courses. She can be reached at MUrso@LIVillageRealty.com.

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