Top 10 Tips for Increasing Referrals

When it comes down to it, personal recommendations are essential in helping you build a strong clientele base. Referred customers are more likely to place their trust in you based on a family member or friend’s seal of approval, but asking for those referrals may not come easily to you.  Try these quick and easy tips to help increase your referral business.

1.  Add a subtle pitch to your email signature. Every email you send can be an opportunity to promote your business. Consider adding a line to your signature that encourages referrals, such as: “The best compliment you can offer is a referral!”

2.  It’s okay to ask.  Believe it or not, no matter how fantastic their experience with you, referring your services may not even occur to your clients until you ask them. And if they count on you to be assertive when it comes to closing their transaction, there’s nothing wrong with being assertive in asking for their referral business.

3.  Be specific. Most of us like to help solve problems, so ask specific questions of your clients.  Do they know someone who spends too much on rent, or is outgrowing their current home?  Your inquiry may spark their memory of a particular family member or friend who could really use your help.

4.  Say thank you. Go out of your way to thank and recognize people who have given you referrals.  A good old-fashioned, handwritten thank you note delivered via good old-fashioned snail mail goes a long way in today’s electronic world.  Many people also appreciate more public recognition of their efforts, so complimenting them in front of others may be effective in showing how much you value them and referrals.

5.  Get personal. If at all possible, ask for the referral when you’re face-to-face with your client. It’s not only more respectful, but often more successful. It’s human nature to want to help someone just a little bit more if they’re standing right in front of you. 

6.  Fake it ’til you make it. Asking for referrals doesn’t always come naturally. Some people are uncomfortable with it because they don’t want to be perceived as being pushy or unprofessional, or to put the client in an awkward position.  If that’s the case, change your mindset and look at it from a position of you being helpful. You’ve just helped your client with their transaction, perhaps you can do the same for someone they know?  It may seem unnatural at first, but you’ll likely become more comfortable with practice.

7.  Timing is everything. Choose your moment wisely. The best time to ask for a referral is often when your client shows appreciation or thanks you for your hard work.  It might go something like this:  “Thanks for everything, you’ve been wonderful to work with.”  That’s your opening to try something like this:  “I’m so glad I could help, that’s why I love my job.  If you know anyone else I can help, I’d appreciate you passing my name on to them.”

8.  No risk, no reward. Don’t let shyness get in the way of building your business. Referrals equal clients, and the more you ask for, the more you’ll get. Try to think of it as a small effort for a great reward.

9.  Don’t forget special occasions. Send birthday, anniversary and holiday cards to your clients. It’s a great way to stay connected, and another opportunity to ask for a referral.

10.  Network and volunteer. Get out, get involved, and meet new contacts. Most people would rather do business with someone they know and trust than a complete stranger.

If you’re looking for more clients, work at setting aside your apprehensions and getting in the habit of asking for referrals from all of your satisfied customers.

New York Times: The advantages of preapproval

The New York Times

The advantages of preapproval
The housing market is warming up in many areas, with multiple offers becoming more commonplace.  Buyers who want an advantage in the bidding process will need more than a mortgage prequalification – they will need a preapproval.

Making sense of the story

  • The differences between mortgage prequalification and preapproval are significant. Prequalifying for a mortgage is based solely on what a borrower discloses to the loan officer or broker about his/her earnings, credit score, and total assets, including what is available for a down payment. By contrast, a preapproval requires a borrower to provide documentation of his/her income and assets.
  • The lender typically pulls the borrower’s credit report and score, while the borrower gathers together almost everything else needed for the actual mortgage underwriting: W-2 wage statements; 1099s; recent pay stubs; bank statements; and statements from Individual Retirement Accounts and 401(k)s; and other assets that could show the borrower has the resources to buy and maintain a home.
  • At one of the country’s largest mortgage lenders, Wells Fargo, the first quick review provided by an underwriter constitutes an agreement to lend.  Other lenders may treat preapprovals as more of an opinion on the person’s ability to borrow, not a guarantee to lend.
  • With so many homes receiving multiple offers, a preapproval is more important in today’s marketplace.
  • The preapproval letter should include the amount a borrower is qualified to borrow, as well as the loan officer’s contact information.  Some letters may have an estimated monthly payment, but details about the loan time and interest rate are not included.
  • Timing also is important.  Buyers should aim for obtaining a preapproval letter from a lender within 30 to 60 days of the expected purchase date.  That is because some letters expire in 90 days.

Four Tips for Selling with Social Media

Today, many REALTORS® are getting involved in social media in an effort to generate leads and connect with their clients. While some REALTORS® have found success via posting and tweeting, others are wondering how to go about using social media to successfully sell homes. C.A.R. has spoken to several REALTORS® about their successful social media strategies.  Here are four tips that may help improve your sales, too.

1.  Make it relevant. Your posts and tweets are only valuable if what you have to say is relevant to your audience. Consider tweeting tips on home buying, spring cleaning or ways to save. Post links to interesting articles related to homes and the marketplace, and share updates on community or open-house events.

2.  Build a community.  Build credibility.   Become a part of networking groups on LinkedIn. Position yourself as an expert on relevant subjects. Be sure to manage your social media connections and keep them professional. Post testimonials, webinars, and presentations on YouTube that demonstrate your expertise, then share the link on all your social networking sites.

3.  Create a plan and stick to it.   Make the most of your social media marketing by creating a weekly plan and then sticking to it. For instance: post to your blog on Monday; have a video ready to post on Tuesday; on Wednesday, work your LinkedIn connections; tweet on Thursday (or any time you have interesting content); and make it Facebook Fridays – post and respond to posts on Facebook (but also try to answer posts periodically throughout the week).

4.  Keep it fresh. Internet time is compressed. Information can become stale in days, sometimes even hours. Keep your LinkedIn skills and work history current and specific. For Twitter, customize your feed with a logo and/or background. Change your Facebook photo and cover photo regularly. The more you stay current, the more opportunity it provides for people to engage with you.