photo courtesy of AchimH
We all love a good referral.
Its the pinnacle of a job well done in real estate. The best pat on the back you can receive for the work you do. The signal that you're doing things right and your clients are happy. We all strive to get them and when you do receive one, you take great care in making sure that the referrer is thanked and the new client gets the excellent service that your past client told them about.
I received a referral a few weeks ago.
I consider this referral rather special. When I first got into real estate, I did a lot of phone duty. Things were slowing down in the real estate market, so I did a lot of reading and studying instead of answering phones. One of the first real leads I ever received was a man calling about rentals. I did everything I could remember from my training and soon I found myself in a car driving to show him and his wife some property. They were a great couple. Fun to work with, absolutely funny, and they had two great kids that were always polite and fun to be around. I enjoyed looking for rentals with them. The rental market in their area was a bit tough though, as properties were on the market and off again before I could even show them. Sometimes we'd see the house, call the agent because I wanted to get the right forms into their hands for the application and I'd find out a lease had been signed just moments ago. It was hard work for all of us.
The time kept ticking away and we were soon about a month and a half into our search. I loved working with this family though, so it never bothered me. One day, we found it. The house was everything they had hoped for. We discussed things and we started the paperwork. The husband wasn't available to sign, so we were trying to fax things back to him to get it completed before we got beaten to the punch once again. The following day, when I expected we'd have our signatures together, I got a call from him.
The call wasn't what I had hoped for.
The husband called me, rather apologetically and told me they had decided to renew their lease where they were presently. I was a bit down when I heard the news, but when he explained why, I understood. They had looked at the budget and as prices were on the rise (especially gas at that time), they knew that although they could afford the new home, they would have to make some sacrifices in their style of living. They worried that if prices kept getting worse, the changes in their lifestyle would become more dramatic and they just felt that it was better to stay put. I felt a bit disheartened that I hadn't been able to do my job through completion, but I totally understood. I remember telling him that although I obviously would have loved to get them into a new home, I actually thought he was smart for his decision. I'd rather lose some time and money and see a client happy and doing the right thing for them, than push someone into a situation that wasn't right for them. We talked for awhile about it all and we hung up. I really liked working with them and kind of even missed going out with them each week.
Stay in touch.
The husband told me to stay in touch and as he was in the military, he told me he would keep me in mind as people came into his unit from other places and needed housing. I called him here and there, sent him the occasional note, and always kept in touch. He called me a few times, just to say hello or to check in on how I was doing. We developed a intermittent relationship, but one that I always liked. He called me a few times about some people he knew, but for one reason or another (had an agent already, wasn't ready to move yet, orders changed, etc.) it never generated any business. I didn't mind really, as this was a couple who dealt with me through my first few weeks. Who laughed at me when I put the keys into the lockbox and realized I hadn't locked the door. Who knew about me, my wife, and my former band. Who apologized that they didn't want to waste my gas as we looked at properties (all within their local area, so no long hauls). Who's kids I learned a lot about and got to know what they liked in each house, so that when we went to the next one, I could ask the boy, "So this is your room, right? Your sister can have the smaller one," and he would just laugh and say "of course." I had fun with them.
I was just thinking about calling you.
I had meant to call the family that week, but hadn't gotten a bit sidetracked with things. I would have called them the following week or so, but just hadn't done it yet. My phone rang. It was the husband. "Hey, I have a referral for you. A buddy of mine is moving and I told him about you and he's expecting your call." I was excited about the prospect of a new listing, so I called. We talked, we visited, and I gave my listing presentation. They had things to think about, so I left empty handed. Today, I signed the listing agreement. They had decided to go with me. Even though I had lost the original rental, I was now about to list a very nice home for their friends. That meant a lot to me. Today, as I left the appointment to sign the paperwork, I called the renters to thank them. What I got was thanks from them - for all I had done for them and for keeping in touch. The wife is currently under the weather, but as soon as she's up to it, she'll be dining at P.F. Chang's (her favorite) as a thank you.
The family means more to me than a commission or a referral, but the referral meant the world to me. Never give up on anyone, even when they don't give you direct business at first. By building the relationship, they will remember you and they will bring their friends and family to you as well. I'd rather make $0 today and build a relationship that is enjoyable...and will provide more than enough future income to make up for those few weeks that I came home empty handed.
In case you were wondering, no I don't give out $1,000 referrals or lemon lime soda. I don't like lemon lime soda...I'm more of a cola kind of guy. I do however like $1,000, so please make the checks payable to Matt Stigliano.