There are a number of ways to generate clientele through marketing, but referrals may be among the most effortless.

What’s that I hear you say? “Not in my experience!” Well, okay, it may be true that referrals can be a bit tricky to get started with.

Especially for smaller businesses, referrals can be hard to come by. People are more likely to refer to a business they are familiar with than one they are not.

But the great news for you is that learning how to get your clients to refer to you is relatively easy. Referrals are essentially a form of passive marketing. That means, there is very little work involved on your part, which saves you time and money in the long run.

Referrals are the most trusted form of advertising among consumers, according to Nielsen, with 84 per cent of people trusting referrals from friends and family over other types of ads. People are four times more likely to make a purchase when referred by someone they trust.

But how does your business start generating referrals from past and current clients? We’ll explain everything you need to know.

How to get a referral

Offer exceptional service

It should go without saying that great work speaks for itself. Nobody will recommend you if your work is subpar. If your work is of outstanding quality, you will stand out among other agents.

You should be consistent in providing excellent service, because it’s likely you will work within the same communities and neighborhoods, and people will talk about the job you’ve done. They will be able to compare your performance from one contract to the next, so make sure you are going above and beyond with every client you serve.

It’s also important not to promise things you can’t follow through on, as clients will remember this and it will stick out in their mind when they consider making a referral.

Work with local business owners

Whatever area you are operating in, there’s a good chance at least a handful of local businesses have been long established there and have good relationships with folks in the community.

These businesses could take the shape of your local grocery store, coffee shop, diner, or even a shopping center. The owners of these businesses might have long standing relationships with not only the residents of the community, but valuable real estate leads such as investors, contractors, and other professionals who could be useful to you.

It is handy for you to develop a rapport with these business owners, and you can do this by advertising their services on your website, social media, or your blog. This will make them more open to promoting you to the people they associate with.

Maintain a good relationship with your clients

Establishing a good relationship with clients through providing your best service is one thing, but maintaining a great professional relationship is another. For one thing, you have to keep generating clients, so staying in touch with past clients can seem like a bit of a handful. How can you do this without adding too much to your plate?

One way you can do this is by sending them useful content on a regular basis through an automated email subscription service for clients on your website. You can send things like tips on homeownership, events in their area, blogs with useful info, etc. By staying in touch you will remain at the top of your client’s mind when they make a referral.

A great way to maintain contact with clients — without spending too much of your own time on marketing — is to start your own blog or newsletter. Many real estate professionals hire a freelance blogger to write these for them, as it’s a convenient way to save time, and a fast and thorough means of reaching clients.

Reward referrals

If you want to see more referrals come your way, offer your clients an incentive to refer!

You can offer rewards for referrals, either by offering an incentive for making referrals or by rewarding clients for referring to you.

A reward for a referral comes after a referral is made. You can send clients a thank you note, gift cards, or any number of small tokens of your appreciation — suited, of course, to your client’s unique tastes.

A referral incentive is something that is presented to a client as a motive to make a referral and gifted to them after they have done so. You would advertise this on your website; something like, “$5.00 gift card for referral.”

Regardless of the reward, giving your clients a small token of your appreciation for directing more business toward you will go a long way in the long run. The more clients see that they are valued, the more they will refer their friends and family to your business.

Network with other real estate professionals

Especially in a field such as real estate, it’s important to know other professionals who can help you out down the road.

Real estate agents interact with many other real estate professionals throughout the course of one contract; brokers, mortgage lenders, inspectors, contractors, etc. These professionals are critical contacts in a real estate agent’s Rolodex, and their information should be kept handy at all times. 

Having a good rapport with other real estate professionals is key to being the best in the business, because they too will refer their clients to you. For example, if a contractor  visits a home to make repairs and the homeowner mentions they are looking to sell, the contractor may put in a good word for you.

If you’re wondering how to meet other real estate professionals, attending trade shows and real estate networking events is a good place to start.

Have a unique & recognizable brand

It’s important to have a recognizable brand, distinguishable from others in your field. That’s especially true in today’s internet-dominated world, where 90 per cent of real estate searches are started online.

Your online persona should be easy to find. Since you’re a professional business owner, make sure you’re using your real name and business address and accurate contact details. Accessibility is key. If people can’t find you, even if they are referred to you, they will use their second choice instead.

A great way to distinguish yourself is to create and distribute branded materials, such as pens, notepads, and mugs. You can give these away for free after clients visit your office for a consultation, or leave smaller, un-invasive items in mailboxes in your community with flyers. This will help you show off a bit of your personality and stand out from the crowd. Whenever a client picks up that branded material, they’ll think of you.

Learning how to distinguish yourself from similar businesses, appeal to clients, and earn referrals can take some time, but it’s a worthy endeavor nonetheless. In the end, it’s a marketing strategy that will save you time, money, and effort — and help you build a larger, more satisfied client base.