BY ROLF HITZER

Can you relate to this: You arrive on time for your listing
appointment. You introduce yourself and go through the process of touring the
home. As you go past the telephone, you notice a notepad from a Realtor. You
continue your tour and see a wall calendar from another Realtor. The personal
marketing pieces are tastefully done. At the end of the tour, you present your
razzle‑dazzle marketing and close the vendor on a listing contract for 90 days.
A job well done.

Or maybe, this has happened to you: Three years ago, you
sold Mr. and Mrs. Happybuyer a beautiful solid home in a desirable
neighbourhood. Should they ever sell their home, it would be an easy property
to market and sell. Once a year, you send this good client your calendar with
your photo and easy-to-remember phone number. You're happy to invest two dollars
a year for this well‑deserving client, as well as your other satisfied clients.
You arrive to your real estate office Monday morning feeling pretty good. You
decide to print the new listings for your prospective buyers. As you read the
new inventory, you develop a lump in your throat. Mr. and Mrs. Happybuyer have
listed their easy‑to‑sell home with one of your competitors. The good day you
were having is now flushed down the toilet.

You ask the question we all have asked ourselves: “Why
didn't they call and list with me?” You know the answer, don't you? You
failed to stay in touch with a disciplined system for your valued clients. If
you don't believe it, you're only fooling yourself. Mr. and Mrs. Happybuyer
listed their home with someone else because they forgot your name, or in their
eyes, you didn't care enough about them.

If you’re a silent agent, they are right. Seventy per cent
of your sales will be a direct result of your sphere of influence —  your database of friends, family, and past,
existing and future clients. The other 30 of your sales is a result of all
other activities you do in real estate.

Your database of people, if systemized properly, is a low
investment compared to personal promotion paraphernalia, yet your database will
offer the highest return on your investment. If your goal is to have consistent
income and increase your income while minimizing your cost, then follow this
step‑by‑step process. Once this system is in place, within a few short months
or sooner, you will begin to enjoy the benefits.

Of course, you need to back it up with good service and due
care for your clients.

Who should be on your database? The first step is to
establish your sphere of influence. The first list is family, friends,
neighbours, acquaintances, past and existing clients, your future leads, agents
who have exited real estate, corporate contacts such as lawyers, and anyone who
you know their name and they know yours.

Your second list of people should be real estate agents who
you have come to know over the years. Not the Realtors in your direct market,
but those in other markets where you would hope to receive their personal
referrals should he or she have a client moving to your marketplace. Have no
boundaries. If you know an agent somewhere anywhere in the world, they should
be a part of your database because you never know where the next buyer will be
coming from to move to your area.

Systemizing your database: This is where technology becomes
your biggest ally. Once you put the name, address and postal codes on disk, you
are set up for business. You should have a disk for your personal sphere of
influence and a disk for your Realtor sphere of influence. If you don't know
how to do this, find someone who does and pay them to get your database set up
and user friendly. Check with the office secretary and broker if this can be
done for you. This is the hardest part of getting your database current and
accurate. There are no shortcuts. Take the hours required to get the addresses
you need along with the proper postal codes, both from your personal and
Realtor contacts. Besides, it does make for a nice phone call to advise your
sphere you will be keeping in touch with timely real estate information.

Once completed, it becomes simpler for your business. When
on disk, it is easy to add, change and delete names to maintain a current
database at all times. I update my database every Monday and as each month goes
by, I am never stressed or discouraged because I'm up‑to‑speed.

Prospecting your database: Now you have technology working
for you at maximum efficiency. Mail to your database every month. Not
quarterly, twice a year, but once a month. Remember the wall calendar?
Consistent contact is critical for your success and creating a funnel of
referrals. By mailing monthly, it shows your contacts you are serious about
real estate and you are committed to service excellence. With the Internet at
your disposal, a percentage of your contacts will suggest you e‑mail them
versus traditional mail. With your Realtor database, you should mail monthly
vis‑a‑vis the Internet.

If you have a Realtor who does not have an Internet e‑mail
address, you don't want them on your mailing list. No offense, but they are not
committed to the business and you don't want to waste your time — they are not
qualified for success.

With your sphere of influence database, always include two
business cards with your letter — one for your client and one for someone they
know. The business card is still the world's most successful advertising medium
to create a call. This way they will receive 24 business cards from you in a
year. The process of top‑of‑the mind awareness has begun. Your letter should be
to‑the‑point, and informative or educational for your database of people.
Discuss changes in your marketplace, changes in the services you provide, or
highlight the benefits of one of the services you provide for buyers and
sellers. Always end your letter thanking your sphere of influence for their
trust and support. Remind them you appreciate their referrals to you.

Get personal: As often as you can, hand write a personal
P.S. in your letters. This has tremendous impact to your message. When you
hand-write a short note on the bottom of your letter, the person receiving the
letter will look at this message before reading the type script — it's human
nature. This will leave the perception, in the eyes of your customer, that you
are genuine and truly care about them. It is powerful.

A true story: My goal as manager every year is to convert
one of my professional associates to adopt this system for their personal
business. I do this because I know it provides a positive change and delivers
consistency to their income. I have the pleasure to see Realtors meet or exceed
their expectations and become a better professional because of it.

One of my top agents struggled last year in the business. I
was able to convince him to mail monthly to his sphere of influence in August.
He mailed religiously every month with little results by the end of December.
With reassurance, he committed to work this system for one full year, and then measure
the results and make the decision whether to continue investing his time and
money to a monthly mailer.

After eight months, in a sales meeting he stood up and told
everyone he had earned more income in three months than all of last year. He
then confirmed that 95 per cent of his transactions this year were referrals he
was receiving from his database. Wow! This made my morning meeting a grand slam
home‑run. If this same agent continues the pace he is going for the balance of
this year, he will earn more than $200,000 without any assistants to help him.

I still have the rest of the year to convert one more
Realtor. If hope it is you.

Rolf Hitzer is general manager of Century 21 Carrie.com in Winnipeg.

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