By Jason O’Neil
Referrals, referrals, referrals. We all get them and we all want more. We want referrals from our lenders, our title reps, our barbers, our past clients, and we especially want them from other agents. We love referrals because they are easy leads. They are not faceless Internet leads or the sometimes abrupt sign calls; they are real people who are friends of someone.
Referrals are easy to talk to for two primary reasons: One, they are less guarded because you were referred by someone they trust. Two, you have something or someone in common.
Over the past 12 months, 85 percent of my business has come from referrals. I, too, love referrals.
We track our business sources, but do we track our referrals? When I say track our referrals, I mean the why. Why does someone refer you? What is your referability? High, low, middle? Do you have any idea? Why will some clients run to the top of a mountain and scream your name? And why do others, who have worked with you dozens of times, not feel comfortable referring you to their closest friends or relatives?
Sometimes we aren’t referred because referrals are risky. They really are. If I speak up and say you should work with my accountant because he does great work and you end up not liking him, I look bad. If you love my accountant, well, that was to be expected. If I say nothing or don’t refer an accountant, I likely stay unchanged in your mind’s eye. So there really is a downside risk to referrals. But referring people is fulfilling — it makes people feel good to help other people and to give their opinions.
So, why should people refer you? How do you become more referable?
I think it’s simple:
1. Show up on time.
This is a given and it’s really easy. Show up on time! If you are going to be late, let someone know. This shows respect, professionalism, and courtesy.
2. Do what you say you are going to do.
Set expectations where they should be, not above and not below. People want the truth and they want to know what they are getting. If you can’t do what you said you’d do, let them know and let them know why.
3. Finish what you started.
If you can’t finish something, tell your clients why and what you’re going to do instead.
4. Say please and thank you.
Easy. This shows common courtesy and respect. It shows that you value someone’s thoughts, their business, and that you appreciate them as a person.
It really is that easy. And these principles are applicable to each and every business. Bar none. They are so applicable that I spend time each week working on the importance of these four things with my 6-year-old. If you have kids, think about the leg-up they’ll have in school or when they enter the workforce if they apply these principles to everything they do.
In closing, I want to end with a great YPN referral story: Some clients and very dear friends were relocating to Minnesota. After they became frustrated by the agent “assigned” to them by their company, I referred them to Nobu Hata (fellow YPN Lounge blogger and the new NAR director of digital engagement). Their feedback about Nobu was nothing less than stellar. They loved him and loved the way he worked. You see, Nobu actually talked to them and found out what they needed and he delivered. The clients told Nobu that they didn’t know where to start and they needed all the area and home information they could get…I got a call 24 hours later saying that Nobu was killing them with info and they loved it! And they already loved working with him! Nobu, thank you for taking care of my friends and for making me look good!
If you have a YPN referral story or comments I’d love to hear them below.
Jason O’Neil is an associate broker with Encore Sotheby’s International Realty in Indianapolis. Connect with him at jasononeilrealtor.com.