The Importance of Building a Relationship Business

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If you’ve been following the news lately, you know that there are some pretty substantial changes in the competitive structure of the real estate business going on right now. On a market-wide level, for instance, the real estate services site Zillow has recently been active in making acquisitions of smaller companies; by and large, Wall Street is having a bigger impact on what brokers do on a daily basis here in Chicago and around the country. 

As experienced brokers know, the real estate landscape is ever-changing. But the more things shift and evolve, the more convinced I am of the incredible importance of building a relationship-based business that is not reliant on leads from third party companies. 

Where Do Brokers Get Leads? 

As we like to say here on the Lincoln Park blog, there are two main sources through which all real estate brokers generate leads — from people you know, and people you don’t. 

To get business from the people you already know, it’s all about taking the time to show the people in your sphere that you’re engaged, informed, and knowledgeable. It’s about becoming a local real estate expert who can add true value to their process. Some of the strategies that successful brokers use to generate leads from within their sphere include hosting informational seminars and webinars, doing real estate audits with homeowners, or offering free property reviews and market reports — all simple, no-strings-attached things that create real value to your connections, while bolstering your visibility and credibility. 

With people you don’t know, it’s all about building new relationships that bring potential leads into your sphere. Some common examples might include joining a business networking group, participating in chamber of commerce events, and using digital or print advertising and online lead generation tools. 

Successful real estate agents get their business and build their “pipeline” from both of these sources — and they invest time and care to develop strong and sustainable relationships with their clients along the way. 

Relationship Business Vs. Transactional Business

Brokers who build strong connections that generate meaningful referrals have what I think of as a relationship-based business model. In contrast is what I think of as the purely transactional business — that is, the “churn and burn” approach.

You’ve probably met or worked with someone with a purely transactional mindset. Their business model depends on bringing in a certain number of leads; converting a certain number of those leads into appointments; and then following a handful of those appointments through to closings. It’s a numbers game. And after the transaction is done? Well, these agents do very little to follow up or stay in touch with the people they just worked with. Instead, they just follow that same cycle over and over to keep their business moving. 

In my experience, that transactional volume game is a very short-term and near-sighted approach. It is not an effective way to build a thriving, sustainable, and scalable business with longevity. And, honestly, it’s not a particularly marketproof approach either!

That’s why we believe very strongly in a relationship-based approach — with a focus on continuously adding value not only during but after the closing of the transaction. When you build a relationship- and referral-based business, you are investing in people. This makes it so that, when there are competitive changes or structural changes in the landscape, you are not going to be as impacted. 

When technological changes or market changes do come up, brokers with relationship-based businesses are still able to maneuver — and in fact, may be able to adapt and pivot more quickly — with fewer challenges with lead generation or followup due to forces outside of their control. 

Building a Relationship-Based Business: Do You Have the Tools You Need?

At Baird & Warner – Lincoln Park, our brokerage and our office each offer tools that make it easier for agents to stay in contact with their database and nurture referrals and new leads over time. 

One of the best programs that we have here in my opinion is called LoLo, short for “Locals Supporting Locals.” This is a client-gifting program that anyone at Baird & Warner can sign up for. It’s extremely inexpensive, and it enables agents to email or text a small gift to a local business on a monthly business to their clients anywhere within the Chicagoland region. 

We have lots of participating businesses, spread out throughout the majority of neighborhoods and suburbs where our offices are located. In addition to keeping you top of mind and maintaining those essential client relationships, this program truly does help support the community and elevate local businesses — something that all of us at Baird & Warner believe in very deeply. 

In our office, our agents can also sign up for our exclusive automated marketing program. With this useful program, brokers simply provide the office with their contact list — and from there, we can help seamlessly generate and automate marketing targeted to those people for them. This could be a geographic farm that we send a mailing to on a monthly basis; it could be their sphere. Our office offers resources to handle postcard mailings, pop-by gifts, and even customizable email newsletters and digital content. 

In addition, Baird & Warner agents also gain access to exclusive resources that they can use to connect with their clients, build deeper relationships, and generate referrals. For example, if your goal is to do a real estate review with a current homeowner, we have a wide variety of data-driven resources unique to Baird & Warner, which our brokers can use to share crucial information with their clients. We even create unique “grab and go” templates for agents to help them communicate more quickly and easily with their sphere, including letter templates, social media templates, and email templates.Plus, our kvCORE marketing suite empowers agents with a reliable CRM and endless tools and content, from automated drip campaigns (text and email) to custom lead-generating forms to grow your business. 

And one of the best parts about Baird & Warner is our unparalleled access to management and support. So on top of having the access to industry-leading tools, our brokers get regular and hands-on individual coaching, business planning, mentorship, and support from a dedicated Managing Broker, who is always there to help make sure you’re staying accountable to your business plan and reviewing your strategy so that you can continue to grow your business every year. 

Bottom line? We know that when you get busy running your business, nurturing your sphere and creating marketing can start to drop off. In our office, we make it easy for brokers to hand off these important responsibilities, so that they can remain consistent with their outreach without having to stress or take time out of their busy schedules. 

Want to Talk About Your Real Estate Business? 

At Baird & Warner, new and experienced agents don’t just have a few tools lying around to pick up and experiment with from time to time; they have entire workshops and a workforce of support staff that serve as the engine for their real estate businesses.

This behind-the-scenes machinery is all designed to increase efficiency and drive production, so agents can focus on what’s most important – building a thriving business. 

As Managing Broker of the Lincoln Park office, I take ownership in creating and maintaining an office culture that promotes continuous improvement, and a brand that I am proud of — one that provides unparalleled levels of control, convenience, efficiency, and satisfaction for both our agents and their clients.

Interested in learning more about what sets our office apart? Want to keep the conversation going? I always welcome the opportunity to discuss your real estate career. Whether you are considering a career change or looking for a new partner in your existing business, I truly look forward to connecting.


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