The holiday season is one of the best times of year to show clients, agents, and staff how much they are appreciated. The season of giving promotes a sense of community and partnership, which can strengthen business relationships and boost morale in the office.
Deciding on what to give, though, can be a challenge. Stepping outside of industry norms can set a brokerage apart. These suggestions will hopefully help you choose the perfect gifts.
Make it Personal
Buying a home is a life-changing event, and real estate professionals play a significant role. Chances are, you and your agents will live on in clients’ memories for years to come. Honor that by giving a personalized gift rather than sending out the same keychain or ornament to every client.
Jesse Shafer and Greg McHale, associate brokers and leaders of the Shafer-McHale Team at Compass in New York, suggest items that reflect your real estate journey together, such as original photography of their home, neighborhood, or city; books about places or things the client will find of interest; or locally crafted art pieces or decor.
For a recent client who purchased a townhome in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill neighborhood, Shafer and McHale decided to gift an artifact from the real estate journey. “When we were doing the inspection, we found an old torn-out newspaper clipping from 1938 with an apropos proverb. We had it shadowboxed for the client. That was their holiday and closing gift, and they absolutely loved it,” Shafer says.
Invest Some Time into the Gift
DeAnn Golden, ABRM, CRB, managing broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties Dunwoody Sandy Springs just north of Atlanta, sends out handwritten letters of thanks to her clients and her agents. “I thank them for the privilege of working together,” she says. “The power of a handwritten note still has so much meaning.”
Forgo the Company Logo
Whatever you do, avoid a gift with a company logo if you can. McHale and Shafer are in favor of a personalized note in place of a gift with a logo, questioning how excited a client will be about, say, a throw blanket with company branding embellished across it. “Even if that thing is the finest Mongolian cashmere, it’s not a classy move to put your company logo on it,” McHale says. Instead, choose a gift that will be sure to have personal meaning to the client, and articulate your sentiments—and logo—on a card you’ll enclose with the gift.
Rally the Team for a Good Cause
For Golden, who manages more than 200 agents, experiences mean a lot. “We’ve given out the pens and notebooks, sweatshirts, flash drives, and business card holders,” she says, “but I’ve found that doing something together that’s about helping our community is really what my agents love.”
She believes that if she’s been doing her job right, then she’s already been investing in her agents in various ways all year long. The holiday season, Golden says, is a time to give back, get agents involved, and build camaraderie. “The goal is to deepen the relationships we have with our agents,” she explains. “We’ve found that getting the office involved in a group project really fosters that connection.”
One year, an agent helped a single mother purchase her first home for herself and her two children, but she didn’t have the means to furnish the home or decorate for the holidays. “My agent rallied our office and our industry partners together,” says Golden, “and we provided this client with a fully furnished home and Christmas decorations for the season.” When the client stepped into her new home, complete with a dining room table, living room set, and twin beds for her boys, she was in tears, Golden says. “It’s this kind of experience that really brings our office and our community together. It’s a good feeling to be able to give during the holidays.”
Gift an Experience
Martin Eiden, an associate broker and team leader with Compass in New York, kicks off his holiday giving with a Halloween party for his agents. After Halloween, Eiden keeps going with a Thanksgiving pie exchange. He rounds up pumpkin, apple, and pecan pies from a local bakery, and, with a sampling of prosecco, he gathers with his agents the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to celebrate. “I enjoy Thanksgiving because it is a holiday everyone can celebrate regardless of faith,” he says.
For Christmas, Eiden likes to give agents an experience gift. “This year, I gave my agents tickets to the Nutcracker Rouge performance.” He’s also offered up his upstate home as a getaway for agents.
Invest in Something the Office Needs
In addition to a charitable donation that Golden and her agents sponsor or put together, she also believes in giving to the office as a whole. “I listen to what they’ve been asking for, and I like to invest in what my agents really want for the office,” she says. In the past, she’s provided the office with a new camera to take professional-quality photos and replenished the stash of open house resources that agents are free to check out. “We’ve given them enhanced trade show materials and installed extra charging stations around the office,” Golden says. “All of these things are what our agents have asked for specifically.”
But no matter your gift-giving preferences, if it comes from the heart, your sentiments are in the right place. Golden uses the example of her mother— a real estate veteran with more than 40 years of experience in the field— who used to make dozens of coconut and pound cakes for her clients and fellow agents. “People still talk about it,” Golden says. “What you give doesn’t have to be store-bought or expensive. It just needs to be something to show that you care.”