As a broker, conducting surveys can be a handy part of your company’s real estate marketing toolbox. Whether you’re collecting client feedback, trying to learn more about your market, or seeking a deeper understanding of prospective buyers and sellers, surveys and questionnaires are a great method to gain insight. When used correctly, surveys can help you increase retention rates, grow your brand’s client base, and ultimately improve your skills as a real estate broker.
There are many methods for survey research out there, but online surveys tools such as SurveyMonkey, Polldaddy, and other DIY platforms are making it easier than ever to take the pulse of your target audience. Here are some tips for sending surveys on behalf of your company or your agents.
WHAT TO ASK
Identify your goals.
First, determine the point of your survey. Once you establish the specific information you want to collect from your audience, it will be easier to ask the right questions. Maybe you want to research open house times that work best for buyers in your market, learn how new clients found your company, or get feedback on their experiences working with an agent. Be clear about your objectives from the start and only ask questions that pertain to your goals.
Reach your target audience.
Once you decide on a target audience, you’ll have a better idea of how to format and distribute your survey—including the questions you should ask. For example, if your primary goal is to learn how to better assist home buyers, you probably don’t want to include questions on selling a home. If you have more than one target demographic, you might need more than one survey.
Ask the tough questions.
No one enjoys receiving criticism, but it’s imperative to understand why a past client doesn’t want to work with you or one of your agents again, for example, to ensure the same mistakes aren’t repeated in the future. Asking your current or past clients for feedback—for better or worse—can help you improve and grow as a team or brokerage. Sometimes, the most important information comes from the sales that didn’t work out. While it might be more appealing to ask clients about their goals and dreams than to ask them about their challenges, gaining an understanding of their unmet needs will help you position your brand in the marketplace.
WHEN TO ASK
You don’t want to overwhelm clients with too many requests for surveys. Clients’ wants and needs probably won’t change drastically over the span of a couple months. Make it a point to send out surveys after specific events, such as when a client completes a sale or purchase, when a potential client requests more information, or other noteworthy occurrences. But think about the time of year as well. What are the popular buying or selling months in your area? Avoid time frames such as the holidays for surveys when clients will be preoccupied with other things.
Timing is key.
The timing of your survey launch will directly impact your response rate. You’ll need to figure out the best time frame to send out your survey. January is the perfect downtime to solicit general feedback, but you should also consider timing based on your specific goals, such as gaining experiential feedback after a closing. Keep your survey open for a week or so to give people time to respond, and don’t be afraid to send a quick reminder before you close the survey.
HOW TO ASK
Pick your platform.
There are a variety of formats your survey can take, from an email survey to a personal interview to a research panel. Keep your goals and target audience in mind and consider the platform that will best reach your audience. You’ll want to think about factors such as cost, speed, and sensitivity to help choose which method to use to create your survey. Online software provides easy ways to conduct inexpensive surveys that still come with powerful reporting features to analyze responses and take action. Another option is a paper survey that can be returned to you through the mail.
While it’s unethical to provide incentives in exchange for positive reviews, offering an incentive or reward to clients who offer useful feedback on a survey is a good way to increase participation. Incentives could include a service discount, gift card, or entry into a raffle for a larger prize like a new TV or tablet. You’ll also need to properly promote your survey (and your incentive) to get the best return on responses. Maybe you want to make the survey anonymous. Whether you have a physical form that respondents fill out or use an online platform, you will need to ensure that anonymity is possible. You can provide participants with a code after participating that lets them confirm involvement without revealing their specific answers, so they can be included in the reward.
Surveys will be only as valuable as the data they reveal and as how you end up using that data to make changes to your business. So developing a plan of action after results are gathered is a key step. Use your survey results to come up with actionable items to help improve your real estate practice in 2019.