As the owner of a St. Louis–based real estate brokerage, I know that most people from other parts of the country considering an employment opportunity here have likely never visited before. Other than what they see in national news stories about St. Louis—some of which are negative—people considering a relocation often have no idea what to expect when they arrive. It is my company’s job, as a team of local experts and advocates, to show people why they would love to live, work, and play here.
More HR departments and recruitment firms are partnering with real estate companies that specialize in relocation to take on the role of selling their city. Companies are having to work a lot harder than before to recruit top-tier talent. For many recruiters, regardless of the company’s location, this scenario is all too familiar. Atlas Van Lines’ Corporate Relocation Survey found that nearly two-thirds of firms have seen employees decline relocation offers in recent years. Objections to moving are more common when an employer is scouting for talent in a remote or lesser-known location.
What happens when the job is in St. Louis, for example, and the top candidate is in sunny San Diego? She has a husband who is hesitant to let go of his West Coast roots and children who have grown accustomed to the luxuries of living near the water. She loves the company and career opportunity, but she can’t get herself over the relocation hurdle.
When a candidate is asked to uproot their lives for a job, it’s imperative that they are sold on every aspect of the move—including its ZIP code. It takes more than a pretty brochure touting all that your city has to offer to truly move the needle. In order to successfully compete, your company needs to look at each case individually rather than trying to persuade every candidate with a standard relocation sales pitch. Take a personalized approach to making your community feel like home.
If you’re a broker-owner looking to set your company apart as housing relocation specialists, here are four tactics you can use to entice out-of-town job candidates to your city.
Sealing the Deal
1. Make a personal connection. The worst thing an agent can do is assume that what appeals to one person about a city will appeal to everyone. That’s why the first step in any good relocation specialist’s process is to really get to know the candidate—and his or her family. This involves much more than reading their resume or bio; take the time to sit down with them for a meaningful conversation. What is most important to each member of the family? What are their hobbies? Are they in school? Will a spouse need to find a new job? Are they religious? Do they have any special needs?
Here’s an example of why this step is so important: One of our partner organizations once had a candidate whose daughter did not want to move, so we arranged for her to meet a local violin teacher because we knew she was passionate about the instrument. The daughter fell in love with the teacher and was soon in full support of the move, so the candidate took the job. It was a win-win.
2. Provide community tours. Once the agent has gotten to know the family on a personal level, it’s time to give them a taste of their potential new home. While the candidate is in interviews, it is the perfect time to take the rest of the family on a tour to showcase the parts of the community that meet their needs and desires. Those San Diego natives who don’t want to leave their great outdoor scene, for example, may not be aware of the beautiful lakes or national parks that your city has to offer.
At RedKey Realty Leaders, part of our process is to take them through the city in a limo. We go by cultural institutions, tell them about the rich history of each neighborhood, and introduce them to everything we love about St. Louis. Our company partners oftentimes tell us that the tour is what solidified their candidate’s decision to move.
3. Act as a resource. Your agents should not only be knowledgeable about the homes they are showing and the housing market, but they should also have extensive knowledge about the community. Relocating involves more than finding a new house and making new friends. A new city also means new schools, doctors, hair stylists, child care, athletic teams, summer camps, and grocery stores. It’s our job to act as a guide throughout the decision-making process and ensure the candidate that they will have a well-informed ally—even after they commit to the position and make the move.
4. Show community pride. Your real estate firm should be genuinely passionate about the area. A great relocation partner not only loves and appreciates the city they are selling to the candidate, but actually participates in the community. Top-tier candidates are, after all, intelligent individuals who will likely see straight through a rehearsed “here’s what makes our city great” spiel. When your agents are constantly involved in exciting events throughout the city, it’s impossible for them not to be passionate about it—and that passion is contagious.
Many organizations offer exceptional relocation packages and know how to ensure a smooth move once a candidate has signed on. But they often overlook the importance of all that comes before. The relocation marketing is imperative to a successful recruitment strategy. As we continue to become an extension of more and more organizations’ HR and recruitment teams, the value that real estate agencies can provide could not be clearer. When competition is fierce for top talent, you can’t afford to leave the location out of the equation.