A 30-year industry veteran, Gary Rogers has always been focused on generating income from incoming and outgoing referrals and has even had years where 40% of his production has been attributed to referrals.
In his session on generating agent-to-agent referrals at the 2021 REALTORS® Conference and Expo in San Diego, Rogers shared how real estate professionals can prioritize referrals as a source of business and make them feel more meaningful and personal.
First, he shared four top tips for generating incoming referrals.
1. Go deep, not wide, when making connections. When meeting colleagues at a real estate conference, Rogers said, “Some cards go in my left pocket, some cards go in my right pocket.” The audience laughed, recognizing that he was dividing the cards up based on which were worth keeping, and which would be discarded later.
While it is sometimes tempting to share a card with everyone you meet, Rogers said, that defeats the purpose of exchanging business cards at all. They are meant to be a way to facilitate further communication after an initial connection. “Today, if I can’t talk to the person, I am not going to give them the card,” said Rogers. “I’d rather go deep and make a connection.” He recommends speaking with fellow attendees before offering a business card to them.
2. Create referral business cards. Rogers does still believe in the value of business cards. He even urges REALTORS® to create a separate set that they use for networking with other agents and brokers. Referral business cards should include:
- One line that reminds the recipient who you are.
- A visual or text explainer of your exact market area.
- A nod to your experience, awards, or credibility.
- An easy, clear way to contact you.
3. Set up a referral website. If agents are serious about making referrals a primary funnel for their business, Rogers also recommends they create a dedicated website for referral business. The website should:
- Have an easy-to-remember URL.
- Share specifics about your market.
- Help you become memorable, with details on your life, hobbies, and interests.
Last, Rogers reminded the audience, be sure that your website includes testimonials from agents who have referred you and from clients who were sent to you by referral.
4. Customize your directory profile. Referral directories may seem outdated, said Rogers, but they are still widely used by many agents. If you belong to a referral directory, go beyond the bare minimum when filling out your profile. If there is space for a bio, write it in a way that makes you more interesting than the others in your market. Furthermore, make it clear that you are still active, because many directories don’t weed out agents who have retired or left the industry.
Place Stronger Outgoing Referrals
When it comes to placing outgoing referrals, Rogers’ primary advice is to show that you’re taking that role seriously. The easiest ways to do this are to:
- Interview the client to determine what they need and what type of agent would best suit their needs.
- Research and interview a few agents to determine who would be the best fit by market, personality, and specialty.
- Tell the referral agent that you will be checking in to ensure that they have sufficiently serviced the lead.
- Follow up with your contact to see if they had a good experience with the agent you referred.
This is more work than referring agents typically put in, said Rogers. But the effort has a two-fold advantage. By front-loading the work for the referral agent, the deal is more likely to close and generate referral income. Secondly, the client will be more likely to use the referral agent when they recognize the work and thought put into making the connection.
Forge Deeper Connections
Referrals don’t have to be an impersonal process, Rogers said.
He recalled a time when he spoke with a dog breeder who was relocating to South Carolina. He went to a referral directory and found three agents in the area. After doing a bit more research on them, Rogers was surprised to find that one was a dog breeder as well, and he made the connection.“They’re best friends to this day,” he said. “They still talk about how they met, and I’ve received three referrals back from that agent as a result.”