- Some agents spend their marketing dollars through events that help them strengthen bonds with and between past clients.
- Plan an event around something you enjoy.
- You can save money on events by getting sponsors, but be sure your sponsorship arrangements comply with the federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.
Chastin Miles, a real estate professional with eXp Realty in Austin, Texas, once received nearly 50 customer leads from a client appreciation event. The 2018 dinner party was to thank his former clients for their business; the referrals were merely a bonus.
Thank-you parties can be an effective approach for building client loyalty and getting warm leads. “These events allow you to connect with clients—and connect clients with one another,” Miles says. “They are important in forming friendships and making business connections and vendor relationships.”
Miles holds two big client appreciation events yearly, in the winter and spring, usually at local restaurants. Lenders, insurance companies, and other vendors help offset some of the cost by sponsoring food, drinks, and raffle prizes.
During the pandemic, Miles’ events moved online, taking the form of seminars on topics like financial education and home maintenance. He plans to resume in-person events this year.
At each event, guests play a game, writing down names and contact information for people who might need real estate help. The guest who provides the most names in two minutes wins a $100 gift card. Hence, the 50 referrals Miles received from one event.
But while referrals are often a benefit of customer appreciation events, they're not the driver, real estate pros say. Events are best used as a way to reconnect with past clients, thank them for their loyalty, and show yourself as a valuable resource in the community beyond the real estate transaction.
There are countless ways to host a client appreciation event. Here are a few ideas to inspire you.
Drive-in Movie Night
This spring, the Amy Jones Group, with Keller Williams Integrity First Realty in Gilbert, Ariz., adapted its annual client appreciation movie night, moving it from an indoor movie theater to a drive-in movie format. The event drew nearly 200 people.
The group rented a local farm so families could socially distance, enjoy food trucks, and watch the movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” under the stars. Guests’ goodie bags included a chocolate bar that they could unwrap to discover whether they’d won a raffle prize, such as summer gear, electronics, or toys. The bags—totes with the Amy Jones Group brand—also included pandemic-related swag (like hand sanitizer and masks) as well as sunscreen, chapstick, bottled water, and prepackaged popcorn.
The group hosts a family fall festival at a local park each November featuring food, family crafts, professional photos, and a free pie to take home for the holidays. Past clients are even invited to join in on volunteer days. “We absolutely love doing client appreciation events,” says Mindy Jones Nevarez, SRS, AHWD, owner and team leader. “The events are a way to give back to clients and to engage our partners, too—all while having fun.”
Events for Every Season
Clients of the Heather Roxburgh Group in South Jordan, Utah, are part of an inner circle that may be invited to events throughout the year, such as a Easter egg hunt or a white-tablecloth Valentine’s Day dinner. Since 2008, broker and CEO Heather Roxburgh has hosted more than 40 client parties.
One of her larger events—attracting up to 1,300 people—is in the fall. It features a pumpkin patch, food trucks, face painters, and professional photos in front of a festive backdrop. In winter, the brokerage hosts a smaller event for current clients, featuring photos with Santa. This summer, Roxburgh rented the local water park, and 920 guests joined in the fun.
Valentine’s Day is the group’s most exclusive client appreciation event. Invitees are clients who have bought or sold a home or made a referral in the past year. The adults-only event is held at a local country club. At an awards ceremony, replete with a customized Oscar-like statuette, 10 to 15 guests are recognized in such categories as “most unique house of the year” or “top referral maker.”
“I use my marketing dollars to pour back into my clients,” says Roxburgh, who spends about $38,000 on client appreciation events annually. “I host events at least once a quarter. Clients may not come to every one, but at least they see that I’m inviting them.”