There’s no denying that technology is useful in reaching masses of potential customers quickly, but it is difficult to build a personal relationship without meeting them face-to-face. Ric Mingramm gives his opinion on why the lost art of meeting the neighbours is worth revisiting.
“Our agents have a weekly personal target to meet and greet owners in their farming area and hand deliver them something of value.”
Sometime ago I wrote an article about the fact that letterboxes don’t buy; and I stick by the content of that article. The intention was not to discourage letterbox dropping but to highlight that you can’t build relationships or conduct business totally by remote control.
Today there are a myriad of restrictions on agents on getting to potential buyers with Do Not Call registers, unlisted telephone numbers, restricted access to email addresses, blind mailing addresses etc. It is becoming more and more important to actually meet people.
I am not an early riser, in fact I can think of nothing better than sleeping in on those brisk winter mornings. Buying a dog, well that was one way to get me out of bed for those early morning walks – wrong – she can be walked after work. So what would get me out of bed and walking? Health reasons should, but like most men we are bullet proof and until the Kevlar shell is breached it is always someone else’s issue! So what then?
What if a walk could earn me $5000 or more? Then it may be worthwhile! You see the crux of the argument is that people buy from people, so at some stage you have to meet and see eye-to-eye or at least talk. This engagement creates a bond of trust and belief between parties which can result in being appointed to sell their property.
Many agents do letterbox drops, newsletters and recipe cards in their farming area, but from observation there are still only a few agents that actually do this themselves or knock on doors and introduce themselves.
I know we are now so busy with buyers and sellers we don’t need to do this – our customer base is driven by return business, right? But even if this is true, the market size and demographics change regularly and return business eventually becomes only a portion of the potential customers in any area, so why not continue to engage new potential customers?
The $5000 walk is now part of our team’s landscape. Yes, we have professional letterbox droppers, but our agents have a weekly personal target to meet and greet owners in their farming area and hand deliver them something of value (a newsletter which is not letterbox dropped, an invitation to a seminar etc).
Our team members dress casually (with company logo on shirts) and go and meet people as they walk around their farming areas. The outcome has included a much greater knowledge of what’s actually happening in their patch; doubling of our database of information on owners, referrals, appraisals and listings; but even more importantly, recognition by those same owners in the local shopping centre and their engagement in a stress-free conversation with our agents. You see, they know them now so they are not just someone who fills their letterboxes with junk or drives them crazy with phone calls.
The Japanese have a great cultural process called nemawashi which is an informal process of quietly laying the foundation, by talking to the people concerned, gathering support and feedback, and so forth. Nemawashi literally translates as “going around the roots”. Its original meaning was literal: digging around the roots of a tree, to prepare it for a transplant, it is often translated as “laying the groundwork”. If we consider an average take home commission for a list and sell is somewhere in the vicinity of $5000 per transaction then that walk around the farming area could indeed make your walk worth at least $5000! Then just maybe it’s worthwhile getting out of bed and laying the groundwork.