Realtor partners are a big topic for originators, and there’s never any shortage of ideas or advice on how to meet them, court them, and get them to choose you over other originators. At Mastermind 2018, Michael Maher, the CEO of ReferCo and author of “(7L) The Seven Levels of Communication: Go from Relationships to Referrals,” shared his method of getting referrals through realtors – as opposed to from them.
The strategy is a low-cost, simple one: throw a party.
That’s nothing new, right? Mortgage professionals have parties all the time, sometimes co-branded parties with originators and realtors, sometimes as appreciation events. But the strategy Maher advocates is throwing a housewarming party for each client that you and the realtor helped get a loan to buy their new home.
“This system works better for lenders than it does for real estate agents. Yes, it is awesome for real estate agents, but is more powerful for mortgage professionals because it’s even more differentiated and it gives you a way to partner with realtor partners and build relationships with realtors.”
Maher says that there are three Cs of refer-ability: Character, defined by being trustworthy, honest, and doing the right thing no matter what; Competence, defined by doing things right, being good at what you do, having a successful process and system; and Communication: relaying all information, good and bad, to everyone involved in a timely and efficient manner.
Originators who have had success in these three areas are undoubtedly already successful in getting referrals, but Maher mentions the buoy strategy: in order to be successful, you need to build on your success. It’s easy to send referrals than it has been every before, and one of the best ways to maximize opportunity is to build it into the process. Maher suggests broaching the subject of the housewarming party upon a borrower’s preapproval in order, and then offer to have the party 30-45 days after closing, whether or not the realtor is involved. This allows a chance to get more referrals from the buyer, as opposed to getting more clients from the realtor.
It didn’t come easy to Maher, but he persisted.
“I’m an introvert. I would much rather have pajama day,” Maher said. “I was doing it because I had control of the environment, that made a lot of sense, but the thing is, is it truly propelled so many referrals that I needed to do it.”
A housewarming party is fun and appropriate, and there is a lot of opportunity in the room to put a face with the name. Getting a recommendation from friends is great, but meeting a client’s friends firsthand, without needing to push an agenda, is a more concrete way to start a relationship as well, in addition to potentially reaching the buyer’s new neighbors as well – a win-win situation.
You don’t need to be an event planner, you don’t need to be the life of the party itself, but 30-45 days after closing, whether or not the listing agent is involved, you can show up and have conversations with people, the same as you would in any other situation.
“This is not for the social and outgoing personalities out there only,” Maher said. “Whether you are straight to the point, social and outgoing, steady and dependable, or cautious and perfectly accurate, this system will work for you.”
Obviously, not every client will want a housewarming party, but when clients do take advantage of the perk, an originator can really clean up; Maher says that at his first housewarming party that he ever had, he got 11 referrals.
Sounds as if it’s worth a shot.
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