Agents Decoded - J. Philip Faranda
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News

Agents Decoded: Your database is a goldmine — if you use it 

Most clients want to work with their agents again, but few do. Why? Because agents don't take full advantage of their CRM and stay in touch with past clients.

Updated September 4, 2023
5 minutes

The direction of your business depends on decisions you make every day. Agents Decoded can help you by presenting the perspectives of seasoned pros who have been there, made mistakes, and found success.

Every year, NAR publishes a profile of home buyers and sellers, and every year, there is the same appalling discrepancy between consumer intentions and reality. 

In the most recent survey, 89% of buyers said they would recommend or use their agent again, as did 85% of sellers. Yet just 12% of those same buyers actually used an agent they worked with in the past, with the number only slightly higher for repeat buyers at 15%. The statistics were marginally better for sellers, 27% of whom used their agent again.

Why aren't agents capturing more repeat business? Because they simply do not keep in touch with their clients. 

This is as tragic as it is preventable. If you are an agent who has ever seen a friend or past client use someone else when you assumed you were their first choice of professional, you need to face some hard truths. No one hits 100%, but in a space that is willing to give us 90%, we are collectively doing a fraction of that. 

CRMs are not the enemy

There is a cure, and it's the care and feeding of one's database. Brokers are aware of this, and most furnish their agents with a CRM. Unfortunately, most agents don't use the tool out of either mistrust or inaction. 

The mistrust of the brokerage CRM is frustrating to me. Some agents believe that if they load up their database with clients, their broker will steal them. Let me be clear: I do not have the time to poach your clients, and even if I wanted to, the best person to contact them would be… you. 

Agents also fail to use a CRM due to a simple lack of execution. I do not condone this, but I understand it. The lifestyle of a productive agent can be slightly chaotic — reactive, focused on putting out fires, prioritizing the work in one's business over working on one's business. Still, the CRM is a necessary tool, one which the top selling agents in this industry use robustly and consistently. 

You must remain engaged

As an industry, we haven't done agents any favors by suggesting that technology can replace the human touch. Social media is a wonderful tool, but if you're not one of the very few agents who manages to garner a large following, you can't rely on your Instagram or Facebook business page to do the work of a CRM. 

Moreover, the CRM is a means, not an end — the agent still has to be mindfully engaged. 

Here's what I mean: After a transaction closes, most agents have no plan for follow up. They'll exhale, pay some bills, and work on their next prospect or transaction. Some might be bashful about contacting the client because the transaction included some stressful moments. Of the significant disparity in repeat business lost, the majority dies right here.

A small percentage of agents will keep up their database but fail to nurture it. They may have their sphere and past clients in their CRM, but that's where it stays. The software isn't human. Even the best algorithms and artificial intelligence will not create loyalty the way personalized contact does.

Yes, getting a positive online review, a new follower or a like on your business page are good starts, but you have to take it from there. 

So, how do you nurture your database?

Do what happily married people do: Keep dating each other. 

  • Make periodic "touches." Call to check in. Send birthday and purchase anniversary cards. 

  • Share your resources and vendors. This is shockingly underutilized; a good agent has a golden Rolodex beyond contractors and lenders. The more aspects of a homeowner's life you can contribute to, the more top of mind you remain

  • Reach out during emergencies. If a hurricane, wildfire or blizzard happens, check in to see if anyone needs help. 

  • Send business their way. If the client is self-employed, refer them business. Your client list should start to resemble a personalized chamber of commerce. 

  • Create custom reports. Property owners are always watching the market. Quarterly market reports are great for two reasons: They are useful without being spam, and a client's eyes on your report means they're not on Zillow or another agent's content. 

It all boils down to remaining relevant and useful. 

Beyond giving you repeat business, which can take years, clients can become fertile sources of referrals, sending you other potential clients whose prior agents faded into the background. 

Consider the potential that lies in the rest of your career, should you choose to harness it. Use your CRM not as a destination for contacts, but as a starting point for bringing personal value to everyone in your list. And block out time daily to execute your plan like your life depends on it. The odds are overwhelming that your wallet — and your peace of mind — will thank you. 

J. Philip Faranda is a manager and associate broker at Howard Hanna | Rand Realty serving Westchester and Putnam Counties, just north of New York City. He was previously a broker-owner at J. Philip Real Estate, the top independent brokerage in the two counties by transaction sides, which he founded in 2005. He also writes a real estate blog which has been cited by major media outlets. The views expressed in this column are solely those of the author.

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