Last month I wrote about some experiences that we had with real estate agents that we encountered during a new house search for my son. I heard from some travel agents that also sell real estate and they were upset about my comments about Zillow. This month we will explore my son’s real estate agent and what he is doing right.
The President of the company Andy worked for referred Andy to Jim, the agent to help him purchase his first home. The agent and his wife only work with folks that are referred to them. Andy was so impressed with him that he has sold his old house through them and also hired them as “Buyer’s Agents” to help him buy his new house.
I was lucky enough to get to know them and now consider them friends. Here is what makes them special and how travel agents might replicate these attributes.
Treat Each Client Like a Client For Life
The reason that Jim only works with referrals is that he wants to nurture relationships into a lifetime event. When Andy’s offer was accepted, Jim was already talking about his next house. He was saying “This is probably a 6 to 10 year house”. There is no question that Andy will use Jim and his wife for the rest of his life. And, there is no question that Jim and his wife understand Andy well enough to be able to present him with real estate opportunities that make complete sense, as they become available.
Travel Agents should rethink how they manage their client relationships and consider how they can build connections for lifetime clients and referrals.
Jim loves Zillow. Jim understands technology and millennials. He explained how zillow.com (and sites like it work) and exposed their major flaws. Real Estate listing aggregators filter the properties displayed by the demands of their largest customers. Real Estate chains do not want listings that do not pay full commissions shown, as they are using the content to lure buyers into contacting them so that they can earn the seller’s portion of the commission. The listings on zillow.com and other sites are cherry picked for the commissions that they represent.
While Jim practices in Riverside, California he provided Andy with the San Diego Board’s new mobile MLS search app which did have full listing information for San Diego. If fact, the house that Andy bought was not on zillow.com, but they found it in the listing app the instant it became available.
Travel agents should embrace online technology and be ready to explain why they are the place to transact business. Dismissing sites like TripAdvisor.com, CruiseCritic.com and trivago.com as irrelevant will only damage your credibility. Instead become completely familiar with them so that you can help your life long clients search more effectively.
Jim and his wife are not millennials by decades, but you would think that they were. He understood all aspects of millennial preference in communication and searching. He texted potential finds to Angie, organized an entire day of house viewing and delivered Waze addresses in the correct order so that Andy didn’t have to follow him from house to house. From DocuSign to communications, Jim made it easy for Andy and Angie to purchase their house.
Travel Agents need to understand the subtleties of millennial communication if they are approaching the millennial travel market.
The thing that Jim and his wife excelled at was in anticipating every turn of the road of the house buying process. Even though Jim practiced in Riverside County, he helped Andy buy a house in San Diego’s Coastal North County, which was a one way trip of about 75 miles for him. He did this because he is committed to his life long customers and even though this one house probably cost him money in the long run, he is engaged in providing the most knowledgeable service possible because he knows that Andy will be selling this new house and buying another at some point in time.
And, he knew that Andy would refer other quality people to him, which is how he has grown such an amazing business.
Previous to the day of house hunting, which lead to a successful full price offer on the third house they visited, Jim would travel from Riverside to San Diego to preview all of the houses that Andy and Angie were considering. If there were deal killers such as location, condition or other, Jim would yank the house as a possibility. The result was a total of 9 houses that met Andy and Angie’s criteria and that had passed Jim’s preview. Before the day of house viewing Jim contacted all of the realtor’s representing the sellers and made appointment to see the house. He put the houses in logical viewing order and then did a dry run so he could time the day.
On house viewing day everything went like clockwork and there was not a single house that they would have thought wasn’t a candidate. They7 opened escrow 4-days later.
Travel agents need to take their service and knowledge level to the highest possible standard and then provide Over-the-Top service to be like this agent.