Here are four more steps to build a business that reaps you more benefits while costing you less money.

3.Build a marketing plan around your best source of business. Now, you’re starting to think big. When you consider old customers and clients, plus those who know and trust you, as sources of business, you can start creating actions (tactics) to capture referrals. How many actions can you think of now–off the top of your head? For dozens of tactics, see Beyond the Basics of Business Planning.

4. Check out your level of service to assure it’s high enough to expect a referral. It’s critical to create a marketing plan around your best source of business. But, let’s not kid ourselves. Unless your level of service is perceived by your customers as highly satisfactory, you can ask–but you’re not going to get! How do you know what your level of service is now? Survey everyone you work with. There’s an excellent survey used by top agents in my business planning system I referred to above.

5. Decide which is more valuable to you: The listing, the sale–or a referral.¬† Creating a marketing plan for your best source of business starts a paradigm shift in your thinking. Here’s the critical shift you must make to create a business based on referrals. You’re not after the sale. You’re after the referrals. You’re not after the listing. You’re after the referrals. Stop thinking about the immediate gratification–a sale. You must become a big, long-term, visionary thinker. What an order for a salesperson.

Give up immediate business? I can hear you arguing. A listing, even over-priced, can result in calls from would-be purchasers. You’re right. You’ll get a short term gain. But, you’ll also create long-term pain. Let me put that sales tactic in perspective to the real person out there who uses our services (our client and customer). Guess what real people call that sales tactic in automobile sales? “Bait and switch”. It hurts me to write that, but it’s true, isn’t it? The reason I’m laying it on the line here is that our consumers are threatening to leave us unless we clean up our act. We must become longer-term thinkers, looking out for a customer’s best interests, even if it doesn’t help us short-term.

6. Manage your referral business with the truism “behavior that’s rewarded is repeated”. That is, if you want someone to do something again, reward the behavior you want. (If you have children, you know exactly what I mean). To get more referral business, pay more attention to the customer after closing. The customer doesn’t think we deserved the commission unless we keep in touch after we got their check. If we ‘love ’em and leave ’em, the customer thinks that all we wanted was that commission. (You would, too….) That’s not an effective method to encourage referral business!

Are You a ‘Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em Kind of Agent?

Even though you and I understand the “reward” concept, agents still try to save money by skimping in the wrong areas. Recently, I was teaching a business planning course, where agents analyze their businesses, choose their best sources, (target markets), and¬† decide on tactical actions to get the best return on their investments. One “under-achieving” experienced agent told the class he’d decided not to spend any money on his customers after closing. After all, he’d gotten the check. It was over. He thought that closing gift idea was a waste of money–and since he wasn’t making much money, he wanted to save what he did have for finding new customers.

It was really obvious that he was only after one check. He was practicing real estate the old way–looking for new strangers to close. To build his business with less marketing dollars and more satisfaction, this under-achieving agent should have made the paradigm shift. He should be building a marketing plan where he’s spending more of his time and money on that client after closing –than before. Why? Because, with a marketing plan targeting referrals, he could make that one sale pay off in at least five future transactions! (The rest of the story: This agent is out of the business).

Be generous with your ‘thanks’ for business and for referrals.

Be generous with your information, care, and support after closing.

Build a tactical marketing plan to continue communicating¬† after closing. Remember, “behavior that’s rewarded is repeated”.

Change your paradigm from ‘next’ to ‘love ’em forever.