In my last column we explored the benefits of building and maintaining a strong database of contacts because real estate is, after all, very much a contact sport. We talked about how regular cleaning of your database is an important part of maintaining it. I recommend cleaning it up four times a year. Here are my tips on how to organize your database.
Part of the cleaning process is ensuring your contacts are in their proper group. You can have as many groups and sub groups as you want depending on how much time you want to spend at it. I have four main groups entitled VIP, A, B and G. How much time and attention they receive from me depends on which group they’re in.
VIP is what it says. This group is home to the most important contacts I have. What makes them so important? Each person in that group has done real estate business with me. These are people who have bought or sold properties through me. It’s people I have made money from in the past and probably will make more money from in the future. They deserve a lot of my time and attention.
We all know that the new laws have pretty much ended mass emails, but we can still do mass snail mails. Once you have someone’s email address, simply ask them for their mailing address. Most people will not have a problem giving it to you. I send every person in my VIP group one small gift every month. These gifts can be as simple as a single bag of popcorn with a business card that says, “The real estate market is popping”. They are all small inexpensive gifts that clients receive on a monthly basis. I also call them once a month to see how they’re doing and some I’ll even drop by for a visit. All you’re doing is maintaining the relationship you’ve developed.
My A list is people I have interacted with in any other way outside of real estate. Many of them I dealt with while I was an elected city councillor. Others attended events I held or hosted, such as my annual witches walk where we all dress up like witches and spend a day in the park with the kids. Others I met at various functions I attended. It’s anyone who has met me and knows me for something outside of real estate.
These are the people I feel I have the best chance of turning into clients. I send the people on my A list a gift once a quarter and make contact as well via a phone call, email or drop in.
My B list is comprised of people from other industries – lawyers, home inspectors, day-care owners, cleaners and so on. Putting them all into their own subgroups allows me to target market them. For instance I have a property for sale now that I think would make a perfect day-care location. Guess which subgroup is getting a package on that property? There are also potential clients in the group. For instance, expectant mothers I know who may soon want to sell and buy a bigger home would be in this group. This is a great way to have targeted markets literally at your fingertips.
My G list is general contacts and is comprised of everyone who doesn’t meet the requirements to be in a higher group. New contacts, such as the person serving me coffee, are initially added to the G list until I find out more about them and decide where they best fit in the overall scheme of things.
This may all sound a little overwhelming, but trust me; it isn’t if you approach it right. It’s the old adage, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Give yourself a couple of weeks for your annual, semi-annual or quarterly database cleaning.
It’s also a great thing to talk to people about when they ask what you are up to. It makes you sound professional and on top of your game. Some people simply ignore their database and pretend it isn’t there. Don’t. If you do, you’re missing a chance to mine a very rich vein of potential business at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising. Work on it here and there when you have the time. You’ll be surprised at how quickly that elephant in the room is eaten.