It’s a mortgage broker’s job to remain in touch with their clients. But because years can pass between dealing with these clients, and perhaps for a lack of organization skills, that doesn’t always happen.
Unfortunately, when it’s time to refinance or renew the mortgage, these former clients may not remember you or seek out your services again, and instead may reach out to another broker. Many brokers lose out on these key opportunities for recurring business simply due to a lack of consistent and ongoing communication.
Keeping in touch with your clients can help you build stronger relationships, which can, in turn, translate into more business in the future.
Former clients are low-hanging fruit. They’ve already worked with you directly. Unlike new prospects, they already know you and trust you. This makes it easier for you to secure their business in the future. In fact, it’s 60–70% easier to sell to an existing customer, according to Paul Farris’ book Marketing Metrics. And, according to research conducted by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company, improving customer retention by as little as 5% can boost profits by 25–95%. Keeping the lines of communication open is a worthwhile venture that all brokers should prioritize.
It all Starts with a Database of Clients
Your follow-up efforts will only be effective if your clients’ contact information is accurate and up to date. It’s easy to let business cards and Post-it notes with contact information collect dust in a drawer, but this is valuable information you should be using to nurture relationships. Make sure you have an up-to-date database of all past clients. Include their names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. You may also want to keep track of your previous communications with them as well.
Here’s a simple three-step process to ensure your client database is an asset to your nurturing strategy:
1. Choose a Database
First, decide whether you’ll create a database in an Excel spreadsheet or invest in customer relationship management (CRM) software. Though keeping a spreadsheet can be simple and cost-effective, it does have its limitations. According to Insightly, keeping customer information in a CRM system has many benefits, including standardization, consistency in communication, reporting capabilities and scalability, among others.
2. Add Contact Information Right Away
The sooner you add a client’s contact information to the database, the greater the chance that you’ll follow up. If weeks or months pass, you may forget to add their information, and in that time you may lose the client’s business card—and any chance you had to gain future business opportunities. Taking this step right away also gives you the chance to ask the client to confirm their contact details while you’re still in constant communication.
3. Update It Regularly
Over time, databases get what’s known as decay. According to Marketing Sherpas, data decays at a rate of 2.1% each month. After all, people change their phone numbers and email addresses all the time. You should send emails once a year to confirm contact information and, if you get notice of a change of information, make the revisions to the database right away to ensure it’s always accurate.
Six Tips to Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Now that you have a database filled with valuable and up-to-date contact information, you should start planning your strategy to stay in touch with your former clients. According to a RE/MAX survey, nearly half of Canadians are seeking to either jump into or reinvest in real estate in the next five years. It may be several years before a client requires your services again, so make sure communication is a long-term strategy that spans several years.
1. Send Personalized Videos
If you’re struggling to gain your recipients’ attention via email messages, consider adding personalized videos. Many agree that if both text and video are available, they prefer to watch the video, according to Digital Information World. Try out personalized videos in your newsletter program, in your pre-meetings or in your followups with clients, and you’ll likely see your response rate and conversion rate increase. There are many programs that help you quickly and easily create video messages, such as Ilovemybombbomb.com.
2. Set Reminders
There will be many opportunities to reach out over the coming years. But, as time goes by, you’ll no doubt begin to focus on current clients and likely forget some key moments in your former clients’ lives. That’s why it’s such a great idea to set reminders to ensure you’re consistently nurturing relationships over the long term. Consider sending a quick video or note on the client’s move-in date, on their birthday and on holidays. Importantly, you should also set a reminder to reach out when their mortgage renewals are up (ideally a couple months beforehand), so you can stay top of mind when it truly matters.
3. Reach out When You Receive a Referral
In the mortgage industry, referrals from former clients are the greatest compliment. So you should definitely reach out to the client who made the referral right away with your thanks. Send a personal message via video, text, social media, email or phone to share how grateful you are. The client will no doubt appreciate the acknowledgment. This is a good way to open the lines of communication for further contact.
4. Reach out with Rate Updates
Mortgage rates have gone up several times in the past year and are expected to continue rising. When refinancing is in a client’s near future, it’s a good idea to get in touch to send helpful information about the process and their options. Even though they can find this information online, most clients are busy and will appreciate rate updates sent to them directly; if you can help them save money in the future, they’ll likely want to know more, which can keep communication flowing back and forth.
5. Create a Digital Newsletter
Creating a digital newsletter that you send out to former clients once every quarter is a quick and easy way to keep in touch on a mass scale. When it comes to content, consider what matters to your audience—you want the recipients to be eager to open the latest email, not send it immediately to the trash pile. Consider sharing home improvement tips, home maintenance tips and updates from the industry (perhaps via CMT). If your recipients can learn from the content you share, they’ll start to view you as an expert, and they’ll be more likely to reach out when the time to refinance or secure another mortgage comes along.
6. Keep Track of What Works—and What Doesn’t
There are simple email add-ons that can help you better understand what messages are resonating with recipients and which aren’t. You can learn who’s reading your emails and who’s clicking on your links. If you notice certain messages are constantly being ignored or certain former clients aren’t responding at all, adjust your strategy for greater future success.
Four Mistakes to Avoid When Following Up
It’s important to note there are right ways and wrong ways to keep in touch with clients.
Constantly calling former clients to chat will seem interruptive. And emailing them just to tell them how great you are isn’t going to make them feel a connection with you. The key is to only stay in touch when you have something to offer. You should only make contact when it benefits the recipient. That being said, here are some mistakes to avoid when following up.
1. Making It All about You
You might think your former clients want to get a monthly newsletter sharing all your wins from the past 30 days, but the truth is your clients won’t care. Your follow-up messages should be all about the clients, their needs and their interests—not yours. Send home improvement tips, keep them up to date on the industry and send them rate updates instead. All of these types of messages provide value to the recipient, which is exactly what you should be focused on.
Of course, you’re hoping to gain repeat business by staying in touch with clients, but this isn’t the message your recipients should hear when you get in touch. The last thing you want to do is ask for their business or try to sell them financial products. It will turn them off immediately. Instead, make it clear you’re just reaching out to offer helpful information and to share relevant news and updates on the market.
3. Reaching out Too Frequently
When your clients needed a mortgage, they likely made time to keep in constant communication with you. They needed a mortgage and they were under a tight deadline to buy their home. Once the home is purchased and the mortgage is secured, however, their attention will turn to other more pressing matters, such as moving in. Over time, they’ll be more focused on their families and work. They simply won’t have time to keep in touch with you all the time. So, sending them emails every week for years will only be seen as a nuisance. This can have the opposite effect you’re seeking—these clients won’t want to do business with you again.
4. Not Keeping in Touch Often Enough
On the other hand, you shouldn’t reach out once every few years either. It’s impossible to nurture a relationship that’s virtually non-existent after years with no contact. Nurturing a relationship with a former client requires a delicate balance—you don’t want to harass them on a daily basis, but you also don’t want to become a stranger a few years down the line.
The Bottom Line
Depending on which study you read, attracting new customers is 5–20 times more expensive than retaining existing clients. This is why it pays to stay in touch with your clients on a regular basis, to nurture relationships with them and to attempt to gain their business again in the future. Use these tips and tricks to ensure you’re keeping the lines of communication open and following up in the right away.