Spending time with your customer builds trust and credibility
As a University of Missouri graduate of Journalism David Gerchen started his career in advertising selling advertising for a well known publication, but after years of this work decided it was time for a change. In 2008, everything crashes and David and his wife decided to invest in real estate. At first this was a side project, but quickly become a full-time career. After 3 years there were 8 single family homes to look after.
David hated the advertising job, but loved the real estate. David’s wife made a simple suggestion that turned into the greatest decision. She said, “Go be a real estate agent, you love real estate.” The concern was the loss in stability of the income from the advertising job. Starting over in real estate as an agent meant starting a zero dollars in income.
Being in advertising, David’s entire career helped him make the transition. His first thought was, “I need a differentiator.” He needed to zone in on a niche market. “Senior citizens,” he thought, but not because he did a bunch of research into the real estate market; David remembered his experience of his father battling Alzheimer's. His family was getting along just fine, in fact his mother was doing just fine taking care of his father until his father had a stroke. The stroke was a lot for the family to handle. David’s Mom and Dad needed to move out of their home, where they had spent a lifetime and into a community where they could get some assistance.
Find Your Mission: David’s memory of this situation provided a mission that he committed too. David wanted to be of service and offer complete care to help families going through this situation. David has worked with families to sell their home in one month or lose their home. He has also worked with family estates where the family needed complete assistance in preparing the home to sell and then selling the home.
David understands his clients situations, and knows there is often 44 years of memories created in the home he is helping owners list and sell. David reported, “In most situations it is hard on the living family members, they often do not know what to do with all of the things in the home, they do not have time to hire the contractors to repair the home for sale, and they are often emotionally involved in the outcome.
David’s customer service approach is to ensure that every customer receives the appropriate attention to detail of their specific life situation.
Define Your Marketing Tactics: Once David established his mission and service approach, his strategy, he then needed to define his marketing tactics. His first approach was to define who would make the best referral partners. Next he bought advertising on a popular real estate website, and lastly he would build a social media presence.
How to Build Referral Partners: Since his niche’ was well defined, his referral partners were quickly listed in his notebook. He set out to find an estate attorney, financial brokers, final arrangement companies, senior home care, and a variety of others. One of the mistakes he made was calling on the marketing teams of Senior Living Communities. David found that by the time the senior made it to the community, their personal home was already sold.
When I asked David, “What do you think attributed to your success in cultivating referral partners?” He replied,”Serving others, give to them as much benefit as possible, let it be known to the community that you are a trustworthy person, and when you think you given enough, give more without the expectation of return.” David expressed the importance of helping others and he stated, “You hope in time that the good works comes back to you, but you know it going to be a lot of good works built up over time.”
People smell greed, desperation, and selfishness. People will often gravitate towards knowledgeable and confident professionals. To cultivate your referral partners they know when you are their to serve them. One tip for building a power base of referral partners is that you do not try to sell people in your network, you try to educate them on the importance of your product or service. This education can help you establish credibility. Next make sure you listen to them and ask questions about their business. Asking questions improves the chances you can help them grow.
Be Careful With Your Advertising Dollars: Advertising dollars David spent on popular real estate websites have not been as effective as he anticipated. Sometimes we can learn more from marketing when it does not work. During our conversation we spoke about the importance of making sure the advertising dollar are spent in the correct marketing channel. David, said he learned that, “You have to think about where your ideal prospects hang out and spend money to get their attention.”
Advertising can be like fishing, sometimes you are fishing in the wrong pond. David said, “Seniors are not typically the ones who call me to sell their home, I am usually in contact with a family member who is having to care for a mother or father that need additional assistance. Most of the time the Seniors are not ready ‘just yet’ to move out of their home. They do not want to need additional assistance.”
Create Videos that Tell Your Story: Lastly, David’s final marketing tactic was to build his social media presence. As video marketing has come into popularity David made a commitment to produce more video content that establish authority among his target market. These videos help David explain the very high level of care, time, and attention every one of his clients home receives. High levels of care are the most important to ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks. David’s clients are not a transaction, every situation is uniquely different. Being present to solve the uncomfort for his clients and help them with every aspect of the sale of their home, while going through their life’s transition, is his top priority.
Pricing Properly Improves Service: David and I transitioned the conversation to healthcare when I asked him, “What do you think causes the most stress among seniors and their families in their healthcare.” David expressed that well-meaning healthcare practitioners that are dedicated to providing the highest level of care as possible, are beholden to a healthcare system (Insurance Companies) that put pressure on them to get through as many patients that they can see. In my personal opinion Insurance is one of the reasons that healthcare is struggling.
Healthcare practitioners have become beholden to insurance companies. Insurance companies put pressure on these healthcare professionals to reduce their prices to save the insurance companies money. This price reduction puts pressure on all of healthcare to see more patients. The more patients you see in one day the less time you can spend with them.
David simply asked one question, “Should healthcare practitioners stop taking bad insurance deals, and offer more services that they can charge a little higher prices but provide more time with their patients?” David expressed that, “Spending the appropriate amount of time with your clients, and your referral partners could be your biggest differentiator.”
Growing your practice is a simple as the six tactics David used to scale his number of clients. First, you must know your mission. Second, you Should Write Out Your Marketing Tactics. Third, you need to build the right referral partners. Fourth, you must be very careful with your advertising dollars. Fifth, create video content sharing your story and expertise. Lastly, price your product or service properly to be able to provide the very best care and service. David had one last thing to share with me he said, “I ask that seniors plan their living situations like they plan their finances. Moving a year too soon from a current residence, on their terms, is so far superior to waiting for something catastrophic to happen. That's when choices largely go out the window.”