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Maintaining Great Client Loyalty in Commercial Real Estate Brokerage

By Jim Gillespie | June 21, 2010

A big complaint that I’ve heard from commercial brokers over the years is that there’s no client loyalty in our business. You close a transaction with someone, and then you have to fight along with all your competitors to be the broker who represents them again on their next transaction. While this can definitely be a problem, I often find at the same time that many brokers don’t do much to inspire and generate constant, repeat business from their clients. They often believe that once they’ve closed a transaction with someone, that it should be understood that the client will be working with them again on their next transaction. And this is despite the fact that the broker may not communicate again with the client for many months or years, while their competitors are constantly communicating with the client themselves.

As commercial brokers, we oftentimes don’t have the luxury of having ongoing transactions throughout the year with our past clients, particularly when the clients normally close only one real estate transaction every 3-5 years or more. On the other side of the coin, these same clients will be interacting with their attorneys and CPAs on an ongoing basis throughout the year, and unless those professionals make a major mistake, they’ll most likely continue doing business with their clients on an ongoing basis year-after-year.

So your job as a commercial real estate broker, if you want to generate repeat business from your past clients, is to create the feeling within them that you’re always their commercial real estate broker, even when they don’t currently have a commercial real estate need.

And thinking that you can accomplish this by dropping out or reducing your communication with them, while your competitors continue on communicating with them, is hugely unrealistic. But it’s where many commercial brokers continue on playing the game.

1) Socialize with your past clients. Take them to lunch or to events throughout the year, and tell them how much you appreciate their business. This will help to create the feeling that you’re more of a friend to them, and it’s very difficult for people to ever stop doing business with their friends.

2) Give gifts to your past clients 2-4 times a year. Giving gifts to your clients shows your heartfelt appreciation for the business they bring to you, and it creates the feeling within them that there’s an ongoing business relationship with you during the year. In addition, it’s very difficult for people to ever work with another broker when you’ve constantly been giving them gifts over the years.

3) Call them on a regular basis. Continue calling your people throughout the year, beginning soon after you’ve closed your most recent transaction with them. Check in with them, see how they’re doing, and see if there’s any additional service you can provide for them. They’ll appreciate you showing that you care about them.

4) Mail to them on a regular basis. Send them thank you notes, greeting cards, and/or a newsletter throughout the year. Even if you just sent them a greeting card or a personal note once every quarter, this will help to build and maintain a solid relationship with them. But if you also mail to them once or twice a month, providing them with important information they’ll want to know about on what’s going on in your territory, you’ll position yourself within their minds at a much deeper level.

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