By Maria Patterson
RISMEDIA, October 23, 2009—Jim Whitlach was a raving fan of Lowe’s long before the company factored into his real estate business. The Fresno, California real estate professional was a happy customer of Lowe’s back in the early ’90s when he frequented the home-improvement retailer while living on the East Coast.
“I found they had an excellent variety and good quality,” says Whitlach. “The people at Lowe’s went out of their way to provide good customer service.” As Whitlach embarked on his now 31-year career in real estate, Lowe’s stores soon opened in the regions he relocated to, first in Arizona and later in California, where he currently holds the posts of broker associate, sales manager and active agent at Guarantee Real Estate, the largest independent real estate company in Central California, he reports.
Today, however, Whitlach’s relationship with Lowe’s has transformed from satisfied customer to loyal business partner, thanks to his utilization of the Lowe’s REALTOR® Benefits Program. Signing on about two years ago, Whitlach has come to regard the program as an integral business development and client retention tool.
“If we’re in the real estate profession and plan to stay in it,” says Whitlach, “we need to have a means of being able to contact our previous clients, buyers and sellers on a consistent basis. The Lowe’s REALTOR® Benefits Program is par excellence. I don’t know of another program where an agent can have publications sent to their clients and offer them discounts at a great store. It puts our face in front of our clients and it doesn’t cost us a thing.”
Through the Lowe’s Realtor® Benefits Program, Whitlach’s clients are sent the Inside Out e-newsletter on a monthly basis. The newsletter provides Whitlach’s clients with important information on owning, buying or selling a home. What’s more, the newsletter is sent out automatically by Lowe’s—all Realtors® need to do is enter their clients’ names. “The newsletter sets us apart,” says Whitlach. “It’s current, it’s relevant, it’s professionally composed and put together with thought. The content is in pace with the modern market—it’s new news.”
Whitlach also takes advantage of the opportunity to purchase gift cards through the Lowe’s Program at a discounted price, providing him with a welcome—and memorable—closing gift for clients. “The gift cards make for an extremely useful closing gift,” he explains. “Magazines go by the wayside and the subscriptions expire. This doesn’t expire and it has value. It gives clients the chance to go and purchase something they need for their new homes—picture hangers, plants for the yard—and every time they do that, they think about the Realtor® who gave them the card.”
In addition to his role at Guarantee Realty, Whitlach is also a member of his local Realtor® Association’s leadership team. A strong believer in the effectiveness of the Lowe’s Realtor® Benefits Program, Whitlach works to make sure that not only all Guarantee Realty associates sign up, but that all Realtors® in his region do, as well.
As Whitlach explains, “Today’s market is tighter economically. If buyers or sellers can save money, it’s a big advantage to them. Realtors® have to work a little more diligently to keep our exposure. To have all these tools available to us at no charge is a huge advantage. We’re getting large quantities of credit for having done very little.
“Working with Lowe’s is a true partnership—it’s just not lip service,” continues Whitlach. “They are sincerely and genuinely interested, whether it’s your own personal purchase at their store or as a member of their Realtor® Benefits Program. If Realtors® across the United States do not take advantage of using this program, they’re missing out on a tremendous opportunity.”
To schedule a presentation about the Lowe’s REALTOR® Benefits program with one of Lowe’s specialists, please call 888-913-6060.
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