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By Cliff Baird

RISMEDIA, Dec. 29, 2007-It seems that it just doesn’t matter where you are located. Whether it is Orlando, FL, Santa Rosa, CA or British Columbia, Canada, the message is the same….find as many creative and meaningful ways as possible to stay in touch with your clients, as your future depends on it.

Gitta Urbainczyk from Orlando, Bo Skapski from Kelowna, British Columbia and Maurine Grisso from Santa Rosa share many of the same concepts.

Urbainczyk runs a very energized and successful team of agents at Keller-Williams Heritage in the Greater Orlando area covering most of Central Florida. Her motto exemplifies her focus and her work ethic: “We strive to go the extra mile and provide you with exemplary service.”

Skapski is located in the beautiful Okanagan Valley in the interior of British Columbia and is the broker of Century 21 Assurance in Kelowna, BC, Canada. He informs all of his clients that “We’re here to Make a Difference That Counts.” He certainly does.

Grisso is a former actress and trainer in personal development for LifeSpring. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and held many significant positions in real estate. She believes that her clients deserve “happy endings” and currently plays the role of broker, agent and regional director for Help-U-Sell in Central California. I recently had the opportunity to interview these three talented real estate pros on how they continue to find creative ways to stay in touch with their clients.

How often do you communicate with your clients? Explain how you do.

Urbainczyk: We communicate with our current and past clients at least once every week via e-mail through our Monday e-mail newsletter. “Monday Morning Coffee.” On a monthly basis we direct postal mail, the Brian Buffini item of value. All past clients whom we have done business with get a birthday card and a call from me on their birthday.

At the end of the year we mail the past clients who closed a deal with us their HUD statement. All home buyers whom we closed, even the buyer from the other agent, will be sent a homeowner‘s manual which is provided by our home warranty company, Old Republic.

Also current and past clients get a weekly market update. Our past clients are also set-up for the newsletter which is e-mailed monthly. On all holidays we send the respective holiday cards and also send a voice broadcast message to all of our past clients. For instance the call would go like this, and only when answered by a mechanical device will it leave the message. “Hi, this is Gitta. Sorry I missed you again but I just want to wish you a great Labor Day weekend. I know this is the end of the summer season and I hope you have a great few days relaxing at the beach or wherever it may be with your friends or loved ones. Also, since my business depends on referrals I want to thank you for thinking of me when it comes to real estate and also pass my name on to your friends and associates. Goodbye and see you soon.”

Skapski: We communicate monthly with our customer database by sending something interesting to them each month. We also send an e-mail newsletter and call every three months, or so. We have an annual “Client Appreciation Party” for all our clients.

Grisso: We contact past clients once a month, by mail with a hand written card and either a copy of our “In the Neighborhood” magazine or an article of interest.

We have some of our customers that we consider to be our main stays and we call them by phone if there’s something we feel may be of interest to them. I feel we will start to do a lot more of this especially in today’s market environment. We always send them “Thank You” cards after we talk with them.

What percent of your clients do you believe has given you consistent referrals?

Urbainczyk: Our past clients represent 30% for 2007 and 27% for 2006. Amazing!

Skapski: About 20-25% of our clients have given referrals. This share is constantly increasing. I also belong to a business referral network with over 60 members. It has been quite valuable in getting referrals. Our past clients have also resulted in a lot of repeat business, either in multiple purchases or sales or with serial purchases and sales (ie. buy, sell, buy, sell etc)

Grisso: Easily 30% but we feel that it should be higher. However, California has had a great many people leave the state. About a year ago a good 60% of our clients were moving out of state. Thankfully that is not the case today

What is the best idea you utilize to build client retention?

Urbainczyk: The most important part of client retention starts with doing a great job in the first place and this is definitely why we get most of our referrals. We have a large team and consequently we can provide more of the touchy feely stuff during a transaction. A bad transaction is assured of no referrals. For instance when we take a listing our staff calls the seller and introduces themselves to the clients. This sets us apart from the rest. We stay in constant contact with our sellers and buyers until the closing and even after closing we call them to make sure they are happy. Every week our sellers and buyers get a weekly comprehensive market update which is also posted to our blog.

Once per month our seller gets a detailed market update (mini CMA) as to how many hits they are getting on the various Web sites, how many showings they had, what their average price is per square foot, compared to competition, how many listings are in the market place etc., and what has sold in the neighborhood etc. This is e-mailed out to the client and then followed up by a personal call from me and or the respective listing agent.

At the closing table we provide our clients a goodie bag, with a coffee mug with my name on it and filled with candies. At Christmas time we send out our calendar with my picture which they place on the refrigerator. Because of our strong market presence and also Internet presence our clients see our signs and my name all around town and it is hard to forget our name. Sometimes a crazy looking name is a great thing!

Skapski: We start by providing exceptional service to all our clients and making them feel they are important to us. We also are excellent negotiators and they appreciate the professionalism of our approach, at all levels. With a team, we stay in contact with our clients throughout the process and afterwards. There is always someone who is assigned to each task, so we make them feel they are in the loop at all times. We really only provide just plain good service, nothing more.

Grisso: We have a reputation for providing legendary service. We make all of our transactions very personal to us. In doing so, we make the clients understand that they are important to us by consistent phone calls and thank you cards. We feel that the personal touch is much more important than a newsletter.