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We have an award here at Buffini & Company for our clients who achieve a high level of success in their first year in the business. One recipient, Wendy Hulkowich in Plano, Texas, grew her business so quickly when she got into real estate that her husband, a successful executive who had just been laid off from his job, became an agent so she could handle all the business and referrals she was receiving. How did she do it? She built relationships by taking every opportunity to “plant the seed” for future referrals. As a result, she continues to “harvest” new leads and reach the ambitious goals she set with her coach. Whether you’re new to the real estate industry or feel renewed zeal for your business, one thing is for sure: if you want to make this year your best, you have to understand the law of the harvest.

What’s the Law of the Harvest?
In the spring, farmers plant their seeds. Then, they tend them throughout the growing season by building up the soil, watering and adding nutrients and fertilizer. The seeds grow into plants, and, eventually, the farmer is able to harvest fruit and vegetables.

Real estate, specifically working by referral, is similar. An agent receives leads by way of referrals from his best clients. Then, he gives excellent service by providing them with helpful information each month, keeping them up-to-date on the local market, connecting them with services and tradespeople in his network and always showing his appreciation. As the relationship grows, the agent becomes the trusted advisor of his clients. When the agent reminds them he’s never too busy for their referrals, they’re more likely to refer him to their family and friends, and the agent is able to “harvest” new leads.

Give. Ask. Receive.
Working by referral boils down to three words: give, ask, and receive. That is, give excellent service, ask for referrals, and receive referrals from your clients. As real estate professionals, we’re naturally givers who are eager to find ways to help our clients reach their goals, whether it’s buying a first home, upgrading to a larger home or finding a vacation home.

We’re also great at the “receiving” part. Any time we receive a referral, we thank the client in person and write a personal note. Then, we get to work building relationships with the people who were referred. It’s through providing great service we’re able to build strong, lasting relationships with each of our clients.

What doesn’t come naturally to many agents is the “asking” part. Even if you don’t consider yourself shy, you may feel uncomfortable asking a client for a referral. We often think if our clients really appreciate the service we provide, they’ll automatically think to refer us to their friends and family. The truth is, our clients lead busy lives and sometimes need a gentle reminder to give a referral. It’s not a slight to you and the services you provide; they just need a nudge. A simple, “Oh, by the way…I’m never too busy for any of your referrals” is enough to remind them to refer you when they hear someone close to them is thinking of buying or selling a home.

When Is the Best Time to Ask for a Referral?
The general answer is any time you speak with a client—in person, over the phone or over email or text—is the right time to ask for a referral. But, the best time is when you’re working with a client on their transaction. They’re already consumed with the real estate process and their family and friends are likely asking them how it’s going. What better time for them to respond by raving about the services you offer and referring you to their connections who are in the market to buy or sell? With enough practice, using a gentle reminder to remind your clients to refer you will come naturally.

Get inspired to have your best year and “harvest” the leads you need to reach your goals. I love the quote from Zig Ziglar: “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.” We’ve compiled our favorite motivational quotes into an eBook. Download it here and be sure to refer to it whenever you need a dose of motivation.

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