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Build a System to Earn Card-Carrying Fans, Repeat Clients and More Referrals

One of the surest paths to a long and successful real estate career is building a base of loyal clients. Having a steady stream of repeat clients, solid referrals and little to no cold calling is not only a recipe for a successful career, it typically makes for a much more enjoyable one as well.

So what can a broker or manager do to help agents build a business with over 90 percent of clients coming from their sphere, past clients and referrals? The best way is to provide them with a system—a roadmap that they can follow to establish themselves for the long-term while earning business now.

Here are some tips that I provide to my coaching clients nationwide and that have been proven to help agents earn annual sales of $50 million – $200 million and higher, all by referral.

Define Your ‘Key 50’: These are your champions—card-carrying fans in your sphere who will use you as their agent and will influence others to choose you as well. Preferably, they would already have been clients, but that is not a hard requirement, especially for new agents. Whatever the case, write down 50 people who will be strong cheerleaders for you as a real estate agent. If you are new and can’t yet come up with 50, that’s okay; put down as many as possible. If you are a veteran agent and have more than 50, the more the merrier!

Make 10 Calls Every Day: You’ve seen this advice before, and that’s because it works. The key, however, is to make calls that are impactful. The best calls to make are to your “Key 50,” sharing real estate updates, asking about their needs and asking for referrals—basically reinforcing that you are their No. 1 real estate agent. If you call even one per day, that means that you are in touch with all of them at least every other month, which is important. For the rest of your calls, fill the rest of your 10 with referrals, lead follow-up, past clients, warm/cold past leads, or finally any other prospective client. Never end a day without making these calls, and never let the call end without asking how you can help them and if they know of anyone else that you can help.

Give Thanks, Repeatedly: Whenever someone either works with you or refers you a client, go overboard with thanks. Send handwritten notes, give a personal gift, make a phone call or schedule a follow-up visit. Then schedule something else again. Genuine and repeated appreciation will go a long way toward reinforcing important relationships, so form a system or routine to make this happen reliably.

Add Extra Value: There are several ways to do this. One way, when you contact your Key 50 or others, is to have a useful bit of current information to share, either in general or related to their specific situation. Another is to provide a list of useful contacts for repairs or other services after a new home purchase (a few agents I work with do this through a mobile app customized to their business!). However you choose to do it, execute a plan to give your clients and sphere things that are unique and memorable so that they become bigger fans and share that with others.

Host Events: Do something 2-3 times per year that brings clients and your Key 50 to you or you to them. Holiday parties and picnics are common choices, and you can also do pumpkin pie giveaways, Super Bowl squares or any one of a million other ideas. Establish a few events or activities that are personalized to your business and that you will do consistently, and over the years you will become more embedded with your sphere as their go-to real estate expert.

You need a system to create a loyal client base and consistent referrals, and you need purposeful effort to make the system work. Use the tips above and actively make them happen to achieve a 90 percent or more referral rate in your business. You will create a reliable community of fans and your career and life will be better for it!

For a FREE copy of Sherri’s exclusive “Weekly and Monthly Action Plan” worksheet to plan and track income-producing sales activity, click here.

Sherri Johnson is CEO and founder of Sherri Johnson Coaching & Consulting. With 20 years of experience in real estate, Johnson offers coaching, consulting and keynotes, and is a national speaker for the Secrets of Top Selling Agents tour and the Official Real Estate Coach for McKissock Learning and Real Estate Express. She is also an RISMedia 2020 Real Estate Newsmaker as an industry Influencer. Sign up for a free 30-minute coaching strategy session or visit for more information.