Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Creating Customers for Life

A lot of this we've all read before, but it's nice to take a minute and refocus. The point of this article is that to build customers for life, you need to focus on the client, not the end result...

RISMEDIA, March 22, 2006—Fostering a client for life goes far beyond marketing plans, print ads, or postcard drip campaigns. Like any long-term relationship, a basis for mutual respect, trust, and honesty must be formed through repeated demonstrations of goodwill and promises kept. iSucceed Mentor and client retention expert Diana Ivas, of Hinsdale, IL, has managed hundreds of repeat clients for decades, some of whom she’s helped buy and sell over ten homes a piece.

Creating a lifetime client from the very first day always begins with a meaningful first impression. Diana’s years of experience have taught her that buyers and sellers are especially sensitive to canned dialogues or disingenuous presentations, and she offers a few tips here, “Dig deep with questions. Find the motivations and commonalities. Be genuine, upfront, and honest; and learn how to entertain your clients without coming off as a phony.” It’s a tightrope walk, finding just the right balance between objective counselor and controlling party, but the level of detail Diana is able to unearth from her prospective customers

The long-term relationship is the ultimate goal, but Diana makes a conscious choice not to dwell too much on the end result of her daily activities. She’s made a clear commitment to remain focused on the client of the moment, especially when the time comes to negotiate price. She remarks, “Most Realtors I know would admit that when it comes to negotiating the deal, they just want it done. And while that may be the gut reaction, I choose to focus on the process rather than the results.” That focus has also allowed Diana to keep a mindset of service in lieu of profit. She explains, “Excellent service generates repeat business – that’s the first thing. The second goal with client retention is to dominate mindshare: when people in your market are thinking about buying or selling a home, yours must be the first name that comes to mind.” Building and maintaining that reputation for quality, enjoyable service keeps Diana motivated from sunup to sundown.

The real challenge for Diana is to effectively communicate on a regular basis with her repeat customers in such a way that doesn’t come off as hokey or contrived. “I really pride myself on the depth of relationship I try to create with each and every one of my clients,” Diana explains. “You must be sympathetic to people’s needs. With a big database, this can be a challenge, but with the right systems in place, you can do it in a meaningful, personal way.” Diana’s personal touch is nearly legendary in her market – from letter-writing campaigns to personalized closing gifts to special events and impromptu visits to her clients’ homes comes an annual sales volume of more than $40 million.

Twenty-year real estate sales veteran Diana Ivas of Hinsdale, IL, has served the suburbs west of metro Chicago since 1986, averaging annual sales in excess of $40 million plus, due in large part to a balanced partnership with her husband, Chuck. When it comes to client retention, no other local Realtor tops the Ivas team – over 60% of their business comes from repeat clients and their referrals. They each play to each other’s strengths, with Diana handling the marketing and buyer’s agent management, and Chuck focusing on the financial and administrative tasks. Diana has been the recipient of a bevy of RE/MAX awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, Hall of Fame, Platinum Club, Chairman's Club and Northern Illinois Top 10.

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