Type “closing gifts and real estate” into Google™ or into any other major search engine and it’s likely that the top ten results for your search will be: gift baskets, keychains, gift baskets, cookies, gift baskets… and then more links for more gift baskets.
Real estate agents, please stop with the clichéd and unimaginative gift baskets! The market is saturated with them, and while they are undoubtedly a very quick and easy way to messenger over to your client a token of your appreciation for their business, the chances are quite good that in the chaos of moving, your basket will be overlooked in a corner behind boxes of dishes for days on end. Or perhaps your customer won’t have any knives unpacked to cut those fancy hunks of cheese, and maybe the family dog will decide that roll of spicy sausage was simply too delicious to waste on humans.
So what do the nation’s top producers do to truly “wow” their customers when it comes to closing gifts? To find out, I asked the iSucceed Mentors, the nation’s largest group of top producers who regularly share the secrets of their success. Once again, they demonstrated their position as the top minds in the industry by sharing the following ingenious solutions to the closing gift dilemma. Read on as they share some of their fantastic ideas about spicing up your own closing gift techniques.
Make it Artistic
Teri Isner of Kissimmee, Florida is well known for her Monopoly™-themed website, but she doesn’t stop there. She’s contracted a local artist to create unique watercolors for her clients, in the style of a Monopoly™ game board. Since Teri keeps track of her clients’ interests, the board is filled with all sorts of the clients’ favorite things or activities. Often the client is shown driving their favorite car down their new street, on which is, of course, a depiction of their new home.
Make it Unique
Eva Keagle of Harker Heights, Texas, has been providing buyers with a custom made birdhouse for the last 12 years, created by a local artist (and former client of hers!). The birdhouse is custom painted with the client’s name and new home address on the birdhouse.
Make it Charitable
Sandra Nickel, a.k.a. “The Hat Lady” of Montgomery, Alabama, says that in lieu of a closing gift, her office gives 1% of the commission earned on every transaction to one of 11 local charities, from which the client can personally choose. This not only garners her office much praise, but allows her office and her clients to give back to the community.
Make it Elegant
Debra Berman and Pat Kandel of Marina Del Rey, California, send their clients branded tins of cookies and live orchids after closing, at once a delicious and beautiful gift.
Make it Functional
Everyone knows that while moving can be an exciting time, it’s also exhausting trying to plan meals around unpacking and locating cleaning supplies. Rob Levy
of Portland, Oregon helps his clients overcome this by having a rubber storage box packed and waiting for the client on move-in day, filled with essentials such as dish soap, paper towels, detergent, bottled water, plastic knives and forks, and coupons for a year of 2-for-1 meals at local restaurants. He also leaves a pine box filled with bottles of wine at the new house which sport custom-printed labels that read “From the Private Reserve of the Rob Levy Team.”
Make it Memorable
Glenda Williamson of Decatur, Illinois, presents her clients with a beautiful keyholder -- a plaque with a picture of their house and a brass plate that says “Great Clients Like You Are The Key To Our Success. Glenda Williamson and Team - Your Realtor For Life.”
Make it Stylish
T.K. Bazirgan of Sacramento, California, has an antique doorknocker installed on the door of his clients’ new home, with their last name engraved on the faceplate.
Make it Cozy
Ken Deshaies of Summit County, Colorado says the nights get quite chilly at 9,000 feet, so he often sends his clients fleece throws embroidered with his company logo, along with vendor certificates for free dinners for two at local restaurants, and a copy of a local book listing all the free events, tours, and trips throughout Colorado.
Make it Regional
Alice Held of Arizona brilliantly incorporates her personal passion into her closing gifts. A self-professed “rockhound”, Alice is an expert on the natural resources of her home state of Arizona. While taking her clients on tours of houses, Alice provides their kids with coloring books filled with games and lore about local rocks and the Arizona landscape. Complete with colored stickers to paste next to their finished masterpieces, these thoughtful touches delight children and parents alike. Upon closing, Alice sends her clients a unique crystal, geode or other fascinating rock or mineral, sure to find a place on many a fireplace mantle for years to come.
Make it Personal
Stephanie Vitacco of Northridge, California gives her clients a photo album of their new home, filled with pictures that she has taken during the marketing phase. She says she always shoots each room (“making sure to get a shot of the family pet!”) and that since most people don’t have a complete set of photos of their house it makes for a great memento.
Make it Special
Alexis Bolin of Pensacola, Florida gives clients a framed watercolor beach scene, particularly appropriate since her community is near the Gulf of Mexico. She also buys season tickets for a traveling Broadway show for clients who like the arts, or season tickets to baseball and hockey games for clients who enjoy sports. She’s even been known to give a weekend at her waterfront townhome for clients who were having a wedding anniversary, a gift that resulted in many positive referrals.
Make it Useful
Penny McLaughlin of Bainbridge, Washington says that in her nearly 20 years of business the best gift she has given has been the use of her handyman service for one hour. The client receives a gift certificate and communicates directly with the handyman, and any cost above the one hour is negotiated between the two, with the client usually receiving a discount.
Make it Edible
Nelson Zide of Framingham, Massachusetts often has pizza delivered to his clients on moving day, and takes the concept of “feeding your farm” one step further; he promises his clients at closing that for any referral they send him that closes successfully, he will buy them dinner at any restaurant anywhere in the nation, at any price, and all they have to do is send him the bill.
Make it Year-Round
Steve Westmark of Wayzata, Minnesota gives the new homeowners an address stamp for their home with his company logo, coupons from local vendors such as jewelers, restaurants and health clubs, and keeps the goodwill going throughout the year with certificates for a free rose on Valentine’s Day, free pumpkins at Halloween, and invites all his buyers and sellers and their families to a “Westmark Team Night” of baseball with the Minnesota Twins.
Make it Mobile
Denny Grimes of Ft. Myers, Florida bought a company limousine, and allows his clients to use it any time they want - for free!
Make it For Life
Galand Haas of Eugene, Oregon says all of his clients go on the “Client for Life” program, which provides such things as a pumpkin and hay ride certificate at Halloween, a Christmas tree certificate at Christmas, a truffle certificate on Valentine’s Day and a flower basket assortment certificate in late Spring. They also receive his monthly newsletter, get invited to an annual client party, an annual client “dump-and-donate” day, and have free use of a moving truck.
Make it… a Gift Basket?
In defense of the gift baskets of the world, let’s just say they’re not an entirely bad idea. They just need some creativity! There is a good way to give them. Fill a basket with tomato seedlings and gardening supplies if your clients like to garden, or with candles, a bottle of wine, a picture frame, and romantic music if your clients are newlyweds, or perhaps a variety of playing cards, board games, and a chess set for a family to celebrate their first night together in their new home. The key is to spend some time in making it applicable and specialized to your client, something that truly says, “I know who you are, and I really appreciate your business.”
Pay attention, give from the heart, and your clients will remember you for it. Now that’s a gift basket worth giving, and receiving.
-Kelly Kelley is the Content Manager for iSucceed.com
For more information, check out these Counseling Calls and Success Modules that refer to Closing Gifts:
Superior Client Service with Nelson Zide – Counseling Call
Five Action Items that Increase Referrals 150% while Reducing Marketing Costs with Bruce Hardie – Success Module
Referrals: Multiply Your Gains by Giving First – with Stuart Sutton – Success Module