Undisruptables explain how agents can overcome past skepticism and use reviews as building blocks for their businesses
See the latest article published by Inman here. We all know that real estate is all about relationships and reputation. But it’s also true that technology and societal unknowns have the potential to disrupt the industry and its foundation — the millions of working agents who help buyers and sellers each and every day.
In the wake of that uncertainty, what does it truly mean to be Undisruptable? This is a question we’ve been asking ourselves a lot in 2020, as we interviewed champions and titans across the real estate industry.
Most of these Undisruptables agree that offering top-notch service is the best way to future-proof your business. But they also said that it can be difficult to capitalize on the fantastic experiences of past clients if you don’t have a smart strategy for driving in positive reviews — and using those reviews to drive in new prospective clients.
Below, we share their top tips and tactics for:
Preparing a client for a review request
The art of the “strong ask” for a client review
Using reviews as a way to end traditional “job interviews”
Leveraging reviews to get back in touch with past clients
Plant the seed: How to prime your clients throughout the transaction
Most best practices that are dedicated to asking for reviews focus on one moment: The final, strong ask. And while those tips are helpful, they overlook the work that happens before that moment — and the opportunities agents have to reinforce their value throughout the transaction.
As we interviewed the Undisruptables about how, when and why they ask for reviews, most of them focused not on the final ask, but on the moments leading up to it.
Anthony Malafronte of My Tampa Agent focuses on setting up expectations for each client. By outlining what they can expect, Anthony explains, clients will know at the end of the transaction that his team has lived up to their promises. The final expectation is for the client to write a review.
“We set expectations upfront for what we will do through the process — and we mention that the final step is a positive outcome for the client and a positive review for us. We also make sure to, when possible, talk about how we met and who referred them to us. That gives us a clear opportunity to mention the importance of positive client reviews and testimonials. And at the end, all of this makes asking for a review so much easier.”
Dwell Realty’s Shelley Zavitz agrees with this approach. In her client relationships, she even reminds her happy buyers and sellers to remember the big moments in each transaction, so they have something to write about in their final review.
“I plant many seeds throughout the transaction and remind my clients that they will eventually receive a review request from me. And when there are moments in the transaction that have gone very well, when I’ve gone above and beyond and they recognize that, I remind my clients to save that experience and include it in their final review.”
The final, strong ask: Strategies for getting that client review
There are many agents who will tell you that the best time to ask for a review is right after closing. And here at RateMyAgent, we agree that it can be an ideal way to follow up with the just-closed client. After all, buyers and sellers alike are more likely to respond to your texts or emails after they’ve been in close contact with you for weeks or months.
Tim Hur of Point Honors typically emails his clients post-close. Sometimes, though, he finds the right opportunity to ask within the closing process itself. He takes the opening when it comes:
“I occasionally ask for a review right when we close and wait for funding. Sometimes, that’s just easier than waiting and emailing them later. For some clients, emailing them later works best.”
Audrey Wiggins of Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Lifestyle Property Partners goes in for the ask before the closing has even occurred! We love this approach because it allows the agent to benefit from smart timing, and also ensures the closing itself is all about the client and a smooth transaction.
“At the walk through, we tend to go over all that transpired and it is typically a time when my clients are extremely happy and thankful. That’s when I tell them that they will be receiving a review request from me and how important it is to my business. I usually receive their review within a day or so after sending the request. And I have to say, I think RateMyAgent’s text feature is a huge reason why so many of my requests are completed!”
On the other hand, we also like the strategy that Shelley Zavitz uses — to outsource the ask altogether. If you have a strong lender partnership, consider following this model:
“My lending partner, Tammy Wittren at Guild Mortgage, asks for the review on my behalf at the signing table. This is a strategy that she pioneered, and I love it because it allows me to stay fully focused on my client, but it reinforces that the review is just the final step in the transaction.”
The power of reviews: Start talking, stop interviewing
Early in a professional career, it’s common to go on traditional job interviews. You may be asked your strengths or weaknesses, your past relevant experiences, and even for academic accomplishments like your GPA or SAT score.
But once you reach a certain point in your career, your experience begins to speak for itself. Your personality can shine through a bit more, and you don’t have to worry that you almost didn’t pass high school chemistry.
The same is true for real estate agents, who start out having to prove themselves… but who, over time, can use their experiences and past reviews to cement their reputation even before they have met a new prospect. The result? That first conversation can feel more like a conversation and less like a job interview. Here’s how Anthony Malafronte explains it:
“When we meet someone who has been referred by a past client, that first conversation becomes more of a discussion and less of a job interview. Likewise, if someone has read our reviews and liked what they have read, the conversations are easier and more focused on what we can do for them personally.”
Shelley Zavitz agrees, saying that “a review from a client takes private moments of a transaction and blows them on a large scale. They shine a light on the reason I’m in business in the first place — which is to provide better, more personalized, more attentive, more fun service than anyone else in my market. What better way to have future clients know how I work than to learn it from the buyers and sellers who have experienced it firsthand.”
Re-engage your sphere with a verified review
Everyone seems to agree that driving in new reviews can improve your chances of winning future clients who may come across those reviews. But what about the idea of using reviews as a way to re-engage members of your sphere — especially past clients you’d like to work again?
Our Undisruptables agree that verified reviews from RateMyAgent tend to excite former clients and make them more likely to respond to a quick request from their former agent.
A verified review from RateMyAgent is unique because it:
Is tied to the transaction
Features a listing photo
Features basic property details and context
Bill Risser, RateMyAgent’s US General Manager, says that the request for verification can solve a common problem that many agents have — a lack of opportunities to reach out meaningfully to past clients.
Many agents lose touch with clients and then feel awkward reaching back out. RateMyAgent solves that dilemma and empowers agents to reconnect with customers by using the “Verify Existing Review” feature in RMA. This feature turns text-based reviews from the past into verified reviews that are tied to the transaction. I recommend that agents start small by sending one verified existing review request a day as a way to begin rekindling those essential relationships.
We all know that agents are told, constantly, to reach out to their sphere. And we also know that these attempts at connection can often fall short or lead nowhere. Anthony Malafronte says that’s not been the case as he’s connected with past clients to get their reviews verified.
“The verified reviews — which are connected directly to a transaction, and show the picture of a real home that has been bought or sold — are a game-changer. I’ve been surprised by how often past clients, who’ve written reviews on other platforms, are happy to verify their previous review using the RateMyAgent process. It’s an easy and effective way to get back in touch.”
Audrey Wiggins has gone one step further, by using RateMyAgent’s Promoter ads. She says that the ads not only engage new prospects, but also reinforce her standing with past clients.
“I have been using the RateMyAgent promoter campaign platform to reach people via Google, Facebook and Instagram. I’ve found that the ads not only target new potential clients but also past clients — which allows me the opportunity to reconnect with them and get my brand front and center. I had never considered how effective reviews could be, but these ads are an excellent and affordable tool that helps me stand out against my competition.”
Power up with verified reviews
For years, agents have been told of the power of reviews, and the importance of getting social proof for their businesses. And for just as long, these reviews have been text-based, impersonal and not visually compelling.
RateMyAgent is here to offer something different. We’re here to highlight the experiences of happy clients, and to celebrate the worth of savvy agents. It’s why we’re hosting the 2021 Agent of the Year Awards, the only industry award that takes into account service and not just volume.
And it’s why we are going all-in on verified reviews, which we believe are the key to making agents Undisruptable.
Get started with RateMyAgent
We encourage you to get started by claiming your profile. Here’s a video that will walk you through exactly how to do that. And because it features the one and only Kristi Kennelly, we promise it’ll keep your attention from start to finish.
RateMyAgent is a digital marketing platform built for great agents to harness the power of verified reviews to validate, differentiate and grow business. From the free Basic profile that brings all existing and new reviews together to create a holistic view, to the robust Digital Pro subscription that brings those well-earned reviews to life through targeted online ads, listing reports that highlight great reviews near the property address, and unique landing pages for each review to improve SEO and expand that ever-important digital footprint. Tied directly to the real estate transaction, their reputation and relationships, agents can finally focus on serving their clients well, knowing the effort will be rewarded as well as provide powerful 3rd party social proof based content to grow future business.