The Most Important Gift for Real Estate Agents Is NOT the Closing Gift

Almost every successful real estate agent that I know gives a closing gift. It’s almost expected at this point. Do you know what happens when something is expected? It becomes a commodity instead of a brand builder. The question then becomes, how do you raise the bar on client gifting without finding ways to outspend your competition?

Let me start with a couple of facts:

Around 21% of your real estate clients will be repeat clients. Another 21% will come from client referrals. That means that approximately 42% of real estate business is directly tied to client relationships. That’s for an average agent. In reality, it’s much higher for rock star agents.

Investing in client relationships is playing the long game, but it’s the smart play. The most important date to give a gift to your client is NOT the day they sell or purchase their home. It is one year later.

Your clients will probably not be surprised or moved by your closing gift unless it is extravagant or exceptionally thoughtful. However, receiving a gift on the anniversary of their purchase is sure to make an impression.

What Does a Gift on the Closing Date Anniversary Accomplish?

It Reminds Them That It’s Been a Year.

This might sound silly, but it’s crazy how fast time flies, and sending a gift to help celebrate the first year in their new property is a great way to conjure up all the positive feelings they had dealing with you as well as the memories they’ve made in the past twelve months.

It Reminds Them That You Exist.

Hey, you had a great run together. For the time they were house hunting, you were probably always near the top of their list of recent calls. But after closing, that relationship probably fell off almost immediately. A closing gift on their anniversary means that they’re going to be talking to their friends and family about you all over again and move you to top-of-mind when someone talks about needing to buy or sell a house.

It Builds Your Brand.

If you want to stand out, you need to beat or set the trends in your region. Even though this is still low-hanging fruit, we’re always surprised at how few agents are organized enough to execute this strategy. But for those who adopt this strategy now, the positive effects on their brand, reputation, and revenue will be exponential to their marginal investment.

Automate Your Real Estate Gifting Strategy

One increasing trend is to find a gifting partner that will work with your client database to make sure that anniversaries and other important dates are utilized to strengthen your relationships and to make sure your gifts are shipped and received in a timely fashion while still staying within your budget.

Here at Pasolivo, we work with Real Estate Agents all the time and understand all the work and careful considerations that need to be made to ensure that you continue to leave a positive impression long after closing. If you’d like to talk to one of our corporate concierges, click below, and we’d be happy to talk about some different options that will help you grow your business and build stronger relationships.

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4 Items Every Financial Firm’s Gift Policy Should Include

Gifts are a tricky part of any financial agent or adviser’s practice. On one hand, the giving and receiving of gifts is SEC regulated. On the other hand, it’s a key part of growing and nurturing a financial practice but ruled by words like excessive and extravagant that are highly subjective.

That is why every financial firm should have its own gift policy that it follows so that during even routine audits, it is able to produce written evidence of its commitment to being compliant as well as being a benchmark to check for disparities in practice.

While these gift policies will vary from firm to firm, each and every one should include some version of the following items to ensure that all of its financial advisers are clear about what is acceptable or inappropriate.

The Foundational Pieces of an Effective Financial Firm’s Gifts Policy

 

Clear Definitions

Every financial firm should define clearly what it considers a gift or entertainment.

Generally, a gift will be defined as something that is tangible, something that can be touched and taken possession of—golf clubs, cigars, a vintage bottle of wine, or a collection of small batch olive oils.

Entertainment on the other hand is an experience that is attended with the person providing the gift.

In other words, if you gave a client tickets to a sporting event that you attended with them, it would be entertainment. If you gave that client the same tickets and told them to take whoever they wanted, it would be a gift.

Clear Limits

Once we know what is considered a gift and what is considered entertainment, it is a good idea to outline what is acceptable to your financial firm. This includes outlining what your firm will consider a nominal gift and what might need prior approval.

A nominal gift is normally given a prescribed dollar amount that serves as a maximum threshold before needing authorization. Because of the wording in FINRA Rule 3220, this amount is often set at $100 though recent rulings may see financial firms increasing that cap to $175.

Most entertainment limits are unfortunately forced to use vague language given the broad nature of entertaining clients. What is excessive in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania might seem less so in a market like Los Angeles, California. In general, common sense should rule. Dinner, a round of golf, or a sporting event where you are also present are usually safe forms of entertainment.

Approval Procedure

There will be times where it is necessary or appropriate to exceed nominal gifts or entertainment amounts set by the firm. In these cases a firm’s gift policy should clearly lay out the steps for quick approval or denial of requests.

Procedures should include who requests should be sent to, what information should be included, and the expected lead time needed to ensure requests are processed in a timely manner.

Entertainment approval policies often outline specific dollar limits and categories for various items involved—travel, hotels, alcohol purchases, etc.

Education Programs

It is important that financial firms take the time to educate their agents, advisers, and financial planners on their current gift policy as well as any changes that take place. This should include more than an inter-office memo or email.

Firms often include this in continuing education credits, code of ethics training, or even informal role-playing during staff meetings. There are also a variety of third party training services if your firm has the budget set aside to utilize.

Finding a Client Gift Partner to Match Your Policy

One increasing trend is to find a gift partner that is approved by your firm to be used by your agents, advisers, and planners. This partner will be well-versed in your firm’s gift policy and thresholds and be able to gain any necessary approvals that are needed to make sure that your gifts are shipped and received in a timely fashion while still staying within your budget.

Here at Pasolivo, we work with professionals in the insurance and finance industries all the time and understand all the work and careful considerations that need to be made to ensure that you are both remembered and industry compliant. If you’d like to talk to one of our corporate concierges, click below, and we’d be happy to talk about some different options that may be exactly what your firm has been looking for.

 

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Here Is the One Simple Fix to Making Your Client Gifting More Effective

The task of client gifting is often relegated to executive assistants or office managers, but in reality, their jobs are the most hectic in your organization. The best person to manage your client gifting is probably not in your office at all.

There is perhaps no harder decision in business than to know what to own and what to delegate. Knowing which tasks to outsource might be just as challenging.

Partnering with a third-party vendor to manage and execute your client gifting strategy ensures that your gifts are strategically thought out, timely, and above all, given the proper attention to make them unique and memorable experiences.

Here are some of the questions you should ask a potential vendor when choosing a client gifting concierge to help you develop and execute a more effective gifting strategy.

3 Questions to Ask a Potential Client Gifting Vendor

What is your process for working with your partners’ client list?

This is probably the most important aspect of figuring out if a particular vendor is going to make your life a lot easier. Ideally, try to find a partner who will take your client list and organize data like purchasing anniversaries, implemented buying cycle reminders, birthdays, and other important dates into segments that inform a strategy at several price points and creative gift options that takes your unique brand, process, and industry regulatory constraints into account. You want to be able to sign off and step away to grow your business. If you can’t, why use them?

Will you handle all the shipping and provide tracking links?

This question is about how hands-off you’ll be able to be through the process. If you provide addresses, will your corporate gifting concierge take care of the rest including links with all the tracking codes in case something goes wrong? It’s the execution after the gifts are chosen that take the most time-sucking attention to detail. You need to be able to trust that your partner has the ability to not only plan a strategy but also consistently execute that strategy without the need for constant guidance and hand-holding while still being available for updates and reporting.

What levels of customization do you offer?

Levels of customization does not mean the amount of products available to choose from, nor does it necessarily mean the ability to make each gift customized to individual clients. However, it is good to know whether the client gifting concierge service is willing to place additional inserts into the package for you. Will they write small personal notes using your letterhead or stationary? What is their willingness to truly become a partner with your business instead of treating your business transactionally?

Going Above and Beyond

Finding the right client gifting service offered by a company that shares your insistence on excellence might seem challenging. Finding a client gifting service that you trust to take care of your clients might seem impossible.

It doesn’t have to be.

Here at Pasolivo, we work especially hard to be whatever our corporate partners need us to be. We have some clients who call in with their specific one-time gifting needs. For others, we are a dedicated partner they trust to develop a yearly gifting strategy for all of their clients or a specific segment of clients while abiding to an annual budget.

We’re happy to serve and go above and beyond to exceed the expectations of both.

If you’re looking for a client gifting partner, or you’re just looking for options to streamline your gifting process, please click below to talk to someone from our corporate concierge team. We’re confident that we can find a quality solution that is both effective and efficient while providing your treasured clients with gifts that they will remember long after the day they land on their front porch.

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Here Are Four Things Realtors Can Do to Make Sure Their Closing Gift Is Remarkable

The papers are signed. Keys have been exchanged. The room is overflowing with handshakes and grateful goodbyes.

Seasoned agents will tell you there is one more step if you’re looking to make a lasting impression and improve your referral and repeat business—the closing gift.

Rock star agents will tell you that this is one of the most underutilized opportunities to break through the noise and separate yourself from the competition.

Here are some of the key components to make sure that you’re a real estate agent that seizes this important moment.

Make It Matter

Real Estate agents have fewer opportunities for client gifting programs that nurture relationships, so they need to make the most each one, particularly on purchase anniversaries and closing day. Make it remarkable, and you’re almost certain to get referrals. Make it ordinary, and they might be just as likely to refer the agent that their neighbor was telling them about who went the extra mile.

What makes a closing gift remarkable? Keep reading.

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Make It About The Client

You would think this would go without saying, but you wouldn’t believe how many of our customers tell us that, in the past, they’ve given gifts that included some sort of their branding. We’ve heard about clocks with brokerage branding in the middle and cutting boards with the agents initials or logo burned into the corner as a much more subtle example.

Either way, that type of closing gift says that you’re more interested in marketing and promotion than you are in enriching their life. Skip the branding and promotion. Let the experience of working with you do the talking.

Make It Useful

The best kind of closing gift is a gift that they will use. Decorative pieces are dangerous because style trends change and unless you’ve had a chance to really get to know a client through your process, it can be difficult to pick out something they will truly display.

Instead, choose closing gifts that enhance a particular experience in the home. That leads us to our last suggestion.

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Make It About the Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of almost every home. As I’m sure you’ve found in your own business, people will pay more for a house with a great kitchen and pass on a house they absolutely love otherwise if the kitchen doesn’t meet their expectations.

A good set of knives, an artisan cutting board (without branding), or dare we suggest, a luxury set of Olive Oils with pour spouts says that you care about making their new house a home that they love living their life in, that you’re invested in their family, and that you understand what people want to feel when it’s all said and done.

That last part, that’s what leads to referrals and repeat business.

We all know that closing gifts make a difference, but when everyone starts to invest in those gifts, you have to be smarter and more remarkable than your competition. Being good is no longer good enough.