Of all the numerous ways to market and sell fractional property, developers pretty much agree that one program consistently outperforms all the rest.
It is, of course, the owner referral program: Satisfied owners recommend the property to their family, friends and business associates.
Referral business seems so obvious that some developers may perhaps expect referrals to rain down upon them like mannah from heaven.
Unfortunately, they don’t.
Here, as in many other marketing and sales situations, if you want people to take a certain action, you need to indicate specifically what the action is and ask them clearly to do it. And, you need to ask more than once.
But how do agents go about asking owners for referrals?
Here are a few ideas developers and their in-house team may consider:
1. Face-to-face requests after a reservation or sales agreement.
An excellent—and perhaps optimum—time to ask for referrals is right after prospects sign a reservation or sales agreement. If asking at these times is not standard operating procedure for members of the sales team, then this is a missed opportunity.
The wording for the request should be scripted (as other important parts of the sales presentation need to be) so that sales agents ask smoothly, confidently and naturally. It should be brief, low-key and made at an appropriate moment. (Sample scripts are provided in the book cited below.)
2. Business cards.
- In person. At reservation or sale, selling agents hand three business cards to their buyers and ask them please to give the cards to potentially interested people they know. This is very old-fashioned, simple and effective.
- By mail. As a follow-up letter to a sale or reservation, agents mail a hand- written personal note thanking prospective owners for their business. They include three business cards and ask them to pass the cards along to people who might be interested in the property.
3. On-site cocktail parties for owners.
The fractional property holds weekly cocktail parties for owners in residence. Agents are invited to mingle with owners and chat about how they are enjoying their new vacation home and their activities at the resort. As appropriate, agents hand their buyers business cards or ask for referrals verbally.
4. Frequent, scheduled regular contacts with owners.
Agents should find good reasons to keep in touch by email, mail or phone several times a year so they remain in the forefront of their owners’ mind. These contacts should be calendared. There is no need to ask for referrals each time. In fact, it would be preferable not to.
Occasionally, agents may end a conversation or email with, “As always, I appreciate your referrals.” Frequent low-key personal contacts trump constant high-pressure requests.
5. Data base-generated contacts
- The company’s data base can support the owner referral program by enabling agents to enter information such as the anniversary date of the purchase and the birthdays of family members. Then, e-card greetings are scheduled to be sent automatically on behalf of agents.
- Also, the company can generate holiday-themed email greetings on behalf of agents for Christmas, New Year’s, Thanksgiving and other selected holidays, as determined, throughout the year.
6. Monthly newsletters.
It is important that the company and its agents give something of value to their owners—such as information, if they hope to get something of value such as referrals. Monthly newsletters to owners provide an excellent vehicle for this.
7. Owner referral incentives.
The property emails a letter or brochure to owners describing a program offering an incentive gift for their referrals who close on a property. The incentive can be relatively small–dinner for two, a fine bottle of wine, and so on—or fairly substantial—such as vouchers for a shopping spree at popular local shops.
8. Incentive-priced “Discovery Visit.”
Referred friends of owners receive emailed offers of an attractively priced “Discovery Visit.” The package includes a stay at or near the property and includes dining, resort activities and a meeting with the agent of the referring owner.
9. Contests for sales agents.
Sales agents can compete over a specific period of time to see who generates the most owner referral leads or the greatest number of newly referred owners. Results are announced and cash prizes awarded at weekly sales meetings.
10. Off-site cocktail party presentations.
Owners may agree to allow the fractional development company to host cocktail parties and slide or video presentations at their city or country club and invite their friends to attend. Or, the party can take place at a local hotel.
An effective call to action is to offer attendees an incentive-priced “Discovery Visit” and ask if guests would like the concierge/reservations department/agent to call them to schedule a convenient time for their visit to the resort.
A well-designed and well-organized owner referral program can be the most cost-effective of all the fractional marketing and sales programs.
The second and final part of this post will offer specific tips for a successful and profitable program.
How has your property generated owner referrals of new purchasers? Please share your success with our readers.
David M. Disick, Esq. is an internationally recognized fractional expert. He developed Franz Klammer Lodge, the world’s first Private Residence Club. He is the author of Fractional Vacation Homes: Marketing and Sales in Challenging Times, on which this post is based.
Disick helps developers secure financing, attract more buyers, close more sales and earn more profits. Contact him at: http://www.thefractionalconsultant.com/contact-2/