Big Sky agent Charlotte Durham looks at three helpful strategies that guide her approach and give you insight into why each is important to building relationships with your clients and, by extension, your business.
It’s a golden rule of luxury real estate: Big success relies on little custom touches. High-end customers already expect top-notch service, but we can still surprise them by going beyond the genuine and thoughtful ways. Small gifts and gestures require minimal time and effort, but they have a really significant impact on buyers and sellers and show that we are genuinely committed to them.
This has been critical to my real estate practice here in Montana. Not only is it essential to ensure long-term customer relationships, it also helps build rapport from day one. People don’t care what you know until they know you care.
So what kinds of small investments make the biggest difference? I will discuss three useful strategies that guide my approach and give an idea of why each is important in building relationships with your customers and, by extension, your business.
1. In luxury, personalized is always better
Luxury buyers and sellers respond best to tokens that suit their lifestyle, family, passions, and preferences. But how can you collect this information?
Every time I speak with a client, starting from our first points of contact, I try to ask strategic and conversational questions, and I actively listen to understand their unique wants and needs. What do you like about this location? What are your favorite restaurants, shops, and excursions? Do they have a favorite hobby or even a favorite candy? Nothing should go unnoticed, because when you surprise customers with something they mentioned in passing, it can be even more meaningful.
The gestures do not have to be monetary, not even material. If my clients talk about an area they would like to explore, an event they would like to attend, or a recreational activity they would like to try, I take note. I’ve been fly fishing with buyers before, because sometimes the best gift you can give someone is an experience.
I also evaluate how I can satisfy my clients’ personal preferences while serving as their agent. Do you want to receive regular updates or do you prefer not to hear from me until there is a major development? What is your favorite mode of communication? These are things that I try to find out ASAP.
2. Honor those moments that matter
I communicate with my active clients at least once a week, but I am usually in touch more than that, depending on the communication you prefer. After that, my team and I have a structured system around notes, gifts, and registrations, where we focus on milestones like birthdays and home anniversaries.
We keep track of these dates in our CRM and calendar tools, and we hold monthly meetings to plan them. This gives us plenty of time to think of personalized ways to celebrate and commemorate. We also send highly personalized gifts to clients when they send us a recommendation.
The benefits of these touch points cannot be overstated. On a personal level, it is gratifying to be able to foster deeper friendships with the people I help. On a professional level, my goal is to create a relationship-based business and not constantly chase new leads. Investing in my existing clients takes less time in the long run and I love creating these relationships, it adds so much meaning to what I do.
3. Be there when the customer needs you
Fostering long-term relationships and showing appreciation is important, but it is during the buying and selling process that our customers count on us the most. The stakes are high, as is pressure. On top of that, this is a time of great transition, and clients may be selling their homes because a difficult circumstance has happened to them or their loved ones.
I am aware of the challenges my clients face and find ways to help beyond being a good advisor and advocate. One of my favorite approaches is helping with moving and staging costs. These services are not cheap, however, in the grand scheme of things, covering an invoice is a small gesture, and for the client, it feels monumental. They will never forget the generosity you showed when they were going through a stressful time.
It doesn’t matter how many clients you have or how big your team is. Small investments will build your business, because when people have a really great experience, their natural response is to tell others about it. Take really good care of the clients you have now, because the ripple effect is truly amazing.
With just over a decade of luxury offerings in the real estate industry, Charlotte Durham has conquered the Montana real estate market. Charlotte is a fifth generation Montanan who began her real estate career in 2011 and joined the team of owners at Big Sky Sotheby’s International Realty in 2020. His listings have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, LA Times, Mansion Global, and many more. Charlotte is very active in her community and believes that by giving back to her home, she is investing in its future. Charlotte and her husband Casey, along with their daughter, Camilla, live in Bozeman, Montana.