First, I would like to thank Jessica for requesting this topic!
Real estate agents can be a great source of repeat referral business for the roofing contractor. How can you tap into this market without wasting time and money?
Before getting into specifics of how to market to agents I would like to give you a couple of cautions to keep in mind.
First, when designing your marketing plan for real estate agents remember that there are about as many (if not more) real estate agents as there are roofing contractors. This makes it critical for you to spend your time in the right places and with the right agents. Just like in the roofing industry there are a lot of agents just sitting around without much work.
Second, you have to be prepared to say no to some agent’s requests. I have had agents ask, after a roof inspection that was bad and was jeopardizing the sale, to just say something to make the potential buyers feel good about the roof. You may be asked to give estimates of how long a roof will last, and you may find yourself pressured to withhold negative information for the sake of getting the deal done. Hopefully this will never happen to you, but you should be prepared.
Now on to the marketing part. Here are Five Tips.
1 – Find out who the busy agents are. This one can be tricky. Just because an agent spends a bunch of money on ads doesn’t mean they are busy. How can you find out who the busy agents are? One of the first things I would do is visit local real estate offices and speak to either the Broker or the Office Manager and ask them who their busiest agents are, they will often be more than happy to tell you who is really producing and also who the up and comers are. This will give you a good list of targets.
2 – Focus on agents who work with Buyers. Typically it will be the buyer in the transaction that will request a roof inspection and you would like to be the roofing contractor the agent recommends. However, you should also try to get in with busy listing agents who will recommend that their customers get a roof inspection ahead of time (not all do this) so that they can market the home with a clean roof inspection. Also, it will often be the listing agent who will make recommendations to the seller as to which contractor to choose to have any requested repairs made. That said, if I had to choose I would choose the buyers agents to target first.
3 – Meet agents face to face. Take in helpful information to the agent. Become a resource. Agents are people too and they usually choose contractors they are comfortable with and feel will be there for them to help them out. After you have finished step one ask what times are the best to catch the agent in the office and then drop by and introduce yourself and your company.
4 – Don’t be put off by the first rebuttal. Don’t feel bad if you don’t get a warm and fuzzy feeling on your first visit. Just be cordial and persistent. Agents will eventually appreciate your persistence and over time will be more inclined to send some work your way. Establishing familiarity will go a long way for you over time.
5 – Offer to speak at the local Board of Realtors meetings or at local real estate office meetings. Brokers will often invite companies to speak at their weekly meetings as will the local Board of Realtors. Check with them and ask what sort of roofing related topic they would feel would be beneficial and do a short presentation on the subject (don’t forget to bring bagels and coffee). Make sure to bring some sort of leave behinds that highlight how an agent can benefit from working with your company.
I hope this information helps. Face to face marketing with agents is more time consuming but will get you much much farther than would any sort of mailer or flyer. One other tip, make sure that any agents you do currently work with refer you to other agents in their office. Their recommendation can go a long way in getting you in with other agents.
Please let me know your experiences in working with agents in the comments section below.