“One afternoon in a sales training seminar, the speaker wrote OPPORTUNITY IS NOWHERE on the board.  It was meant to remind us to view the words one of two ways: either Opportunity is Now Here or Opportunity is Nowhere.  An astute salesperson, especially in residential real estate sales, knows to keep their ears and eyes open for opportunity while others are more comfortable in finding reasons they aren’t successful.  When you fill your pipeline with prospective “opportunities,”  it helps to think outside of the box.

One often overlooked strategy for residential salespeople (but used quite often in commercial real estate and property management) is to partner with vendors  outside of your direct industry.   Here are the five vendors  a good real estate agent should have handy and that can refer business to you in return:

Plumbers.  Your plumber not only makes a good living and may be purchasing or selling a home, but let’s face it, a plumber’s office is inside other people’s home.  They may not be thinking to ask the homeowner whether or not they could use your services, but while fixing or making improvement to one’s home, they are certainly positioned to chat about a rather helpful topic for you – the home.  Simply let your plumber know that you would like to refer business to him or her and then actually follow through with those referrals.  Then politely ask, “Do you happen to know anyone right now that is planning to buy or sell a home.  If you do, I’d be happy to give them a call with their permission.” Tell them a name, phone number, email address and even home address would help you prepare for the conversation as well.

Carpet & Hardwood Flooring Specialists.  Roll out some red carpet of your own for these vendors.  Nothing says flipping like a new layer of carpet and scratched up wood floors makes every what to fix before selling your home list you read.  Carpet companies are great for referring because if they work with a client who is, in fact, fixing their home up to sell it, their need for your service is about as immediate as it gets. WINDOW

Window Installation & Repair Professionals.  Another favorite for home sellers is to repair or install new windows and frames.  Anything that adds to the value of a home without breaking the bank is a great way to get referrals who are closer in the cycle.

CONCRETE

Concrete and Driveway Pavers.  Before the red front door, before the newly planted flowers, the driveway leading up to a home gives the real first impression to neighbors and passers by.  Repaving your driveway or a nice cobblestone walkway is no inexpensive home improvement either.  It doesn’t scream I’m about to sell my home, but with sellers listing every 9 years on average, a true listing agent knows meeting everyone in the community is well worth it.  Companies that offer paving and concrete services are good friends to have in the home builder and new construction arena.

PAINT

Painter.  Every investor knows the value of a good exterior pain job when selling a home.  It’s the first impression many homeowners think about before selling their home. Even inside the home, one of the most commonly used vendors to prepare for selling your home are local painters so you should have one ready to recommend.

Before you start making proposals to these prospective partners, a few things to remember are to

  1. Always ask if they are looking for new clients first, you don’t want to assume they think as highly of your partnership potential as you do.    They may be looking to retire or have more business then they care to deal with so it’s always best to ask first.
  2. Another point to consider is whether or not they are a reputable vendor with the appropriate licensing and insurance for their field.  When building a network of vendors, this is quick research that’s worth it.
  3.  Check reviews and find vendors in your area on websites like Thumbtack and Angies List.  Again, make sure you have worked with them on several occasion before adding them to your list.  Referrals are great, but you still have your reputation to watch out for so be certain they uphold the same standard of ethics.
  4. Add your vendors to a preferred vendors list with proper legal disclaimers and allow your clients to download it from your website.  Add a forced registration and generate leads of your own this way while adding value as a real estate professional.
  5. Add your contacts to your CRM and send them your newsletter and holiday cards with permission.  You won’t see them all the time so stay top of the mind the same way you do with homeowners and prospective home buyers.

Check out this infographic for more on the list in the Top 10 Vendors Every Agent Should Have in Their Back Pocket.