Like most of you, I have a little sticker on the top-left corner of my vehicle windshield. It’s not like the little smiley face stickers I used to get on my homework papers when I was young (Okay, full disclosure, I never actually got one of those smiley face stickers. My papers were typically covered in red ink with a frowney face drawn at the top). This sticker is produced by the local lube shop and is supposed to remind me when my car is due for the next oil change. I like having the sticker there as it is always staring me in the face, and it is pretty hard to forget when I am due to come in.
One sticker that is not there, but I wish it were, is one that would remind me when I am due for my next tire rotation. I am usually pretty good at coming in right on time for my oil change, but am notorious for being about… oh… 20,000 miles late for my tire rotations. Why? No blasted sticker to remind me!
So, why does the lube put stickers on the windshields but the tire shops do not? Simple. The oil change is a sale to the lube shop which means money in their tills, and tire rotations are typically free. Why would they remind you to come and get your FREE tire rotation? Now, let me pause here to say that there is actually a very good reason to remind you to get your free rotation, and some of the better shops DO give you a tire rotation reminder sticker, but most are not forward thinking like that. They are only thinking about the ‘cost’ of giving out a free service. Thus, no reminder.
I think there are a few marketing tips that can be gleaned from the sticker analogy. Big businesses (such as Jiffy Lube) are savvy. They know that it is much easier to retain a current customer than it is to find a new one. Therefore, once they have you, they will work much harder to keep you. The stickers on your windshield are only one example. Likewise, keeping a current appraisal customer (AMC, local bank, lawyer, real estate agent, etc.) should be a higher priority to you than digging up new ones. What are you doing to keep your current customers? Are you reaching out and ‘touching’ them often? Touches can be made in many forms (phone calls, emails, letters, etc.), but you must keep yourself on your customer’s radar without being overbearing. It is a fine balance.
There is also a lesson to be learned from the tire shops that get it and DO put the stickers on your windshield. Bringing you in for a free tire rotation will often lead to higher sales for them via other issues they might find while doing the rotation, such as needed brakes, bad CV Joints, or even new tires! You, as an appraiser, might also consider the same tactic. The more you are in front of potential clients, the more likely they are to remember you when they need an appraisal or other valuation service. This is especially true with non-lender work, such as litigation, tax appeal, FSBO values, etc. You should be getting your name out as an expert in your community in every way possible. Send out direct mailings to attorneys. Write a monthly article on appraisal issues and send it to all of the real estate professionals in your area. Teach a class. Be creative, but do something. You must be the ‘sticker’ that reminds people that they: A. Need an appraisal, and B. You are just the person to provide it.
Now, let your oil change sticker act as a secondary reminder to you from now on. Every time you see it, ask yourself two questions: 1. Is it time to bring my car in? and 2. What have I done this month to get my name out to the community as an expert appraiser?
Now, go create some value.
Dustin Harris is a multi-business owner and residential real estate appraiser. He has been appraising for nearly two decades. He is the owner and President of Appraisal Precision and Consulting Group, Inc. He owns and operates The Appraiser Coach where he personally advises and mentors other appraisers. His principles and methodologies are also taught in an online, Mastermind group. He and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children.