For the past 10 years Marilyn and I have been saving for an Airstream to reimagine our lives as empty nesters. This year, for our 25th Anniversary (silver) we finally had the savings to take the plunge. Little did we know that Airstreams are sold out across America, but that is for a different story.

bouquet of flowers

I am finding the experience of being a new Airstream owner remarkable, and was reminded of how many real estate brokers fall short in making their clients feel like they are part of a brand with a tradition of excellence. I feel like being an Airstream owner is the beginning of something special.

Shopping for an Airstream in a low inventory market is worse than home shopping because there is no MLS. We bounced around from site to site and experienced the frustration of FSBO sites with bad data. Ultimately, we found a 2018 on Facebook marketplace being sold by the dean of a private boarding school in Santa Ynez, CA. He and his wife are moving to Switzerland. We lucked out, finding the needle in the haystack– the only late model version in the United States was 45 minutes south.

2018 model airstream

After the financial part of the closing was complete, we were provided information about the Airstream club. In real estate, I parallel this to the Hunt Homeowners Club by Hunt Real Estate. Hunt Real Estate is ERA’s largest franchise, crossing upstate New York and extending into Boston. The Hunt Homeowners Club features a moving concierge program, attorneys, and a network of service contractors. The Homeowners Club is a key reason why we selected Hunt to sell our home in New York a number of years ago. As Californians, we needed a full-service firm that would take care of everything for us so we would not need to travel across America for any reason. It was a five-star experience.

Where I think that brokers can up their game with past clients is thinking of them as club members. Airstream has the Blue Beret Magazine which is part of the Airstream Club International. Nine times a year they reach out to each of their owners with this publication to stay connected to their customers. Many brokers had customer magazines up until the early 2000s. Maybe it is time to go back to that. They are hard work to produce, and expensive to print and send. But that extra effort is exactly what makes them special.

Print is having a resurgence across America. Consumers are so inundated with email newsletters that the temptation to hit the Unsubscribe button is too tempting. Fortunately, physical communication goes a long way to create trusting relationships– and there is no unsubscribe button on the mailbox.

Brokers should continue to create leads that they can refer to their agents. This reinforces a solid retention strategy that helps the broker pick up higher margins through referrals to agents. They should also offer CRMs with lead generation engines for agents to use. This is likely to be about 20% of a broker’s marketing budget.

Driving customer for life programs should be 80% of the broker’s marketing budget, making every consumer who has done business though your brand a top priority. Consider the facts. Over 80% of transactions are repeat and referral business. It is much easier to provide services to happy customers than it is to incubate new ones. Most brokers in America seem to have lost sight of this.

Want to see my favorite magazine? Check out the Douglas Elliman Spring/Summer 2020 magazine.