I am in the midst of my yearly excursion around Zephyrhills, Dade City, and Pasco County in central Florida. I am delivering a poinsettia to each and every customer I have had in the area during my career. After 5 years, that is a lot of plants. It now takes me the better part of the week to do it. I also give them to people who have helped me get listings in their subdivisions over the years. Out-of-state customers get cards with holiday greetings. But, the vast majority of my customers/friends, live down here all year round.
This year due to the tougher economic times I was tempted not to do it. But finally decided to clean out Walmart's garden department and make my annual drop-offs. I also picked up the small bags of pet treats for those customers who have dogs. Treat the pets right and you will have the loyalty of the owners forever, is my motto.
Now, a lot of my colleagues mail out calendars, pens, or some other type of item. But, it is the personal contact that I think adds a little more to what I do. I get to see all of my customers at least once every year face-to-face. I can see how they are doing, see how they have proudly remodeled their homes, answer their questions, and just show them that I care. One widow said "Oh, I was just watching for your little blue car to show up like it always does each year." Touched my heart. In our area we have many retirees and often they live alone. They really appreciate the fact that someone took the time to stop in to see them and give them a gift. It makes them feel like you really care about them and consider them a friend (which I do).
Sure, the poinsettias and gas cost me more than a pen or calendar (though those are not cheap when you consider the postage), but that personal contact can be priceless. I guarantee you that I have a loyal bunch of cheerleaders in each of the subdivisions where I farm. Speak badly of me there, and you might get a shovel over the head! On more than one occasion, I have had a stranger call me and say "My neighbor Joe said that I HAD to call you since you were the best agent around!" I like that!
Will something mailed do that? Perhaps. Mailings are efficient. But my guess is that my team of cheerleaders will out trump a pen or magnetic grocery list every time.
There may come a day when I have to hire someone to help me deliver my poinsettias, but as long as I can I want to do it personally. For those that think that online services will make us obsolete, this type of behavior on my part will protect me from that happening here. We are human beings and personal contact will always be important for most of us. And after all, for most of us this is a slow period for real estate sales. People are more involved in the holidays, gift buying, and travel plans. So at least I have more time to do this one special act. In January and February (here in Florida) I will be too busy with buyers and sellers who arrive looking for vacation homes. And in the summer the locals are out looking.
So, if you can, try to "get personal" this holiday season. A $3.50 flower could just make you a $1,000 or more. At the very least it will brighten someone's day, and you cannot put a price on that!
John Elwell - REALTOR
Bill Nye Realty, Inc.
Licensed in Florida