By Lisbeth Calandrino One thing I’ve learned over the years is the importance of networking. I have been able to fill a niche in the real estate industry because of my flooring knowledge, design training and marketing expertise. I’m certified in New York state to teach continuing education credit courses for realtors as well as connect floor covering stores with these realtors. Not only am I teaching classes, but I’m also consulting with realtors who, in turn, are advising their commercial customers on how to divide up their vacant spaces and give expert advice on sound-proofing small space with certain flooring products.
You may not want to become certified as an instructor, but you certainly can host realtor events that they might attend. I know a floor covering owner in Texas who has a huge real estate following and boasts that 30% of her business comes through the relationships and classes she hosts for realtors.
I have a friend who owns a flooring and design store who says he has done more than $25,000 in business this past year with the realtors he met through me! This may not seem like much, but it’s only the first year. In addition, I have another dealer in Staten Island who spoke at my flooring classes and got an exceptionally large job the next day from the director of the real estate school. He is well on his way to building a new customer base with the realtors he met while speaking about flooring in my class.
When I bring up doing business with realtors, I’m told, “They don’t buy anything.” Like anyone else, realtors buy when they need the product. The same applies for realtors’ customers—the homeowners. Like interior designers, I consider realtors to be “influencers.” An influencer is a person who has the power to affect the buying habits of others. In their niche, they are influential and trustworthy to their customers. If you want to do business with an influencer, you must stay close and become the person they want to do business with.
As a group, I don’t know anyone who knows more people than realtors. Whenever I need anyone—be it an electrician, a plumber or landscaper—I always ask a realtor contact. They usually “have a guy” they can call on who will respond quickly and are always trustworthy and will get the job done.
Like any other relationship, this new partnership will take time to develop. The key to building a relationship with a realtor is having a product they cause to help their customers buy or sell a house. Yes, the product is flooring, and you need to market yourself, your company and your areas of expertise accordingly.
For instance, aging in place is a big area for realtors. If a client wants to stay in her home or is looking for a home that is ready, position yourself as the expert in that market. That expertise could be providing slip-resistant flooring both inside and outside the home or even building handicapped showers.
If getting more profitable customers interests you, I suggest you watch the two virtual courses I’m teaching for TISE 2021 or attend my live classes. The classes are “Flooring Trends for Real Estate Professionals,” scheduled for June 18 from 11a.m.-11:30 a.m., and “Overlooking the obvious: How Floor Covering Stores and Real Estate Professionals Can Drive New Business,” set for 11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. later that day.
Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.