I went to a Mainstreet Organization of Realtors (MORe) meeting because my friend invited me. He’s a junk removal guy and an affiliate member of the organization, whose primary members are all Realtors and brokers. It’s a real-estate association, linked with the National Association of Realtors (which has 1,200 local associations), and after just one meeting I was ready to join.
For $85 a year, I get access to MORe’s database: 17,000 Realtors and brokers, all whose job it is to interact with home buyers and home sellers—two demographics high on the list for “likely to need home improvement work.” I also get access to the association’s meetings and events, and other affiliate members—lawyers, home inspectors, etc.
Since joining, I get two to three leads a week, and more often than not we close on two of the three.
Reaching the Network
Our strategy is to let MORe members know our services, and make it easy for them to tell their clients about those services. Talking to Realtors is limited.
The first step was narrowing down the list. We took out a map and drew a circle with a seven-mile radius around our office. It cut the list down to 1,500 members. The association gives name, title, company, phone number, and address, but not email, so the easiest way to contact them en masse is through the mail.
We knew we couldn’t send our standard marketing materials, so our marketing director developed a special brochure that we could send directly to MORe members.
Changing the language was the No. 1 priority. In the brochure, we use phrases like “help close the deal” and reference improved time on market, stuff more real-estate sales oriented. In detailing our specific services, while we talk about the big stuff, we focus more on our handyman work: quick jobs Realtors may suggest to their buyers and sellers anyway, like crown molding. We charge a flat rate for our handyman services ($150 for two guys, materials, and one hour of work, and $90 an hour after that), which also makes it easy for Realtors to relay the price to their clients. Of course, that’s not to say we don’t get big jobs from our connections with MORe members. Last year we did a full trim package for a seller for $60,000.
There is not a lot of back-and-forth that goes on between us and association members. We make ourselves known, we stay active in the association, and about twice a year, a few other affiliate members and I hold an educational forum at the freely available conference room in MORe’s office to remind old members we’re at their disposal (to an extent), and to introduce ourselves and explain our services to new members.
After being an affiliate member and having success with it, we also joined an association for home stagers. There are a lot of association options out there for remodelers not operating in the Chicago suburbs. The National Association of Realtors alone has 54 state and territory associations and 1,200 local associations and boards. The opportunities are available in all big and most moderately sized markets.