Summer Events Are Popular with Customers and Strategic Partners

Summer Events Are Popular with Customers and Strategic Partners
By David Robinson

Summer is here. For many loan originators that means two months of picnics, barbeques and other events.

The summer “season” is an ideal opportunity to entertain and bond with customers, prospects, Realtors, builders and others. “I try not to keep everything all business, but rather to get to know the agents on a more personal level,” said Jo Ann Theriault-Fazio, Guaranteed Rate, Chicago.

The Basics

Here are a few considerations:

Co-host with Realtor or other strategic partner. You can share the responsibilities and expenses, while also enhancing your relationship with the agent.

Look for different options. “You can find brochures (about upcoming events) at grocery stores or do a Google search for summer events,” said Cindy Worrell, co-manager with husband Geoff  of Franklin American Mortgage Company, West Wareham, Mass. “Most are low cost to be in, such as boat and camping shows.”

Celebrate unusual “holidays.”  Hold an activity on a non-traditional holiday such as Chocolate Day (July 7), Get to Know Your Customers Day (July 16), National Hot Dog Day (July 18), Sandcastle Day (August 1), National Root Beer Float Day (August 6), or Senior Citizen’s Day (August 21). Find more fun ideas at www.brownielocks.com/month2.html or www.daysoftheyear.com

Schedule events/be realistic about attendance. “Let’s face it— summertime is busy for everyone; Realtors and homebuyers alike,” said Theriault-Fazio. “While I understand referral partners have jam-packed schedules this time of year, and other companies may even scale back their events, we are known for having great parties that people make an effort to attend. Even if our referral partners are unable to attend, I always want them to know how much I value our relationship. I make sure they get an invite to our events, even if it just serves as a reminder of our appreciation.”

Match the event to group: If possible, try to invite customers or strategic partners to an event you know they’ll appreciate. “I believe a successful event is one that is tailored to your guests’ interests and allows you to get to know one another on a more personal level,” said Theriault-Fazio. “Whether it be our real estate partners or potential homebuyers, the more I get to know them the higher caliber of service I am able to provide.”

Invite families. Whenever possible provide activities for children.

Support community groups. Your summer activities might also include the support of community projects and other worthwhile programs.  “You can sponsor teams and support causes, such as walks or runs,” said Worrell.

Organize supplies—“You can purchase a portable tent for less than $100,” added Worrell. “Have bins (of supplies) ready for summer events. Keep a grill or hibachi available for barbeques.”

Provide Promotional Material—Depending on the event, you may want to distribute special material, including homeownership tips and/or first-time buyer brochures. “You’ll want to prepare your own portable loan officer kit,” said Worrell.

Potential Events

There are a variety of potential events, including:

Office open house:  The Worrells offer weekly gatherings at their office. “These family fun and picnic days are held at our office under our FAMC tent each Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. We have games, activities and prizes, and provide a complimentary home kit.”

Barbeques:  Kevin Hall, Skyline Home Loans, San Diego, Calif., includes barbeques on his summer event menu. “We kick off each month with a Friday afternoon BBQ to celebrate another great month and to thank our business partners and borrowers who made it happen,” he said. The barbeques are held at the Skyline Home Loans office, usually at 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. “Everyone loves the BBQ’s. We usually get 15-20 guests plus our entire team to attend. We have great food, music and conversation.”

Special venues: “In conjunction with our larger events, I also make an effort to have smaller, more intimate gatherings,” noted Theriault-Fazio. “Outings such as Chicago Cubs games, happy hours and going to a music festival like Ravinia all tend to be a hit with our partners and thankfully, don’t take a ton of work to execute.”

Community Events: The Worrells support a variety of community projects. “The Riders of the Pan-Mass Challenge/Dana Farber Cancer Jimmy Fund is a two day bike ride,” said Cindy. “We participate by painting signs, arranging music, and providing cold water as we cheer the riders through the first leg of their 200 mile journey.”Another summer event is the Four Seasons family 2k walk or 5k run of Hope for Massachusetts General Hospital Children Battling Cancer One Step at a Time. “We’re celebrating our 12th year with this amazing fund-raising event.”

Other Ideas:

  • 4th of July Celebration: Co-sponsor a portion of the local parade or other 4th activity
  • Ice cream social: Hire an ice cream truck to deliver treats to a Realtor office or other location
  • *Labor Day picnic—Combine a “thanks for your business” theme with a “back to school” party for the whole family.

Summer events don’t have to be elaborate or expensive to produce. They can further help strengthen ties with customers and referral partners. “An event is the perfect platform to build those relationships and set the foundation for a positive partnership,” added Theriault-Fazio.

David Robinson is Associate Editor of Broker Banker.

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