Promotions With a Personal Touch
Becky Woodbridge loves a great party. So it’s no wonder that she’s built her boutique real estate business by providing her clients with festive merry-making activities: Miami Heat basketball games, a movie theater party, boat excursions and an annual holiday bash, to name a few.
Woodbridge launched Becky Woodbridge Properties in Delray Beach at the height of Florida’s hot 2005 real estate market. Her business “took off like gangbusters” due to the regular social gatherings she organized, and her client-pampering approach. She maintains contact with about 550 past customers in her database. And it’s paying off: She’s started seeing more buyer-referral activity. “I like keeping things low key and fun,” says Woodbridge, whose firm has 10 sales associates. “I was taught how to build a business by referral. If you’re part of my customer database, I take care of you.”
Here’s how to spoil your customers: 1. Treat A-Listers Like Stars
Woodbridge categorizes buyers as A, B or C, depending on how much business they’ve done with (or referred) to her. A-listers—her biggest fans—are at the top of the invitation list. She hosts four parties per year, not including the extra treats she throws in for the super special people.
For example, she had five clients whom she “wanted to turn into friends.” “I wanted to entertain them and make them feel special,” she says. So she rented a Hummer limousine for 17 people and invited them plus her staff members to a Miami Heat game, where she had a suite. It cost her about $3,000.
Although it didn’t translate into immediate business, those clients continue to be loyal, Woodbridge says.
She also held a summer movie theater party for 45 people at Muvico Palace in Boca Raton. The theater has special seating—gigantic bucket seats that wrap around the person—and a restaurant upstairs. People can rent a room in the restaurant, then go downstairs for the movie. Woodbridge paid $3,000 for this event as well.
She also organizes small, intimate events, like the time she took a customer kayaking on the lake where she lives.
Woodbridge previously had an agreement with a boat club to use a boat anytime for a monthly fee for viewing Intracoastal Waterway properties. Boat charters usually cost her $1,000, but the properties for sale were
$1 million and up. 2. Throw a Charitable Event
Woodbridge has an annual “foundation party” and invites her entire customer database. The party benefits a charity that she started, called “The Holiday Angel Foundation,” which has its own board of directors and helps
disadvantaged children. She sponsors 80 percent of the event (cost: $5,000) and gets a grant from Wal-Mart. Some of the cost is covered with ticket sales.
One year, the Miami Heat cheerleaders attended gratis, and the gathering raised funds to create a library at a women’s shelter. For all her foundation parties, she hires a “beautiful angel” to be photographed with guests. 3. Share What You Enjoy
Woodbridge, a former flight attendant, enjoys taking clients on chartered flights to look at properties for an hour (cost: $400). “My time is worth money, and I’m usually in the office, but it’s fun for me, too!” Woodbridge says, adding that her strategy is to build a loyal long-term following.