When I first got started in real estate, I met a realtor in a different brokerage and asked him what he usually got as gifts for his clients. “Why should I get them anything?” he said. “I got them a great deal. They should get me something.”
He wasn’t joking, and I really thought he’d missed the boat. This is a business that is all about customer service. “It’s not about you,” I remember thinking. “It’s about them.”
A housewarming gift is a nice reminder of that customer service and a great way to build long term relationships.
I just dropped off a tagine to Algerian clients. When they first saw the condo they ended up buying, there was a tagine sitting on the counter, and they were delighted — it was almost a sign. I’d never even heard of tagines before, but it turns out that they’re traditional clay cookers that come from Northern Africa, which was where they were from. So I thought that if I could find one for them, it would be the perfect house-warming gift and it was: when I delivered it yesterday, I thought the wife was going to cry.
They’ve invited me to join them for couscous someday, which will be lovely. (And I’ll learn how to use that clay cooker as well. Won’t that be fun?)
In the past, my client housewarming gifts have ranged from practical to beautiful.
For example, for first time home buyers who had no kitchen equipment at all, I’ve bought cutting boards and boxed sets of utensils. For a couple who had everything, I bought a huge gift basket at an auction raising funds for research into breast cancer: my client came from the healthcare field and I knew she’d appreciate that as much as the mojito mix and glasses and all the other lovely items in the wine bucket that was part of the purchase. (The fact that it came wrapped up with a big shiny chartreuse bow–her favourite colour–didn’t escape me, or her: it’s all about details. She absolutely loved it, and kept it out on display for a dinner party!)
I gave a painting of mine to clients who said how much they liked it when I used it to stage their home for sale and then bought a new condo.
I bought a client who moved into a townhouse with a balcony that overlooked the woods a gorgeous basket woven out of twigs. For other first time buyers who had purchased a home with a really terrific backyard but had lots of cats, I found an outdoor/indoor candleholder that fit their décor but came with a flameless candle. And for clients who had a beautiful display of handmade bowls, I bought a handcrafted wooden burl bowl, made by the brother of a woman who works in my office.
I know many of my colleagues at Royal LePage do the same kind of thoughtful shopping for clients; those who don’t, provide gift cards, or packing boxes for the move, or a free consultation with a stager, or pay to change their locks, or do something to thank them for their business. It’s the least we can do.
The idea that my clients “owe me” something because I did a good job for them is not how I see it at all. I owe them, for taking a chance on using me in a highly competitive market. Buying them a house-warming gift to show my appreciation for their trust is the very least that I can do, and something I really enjoy, because I know they don’t expect it.