When Hurricane Andrew hit Florida in 1992, real estate agents Gene and Rebekah Rivers lost a level of their home, a car, their office, and their pending sales and listings in Miami, Florida. But when the couple relocated to Tallahassee, seven hours away, and began rebuilding their lives, they ended up with an even stronger business despite the storm. The key to their success, Gene says, has been staking out authentic territory in the lives and minds of their fellow community members.

Gene and Rebekah started by finding a few neighborhoods that had a 10 percent turnover rate and then investigated who was controlling the area. They found that these traditional brokerages were giving the calls and leads to whoever was on floor duty. “So a variety of agents were getting the business,” Gene says. “No one agent dominated, and we knew it was ripe.”

The Rivers then dove into the market in an innovative way. By connecting with individuals in the community, they became “top of mind” when anybody needed to buy or sell a home. “Your success in real estate,” Gene explains, “will be dependent on how many people, when they think of real estate or hear real estate, think of you.”

Here are Gene’s tips for making an impression that lasts.

Become a regular.
Gene and Rebekah worked out at the same gym at the same time every morning and also frequented a local breakfast joint, so they quickly got to know many of the other regulars at these spots. While the relationships were genuine, Gene says he and Rebekah also entered these acquaintances into their database, mailed them materials, and to this day still do business with many of them.

Embrace the database.
Gene has had success with the “mail-call-see” strategy and says there is no specific order that you must stick to. Sometimes, before you get the face-to-face meeting, you have to mail materials for a few consecutive months or make several follow-up calls. Other times, the “see” comes first. The important thing is to keep at it. Build the database and use it often and consistently. “We discovered that there’s truth in which KW teaches, which is that your database is your business and represents the territories that you have a chance of taking over,” Gene says.

Use KW tools.
You have to send more than “pretty sunset pictures” to potential clients in order to be effective, Gene says. Instead, use the Language of Real Estate (LORE) throughout your marketing materials to demonstrate that you’re a high-performing, numbers-driven professional. “You need reasons to talk to people and things to send people that have real value.”

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Join community groups.
When they were still new to Tallahassee, the couple joined groups and organizations that focused on issues they were passionate about, such as the local chapters of the National Audubon Society and Rotary club, as well as the teacher appreciation committee at their kids’ school. Eventually, many of these friends became clients. In fact, the Rivers Team does about 70 percent of its business from referrals because of this strategy of “building relationships to take market share.” But, Gene stresses, the relationship first has to have a foundation that matters. “You don’t join groups to do business,” he says. “You join groups because you have a passion, and when people find you have the passion they have, you develop a relationship. And out of that, business will come.”

Gain market share by putting Gene’s advice into action. Ask yourself the following:

  • Have I determined my farm? The only way to succeed is with a targeted approach.

  • What locations do I visit regularly where I could develop more relationships? You must be proactive!

  • Are you connecting with the individuals in your database regularly to provide value? With Kelle, you have access to a world of value, specifically, market data that clients crave.

  • What causes are you most passionate about? There are several community groups in your area that you can join to fulfill your passion while supporting your business!