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I Rented a U-Haul: Word of Mouth

June 07 2019

We are excited to have a new staff member joining the WAV Group team. Jules Penham will be a new project manager for us. I tried my best to observe her process of relocating and not obstruct. As she and her family are relocating from Salt Lake City to San Luis Obispo, I've been reminded of the power of brands and word of mouth. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what the internet does that we forget what the internet doesn't do.

Finding Accommodations

wav u haul word of mouth 1

Figure 1: Do you notice that Airbnb does not put its brand name on its homepage above the fold? Just their mobile icon.

While she was in town for the past three weeks, she stayed in an apartment that a friend of mine rents out as an Airbnb. We did not use the Airbnb for the booking. I called my friend and we hooked it up. We did not use a website, and we did not shop around. I wanted to give the business to my friend, and he wanted to treat me to a better price than he would charge a stranger. That is how business is conducted in a small town.

During her visit, she talked to a lot of people and explored the many areas around our office. Looking for an authentic introduction to the region, she did not use TripAdvisor, Rome2Rio, Yelp or any of those types of sites to learn about the area. Rather, she explored on her own and held conversations with the folks in the office and those she encountered in the community.

By the way – do you notice that Airbnb does not put their brand name above the fold on the homepage of their website.? They only put their mobile icon. Fascinating!

Finding a Rental

As you might imagine, the byproduct of insanely high home prices in coastal California is that rentals are both expensive and scarce. Demand is so high that most landlords do not even need to advertise their rentals. Word of mouth does the trick. She looked at three places that were introduced to her by people at the office and other friends of ours. She chose one that was close by another WAV Group teammate. Not only did they become fast friends, but people in their 20s love the idea of ridesharing. There was very little on apartmentguide.com, Zillow.com, rentals.com, rent.com, hotpads.com or apartmentlist.com.

Ultimately, it came down to word of mouth.

Human Element

Sometimes our industry tends to ignore the human element of business development. People like to do business with people. Most REALTOR® surveys tell you that between 60% and 80% of a Realtor's business comes from repeat customers or referrals. Even in the face of something that everyone in the industry knows so well, we forget.

How much of your business development strategy is focused on human contact with your friends and past customers? What are you doing to raise your human interaction? When you are with your friends and neighbors, are you good at telling your interesting story? How do your friends and past customers tell your story?

wav u haul word of mouth 2If you do not get this important aspect right in your business, you are missing out on 60% to 80% of your market opportunity – which is all driven by word of mouth (WoM). Your WoM plan requires customer research to carefully harvest words from what your customers say about you. You use those words to create a narrative. Most importantly, you need to create a surround-sound of communications that play those words back, reinforcing them to your customers and prospects. The research reveals a miracle that few companies understand. Your customers know how you are different—and if you listen to them, you will understand that.

No two real estate companies or agents are the same. Open your ears to WoM!. We are happy to help.

Brands Matter

On our list of things to accomplish yesterday was renting a moving truck. We went to Uhaul.com and ordered a truck. As it turned out, they had two convenient locations within a few miles of her home in Salt Lake. We did not google rental trucks, or rental trucks in Salt Lake City, or trucks for rent in Salt Lake City. Had we done that, we might have found out that Enterprise has a truck rental service. Penske does too. They are affiliated with Home Depot, which I did not know. Ryder is still around, but I did not think of them. We just went to Uhaul.com because they have developed a brand that we trust.

Change Now

Thanks for taking the time to read this article. I hope that it becomes a helpful catalyst to encourage you to change your path. Don't wait. For our brokers who subscribe to our quarterly strategic coaching program, we audit their plan. For one new client, our audit revealed that 90% of the marketing effort in 2018 was focused on attracting strangers – anonymous lead generation. By making a few strategic changes, the client launched powerfully into 2019 with a new focus on staying connected to their existing and past customers. The results have been profound. In less than 120 days, their market share has improved over the previous year despite the market volume being flat. It works.

To view the original article, visit the WAV Group blog.