Client-first approach yields booming referral business

by Neil Sharma13 Mar 2019

While real estate teams are a dime a dozen, few, if any, operate like Royal LePage Team Hammer & Associates.

Led by Rachel Hammer, a former government social worker, Team Hammer has built business predominantly from referrals, not through mass marketing lead generation. However, that isn’t Team Hammer’s only unique characteristic.

“We spend time strategically analyzing our client’s situation and setting an action plan and goal, and making sure their decision to purchase real estate is the right choice, rather than being done for emotional reasons,” Hammer told REP. “People tend to phone us more during certain times of the year, namely winter, but it isn’t always for the right reasons.”

Hammer’s team is composed of four sales agents, but they’re all highly educated—and that includes one mechanical engineer. While atypical in the realty world, that still isn’t what Hammer believes her team’s value proposition to clients is.

“Our relationship with our client doesn’t end once the transaction is closed,” she said. “We invite them to client appreciation events; we follow up and visit them to see how they’re living and what their homes look like. We maintain ongoing communication. If they’re doing renovations or their mortgage is up for renewal, we tell them to call us and we refer them to our likeminded partners. I’m all about meeting and exceeding client expectations—that’s how we have a referral base in every market. We’ve been doing very well because of our client-centric approach.”

Indeed, Hammer and her team of agents help clients through their various stages of life. She recounts a sad tale involving a senior with mental health issues whose family pressured them to sell their home to access the assets. Instead of pursuing a potential transaction, Hammer instead got lawyers involved to advocate in the senior’s best interest.

“I didn’t get into this business because it was the only option,” she said. “When I bought my first property, I realized that there was so little support. Just like people have a dentist, doctor and lawyer they can trust, why don’t they also have a realtor?”

Hammer has been licensed as an agent for 14 years and she’s run everything from larger teams to smaller ones. She has some advice for other agents who are contemplating heading their own teams.

“I went out on my own nine years ago and have gone from as big as seven people on my team to four people, and I’ve learned that by having the right people on the team it’s never about quantity, it’s about quality of service,” she said. “I’m a firm believer in taking care of your team members because everybody, despite whose name is on the door, is part of the team and should be treated as an equal. Allow everybody to provide feedback so that they take the initiative and make their own decisions independently. Being a realtor can be very lonely, and that’s why it’s important to have balance on the team by running ideas and problems by each other. You have each other and each other’s backs.”

Running a team successfully is well-nigh impossible without establishing healthy work-life balance. Hammer’s approach is to treat her family the way she treats clients.

“We always put our clients first, but we also need to care for ourselves. I’m a mom of two young boys, and I’m also a hockey and lacrosse mom. My children are involved in my business and sometimes even participate when I go to do property evaluations because they’re very curious, and they also visit me in the office and come to client parties. I try to incorporate my family so that they can appreciate what I do.”

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