Todd Sumney, Chief Industry Officer for HomeSmart, 

talks about how real estate agents can 

grow their 5-star reviews, referrals

& Create Raving Fans through their gifts

Todd Sumney:

I am excited about our webinar today. This is Business Builder webinar.  We have Michael Athens from Gifts With an Edge talking about how to have an edge with client retention.  So, thankyou all for joining us.  We do have the Q&A going, we also have the chat going. Emily is going to help me monitor the questions and without any further ado, let's get going here.  Michael,thank you for joining us today and tell us all about how to have an edge in client retention.


Michael Athens:

Awesome!  Great to meet you, Todd.  Thank you so much for your time and for honing your edge and being here to run a better business.  

To give you all a preview of what we're going to discuss on our agenda for today, we're going to dive into:


·        Why Client Appreciation Matters

·        The Eight Phases Of The Customer Experience

How we can really dial in those phases to create an amazing experience for your clients that will keep them sticking around for years to come and, having your customers bring more business to you.

·        The Five Keys to Giving an Impactful Gift

Then we'll kind of dive into what we do, which is helping you give impactful gifts. So, we'll go through the five keys to giving an impactful gift, whether it's using us or going out and finding something in the marketplace.

·        Systematize It

And then most importantly, how do you systemize it?  So that it's something that is easily to scale for all your clients.


And then Todd, I am totally willing to go off script. If you're finding a thread, that sounds important and you want to explore it, I'm totally open to taking this in other directions. So,feel free to jump in whenever you see something.


Todd Sumney:



Michael Athens:

I want to dive in because I really respect everyone's time.  When we're thinking about why client appreciation matters, I want to play pretend with everyone really quickly for awhile.  What I want you to imagine, and if you have to close your eyes to do this it is totally fine, but I encourage you to be open and to really play all out in this. 


I want you to imagine that you are driving home after a hard day of working and it's been a pretty good day.  You've connected with clients, maybe had a closing, met some new prospects, things like that.  On the way home you see a for sale sign, but it's in a past client’s yard.  You did a really good job for that client, but it's not your name on the sign. It is a competitor.


How could this happen? I mean, this is client you did a really good job for.  You got  them house they wanted, and you got it for a good price.  They said they were happy, and they even said that they liked you and they wanted to use you for all their future transactions.  What does that feel like to think of that client going with someone else?


Maybe to bring it a little closer to home, imagine now that it's 5 years from today.  What would it feel like if that home that's for sale by a competitor is owned by the clients that you're helping right now?  The people you're helping find their dream home or helping sell their house right now?


What would it feel like if all that hard work and time and effort that you're putting in now was just going to go to a competitor later?  I really want you to feel this because although this is unfortunately really, really common, most people don't actually drive by and see those signs, but it's happening all the time.


This is really the norm of the industry.  According to NAR, 80% of people say, “Yep, myrealtor was awesome.  I loved them.  They did a great job.  They are my Realtor for life.  I'm totally going to bring all my friends and family to them.”  Out of 80% of people saying that, only about 9% to 12% actually come back or even send referrals.  That is crazy.


Todd Sumney:

I actually have a big, different number.  I actually have 92% of people love their Realtor in year one, you know, love them, and would refer them to a friend.  That's my number 92% and actually 12%, actually five years later, remember who their Realtor is.


Michael Athens:

Right.  It is absolutely crazy to go from 9 out of 10 to one 1 of 10, right? How does that happen?  We're going to go through some of this, but a lot of it is just that it's really hard for clients to remember their Realtor's name.  

It iseven harder for them to have the realtor's contact info readily available when they need it.  To take it even a step further, this is among all industries, but 70% of people leave their salesperson just because they don't feel appreciated.  They feel like the person's care for the mended the second they got that commission check.  So, it is really easy to feel like, “Oh man,that feels terrible to think of my clients leaving and going to someone else,when I put in all this effort all this time and got them exactly what they wanted.”


But the flip side of why the claim retention is so powerful – it’s a little easier to look at the stats and the numbers of the magnitude of why retention is so important and why it should be your priority.  Just to take you guys through a couple of stats here from all industries, but it's as true for Realtors as it is for the Footlocker, right?


So, 80% of your future profits will come from just 20% of your existing customers.  That means for those of you, especially when you're established, this is 80% of your future business will come from just the 20% of the people that you've either already worked with or that are you're working with currently.


A few more super important stats that you can readthrough, but just to breeze through them – repeat customers spend more.  Obviously, this makes sense in real estate because the second deal with you is later in their life.  So, they are moving up, moving to a bigger home, things like that.  It makes your company more valuable.  


It's easier to convert existing clients and, referrals.  Not only that, but a stat that is not on the pages is that it’s also five times little less expensive to work with a repeat client and to work with a referral partner than it is to go out and find new business, especially when you bring your time into it, of going and prospecting and calling and all of this.  


But if you're going to take just one of these stats, the one that is really mind-blowing is that if you can increase your retention byj ust 5%, (that's it, it's such a small number), it'll increase your profitability and profit by 25% minimum and upwards of 95%.


But I want you to think, take what you expect to profit this year, and maybe for some of you with all the things that have been going on this hasn't been as good of a year, but take that profit and multiply it by1.25.


What could you do with an extra 25% in profit?  What would that do for your family?  What possibilities would that open up for your business just to have that extra profit? And that's it on the low end of things, what would it look like at 50%growth?  What would it look at 75% or even that top 95%?  So, when you look atthis, that's just the 5% increase in retention.  That's the lever that creates that change.  So hopefully that small little number should be starting to look really important to you right now.


How do we actually increase that retention?  To figure this out, first we're going to look at the customer life cycle and what their process looks like with you., and then we'll explore ways to really earn that extra 25%.  


Most of the next two slides I'm going to cover come from a book called, Never Lose A Customer Again.  I absolutely recommend you buy this as soon as possible, Amazon 2-day or whatever you use.  It's probably on audible as well.  But it's nice to have a physical copy because unlike a lot of the books, like if you've ever read Creating Raving Fans or things like that, where it's a lot of ideas about creating an amazing experience for your clients, this one has specific steps like,okay, and now you're going to do this.  It's a really almost a workbook to really change the game in your retention.


The Eight Phases of the Customer experience: 


1.   Assess:  The interesting thing with this is that this is the start of your relationship with the customer.  This doesn't include your marketing and all your things that you're doing to bring customers in, this is once you meet them and actually start doing business with them.  So, the Assess Phase is the customer decides they want to do business with you.  Essentially this is when your marketing has worked. You turn a lead into an appointment.  The conversation has started to see whether or not it makes sense for you to help them.


2.   Admit:  The customer admits they need your help.  This is where, for the real estate industry, this would be where they actually sign the buyer's agreement.  They decide to list with you.  You are contracting, and you're actuallyg oing to work together now.


3.   Affirm:  (and buyer's remorse).  No matter what industry you are in, buyer's remorse happens, no matter what.  I think the interesting thing with real estate is it happens multiple times throughout the process.  You know, if someone goes and buys a book from Amazon, they may think, “Oh, I don't know if I made the right decision.  I don't know if I should have bought it.  Maybe I should have gone to audible and gotten the audio book, blah, blah, blah.”  But once they get it and everything comes through, unless they really hate it, their buyer’s remorse is more likely to be kind of soothed. 


But with the size of transactions and the stress involved in a real estate transaction, there are multiple points where your clients are going to feel this, and if you're not affirming their decisions, people will get stuck there. 


I see multiple phases of this inthe real estate industry, whether they signed the contract with you and they go, “Oh man, did I make the right decision? Should I have gone with my neighbor's cousin that does real estate,blah, blah, blah.”  Or they put in a contract on this home, and they think, “Is this the right one? Is that where we want to live?  Is that our forever home?” Or “Hey, we just closed on the contract. Oh man, this is huge.  We now have to live here.”


There are these different points where they're going to be second guessing these decisions.  It's your job to really own your authority as the real estate professional who is guiding them to make them feel safe and to own the two different sides of being – your authority as the professional and as the caretaker of the client to make them feel safe.  Recognize the process for the emotional journey that buying a home really is.  One of my favorite CE instructors always quotes that he thinks realtors should have to buy and move into a new home every 3 to 4 years, just to remember what theprocess is like.  Because it's to see that emotional side of things and also to remember the steps and kind of  the uncertainty that's involved in the process.


Todd Sumney:



Michael Athens:

4.   Activate: This is the job. This is what you guys do. You're going out and you're showing homes and you're looking at houses and setting up showings for your listings.  This is the basic jobs of your providing what the client signed up for.


5.   Acclimate:  Another one that kind of goes along with that idea that the Realtor should have to do this often, is the Acclimate Phase.  This is where the customer learns how things go.  And this one's a super tough one for a lot of Realtors because you guys have done this dozens of times and some of you are crushing it and have done this dozens of times this year alone, but a client will only do this a few times in a lifetime. So how are you holding their hand along the process?


6.   Accomplish: This is the fun part for you guys because it gets you paid.  The customer receives what they were seeking.  You close on the home.  And like I said, this is another kind of timewhere that affirm phase comes back, where your client needs to be affirmed that they made the right decision.  But this is kind of simple and a lot of people think of this as the goal.  But really what we want to move into is Step 7and 8 and not a lot of Realtors bring their clients to this phase.


7.   Adopt:  So, Adopt sounds a little interesting because  the client takes ownership in the relationship.  It's kind of, if you didn't get to Step 6, you probably have a raving mad client. You have potential to turn them into a raving fan, but most people are probably ending up somewhere in the middle.


Just to recap these different steps and where they fit for the real estate market:

The problem is that most realtors spend almost100% of their time focused on Step 3 and before.  They're focused on acquisition, they're trying to find the next client and bring them in.  Good Realtors can keep a positive experience until Step 6.  So, they find the client and they help them get their homes, right?  And that's, that's what the job sounds like,but that's how you get those 90% of people.


They're happy, they're satisfied.  They got the home, but they're not making it to that adopt phase where, they're adopting you as their realtor for life.  And so only the truly great realtors focus on getting each client to Step 7 and 8 and turning them into raving fans.  And Step 8 is a step above that.  Not only are they a client for life, but now they're going to bring more clients to you that are both easier to work with and more profitable just by the way that they're brought to you.


8.   Advocate:  So, this is the raving fan tage. You now have built in, unpaid and uncommissioned marketing representatives out in the market.  It'sthe idea of a satisfied client will tell their friend about you if their friends specifically say, "Hey, tell me who you think I should talk to fora Realtor." A raving fan client is the one that's sitting in a coffee shop and hears "Realtor" a table over and will get up, walk over, and go,"You need to talk to my Realtor because they are the best" and that's what we're trying to create. 


Todd Sumney:



Michael Athens:

And I don't know if you guys have can do this, but I encourage you to take a screenshot of this real quick, because I'm going to have a question in a little bit that will relate back to this, and it's nice if you can have this to look at later. But basically, so we now know the phases that the customer is going through. So how do we make a positive experience out of each phase that'll turn them into an advocate?


This is all going to be super simple, like basic, basic stuff.  But once again from the book, Never Lose a Customer Again.  But how can we think about this in a little bit of a different way and really figure out which ones fit best in which contexts?


Six Ways to Communicate with Clients:

1.   In Person: So obviously in-person,it's the oldest form of communication.  It's the most effective, but it's also the most time-consuming.

2.   Email:  It's super, super easy, super cheap, but because of that, people are flooded.  And so, it's mostly ignored.

3.   Mail:  is actually becoming more impactful especially if it's personalized.  Just because people are getting, because email has become so big, most businesses have focused on that.  And so, snail mail has become a little bit more impactful than it used to be.

4.   Phone: This one the stat on this is crazy.  91% of people keep their phone within arm's reach morning, noon, and night.  And on average, the response time for an email to a client is 90 minutes versus the response time on a text, which is 90seconds.  It's crazy.

5.   Video: Just listen to BombBomb.  That's, that's all you got do.  If they're, they're amazing, they know what they're doing.  They create everything tobe super easy for you not only to make and send the emails, but just the simple idea of the way it looks, creates so many more opens.  So just focus on them.  They're the experts, they’ll tell you what todo.

6.   Gifts:  Then lastly, gifts and presents.  So, this is directly out of the book,according to the author "It's one of the most overlooked ways to trigger positive customer emotions.  Those who find creative ways to acknowledge their clients with presents, build relationships and emotional connections with their clients that the other mediums don't allow."


This is our area of expertise, and this is where we'll focus kind of the rest of our time.  But before we dive in, I really want you to think about the six ways of communicating with people and the eight stages of the customer experience.


So, Todd, I hope you don't mind me giving homework, but I want everyone to write down three different questions that I want you to apply to the eight different phases.  And honestly like your homework is to spend 30 minutes doing this later today, andI promise you, it will create an impact on your business, but the basically foreach phase, I want you to answer the question:


1.     How do I communicate now?  So, in the assess phase, in the admit phase and the affirm phase, how am I communicating now?


2.     The second question, What is the client feeling, thinking, or worrying about? What are they feeling when they're feeling that buyer's remorse?  What are they feeling when we accomplish their goal?  So, what is the client feeling,thinking, or worrying about?


3.     And lastly, what ways would Icommunicate to create an ideal customer experience in each phase?


For instance, in the Affirm phase, the communication could be  something as simple as:

·        When I sign a buyer's agreement with the client, I jump in my car before I leave, cause I'm at their home, andI write a real quick, thank you note.  AndI drop it directly into the mailbox before I leave.  Just saying, "Hey, thank you so much.  I know you made the right decision.  I'm so excited to help you reach your goal."  Something that simple. 

·        Doing a video that is delivered right after you go under contract, that’s just like, “Hey, I think you guys made the right decision. I’m so excited. It hits all these boxes that you guys talked about as being really important to you. And I'm just so excited for that."


There are all of these different ways to communicate can be used in every different phase. But just trying to figure out what fits best.


Todd Sumney:

Hey, Michael, real quick, getting a request to repeat all three questions.  If you could say them again real quick, I'm going to type them in the chat for everyone.  I'll talk them into the chat.  What are the three questions?


Michael Athens:

1.     So, for each phase, how do Icommunicate now?


Todd Sumney:



Michael Athens:

2.     What is the client feeling, thinking,or worrying about?

3.     And what ways would I communicate to create an ideal customer experience?


Todd Sumney:

All right.  Yeah.


Michael Athens:

And, to give  some more ideas on this, but really this is something that should be personal to you, that you can look at first, where are you now?  And where could you be based off of what the client is thinking and feeling.


For example, in the Acclimate phase, the phase where the client is in the process, but they're not the experts, so they don't know necessarily what's going on or where things are at.  One of my top clients, what they do is they send out an email every Friday to every client that they're in the process with.


And it basically says, this is the recap of what we did this week. This is where we're at, and this is what you should expect in the next week.


And it's just a simple thing.  That's, just an email.  They kind of have the steps customized so they can copy and paste them in. But it's just, “Hey, here's where we're at.  Here's where we're going.”  That makes the customer feel super comfortable.  They know where they are and they know where they're going, and they're not wondering was there something I was supposed todo?  Was there something my Realtor was supposed to do that I'm just missing out on and don't know about because I’m not in the loop?


So, things like that. Once again,  they're there, we gave you different examples from 5 to 6 different mediums for the different phases but figuring out which one of those fit and how it should look, and it's definitely worth a half an hour of your time to really dive into these questions.


Todd is there anything coming up for you that you want to chat with before we kind of dive into, because essentially next is gifts causethat's, that's, you know, the same way that BombBomb is the expert on thevideos. That's where we're the experts, not only in creating amazing experiences for the client, but also creating systems for the Realtors.  So, we're going to dive into the five keys to giving an impactful gift, but Todd, I'd love to hear if there's anything.


Todd Sumney:

I guess what I would recommend is, you know, that the six items that are up on the screen right now, every single real estate professional needs to be communicating in all six ways with their clients all the time.


92% of our business comes from referrals and sphere of influence and past clients, people that we know, and that sphere is growing with the advent of technology.  It used to be friends’ family and neighbors.  Now it's friends, family, neighbors, friend's brother who has a sister who works with a coworker. It's just expanded.  But the only  way that you drive the engagement is through in-person through email, through mail, through video,through phone, through gifts and you know, and the thing about you just have to be doing all of them.


And then when it comes to what you're going to talk about right now, you know, the gifts are, it's permanent because it's like, it's something that then reminds them, and reminds them, and reminds them.  I know someone who recently had a birthdayand, you know, someone gave them a framed photograph and every time they seethat photograph, they think of the person who gave it to them.  So, it's just constant reminder so that we stay top of mind because if we stay top of mind then there's, you know, higher probability of us continuing to work with that client for years.


Michael Athens:

Exactly.  Awesome.


Todd Sumney:

So, keep on rolling.


Michael Athens:

All right.  Perfect.  So, the five keys to giving an impactful gift,and some of these are going to overlap in kind of different ways. And so, it’s,you know, eventually it’ll kind of look like essentially a five-sided Venn diagram where they’re going to overlap, but really you want to be in the middle.


So, if these, if each of these keys were on a checklist,if you had a checklist of these five items, the more you check off the better,but we really want something that ticks all five every time.  And more importantly, we want something that’s systemizable so that you’re not sacrificing the time that you could be spending finding clients or helping them achieve their goal, and really creating an amazing experience through what you do and letting the system run itself in terms of appreciating through the gifts.


The Five Keys to Giving an Impactful Gift:

1.      It should be memorable.

2.      It should make them think of you specifically. 

3.      It should last a long time. 

4.      It should provide real value. 

5.      It should be exciting. 


So, first like, like you said, Todd, it should be memorable.  You don't want something that's easily forgettable.  You want something that, that really is going to be there as a touchstone piece for them.  Kind of the easiest ways to do something, to make something memorable is to make it unexpected and to make it personalized.


Next, it should make them think of you specifically.  So, you know, the box of chocolates and the gift cards, you know, your clients are going to love those.  They're going to appreciate them, but they could have gotten them from anybody.  It doesn't really stand out and it doesn't remind them of you specifically.  Especially if it's something that's kind of gone.  Just kind of jumping in on this point,  this is another reason that for any of my agents that do holiday gifts to their referral partners or past clients or things like that, I definitely don't recommend you giving your gifts in the month of December.  Get them in before Thanksgiving so that you're the only gift that's there for an entire month before they get flooded with everything else that has you kind of fall through the cracks. So just kind of a tip there.  So be memorable and makes them think of you specifically.


It should last a long time.  So, this one is kind of a challenge for a lot of realtors, because at the end of the day, we're celebrating with the clients. This is about getting to the end of the transaction and helping them on their journey to their forever home.  So, naturally celebration calls for food and drink, so it feels natural to get gift cards, and gift baskets, and bottles of wine, gift cards to the favorite restaurant, things like that.


But after they eat it, drink it, spend it it's gone and it's going to be forgotten.  So, a successful gift becomes part of your client's life for the long run, which means they're constantly being reminded of you and your services.


It should provide real value.  And this is another hard one.  How do you get something for your clients that’s useful but isn’t boring?  Something that’s valuable but doesn’t break the bank?


And you know, this may trigger a couple of people in the webinar, but I'm sorry, but your welcome home mats aren’t cutting it. Even though they last a long time, they're not really creating value and they're not exciting and memorable.


So, like for instance, these two points here are long lasting and provide that real value.  I think this is part of the reason that things like the Ring doorbells have become really popular in the industry. You know, they're super useful, they have an expensive feel to it they provide real value for the client.  But the drawback is they're missing some of the other tick boxes.  You know, they remember it until they need to replace it, but is it really making them think of you and your services or is it just now the thing that's attached to their door?  So how can we take that further to be something that hits more of the boxes?


Lastly, it should be exciting.  So just kind of in general, unfortunately, most gifts aren't super exciting. You know, if you think about the image of a child getting a gift at Christmas, most clients aren't reacting that way when you give them a gift, like it doesn't have that same impact.

Cause you know, we're all adults, we usually buy what we need.  So, if it's not super personal, then often it just kind of feels like a nice little add on. So, in order to make things exciting, a lot of Realtors think they need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars.  And while spending more obviously helps.  It's not really the end all be all.


And this is one of the big ones is the Realtors that, that spend hours and hours and hours, you know, analyzing everything for the client, trying to find the perfect gift.  And yes, that's going to be impactful.  There's no denying that.  But it's not worth the time and it's not scalable,  at least not for every client.  Your time should be focused on revenue generating activities. And maybe for the rare client you're going in, you're finding the perfect gift for them, but it needs to be something that's scalable, otherwise it's not going to be sustainable.


All right.  So, what's our solution? I bet you didn't expect a bunch of knives.  So, the main product we work with is called Cutco.  And we'll dive into a little bit more about it.


Todd Sumney:

Hey that's a real gift because I know Renee.


Michael Athens:  Yeah? That's awesome.


Todd Sumney:  All right.  Keep going.

Here's why this seemingly random gift has become one of the most popular gifts in the real estate industry and why it really ticks all 5 of those boxes.


So, it's memorable.  We don't always personalize the gifts, but it makes them super impactful.  So “Handcrafted, Especially for the Rand Family Kitchen,” something direct to the client.  So, we don't always personalize it, but it's super impactful, super memorable.  And as Dale Carnegie says, "Remember that a person's name is to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language."


It makes them think of you specifically.  I see Carlita loves the knives.  That's awesome.  So, branding it with your name and info, not only makes them think of you daily, forever.  You know, it's like a dishwasher safe business card essentially.  You'll always be within grasp, but it also does some really cool things for you in terms of your taxes.


So, I don't know how many people in the chat know this, but regardless of how much you spend on a client gift, whether it's gift cards, gift baskets, bottles of wine, plants, anything at all, you're limited to deducting only $25 in taxes, which is ridiculous.  “Hey, thank you so much for the $8,000 commission check.  Here's $25 to Chili's.”  Right?  It just doesn't fit.


Because our gifts are branded with your information, they're considered a piece of advertising, so they're 100% tax deductible.  So automatically right there, you start saving money.  And then the other thing with both memorable and makes them think of you is:  where do people hang out most in the home? And I know someone’s probably chatting or going to do the bathroom and chat right now. Don’t do it, we get it.  But it’s the kitchen, it’s the heart of the home.  It’s where people gather.  And so, we want you to be there and in the conversation when the friends and family are gathering.


It's real value that lasts forever, literally.  So, for those of you who don't know, Cutco is like the Rolex or the Tiffany's of the kitchen.  Everything's super high quality they've been made in America for over 70 years, and everything's guaranteed forever.


So really quick, just everyone in the chat, anyone who has Cutco, just type in how many years you've had it real quick, just type it in , and click send. I want to see who's had it the longest.


Okay.  So, Kathy's had it for two years. I’ll let you guys start typing that in.


But it’s all the Cutco products are actually guaranteed forever.  So, this means if your client drops it and the tip breaks, they leave it on a burner and it melts, if it dulls, if anything happens to it, it’s sharpened or replaced for free, forever.


Mary has had it for 25 years.  Jeff has had it for 20 years.  Deborah’s 15, Mia’s had it for 7.


And really the idea is when you think about any of those other gifts - how many of those even have the potential to stick around for 25 plus years and not be something that becomes outdated, something that’s just sitting on a shelf or something. You want something that they’re using and loving on a daily basis and that you know is still working because it has that guarantee on it.  So that’s kind of the big idea.  All right.  Real value that lasts forever.


And lastly, it’s exciting.  And for this one, if you don’t know Cutco, if you don’t own Cutco, if your mom hasn’t been raving about it for the last 20 years, it’s something where you’ve just got to trust me on it.  Not everyone you give it to will freak out, but many will.  And those that don’t know Cutco will be raving about it within a few months because they literally are the best. Not everybody has the Rolex, not everybody has the Rolls Royce  in their garage, but this is the best of the best that you can give them.  And kind of, that’s just the gift.


So, what really makes it exciting for my Realtors is what we can do in terms of the systems.  So not only a gift that checks all five of those keys, but something that’s easily scalable.  And so essentially the process that we have is that we have 3 different ways that you can give the gift.


3 Ways to Gift Cutco:

1.      Gifts on Hand

2.      Personalized – Drop Shipped Gifts

3.      Multi-touch Gift Campaign


First is gifting at its simplest: Gifts on Hand.  This is the way if you’ve seen Cutco come speak at a CE class, or you’ve seen us  at a convention or anything, this is the way that we’ve been doing things for the last decade, where essentially most people order about a 6 to 12 month supply of gifts. We engrave everything with your information, and we ship it to you upfront to save you money on shipping.  But then what’s nice is we actually split up and bill you over the next 6 to 12 months at zero interest.


So that way, when something closes, you need something for a charity or an auction donation, something for the holidays, or you want to think referral partner, you name it, you got it, just grab it, give it, they love it, and you’re done.  Because of the six  month billing, what's nice is you have everything ready, but it's so easy on your cash flow.  So, this is kind of simple.  It's simple and super easy.


Now the question I have for you is:  would you be open to doing things differently than other agents do if I could specifically grow your business?  Hopefully, you're saying yes.  And another question would be, have you ever given a gift at closing that you thought the client would really, really love, or you spent a lot of money on, and you kind of got, "Oh cool, thanks"? And unfortunately, this is super common at the closing table because it has nothing to do with the gift, and all to do with the timing.


There's just so much going on at the closing table, especially when you think about the emotional level of your client.  What are they feeling at this table when they have 300 documents to sign, they're spending more money than they ever have, they're taking on debt for this as well? It's just too stressful.  People really only care about getting their check or getting their keys.


To go back to the phases of the customer experience, it's the idea of giving the gift at the accomplish phase versus doing it at the adopt phase to help them become a client for life.  This is what we've been kind of pioneering for the last two years that has been creating amazing results for my clients. So. what I want you to imagine is a new way of gifting.  That's not only better for the clients, but it also has some cool benefits for you.


So, imagine you're at the closing and you give the client a thank you note, you shake their hand, and you say, "Hey, by the way, I have something being custom made for you." And then 30 days later, when your clients had some time to settle into their home, a box shows up on the client's doorstep.  And in that box, it's the piece of Cutco.  And it says "Handcrafted Especially for the Jones Family" on it.  And it's got your information on it too, but it also comes with a handwritten thank you note, that goes, "Hey Susie, thank you so much for the opportunity to work with you. It was my pleasure to be part of your home buying process.  I know that buying and selling a home is one of the biggest decisions in someone's life.  And I'm honored that you trusted me in the process.  I don't know if you're familiar with Cutco, but it's guaranteed forever.  And I want you to know that I will be forever at your fingertips for all your real estate needs."  P.S. Give me a call so that I know you got this.


Think about that.  The client just received a custom gift with their name on it.  There's a handwritten card asking them to call.  What do you think they do?  They're going to call you.


So, we're creating an inbound call for you from every past client, 30 days after closing while they're at this peak state of gratitude.  So, it's really easy to have a simple conversation where its, "Hey, Susie, you got it. Awesome.  How does it look?  Have you used it yet?  Have you cut yourself yet?  (Just kidding) but Hey, you know, I'm really trying to grow my online presence.  If I texted you a real quick testimonial form, would you mind filling it out for me?" or, "Hey, I'm sure over the past 30 days you’ve been showing the home off to everyone.  Who else mentioned that they're looking to buy or sell?"


And because they're reaching out to you versus you reaching out to them and they just received this gift that kind of law of reciprocity makes people so much more likely to give you those reviews and give you the referrals because they want to go out of their way to help you.  So, my clients have been getting really, really awesome results with this. People telling me, yeah, you know, by the third gift I had already closed on one of the referrals that I received from the thank you note. So, I've already paid for the next years’ worth of gifts.  That kind of idea.


So, our last way to gift is for people that really, really want to cement into their client's mind that they appreciate them and that you're their Realtor for life.  So, I really love this quote by Patricia Fripp, who's the international keynote speaker for Toastmasters, and she says, "It's not your customer's job to remember you.   It is your obligation and responsibility to make sure they don't have the chance to forget you." And that's what this next system is.


So, this is very similar to the last option, but after gift one comes on day 30, we don't stop there. And this is just an example, these are 100% customizable, but let's say they get a Cutco knife 30 days after closing, or maybe you give it at closing if you really want to. Six months after closing, one of our veteran made cutting boards shows up and it also says handcrafted for the Jones family.  It's got something maybe about your state, it’s got your branding on it. And then on the one (1) year anniversary, a wine opener shows up that says “Time to Celebrate” on it.


This client's not forgetting you.  Now they have three exciting items in their home that they can use on a daily or weekly basis.  Hopefully not daily for the wine opener, that might be a little too much, but they’re going to be using these all the time in the home, being reminded of you constantly.  And because at least the first two in this case have their name on it, it's a really special and kind of honored piece for them.


So those are kind of the three ways whether you have them on hand, we ship one gift for you or we ship multiple gifts for you, and you can mix and match between these depending on what your goals are. To kind of  wrap up on what I have prepared for you, and then,  if there's a demand for it, we can go into questions and things like our basic pricing for most our gifts.


Well, I guess really quick, you can do this for yourself too.  If there's something else that you find that can tick those 5 boxes and isn't taking away your time that you're creating your business, that's totally fine. Use these ideas, give, or send gifts to arrive at different times, find ways to appreciate them in different ways. 

We're just this one-stop shop where we can be your concierge to do it for you.  Where you just essentially, for the same price as the gift is that you would spend somewhere else, we can take all of it off your plate, plus get you the tax benefits, things like that.


But the basic pricing for us most our gifts that are Realtors are doing go from like $50 to $300.  You know, for our people, if you need a one-off gift or something bigger for your $10 million closings, and, you know, we have sets that go from $300 to $5,000, but most people for 90% of their closings, they're spending between $50 and $300.


Also, some of you may be kind of looking at these and say, “Hey, what's with the different colors?”. So, one of the things that's important to us you know, we have our dark classic handles that you can kind of see on the far right. And the far left that fit in, we have our red that stands out and goes great with the HomeSmart.

And then we have our white in between where it's not as bright as the red, but it's still stands out.  Most of our people are going to go with the white or the red, because we want them to, when the friends in their kitchen and they go "What's with the red knife?" They go, "Oh, this is my Todd knife.  He's my Realtor. He's the best, you have to call him." That's the idea.  Have it stand out.


So, the basic pricing is $50 to $300.  And for those of you who like these ideas and want to get started, first off, I’m offering a drawing for everyone.  So just for being on the call, if you guys want to be in on a drawing all you have to do is text your name and email to (303) 909-1405. Once again, text your name and email, and you’ll get entered into a drawing for the Cutco utility knife.  It’ll be super helpful at Thanksgiving cause it does work as a Carver.  But super fun.  Just text, name, and email, and you’re entered into the drawing. 


For those of you who are interested in getting started:  if you have closings coming up in the next 2 to 3 months, or you need something for the holidays, or just want to be stocked just add in your text message, “I want gifts”.  And for anyone who does that with your first order, I’ll buy you $150 worth of Cutco.  So once again text name, email, and I want gifts.  If you want to get started through at 303-909-1405.  or those of you who are watching this not live, cause I know you guys are sending this out via email and everything. The drawing will be on the 13th.  So up until the 13th, feel free to send the text with name, email and if you’re interested in the gifts add “”I want gifts” and we’ll get you in on the drawing.  But for everyone else, who’s, you know, maybe not ready to get started. You can head to I want to see if I can paste a specific link for you guys in the chat. Cause we have a specific page set up for our Home Smart agents.


Todd Sumney:

Yeah.  And they can enter that through the HomeSmart marketplace, right?


Michael Athens:

Yeah.  It’s also available there too.  But yeah, just bookmark it as something for later, if you’re not ready. If you are ready go ahead and just shoot the text and we can get you that bonus $150 worth the Cutco, but if it’s something that you need to do later, you can use promo code HomeSmart to get started and you get $75 for the Cutco.


So, for my people that text me now you’ll get the $150, but for everyone else just put HomeSmart into as a promo code and you’ll get $75.  Unfortunately, we don’t have Jeff Bezos’s or Amazon’s tech budget, . so, when you put in the promo code, it’s going to show up as a $0 discount, but that means it’s working.  So that means we’ve been notified of it, and we’ll add the free gift for you.  But unfortunately, we don’t have the money to write the code that’ll make it work in addition to your guys’ discounts for being a HomeSmart agent.  So, it’ll show up as a $0 discount, but  that means it’s working.


Todd Sumney:

Everyone real quick, Michael did type it into the chat.  So, there is the link for the retention gifts,


Michael Athens:

And you should be able to click on a direct in chat and have it pull up, I think.


Todd Sumney :

Exactly.  Yes.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.


Michael Athens:

So that’s basically what I had Todd, so I'm happy to dive in anywhere in the presentation, whether it's what we do, whether it's  the phases of the relationship, any of that stuff, or if we're done on time, then fine. 


Todd Sumney:

Let's open it up real quick for questions in the chat.  Hugh just made a comment, and it looks like he said that the scissors can cut a penny.


Michael Athens:

Yes, they can.  They were the ones that were featured on Modern Marvels for being the world's sharpest.  They will actually go through 20,000 chickens before they need to be sharpened.  And then with the guarantee you can just send them back and they'll be sharpened to replace for free.


Todd Sumney:



Michael Athens :

Someone said, is there an additional fee for the personalized branding or is that included?  Any of the pricing on the website will include everything, it's going to be your out the door price, except for taxes.


There are two separate categories though.

1.      So, there's the "on-hand gifts", which is essentially where we send one box to you with just your information.

2.      And then there's the "personalized gifts" where we send them direct to the clients on your behalf.  Essentially, we hold them at the engravers, and we have a form where you let us know who to send it to and when, and then we take care of that. That includes the personalization and the direct shipping.  So, it's all included in there. Just in the two different buckets on hand versus personalized gifts versus gift campaigns.


The phone number again was 303-909-1405.


Todd, was there anything that stood out for you, that kind of resonated with you, or you liked?


Todd Sumney:

You know, I mean, it all resonated with me.  I mean, I’m a big proponent of sphere of influence marketing and I’m also, I'm a big proponent of building a marketing budget and spending a marketing budget on things that work and things that you can track an ROI to, not wasting money.  And so, one of the things that I often, whenever you're thinking about something that requires an investment of any type of money, is just to think for an example and write it down on a sheet of paper.  Is what if I sold one home by doing this marketing program for the year?  An average commission, you know, on a $225,000 homes, is $7,000.  Okay, what would be my ROI if I get one transaction, one referral, one repeat business.


So sometimes it's investing in the future, but oftentimes you can see a big ROI on your investment just by you have to create and put a marketing budget together, you have to do something.  So, I recommend that, I love what you've presented, and I know the quality, I've heard agents talking about quality for so long and you know, I love the personalization. So, I think it's just important to know.


I actually love the drip idea to versus where it happens at, you know, a month later, six months later, and a year later.  I love the anniversary.  The wine opener, you know, “Time to Celebrate,” because, you know, it's an opportunity again for us to reach out then to get a reminder, "Hey, congratulations.  It was a year ago, we bought your new home.  How are you loving it?” And well then you have somebody that says, “I love it, we've already outgrown it.  You know, I'm ready to move again."


Michael Athens:

Right.  Well, and the nice thing is both the cutting board and  the entertainer tool come with notes as well. So hopefully they're reaching out to you just to say, "Hey, by the way, I got it" and you can have the conversation.  But the nice thing is everything is tracked for you. So that  if it's been 4 days since it's delivered and you don't get a call, that's when you can reach out and go, "Hey, I just wanted to, I saw this was delivered, wanting to make sure a porch pirate didn't take it.  Hey, how's things been going?  What's been new?" And building that relationship exactly like you said.


And not only having it tracked for just that, but like you said, it's one thing to say, all I have to do is get one extra closing for this to make sense.  But when you can actually have the tracking and see, oh yeah, they called me, I got a referral, it closed. And I wouldn't have had that, I may not have had that conversation, or the conversation would have gone, may have gone differently, had I not had that thank you note.  It's we can see tangibly what the results are.


Todd Sumney:



Michael Athens:

I see a couple other coming through the "I want gifts.”  When you put that, it just basically means that I’m going to follow up with you personally  and reach out and see if it makes sense for you to get started and, and help you find a program that fits for you.  Versus the people that just want to be in the drawing, who will get a little less time for me.


Todd Sumney:

Someone wanted to  go back real quick to the 8 phases of customer experience, if you could.


And then I want to answer the question.  Diane said, "Hey, I'm not creative with this type of thing.  Do you recommend slogans and messages?" I'll give my answer first.  Then you can chime in Michael.  You know, I think that what Michael said about a person's name being the sweetest sound that they've ever heard, that if you're not creative like that, and you don't really have, you know, the slogan or something like that, just sticking with the customer's name. You know, a newlywed couple that just, is buying their first home ,the first time home buyer.  And you're just going to say, you know, Todd and Cari and the date of their wedding or the date that they moved in or, you know “this family laughs together.”


There's all kinds of different little phrases and things like that, that come up, that if you say something meaningful and it reminds the customer,  that's always, I think that that's more powerful than actually coming up with something corny, unless you already have a brand and something that people know you as, right? So then, you know, obviously you do want some sort of, you want your name and some sort of some branding, you know, on there, but Michael, go ahead.  What  do you think about that?


Michael Athens:

Yeah, so in terms of, of taglines and things like that. So, when you're talking about the, the customization, I'd say 90% of my people kind of just to keep it simple, do the "Handcrafted, Especially For," and then it's insert client name.  So, if it's a family, it's the Jones family. If it's a single person, you know, it's, Susie's kitchen.  If it's two people that don't share a last name, then it's Jim and Cindy.  Thats kind of the standard of what most people do.  Other people get a little bit more creative with certain things, but that has a real good feel to the client it’s handcrafted for them.


So that’s kind of where most people leave that.  In terms of your branding, as you can see on this knife that has the “Sharpest Realtor in Town.” So of course, we have tons of puns:   “Cutting Edge Realtors", and ”Thanks for Being a Cut Above” and all these different things.  Probably my favorite is to do logo, name, number, and then "With Gratitude, Your Realtor for Life." It's something that reminds them specifically that you're, you are their Realtor.  But  it's from a place of gratitude and a place of, you know, more from the heart.  So that's, that's my favorite.


We've had, you know, we have a whole it's unavailable right now, unfortunately, due to COVID, but we have a whole line of hunting items and I've had people do hunting items for specific clients to say, "Hunting For Your Dream Home" and things like that.  So, we can help you get creative, but simple is logo, name and number and something nice, like "With Gratitude, Your Realtor for Life.”


Todd Sumney:

I love that.  I love that.  All right.  Go back to maybe the eight slides, eight phases, again for somebody real quick, any other quick questions while we have Carlita wanted to know the notes created automatically with the gift. Did you already answer that?


Michael Athens:

So, the notes for all of the Cutco items, because we do, they’re actually separate companies Cutco, and then our veteran made cutting boards, the wine openers.  We also have like these kinds of bottles like the Yetis and stuff that keeps stuff cold for 24 hours or hot for 12.  The notes for all the Cutco items, which is why most people do them first they’re handwritten.  So, we kind of have a standard that most people start with, and then we fill in names. But they’re changeable every time.  So specifically, when you tell us the client's name and when it closes and stuff like that, you can say, "Hey, add congrats on the baby," or "Hey, this client is going to be on vacation.  So, send it 45 days later instead of 30" or whatever it is, but they're completely customizable.


And then there were still customizable for the other gifts as well, the cutting boards a.   the wine openers and things like that.  But those ones are printed.  They have a picture of the item on it.  And basically, they have a little bit more info about what the cutting board is and why you gave it to them. Versus the first one we want to  really feel personal.  And so that's why we do the handwritten one for that one.  We do have options to do handwritten later, but kind of for most people gift two and three, they'll do our standard printed one with your name and your branding on it and all that stuff.


Todd Sumney:

Right.  Awesome.  Well, thank you, Michael.  I loved your phrase.  You know, these knives will be around forever, and so will I to serve you type of a thing?  I love that phrase too, but I hope everyone enjoyed what they saw today, and you know, learned about how we need to keep our customers engaged for life, having those 6 types of communications over the 8 phases of the customer service or customer experience, and then obviously some great options for gifts and you know, being memorable, standing out and being around for a long time to remember.


So, thank you all for joining us today.  We hope to see you back on future episodes, you know, here of the webinars here, the business builder webinars, for those that do, someone had typed in a question, “Is this going to be recorded?  I came in late.” We are recording this.  You will be able to find this recording at  We will upload it up there, and that way you can also share it with other Realtors in your office as well, share the link.  So, Michael, any parting thoughts for the group here real quick?


Michael Athens:

Yeah, just the last thing I would say is, you know, more than talking to a bunch of you about what we do, most important for me is that you guys take this and  put it into action. So really, really, really take those 30 minutes, go through the different phases and figure out what you could do to create an ideal experience. No matter what medium of communication you're doing, the email, the phone, the gifts, the video mail, in-person, think about that.  Take the time.  It's not going to be a lot, but it'll be impactful.  So do that.


And I'd love to hear if you know what results you get and what you come up with and your ideas. Feel free to reach out to me.  All of my info I didn't put it on the slides, but it's on the website.  And I think it's probably on your guys' dashboard and stuff, but find me on Facebook, whatever. And I'd love to have a conversation with you and see what other ideas you come up with because, you know, I want to share it with my people too.


Todd Sumney:

Yep.  Well, and that's why I think for everyone on the call here, I'm just going to copy it in one more time.  You know, the URL that we posted into the chat just a second ago, I think is Michael's preferred URL, but you can always access is through the HomeSmart marketplace.  When you log into Realsmart agent on the left-hand column you'll see, down at the bottom, it says, marketplace.  It's the agent marketplace, that's your location for resources, tools that can help you grow your business, and one of those resources right there in the HomeSmart marketplace, you know, is Gifts With an Edge.  And so, click into that, click on that page.  You can always access their information there as well.  So, Michael, thank you for joining us today.  We appreciate your support all year long and hope that the agents you know, have a great engagement with you and with their customers throughout the next year, and appreciate you being here today.  Thanks.