HOW TO CREATE A LONGTERM PIPELINE SERVING SENIORS
Growing a successful senior real estate specialty doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a strategy, commitment, focus, and a bit of time. When we set out to grow our senior real estate business with senior homeowners as our focus, we set a 5 year goal.
The goal was that in five years time we would have a pipeline that would sustain our real estate goals (a minimum of 80 transactions annually).
Our original strategy: seminars.
The Senior Living Truth Series® was birthed in January of 2016. I wrote this blog when we were in our 4th year of hosting the monthly senior-centered seminars. I took a moment to update the post (2/2023) since we are now in our 8th year.
Since the beginning we have grown from 45 in attendance monthly at the very first program to 250-300 regularly (pre-pandemic). We outgrew 3 venues in the first 4 years, collaborated with over 30 sponsors, and developed personal relationships with over 1400 unique households equating to nearly approximately 3000 Oklahoma City senior adults (that we know about).
Update (2/2023): During the pandemic we went fully virtual for a few months. Attendance dropped, but as soon as the doors opened up to go live again, people returned. As of this update we are now doing two events per month and averaging 125 at one venue (broad / general topics) and about 50-80 at the second venue (more specific or narrowly focused topics). We are very selective about our education partners and continue to collaborate with many who started with us in the beginning. Some have come and gone and many inquire regularly about how to join the movement. Our newest venue can seat 300 comfortably at tables so we are excited to be able to breathe fresh new life into the program this year.
People want guidance.
What we realized as we embarked on this journey is that hundreds of older adults are seeking truthful and trustworthy information about a whole host of topics ranging from real estate to healthcare, estate liquidation to finance and legal support, and housing options to hospice. So we offered it.
And they came.
The next thing we experienced is as we encouraged people to plan ahead, they started doing it. We shared how important it is to plan for future housing needs and gave them strategies for checking out their options. Before we knew it, they were seeking us out to report back with their progress.
Everyone likes gold stars.
Lastly, people were scheduling appointments with our real estate and senior move management teams to get information about when, where, and how to move. They wanted to know the approximate value of their home, how they would manage the logistics of moving, and our opinions about the local senior living options. We had become the authority about senior living issues in our market.
Well, it’s not really a dilemma for us now, but it was early on. Many of the appointments that we made were with people in the planning phase of downsizing or relocating. They weren’t really ready to make a move. As real estate agents, we were taught to find ready, willing, and able home buyers and sellers to fill our pipeline. These homeowners weren’t ready, willing, or able.
Since then we have implemented a strong move management component and introduced the Oklahoma Downsizer’s Clubs. Now, we are fully equipped to help people at every stage of the decision making process. Whether they are thinking, planning, or in action mode…we can help!
So, what now?
It wasn’t until a couple of years into this process of holding seminars and going on appointments that the magic began to happen. People with whom we had met two years prior started calling us to list and sell their homes. Many had continued to attend seminars in the interim, however, some had not spoken to us since our initial visit. They had done their homework, thought about it, and were now READY. But not just ready, they were ready AND willing. The only obstacle was the “able” part of the equation.
The good news for us is that by this time we had developed a strong move management component to our real estate sales organization. Not only were we equipped to help people sell their homes, we also had a system in place to facilitate sorting, packing, moving, unpacking, resettling, and liquidating the excess. It was the complete solution that enabled and empowered them to make the move.
The result …. Ready, willing, AND able.
Fast forward a little over about 8 years and several hundred consultations later. Most of our business is the result of people attending our seminars, working with our education partners, and the promotions centered around the seminar series.
Each year since we started, we have doubled the number of new consults completed year after year. By year 5 we achieved our goal– our seminars (strengthened by powerful downsizing consultations and comprehensive move management services) fuel our business.
Update (2/23): I would be lying if I didn’t say the pandemic hurt our seminar attendance. It did NOT however, have a negative impact on our real estate sales.
In fact, we had a couple of very big years during the pandemic. Sadly, it was because many of our clients had to move due to health issues. It wasn’t the “happy dance” clients we love so much, but rather the ones who really didn’t have other options. We learned a lot during the pandemic and one thing we learned is that our business is pandemic proof. As long as we stay true to our mission: Serving mature home buyers and sellers and their families.
What’s the point?
I know that a lot of agents are watching from the sidelines as we participate in this grand experiment we call specialization in the mature market. If you’re reading this, then you know who you are!
I simply want to offer encouragement (and share a few lessons learned along the way) just in case you are thinking about diving in and making serving seniors through education part of your business model.
You have to start somewhere.
Regardless of how small your first program is, it’s a start! We have seen people go from 5 to 100 and from 50 to 80 in a matter of months. Here are a few things to keep in mind along the way:
- People will invest in your vision and mission if you are passionate about it.
- The right people will show up but ONLY if you put it out there.
- Consistency and commitment matter. You have to show up, do what you say you will do, and be committed to the long haul for people to take you seriously.
- There will always be doubters, copy-cats, naysayers, and critics. They simply don’t matter when you know in your heart that you’re doing the right thing.
- It’s not all about real estate. It’s ALL about seniors. Caring about others and adding value to them is where it starts – real estate transactions are simply the by-product.
- Failing is not optional. Not every event will be great, not every sponsor will collaborate, and not every attendee will appreciate what you do. Just keep going.
- Move management services are the key to helping get people from ready and willing to “able.” If you don’t have one, you are one.
- Being a skilled downsizing coach is the key to moving people from “maybe in a year or two” to “ready and willing” today. Learn how to consult and coach – selling simply doesn’t work.
- Others will do it better than you! We have agents across the country using the Ultimate Senior Living Seminar Solution we created and they are surpassing even our personal results!
- Bigger isn’t necessarily better. A great size is 30-50 people. You can still get to know people personally and minimal staff is needed.
- Thinking longterm matters. When only thinking about today, you may get business for today, but in order to create a longterm pipeline, you have to think and plan for down the road.
In closing, let me say this. Our team at SREI is committed to helping educate, empower, and equip senior homeowners to make informed decisions about their housing and lifestyles goals.
It is our intention to ensure that EVERY older adult across the country has a Certified Senior Housing Professional who is equally as committed and who can do the same.
If this hit any of your hot buttons and you are ready to take specializing to the next level, check out the products and programs that SREI has to offer.
We have listed a few below to make it easy. Just scroll down.
It’s our intention to shorten your learning curve and help you achieve even better results that we do by having a bit of a “head start!”
By the way, if you are already serving the mature market and are seeing massive results and loving what you do…ROCK ON! Stay the course! You may not need us.
But if you think you can get even better at what you do OR you need to get better results (or maybe you just need to surround yourself with a community of really amazing people), come join us…the more the merrier!
Yours in Serving Seniors,
SREI Programs & Products
Success in Seniors Real Estate – Parts 1, 2 and 3
Become a Certified Senior Housing Professional
Ultimate Senior Living Seminar Solution
Get everything you need to create successful senior-centered educational seminars. Literally EVERYTHING. We packaged up what we do and continue adding more content!
Senior Downsizing Coach Skills Training
Advanced training – available to active CSHPs and graduates/students of Success in Seniors Real Estate
(above) First seminar in our new 2023 venue in OKC. Only about 100 people that day – we still have growing room!