Are You Generating One-Time Success, or Year After Year?
We recently had a client experience her best year yet in the residential mortgage business. When I acknowledged her accomplishment, her response was enlightening:
“I’m afraid I won’t be able to duplicate it. I planted a lot of annuals last year, when I should be focusing on perennials.”
For those of you who aren’t gardeners, “annual” flowers are popular because they show an instant yield, and give you color throughout the current growing season. However, they’re one-hit wonders in that they don’t typically re-bloom. So next year, you’ll be planting them all over again – replicating the cost and the effort required the year before. Perennials, on the other hand, often have to be planted the season before you want to experience the bloom (like a tulip or iris bulb); but with some patience and prior planning, you can yield perennials that reward you repeatedly.
We experience this in business. Some of your prospecting activities will yield immediate (and often one-time) results. Other efforts, done over time, will ensure results that repeat themselves. Healthy businesses often consist of a balance of both.
Let’s take a real estate business as an example. You pay to generate web leads from realtor.com or other property search sites. Turn on the pay, and you turn on the leads. Stop the pay, stop getting leads. Another example would be open houses. You advertise, put out signage, put on the open house, hopefully get some traffic through, and work to convert those leads. These are your “annuals” and require “replanting” – more leads purchased, more open houses – to generate more leads.
Now think about your perennials. You have your past clients and sphere of influence, people who know you, like you, and trust you. You’ve already invested the upfront effort to obtain and convert them. Like perennial flowers, you need to tend to and nurture them, and if you do, they’ll keep “blooming” with repeat and referral business.
How do you stay in contact with your perennials? How often? At a minimum, in real estate we say they need to “see” you monthly, whether by e-newsletter, mailed postcard, or blast email. And then, to enhance that nurture aspect, they should “hear” you at least twice a year, and preferably quarterly, either by phone call, face-to-face meeting, or in some cases, by text (according to their personal preference).
As you continue to work on your business plan for this year, contemplate whether your garden has a healthy mix of annuals and perennials, to generate business now AND to ensure repeat business in the future.