While other businesses are frantically trying to drum up new business, Hockingstuart Ballarat is probably picking up another repeat sale from its 5,000-strong database.
Director Tony Douglass says the secret of the Victorian office’s success is the system it has created to nurture and exploit its database.
The result is that about 60 per cent of Hockingstuart Ballarat’s business comes from old clients or referrals, he adds.
Mr Douglass says the office places such importance on its contact list that it employed a part-time staffer to devote three days per week to the database.
As a specialist, she is able to manage the database much more efficiently than an agent who does it on the side, according to Mr Douglass.
“There are some sales agents who would do it very well, but I think the most effective way – if you can afford it – is to have someone who does it for your sales team,” he says.
“If you leave it up to the individual salespeople, they’re at different levels in terms of what they’ll do, but if someone is administering it across the board then the data gets put in correctly.”
As well as adding information to the system, the database manager constantly works to keep it clean. For example, she calls contacts to ask if they would like to receive the office’s quarterly newsletter. That gives her a chance to confirm their email address, physical address and other phone numbers.
Mr Douglass says agents also play an important role in keeping the office’s contacts happy.
It begins with agents regularly following up with vendors and buyers during a sales campaign. This is harder than it sounds, because Ballarat properties are often on the market for 100 days.
Mr Douglass says that once the sale has been made and the post-sale follow-up calls are out of the way, agents will then phone old clients every three months or so. These are not random chats, but structured calls in which the agent “adds value” by discussing recent sales and market conditions.
“We’re finding our cold calls are becoming less common as more agents are getting better at following people through and managing databases and networks,” Mr Douglass says.
“I think databases are so important in terms of success. I think the bigger your database and the better you handle it – every high achiever I’ve met has got a good one.”
By the numbers
Volumes: $144.5 million
Total staff: 10
Sales staff: 8
Support staff: 2
Sales per staffer: 54.20