When she decided to create her first-ever free Pie Drive event on Facebook, Lana Rodriguez was not only a newly licensed agent, but also a brand-new Colorado Springs resident. Yet, after creating the event, Rodriguez found herself tasked with delivering 85 pies to complete strangers – a task she managed to complete in the span of four and a half days. “My husband told me I’m crazy,” Rodriguez remembers. “But, out of those 85 people I touched in November of 2014, five of them became clients that are still with me to this day. They have done multiple transactions with me throughout my real estate career,” she shares.
That first year, Rodriguez swore by Costco’s pumpkin pie (a brand she still wholeheartedly recommends), with her business card attached to the delivery. But, the real estate rainmaker has come a long way in event planning since 2014. What started as a one woman delivery mission evolved first into a drive-in event hosted at her team’s (The Lana Rodriguez Group’s) office, and later into a ‘Pies and Smiles with Santa’ magnet event expected to bring in nearly 600 clients. Here is how Rodriguez, whose team is on track for 300 transactions for 2021 – all referral based – gears up for one of her most successful events of the year.
Read more: The Lana Rodriguez Group
5 Tips to Plan the Ultimate Thanksgiving Client Event
Make sure your event is fun and valuable.
“Client events are a big part of our referral-based business,” Rodriguez shares. “My main focus is to build a community and bring clients together, and many of our clients are single parents or married couples with one or two children,” she says. As such, when creating her event calendar for the year, Rodriguez focuses on family-friendly activities that her target audience will find value and convenience in. With this year’s ‘Pies and Smiles’ event, set to take place within a venue typically reserved for weddings, Rodriguez is not just handing out a classic Thanksgiving favorite, but also bringing the added value of professional photos with Santa.
Before any big event, Rodriguez and her team work on booking the venue 90 to 120 days in advance, then go into full-fledged planning about 30 days prior. In order to gain immediate access to her sphere of influence, Rodriguez relies on a private client Facebook group, which she nurtures throughout the year and leverages to spread the message of upcoming events among her clients. Once the venue is booked, she creates a Facebook event page to spread the word. “We follow up with hard mailers, a funny video invitation, and an email blast,” she shares. “We also do personal touches like a phone call and a text message to spread the word.”
Comfort is key.
The world of events has been constantly shifting since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. While live events are back in Rodriguez’s neck of the woods and restrictions have loosened up, her team makes sure to create a space where guests feel comfortable and safe. “We host our event in the middle of the day, a strategic time when kids are awake. We are also making use of time slots to space everyone out and limit the amount of people at any given time,” she says. Create FOMO. Rodriguez uses social media to engage with her sphere up until the moments leading up to the event. She even shows the moments when her team loads the pies into trucks and SUVs and tries to remind clients why they need to be there. “For example, if I buy two thousand dollars worth of candy, you better believe I’m going to advertise that through Facebook Live,” she shares.
Put your game face on.
On the day of the event, Rodriguez and her team arrive at the venue around 10:30 a.m. and begin unloading refreshments, including cookies and coffee for their clients. They generally wear matching uniforms for the occasion, and are ready to rock by 11:30 a.m., working under the assumption that some clients will arrive early. “I’m always the first person they see when they come in, and the last person they see when they leave,” she shares. Throughout the event, she keeps an eye out for any faces that are not current clients. “You can generally see that they are a little bit uncomfortable,” she shares. “So, I introduce them to the team and make them feel welcome. After the event, I add them on Facebook to keep in touch. Even if they do not want to sell or buy now, as long as they see me posting, I’m going to be the Realtor they think about once they are ready.” At the end, clients and potential clients will leave with a pie with a subtle sticker. “Happy Holidays! We’re never too busy for a referral!”
“There’s something very special about breaking bread with people,” Rodriguez says. “And, if you provide these community experiences to your clients, you will differentiate yourself from competitors.” While her own events now garner interest from hundreds of clients, Rodriguez wants to remind agents that it is the activity, not the numbers, that matter. “Start small. Go door to door and deliver that pumpkin pie,” she shares. “Because, guess what – your competition is not doing that.”