If you are in the real estate business, there is a good chance you are familiar with the phrase “driving for dollars”. To that end, driving for dollars is exactly what it sounds like: driving around the neighborhood and physically looking for potential deals. With a little hard work, and maybe even a little luck, it can be a great way to find your next project.
Finding deals is the name of the game. One of the best ways to do so, however, is by cementing relationships. By getting to know the people you work with and them getting to know you, the chances of a successful partnership increase dramatically. What better way to do so than by sitting down to have a bite to eat, or even grabbing a coffee. Not surprisingly, simply showing up to a dinner and “winging it” may not leave the impression you desire. There are several things you can do to get the most out of your next “dining for dollars” meeting.
Regardless if this is your first dinner or you have worked together in the past, don’t jump right into business before you have had the chance to initiate a casual conversation. The point of a meeting is to build a relationship. You can easily discuss business over the phone or through email. When you are face to face, you need to start off your meal very casually. Talk about the traffic on the way in, the weather, your favorite sports teams or your family. Odds are that it is seemingly minor items like these that will be remembered most when your meal is over. How this conversation flows will also be a good indicator if you are comfortable with each other. You don’t need to be best buddies, but you should be at ease talking to each other. Showing your personality is much more important than you may think.
As important as small talk is, you will eventually get down to business. Instead of just jumping right into it, ask some questions about their business to get more comfortable. This should get them talking. Additionally, you may find some things out that you weren’t aware of. If you ask questions, you need to be prepared to answer them as well. It is important to find out about goals, timelines and ethics at this point of the meal. This will lay the foundation of everything you do in the future. There is plenty of time to talk about a current deal or scenario you want to work on. Ease into business conversation by learning about their background and how they conduct business.
Typically, after you are done eating, you should start to get specific. If your meal lasts an hour and a half, from start to finish, you only want to spend about fifteen of those minutes on specifics. Your contact may have mentioned something when you met that you want to know more about. Now is the time to ask anything you may be curious about. Talk about how you would work together and what you would bring to the table. Find out about splits, time frames, work allocation and lead generation. This isn’t the time for negotiation, but a period to see if you are on the same page. If it is someone you see value in working with, put your cards on the table. There is no use in trying to be coy with what you really want. If there is a fit, you can move forward. If not, at least you know now before you get too far.
After you get your business talk out of the way, go back to personal conversation. When most people think of business conversation, there is a serious overtone to it. In reality, you are trying to establish a connection to grow your real estate business. You are not solving world peace or other of the world’s major problems. Keep the conversation light and when business talk is done move on to something else. Ask about something they may have mentioned earlier in the conversation. Find out more about their family, or where they live. The conversation doesn’t have to be serious all the time. When you are done with business talk, let it go and move on.
Before you pay the bill, and you should pay the bill, set up a time to follow up. If there was something that needed to be followed up on, you can’t leave it open without a set date. Tell your contact that you will give them a call on a specific date, at roughly this time. The more specific you are, the less likely they will say no. When you get home, or even in the next morning, send a text or email thanking them for their time and expressing how much you enjoyed their company. It is the little things like this that will make a big impression. You need to build on the momentum of a good dinner by following up in the next 24 hours. You put in all the work to establish a relationship, but you can’t rest on your laurels. Now is the time to put your talk into action.
A quick cup of coffee, power lunch or fancy dinner are all different ways to build relationships and grow your business. Before you go out, take a few minutes and map out a plan for what you want to say and when you are going to say it.