Let's face it, collections of any kind are usually dust accumulators. Through lack of use, poor storage methods or just general negligence, most collectors, whether they curate records, figurines, military memorabilia or hotel room keys wrestle with the deteriorating effects of dust. Despite the realities associated with collecting as a hobby, collecting is an essential part of running your commercial real estate business. Rather than cherished keepsakes or rare bottles of wine, staying in touch with your targeted audiences means collecting contact records.
Collecting Contacts is Nothing New
When Danish engineer Hildaur Neilsen, the chief engineer of Arnold Neustadter's company Zephyr American, a stationery manufacturer in New York, invented the Rolodex in 1956, he probably had no idea how his invention would become synonymous with customer data collection. While the Rolodex is more or less passé today, the casualty of more modern instruments like computers, cell phones and social media apps, the function that it performed is still critically important. For any business person, but particularly those in commercial real estate who’ve built their business through personal interactions, it’s a best practice to maintain a clean and growing database of contacts by capturing the name and essential contact information for each person you meet in your daily meetings.
Nowadays a commercial real estate CRM or contact management system is a necessary tool in this industry and is a modern replacement for the Rolodex. In this industry, it’s crucial that you’re touching base, making phone calls, following up, sending out email marketing campaigns and scheduling meetings with existing and prospective clients. During a busy day of business development, transaction management, and lead generation, it can be difficult or near impossible to measure success and schedule the appropriate follow-ups without the right commercial real estate CRM in place.
Collecting customer data is as simple as gathering business cards and then entering contact information into a spreadsheet. Sure, there’s more sophisticated and high-tech ways of doing this as well, but the principles remain the same. If you’re at community events, on the phone with a prospect or having a face-to-face meeting, don’t miss the opportunity to collect contact data.
One method of collecting contact information that you do want to avoid is gathering names from certain online sources, without the permission of the site users. The CAN-SPAM act of 2003 is explicit on this point, and a breach of etiquette can hurt your marketing efforts.
Start Your Contact Record Collection With the Basics
The core of a contact record is three items or data points—name, phone number, email address. Eventually, you’ll also want to get the contact’s physical address, but with just the basics, you have everything you need to get back in touch with the contact.
As you become more sophisticated in marketing your commercial real estate company, you’ll want to gather additional data point that will allow you to personalize your communications with the contact. Other data points to collect for an overall demographic picture are age, profession, and gender, but you may also want to obtain information on their reading habits, association affiliations or even their hobbies. The more information you gather, the more tailored your marketing and selling can be. In time you may even build a customer profiling strategy like Amazon—well, at least in theory. Just be sure to not overwhelm the contact by trying to gather all this information at once.