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You don’t get a military client list from the housing office or by leaving business cards on base. In all honesty the business cards are usually only used for bookmarks, and it’s important to understand that the only service members walking into the housing office these days are the ones that are either making a maintenance request or signing a lease for on-post housing.

The military community generally works around word-of-mouth referrals. When it comes to finding information for recommended doctors, schools, sporting teams, extracurricular activities and yes, real estate agents and lenders, we look to our people. This means utilizing social media groups, military spouse organizations or calling people we know who have been stationed where we’re going.

While Google and Yelp can provide us with initial reviews and information, we more frequently seek and depend on the true and honest experience of our military community.

Initially, most spouses or service members will join the new unit area Facebook group and ask who they used as a real estate agent or lender. What follows will be a rush of recommendations in the comment feed. If you’ve done your job right, your name will be on repeat.

But how do you get your name dropped? The first step is to provide exceptional service. This means making the family feel like they truly matter and are not just another commission check. If it feels too sales-y, we’re going to see you as a vulture circling.

Being a good lender means hearing what your clients’ true needs are, acknowledging their budget and actually showing homes that meet them where they want to be.

While we know finding the perfect home isn’t always possible, having open conversations about where their budget really gets them and sticking to it will always be appreciated. Bringing us to homes we can’t afford won’t go over well at all.

Your process can also include informing them local favorite restaurants, stores or telling them the best spot to watch the upcoming 4th of July fireworks. This demonstrates connection and true caring – something military families pay attention to.

The next step is to really be military friendly.

  • Do you offer virtual services?
  • Do you understand that the family may not arrive until the day they receive the keys?
  • Do know how important closing on time is?
  • Do you understand the ins and outs of the VA Home Loan?
  • Do you advertise as being military friendly because you have the process down to a science and can make the experience as smooth as butter?

If you answered ‘No” to any of these questions, then you should evaluate your practices. The military community will go out of their way to find military friendly establishments to make the experience as positive as possible.

The last step to getting your name dropped is demonstrating empathy. You can be the greatest in the world at what you do, but if you don’t show empathy for the military family trying to find a home, sometimes 700 miles away in another time zone, it will feel as if you do not really care. It will also seem like they are an inconvenience – and they will quickly lose faith in your ability to meet their home needs.

Military life isn’t easy and its even harder when families are required move every two years and find a new house to make a home, sometimes on a moment’s notice. A little empathy will go a long way in serving those who serve.

When working with a military family, it’s important to keep in mind that you are not only working for them as your client, but you are working for the word-of-mouth referrals and possible future clients that are coming from them.

Let your name be dropped for all the right reasons.