A goal without a plan is just a wish, right? Every agent hopes their open house will lead to generating new buyer leads but without a plan, it’s just a wish. And if you’re going to be spending your precious Sundays doing open houses, you should have a clear plan and follow every single step, every single time.

Step One: Prepare clients

If it is your listing, your clients should be aware as soon as you take the listing, not only that you will be doing open house(s), but which days they will be on.  Before you go to the listing appointment, check your calendar. Obviously, it will depend on what date they will be listing so it might be “every Sunday for three weeks after we list”. But the key is to be prepared to tell them which days you are available to do open house(s) and get them on the calendar.

Step Two: Enter it in the MLS

Enter the Open House into the MLS no later than midnight on the Thursday prior to the open house. This will ensure that the open house is “picked up” by all the major websites that buyers use when looking for opens (Zillow, Redfin, etc.).

Step Three: Create an awesome flyer

Your flyer must be awesome. If you have a knack for graphic design, great! But if you don’t, hire someone to create a template for you (estimated cost $100) and then you can drop in photos and update the copy as and when you have an open. Remember, everything you put out to the world is a reflection of you and your business. You can also use sites such as https://www.canva.com/ to create a flyer. They have templates and the most you’ll spend is $1.00 per image that is not free.

Step Four: Promote Promote Promote

Post that flyer EVERYWHERE: LinkedIn, Facebook, Facebook Groups, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, EVERYWHERE. And not just once … In the week leading up to the open, the flyer should be on each of the sites mentioned at least twice. Hashtags should only be used on Instagram and Twitter. They don’t belong on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.; they look “salesy”. Having trouble coming up with hashtags, use my 5/5/5 method: five location hashtags, five activity hashtags and five fun hashtags. Here’s an example (feel free to borrow it): #arlington #arlingtoncounty #arlingtonva #northernva #nova #openhouse #vaopenhouse #realestate #home #realtor #dontmissthis #thiswontlast #springmarketisstillhere #icansellyourhousetoo #realtorlife

Step Five: Invite Neighbors

Remember that awesome flyer? Print fifty copies and invite the neighbors the day before or the morning of. You could even have a “neighbors only preview” for one hour prior to the public open house. People love to feel like they are special and they also nosy. Utilize this to your advantage by inviting them beforehand and chatting them up. Be sure to give them your card or have something to give them about yourself that they can take with them (a nice postcard with info about you and what you’ve sold in the neighborhood).

Step Six: Be sure the house is in PRISTINE condition.

Obviously the house should be very clean but a few extra things that some people don’t think of are mow the lawn, put away all evidence of a pet, put away jewelry, be sure all lightbulbs are working, put away toiletries, clear all hallways, make all beds, make sure the light switches and walls are free from handprints and clean and adjust temperature if they keep the house unusually cold or warm. Prepare an email template to send out to your clients a couple of days ahead of the open house(s) so they have plenty of time to comply with your requests.

Step Seven: Use an electronic sign in

The whole reason we do opens: to capture buyer leads … you’re unlikely to do that with a sign in sheet. People expect you to be “with the times” so be prepared to exceed their expectations by being prepared to have them electronically register. My two favorite apps are https://spac.io/ and https://www.openhomepro.com/ … be sure to create an account well before the open house so you have time to learn how to use it properly. The last thing you want to do is be messing with setting up the app ten minutes before your open house starts. Both of these are very customizable but they do take some thirty minutes or so to familiarize yourself.

Step Eight: Bake cookies

I do this at every open house I help agents with and everyone that attends is always so impressed. The smell of the cookies when people walk in plus the taste of warm cookies creates an ambiance that will be remembered. I also offer water bottles and napkins. All you need to bring with you is a baking sheet, premade cookie dough, a spatula, an oven mit and a plate to put the cookies on. Don’t worry about baking the entire time. I usually put a new batch in every thirty minutes so I have time to talk to the guests without worrying about the cookies burning.

Step Nine: Play music

Bring a Bluetooth speaker and play music from your phone (Pandora or Spotify). I like classical music played softly. Again, it’s just an extra touch to set your open house apart from the three or four other ones they are most likely going to visit that day.

Step Ten: Take Notes & Follow Up

As soon as the guests leave, jot down any personal info they may have mentioned (children’s names, looking to move right away, works at the pentagon). After the open, do some digging, find their address and mail them a hand written note mentioning some of the personal things. For example “It was great to meet you and your wife, Lucy, and your daughter, Jane.” Nothing too pushy (since it’s already going to be a little strange that you found their address) …. Just something lighthearted with your business card. If you can’t find their home address, email them or text them if you have good info. And don’t give up unless you’re flat out told to go away. Just continue to touch them every month or so and be super kind, offer to help without being pushy. If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen. If it’s not, it won’t, and that’s okay. It’s more time for you to find your next potential client.

Step Eleven: Have fun

People will respond to the kind of vibe you put off. Treat the open as a fun event. Have fun and offer to help but don’t say too much, especially if you’re getting the feeling that they do not want your help. No one likes a pushy agent and a lot of agents are pushy. We need to stop that. Be kind, helpful and genuine and it will be a wonderful, successful event!

Step Twelve: Give a full report to your sellers

Always close the loop by reporting back to your sellers as soon as the open house is finished. Give them detailed information on guests, how many seemed like serious buyers, how many seemed interested in THEIR house and any feedback you got as to why their house was not appealing. All of this will lend to a wonderful experience with you as their agent which will lead to them recommending you in the future.

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