Sweet As Candy: Developing Referral Programs Through HR Managers

Getting out into the community to develop connections isn’t always easy. But property managers and leasing consultants that make the effort reap the rewards when it comes to referrals from HR managers at local businesses. Setting the first introductory appointment makes sense, but how to you make repeat visits to stay top of mind? All it takes is a little something sweet.
 
Candy programs give apartment personnel, especially those who are not good at getting out of the office or those who are a bit shy and don’t feel confident of what to say, a built in reason to not only make initial contact with local HR managers but also follow up with a monthly visit. Plus, these programs are affordable and easy to implement. All you need is a candy jar customized with the property logo and bulk candy from a local retail outlet to replenish the stock each month.
 
To develop ongoing referrals through HR managers, follow these steps to create your own candy referral program:
 
Make the first appointment.
For your first meeting, bring the HR manager a great looking candy jar customized with your logo and filled with delicious treats. During your conversation, ask for permission to come back monthly to check in and bring refills. You want to build in the expectation that you’ll be coming back regularly.
 
Deliver fresh candy.
No one wants to receive old candy. Make sure the candy is fresh. If it is supposed to be chewy, make sure it is. And if it’s supposed to be crisp, sample it to verify.
 
Provide enough candy.
If the candy jar holds 11 ounces, don’t replenish with a mere three ounces. Give enough to fill the container.
 
Give a variety of candy.
People within an office have different tastes, so you’ll want to switch up the candy to appeal to a wide variety of preferences and to keep from being boring. Think about tying into holidays or seasons, too. Cinnamon candy is great around Valentine’s Day. Peppermints are a fresh way to welcome spring or they can be festive treats around December holidays. Give chocolate with caution, however, because it melts…especially in summer months.
 
Package the bulk candy attractively.
To continue building your property’s brand, package the bulk candy in a bag that has been decorated with your logo. One way is to imprint bulk coffee-style bags. Or if budget is a concern, use a standard plastic bag with a custom sticker that has been printed with your logo and a cute tagline.
 
Be cognizant of allergies.
Whether it’s gluten, tree nuts, peanuts or soy, food allergies are a concern, and rightly so. Make sure to provide ingredient lists with your candy so those who have sensitivities know what they can—and can’t—eat.
 
Schedule deliveries and be consistent.
Pick a day that works each month and stick with it. Mondays and Fridays are typically not great days. Mornings are often good. Talk to your HR manager contact to learn about his or her preferences. You don’t want to show up on a day when payroll is being processed and you can’t have five minutes to make a connection. The important thing is to schedule a time on your calendar and go. Otherwise, something will always come up. 
 
Make the connection. Build the business.
It takes time to build relationships, and consistent contact is the key. Don’t expect to see immediate referrals, as HR managers may not have a need right away. But when the need arises, they will think of you first, as you have been making the connection each month when you bring delicious treats to enjoy. The results will be sweet as candy.

Valerie Hayman Sklar grew up in the property management business, leasing her first apartment at 12 years old. Today, as president of Detroit, Michigan-based The Apartment Boutique powered by Corporate Specialties, she combines her vast property management experience with her love of all things marketing. The result is a unique promotional marketing firm uniquely targeted to the multi-family market. Contact her to learn more.