4 Ways to Use Your Pets in Your Real Estate Marketing
On a visit to the groomer one day, Steve Rodriguez got a referral for a buyer looking for investment property that resulted in multiple sales. Another time, he brought his dog Pooh to floor duty at his brokerage, met a dog-loving couple and helped them find their retirement dream home.
“They were moving from Fort Lauderdale and decided to work with me because I was dog-friendly,” says Rodriguez, a sales associate with Davidson Realty in Jacksonville Beach.
Almost 90% of households with pets say their animals play a role in their homebuying decision, according to the National Association of Realtors. So, it’s no surprise Rodriguez has had success working with others who hold their pets dear.
“When you have a genuine common interest in animals, it relaxes people because they get a vibe about you that makes the relationship much more cohesive.”
Here are a few ways to use pets in your marketing:
1. Create a pet-friendly atmosphere
Rodriguez keeps treats and water bowls on hand for people who stop in with their pets.
“I have taken my own dogs to showings when I know the buyers are comfortable with that,” he says. “We have also had a few occasions where customers had their dog at the closing.”
Fridays are designated “puppy days” when Rodriguez and his colleagues bring their dogs to work.
"For my customers who have dogs, I pay for a local groomer/grocery store for dogs to put together
a personalized gift basket of chewy toys and treats.”
2. Meet and mingle
Pets are a great conversation starter, Rodriguez says. When people discover he’s a real estate agent, they’re interested in learning about the local market.
“There’s a brewery next door [to our house], and I frequently take the dogs there after work and sit outside and talk to people.”
Every other Saturday, Rodriguez and his dogs go to the beach where he sets up a hydration station. He puts up a tent with his company name on it. “We greet the morning crowd from 8 to 11 a.m. and pass out water to beachgoers and offer fresh water for their dogs.”
3. Use photos of your pets
Rodriguez capitalizes on the universal appeal of pets by featuring photos of him and his dogs in his marketing materials and email signature. He’s also featured as a “Dog-Friendly Realtor” in Unleash Jacksonville, a print publication and website resource that connects dog lovers with businesses on Florida’s First Coast.
4. Support with the pet community
Because Rodriquez is well-known in the community, he’s a natural advocate for the “Adopt, Don’t Shop” movement that encourages people to get their pets through a rescue organization or humane society instead of from a pet shop, breeder or puppy mill.
“Both Pooh (an American bulldog) and Coco (a pit bull mix) are rescues,” he says. “I try to volunteer at the humane society each week if time permits, and I participate in food drives for an organization called Pit Sisters [that finds homes for harder-to-adopt dogs].”
He adds, “It helps to get out there with the dogs and engage with people in the community. If you can get in front of people with something that comes from the heart, it will bring you business.”
Leslie C. Stone is a Vero Beach-based freelance writer.