If you want to build a successful, rewarding, career in real estate, referrals are your best bet.

Top agents, in fact, generate more than 50% of their business through referrals. Building a referral-based business, of course, takes time, which is why so few agents succeed. 

New agents have to prospect aggressively. Relying on conventional tactics like cold calling and door-knocking, however, can quickly lead to agent burn-out.

In this article, we’ll examine Parkbench.com, an established online platform for real estate agents. Then, we’ll take a look at 5 Parkbench features that help agents build referral business.

What is Parkbench?

No, it’s not a literal park bench. But, like a park bench, it serves as a place where neighbors can get to know each other and generate word-of-mouth.

Parkbench.com builds neighborhood-focused websites, sponsored by realty professionals. Since its launch in 2014, over 1000 agents in communities across North America have been attracted to the platform and the Local Leader Prospecting System®.

Unlike Nextdoor.com, for example, anyone can use Parkbench, or register a free account. Local business owners can register as many free listings as they need, or promote deals for free. Users can also contribute content by creating a free account.

The Parkbench Philosophy: Help Others First

Parkbench was specifically designed by its founders, Grant Findlay-Shirras and wife Amanda Newman, to help realty professionals build relationships in the community they serve.

As Grant explains in an interview for GeekEstateblog:

“…87% of realtors (and small businesses) fail in 5 years because they simply do not know how to acquire enough clients to survive and thrive. And the reason they don’t know how to build a business is because they are poorly trained by their brokerages, lied to by their boards and associations, and are being sold a bunch of junk.”

A Parkbench website doesn’t rely entirely on SEO, lead generation, or advertising to attract prospective buyers and sellers. Even without listings, new agents can generate word-of-mouth quickly in their farm:

“Before bus benches, flyers, and billboards (and definitely before the digital age), realtors used to wake up everyday and go “Who am I going to talk to today on the phone or in person by door knocking?” And this approach worked every time…(W)hy are realtors constantly looking for the newest and greatest method…when over 60% of homeowners pick their realtors from relationships and referrals?”

– Grant Findlay Shirras, CEO, Parkbench

So how exactly can a Parkbench neighborhood website help you get referral business in your farm area? Let’s take a look!

How Does Parkbench Work?

Known as the Local Leader System®, the Parkbench method of prospect-interviewing is built on the fundamental law of reciprocity.

Agents are shown how to leverage their Parkbench website to build relationships with local business owners. In turn, local business owners become valuable referral generators for the agent.

Rather than promoting real estate expertise and listings, agents are encouraged to serve their local community first. By consistently offering value to local residents and businesses, agents build recognition and loyalty, leading to referrals.

Instead of soliciting strangers for business, Parkbench shows agents how to add value to their farm while broadening their sphere of influence. This way, Parkbench sponsors are able to eliminate the typical barriers to prospecting.

A detailed 4-step, onboarding process, along with reference tools and regular coaching sessions, facilitates the agent’s prospect training.

Once the agent completes the onboarding process, they can start booking interviews and prospecting right away!

5 Ways Parkbench Helps Agents Build Referrals

Here are 5 key ways in which a Parkbench website helps agents attract referral business:

#1) Parkbench Branding For Real Estate

Once your Parkbench neighborhood website is launched, you receive exclusive branding and exposure for your area. This means other agents can’t buy advertising on your site, and no other listings appear on your site but yours.

Your image and contact information are prominently displayed on each page near the top, giving you added online exposure:

Parkbench helps agents improve branding

Both real estate teams and solo agents can ‘claim a neighborhood’ on Parkbench. Neighborhoods are designated by zip code (postal code in Canada), and you can claim several as long as they are geographically within proximity.

#2) Parkbench Helps Improve Your Local SEO

Parkbench automatically aggregates local news content to your site daily. This increases the likelihood of search engines indexing news content from your website as well.

Depending on relevance, your Parkbench website could appear in local search results when users search for local news.

Parkbench appears in local SERP

The organic traffic generated from local searches can lead to subscribers. In turn, subscribers to your Parkbench website can be funneled to your CRM.

#3) Parkbench Is A Great Lead cultivation Tool

Visitors to your Parkbench website can easily subscribe to your opt-in weekly newsletter with one click. The automated newsletter updates each week with the most recent content from your site.

The newsletter is also branded with your content and contact information. Subscribers can unsubscribe at any point.

You can add subscribers from your Parkbench newsletter to your CRM and implement drip campaigns to stay top-of-mind with prospects.

Parkbench subscribe

#4) Parkbench Helps Agents With Relationship-building

A Parkbench website serves as a free marketing tool for local business owners. By offering to promote local businesses, agents on Parkbench can leverage their website to build relationships in their community.

“This is a great new platform I was introduced to by a local contact, Donna Mechura. She interviewed me and gave me the opportunity to establish my business on Parkbench. The set-up was fairly simple. I did have to learn how to add photos, but it wasn’t a huge learning curve…I appreciated the positive attitude and service oriented motivation! I look forward to this platform’s growth and being able to serve wherever I can!”

-Chris Jordan, Local Guide, Google Reviews


Local retailers can register a free listing on your site and receive free promotion in your weekly Parkbench newsletter as well!

Parkbench add a business

Add your business for free on Parkbench…

#5) Parkbench Prospecting

Want to brand yourself as a neighborhood specialist? Parkbench trains agents to become the ‘local leader’ of their community.

Instead of soliciting business owners, offer to promote them by interviewing and featuring them on your website!

During your prospect-interviews, you’ll gain valuable insight into the local business owners and their needs. You’ll also establish a rapport and earn reciprocal business by promoting the interview online.

You may even uncover referral business or opportunities to connect other business owners with each other.

Through her Parkbench interviews, Arvada, CO agent Katie Roberts was also introduced to new people and organizations in her farm:

“Parkbench allowed me to meet local people, gain exclusive exposure. I interviewed a home inspector as well who has a blog and he gave me a referral. The relocation deal I’m working on, I got it specifically because I told him that I have a network of over 600 realtors across North America who are neighborhood experts!”

You can easily launch a YouTube channel to promote your interviews. Upload a transcript of the interview. Be sure to include keywords local residents might use to search the business or interview topic.

And who knows? If you feature business owners frequently on your website, you may even generate a viral buzz about you!