Be nice to your Millennial. Take care of your Millennial and your Millennial will take care of you. These are the lessons of a recent BMO Harris study which found that a full third of 18-34 year olds plan to buy a home in the next 12 months. Even more surprising, three quarters of them plan to buy a home in the next five years. Compare this to a radically lower percentage in other generations and you’ll quickly see how important it is to include Millennials in your business plan.
Granted, it all provokes a bit of cognitive dissonance. After all, aren’t Millennials the slacker generation? How is it that these techno-bohemians—with eyes permanently glued to an iGadget, thumbs whirring in perpetual texting motion, and jeans hung low to show the world their undershorts—are now ready to buy a home?
The short of it is that life has its seasons. Most of us in Generation X—the original slacker generation—wasted far too much time playing Atari. This was all the more amazing considering Atari had barely more than two games—Pong and Asteroids. Eventually our attention turned toward other matters, if only because there weren’t many full-time positions playing Pong. And that’s the way of it—time and the job market have a way of forcing maturity. Eventually even the desire to shock the older generation subsides, mostly because you become part of the older generation. The same was bound to happen with Millenials.
Once we accept the need to cultivate Millennial relationships, the obvious question becomes How? Some may consider lowering their pants to prove they are hip but this is rife with misunderstanding and definitely not recommended. Others might resolve to increase their usage of the “fist bump.” Well and good, but make sure you don’t throw a fist bump when it’s not expected or else you will simply punch your client—a faux pas at the least and a lawsuit at worst. No, you need to watch the signs. The obvious one is if you see a fist pointed at you. This is either an indication that you are about to be decked or that they want to give you a fist bump. Another moment or two will resolve the question and if you find that you are not sprawled on the floor but are standing safely, the time is right to bump back.
But the best plan to cultivate Millennial clients is simply to raise the level of your service. It’s the wise thing to do since with their web and social media skills each Millennial client is a veritable publicity machine. Treat your Millennial badly and soon you’ll find they launched a website dedicated to dissing you. The news outlets will catch wind of it and the whole world will be talking about you—but it’s not the “15 minutes” you imagined. Treat your Millennial well, on the other hand—making sure to communicate with them in the format they find easiest (be it Facebook, text, etc.)—and you will soon find them spreading the love all over the web and erecting cyber-memorials that proclaim “Joe and Suzy Realtor—friend and protector of the Millennial.”
The final recommendation is to partner with others who have already cultivated the right Millennial skill set; someone who is a consummate professional and is sincerely passionate about treating all people with dignity; someone who can make them laugh, because Millennials don’t like business people to be too stuffy; someone very much like, well, me!
In the meantime, may all your Millennials become perennials and your business bloom like Spring.