Do you know how to get referrals for your small business? You better find out - your income is depending on it!
For many small businesses, referrals are a very important part of getting new business. Yet, how many small business owners have a plan in place (and execute on it) that is designed for getting referrals on a systematic basis, rather than just "hoping" that they come to you?
The good news is, there's a simple, easy system for getting referrals. Not only CAN you do it, you MUST!
How To Get Referrals!
1) Offer excellent service to your existing clients. Go above-and-beyond what they pay you for and really try to impress them. Satisfactory service isn't referral-worthy, amazing service is.
- Take the extra time to put them in touch with a referral for their business.
- Don't just mow the lawn, rake up the flower beds, too.
- If you're a CPA, offer to look over their personal financials (not just their business ones) at no extra charge and see if you can spot anywhere for them to improve.
- Spend some time chatting off the clock, to find out how their family is doing.
2) Say "Thanks For Your Business" in a noteworthy manner. How could you "surprise" someone in a way they're not expecting and - ideally - a way that they would gain public notice, without breaking the bank? H
Here are some clever ideas for how to get referrals when you say thanks:
- Send roses, a fruit basket, or brownies to work where they will sit out on the desk and everyone will ask, "Who are those from?"
- Send a funny or amusing photo card featuring THEM. They will likely stick it on their bulletin board or refrigerator.
- Go Viral! Offer to send something out for them. Example: Realtor sends a "change of address" card to friends and family from their client's address book.
- Sports tickets for you, them, and a few of their closest business contacts that THEY get to invite.
3) Ask for the referral. If you don't ask, your clients might not think to send you a referral. At the time that they're most happy with your service (they just found out they have no cavities, they just got the check from selling their house, they just saved some money on their car insurance :))... That is the best time to ask for referrals. They will feel happy and indebted to you and be willing to spend some time thinking about who else might need your help. You can start out with a general search and then mention a few specifics to help them keep thinking... "Do you know anyone at the gym, at church, at your civic club, etc. who might need their carpets cleaned?" Then you can add in a few topical memory joggers, "Sometimes when people are having family over for vacation or holidays, they want to spruce up the house. Sometimes if they're thinking about moving, or want to rent out a property, they need to spruce it up." And finally offer them an incentive, "Thanks for all your work thinking this through with me, I know you'll think of even more people after you I go home. That's good, keep thinking because for every person you refer I offer you a free upgrade to the carpet deep-clean at your next appointment, or a $25 gift certificate to Outback Steakhouse... your choice!"
4) Follow up, follow up, follow up. Although the best time to focus on getting referrals is at the client's peak of enthusiasm for your project, it's always a good idea to keep in touch with them. A simple drip email campaign - or better yet - a telephone or greeting card campaign - can remind them that they care about you, and trigger their memory when it comes to offering referrals.
One of the most important things to remember when you plan your strategy for how to get referrals is to keep focused on your client's perspective. It's easy to think me-me-me and that's the death of referral marketing. Minimize your self-promotional attitude when it comes to asking for referrals. Focus on building up your client through genuine service and recognition. (They remember not what you say, but how you make them feel.) If you make your clients feel good, they are MUCH more likely to send their friends and family to you for the same treatment.