Dec 22 , 2015
Does a lack of referrals have you doubting yourself and your business?
Or, are you struggling to stay busy despite how happy your customers seem to be? Why aren’t those satisfied customers telling their friends and family about you?
Isn’t a good service supposed to sell itself?
Well, not exactly. The truth is that people are busy, and if you want them recommend you, it’s going to require some strategic effort.
In this article, I’ll share some simple and effective strategies for boosting referral rates so you can start enjoying more qualified leads for your business.
The Common Advice
Most advice about generating more referrals is to simply ask for them.
I’ve never actually asked for a referral myself, but I’m sure it works well in many cases. For example, right after a customer finishes explaining how amazing you are would be a good time.
However, asking every customer you come across doesn’t seem like a good strategy. Who wants to sound needy and put their customers in an awkward position?
I don’t. And, if I’m going to ask for anything, I’d rather ask for a positive online review since I see them as more powerful anyway.
So, how do you generate more referrals without pestering your existing clients?
Simple, you implement one or all of the following strategies…
#1 – Reward Referrals
Whenever you land a new job and the customer says they were referred to you, do something to thank the person who referred you.
You can send a card, a handwritten note, or, if you’re very efficient (I didn’t want to say lazy), you can send an e-mail. You can even take it up a notch and include a small gift like a gift card.
It’s important to note that this is a reward, NOT a bribe. You don’t tell your customer they’ll get a $5 Amazon Gift Card (which can be e-mailed) if they refer you. Instead, you surprise them with a classy thank you to show your appreciation.
Bribing your customer’s takes all the power from the reward and requires a larger incentive.
The “thank you reward,” on the other hand, is a powerful way to not only increase referrals, but build longer lasting relationships with your best clients.
It leverages the customers intrinsic motivations to refer you again and makes them feel like a good person.
If done consistently and tactfully, rewarding referrals will essentially train your customers to refer you more often.
#2 – Reward the New Customer
One major roadblock that stops people from referring you is the fear that their friend won’t have a good experience. Nobody wants to be blamed for referring bad service.
Here’s how to take that concern off the table.
Imagine this scenario:
One of your best clients Sally refers you to Bob. You ask Bob how he found you and he tells you Sally referred him.
So, once you’ve completed the job for Bob, you might knock $20 off the bill and say “Since you were referred by Sally, one of my favorite clients, I wanted to give you $20 off your first bill.”
You don’t necessarily have to give him a discount, any extra benefit will work. Money is just the easiest.
If you do this, you are not only giving Bob a pleasant surprise, but you’re actually bringing value to Sally as well.
Since Sally referred you to Bob, and you saved Bob $20, Bob is probably going to thank Sally, therefore making Sally feel great about herself again.
Now, Sally is going to be more likely to send her friends your way in the future. In fact, she now views referring you as giving a gift to whoever she shares your contact info with.
#3 – Do Something Worth Talking About
Most people are busy. If you ask them to refer you, they’ll likely forget as soon as you walk out the door. The next time they see one of their friends, the last thing they are going to think about is referring you.
However, if you do something memorable or give the customer such a great experience that they can’t help but talk about it, then it will come up naturally in the conversation.
The idea here is to get them to bring you up naturally in conversation. If you do something interesting enough, they’ll mention you to everyone they talk to.
There are infinite ways to do this, you just need to get creative. A simple strategy I use is telling my story.
#4 Refer Other Contractors
Since I’m unable to do electrical work without a license I’m constantly being asked if I know an electrician.
When I finally found one I actually felt good about recommending, I started recommending him to everybody who asked.
I brought this guy a lot of business and I didn’t ask for anything because I just wanted to help my clients.
This strategy ended up paying off, too. Soon, I was getting referrals from him for jobs he didn’t cover.
Often, these referrals are even more valuable than a client to client referral. I think that’s because it’s seen as more of an “insider” referral.
#5 – Send Holiday Cards
Holiday cards are great for staying on your client’s radar. It’s also one of the easiest ways to build a relationship with them.
The better the relationship you have with your customers and the more often you cross their mind, the more likely they are to recommend you.
In addition to increasing your referrals, it will also remind them to pick up the phone and call you for repairs they’ve been putting off.
Putting This Into Action
As you likely already know, referrals are a low cost method for growing your business. It’s one of those things that really is a no brainer.
However, just like flossing your teeth everyday, this stuff is easier said than done.
Personally, I’m terrible at this kind of correspondence and struggle to implement it. If you’re like me in this regard, I’d recommend automating it somehow.
Create a system, hire somebody, or get a family member to do it for you. At the very least, go on Amazon.com right now and order some thank you cards like these so you have them when you need them.