Are you referring other businesses? If you are in BNI or most any other group, that is expected. If your on your own, referrals will get you a lot of business. By giving a great referral to another business or home owner, your reputation as a go to person rises. passing a name won’t help in the long run. It takes awhile to become known as the person to go to, but once you get the title, it pays off very well. Anyone have a great referral system? How is it working for you?
I agree, be reliable and knowledgable and you will build a good business. Joining groups like BNI and you local chamber of commerce will undoubtedly help find you business.
I think I’m different than others…
To me, referrals come over time, and from services completed/satisfied customers.
Not because I joined a group of “CardHanderOuters.”
The chamber of commerce can be a real asset if you get to know the members. But yeah I get what you’re saying… Over time. You can get referrals but if you need to make connections sooner rather than later you can work a chamber or BNI group and make some fast connections… Nothing wrong with that.
here’s a strategy:
-Make a list. Choose 5-10 categories that you’ll likely be asked about by your current customers (ie, painter/landscaper/roofer/handyman etc).
-leave that list alone, but keep it top-of-mind. don’t fill in those slots with the first example you come across, rather…
-wait. wait to fill that slot on your list until you come across a landscaper/painter/handyman that impresses YOU. somebody that obviously shares your ideals and approach to customer service. and then…
-add them to your list. and give them an opportunity to add you to theirs.
-rinse and repeat.
-when it’s time to refer, you have actually have something OF VALUE to share. think “the painting equivalent of my window cleaning business”.
what i’ve found is that, no matter the trade, there are like-minded businesspeople everywhere- people you will connect with and appreciate, even though you don’t have anything in common in terms of skills or services. those are the people you want to network with and refer…
and they are having the same conversation in their little groups about people like you. it’s a natural synergy but you have to be choosey and patient. just like you hope your customers are.
Great post, Caleb. I am going to try to implement that idea. BTW, I have been meaning to ask you this for ages - what is the story behind your avatar?
On the subject of referrals, we have long had a policy of 10% discount on NEXT YEAR’S service for all referrals that lead to new business. It’s amazing how well it works. Several times we have had (wealthy) clients squabbling over who referred a given new client to us first. (We usually give them both 10%). We do a retirement community with 48 units. We started with 1 unit, but when the local community “mayor” became a client, and found out about the 10% deal, she started spreading the word. At last count, I think we were doing 28 units there, almost exclusively through her referrals. One time we did her unit for free, and we usually give her at least 50% off.
A one time 10% discount is not too painful, you gain a new client (which hopefully you will keep for years to come) and the referring client is more likely to book again next year because they want to get their 10% discount. Win, win, win.
I bought Jay Abraham’s – 93 Referral Systems on CD’s through ebay many moons ago and it was chalked full of gold nuggets. But the one thing that stuck with me was simply …ask for the referral.
I always thought if you do a good job referrals will come. Well yes and no. But you will be surprised that most of your clients will just assume you are too busy to take on anymore clients. Because, well you do a good job.
Now when you ask your client try to be specific as possible. Ask them if they know a neighbor near by who would love to have windows this clean? If you just ask if they know anyone then they will respond with “oh yea I’ll pass your name on” or something like that and they never do.
Not because they don’t like you or you didn’t do a good job, It’s because they forget.
When you are more specific they will tend to focus more and your business will be on their mind when they see that person. Most of the time they will tell me oh so and so two doors down needs their windows cleaned. I write that down.
When I follow up with the customer a few days later I ask about that referral.
BTW how I follow up with customers is this way I call them back in a few days to see when they would like to schedule their next window cleaning. I usually get “oh I’ll call you when we need it.” But my point in calling is many folds, one of them is to ask about a referral. And every now and then they book their next appointment. Another is to make sure even after a few days they are happy with the service. Many times customers wont call to complain about something but will if you just called them.
I carry some business cards from other local businesses to refer. I am really leery of giving referrals because I have been burned. I will only give a referral for someone I know will take care of my customer as I would. Remember, when you refer someone to your customer, you risk losing that customer if they screw up
In my estimating car, I carry a book with other businesses that we refer. Usually 50-100 different businesses They range from a Dentist, carpet people, photographer, etc. They are companies which we have hire ourselves and know their work. We cannot guarantee their work, but they are the best referrals we can refer in their business. People do work with people they know and trust.