A referral basically means someone else – your past customer – sang your praises and recommended your services… at no extra cost to you.
So, what’s the right way to get referrals?
Rule Number One – If you’re remarkable, you’ll get good remarks. In other words…. you’ve got to be good. You first need to make sure you do good work, you communicate well, you do what you say you’re going to do… all that jazz.
That’s stating the obvious. Good contractors get good reviews and they get a lot of recommendations. We know that.
Okay – what’s the secret sauce for more referrals then?
Rule Number Two – Don’t just ask your customers for referrals. That is exactly what most home pros do (if they ask at all!) And it’s not enough. It works sometimes, but you’re not doing the prep work to make it happen nearly every time.
- First, ask for permission, “After the project is finished, and I’ve proven to you that I can deliver, I’m going to ask you to contact some friends and family members who could also use my services. Does that sound fair?” Tell customers this face-to-face and send it in an e-mail or mail a letter that repeats this request for permission.
- Second, follow up. Reach out to your customer to find out if they’ve had a chance to make that call for you. If they did – you’ll end up with a much warmer lead. Even if the referral is not ready to buy “today”, you can ask to sit down with them and go over their needs. The appointment can be a casual, get-to-know each other meeting. When they are ready to buy… they’ll immediately think about you.
- Third, go the extra mile by offering your customer a referral incentive. When you’re asking permission and when you follow up, give them something to reward them for becoming your advocate: an iPod, a gift certificate, a discount on your services, anything to make sure they make the call and introduce you to their friends and family.
Sounds like a lot of work.. and it is. But getting new customers without spending a dime on marketing costs is surely worth it to you. And if you continue to do this, you’ll end up with more and more referrals bringing in more and more new business. Pretty soon, your marketing budget will be lower than your lunch budget…