Many of you contractors and home pros out there make a living entirely on referrals. Your customers love to tell family and friends about the quality work you did for them. And the best part about word-of-mouth advertising of your business is that it doesn’t really cost you anything.
Many more of you do get some referrals but… you would like to get even more – for obvious reasons.
Here are some tips to help you get more word-of-mouth (WOM) referrals:
- Discover your Best Customers – Many marketers call these best customers your brand advocates. They are the homeowners who are extremely happy with your work and bring up your company name before anyone even asks for a recommendation. They are your biggest fans. If you’re not sure who they are, you should call all your customers and conduct a simple survey (“On a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the happiest, how would you rate your kitchen remodeling project?” Your 5’s are your Best Customers…) You can e-mail them, as well but you might not get as many responses.
- Put Your Best Customers to Work – Don’t be afraid to ask these people to sing your praises – remember, they like you! If you’re on Angie’s List, send them a link so they can easily write a positive review. Send them links to your local online listings, like Google or Yahoo! local. Ask them to give you a review there. Wherever you have an online presence that allows reviews, make it easy for these people to rate your workmanship.
- Get Social with your Best Customers – There’s a great chance most of your best customers are using social media. You should e-mail them links to all of your social media accounts, like your company Facebook page or Twitter handle. To make it even easier, ask them personally how you can find them online and proceed to follow, friend, or like them. All these social media activities allow you to send them updates, let them see special offers, easily pass online content you’ve created to friends, etc. It will keep your name on their tongue and keep their tongues wagging. About you.
- Give your Best Customers Incentives – A basement waterproofing company recently gave me a discount if I would sign up for an Angie’s List and give them a rating… before I even signed the contract. That’s how sure they were that I would be happy. Don’t hesitate to offer a referral fee to them for bringing in new business. Give them special coupons to pass out to friends that no one else gets to see and let them know they’re in an exclusive club. Make it worth their while for passing along the good word.
All of this requires time, effort, and maybe a little money on your part – but the benefits are worth it. Imagine how much it costs you to bring in qualified leads on your Pay-per-Click account, your yellow pages ad, your radio ad, or the money you paid for your website and SEO strategy. If you can generate WOM leads – at very little or no cost – then it’s certainly worth the effort.
And I’ll let you in on a little secret… Not all of your best customers give you referrals. It’s not that they don’t like you and your work – it’s that they like it too much. They don’t want to share their little secret. They don’t want you getting so tied up with other new customers so that you don’t have time for their next project.
By making it easy for them to rave about your services and giving them an incentive, they might be willing to give up their secret…