For many business owners when they say “My business is word of mouth.” what they mean is they do a really good job. And they are hoping that their customers realise this and that one day it will lead to more business. And every now and then, they do get a referral from doing a great job.
Not to undermine this. But what if instead of being reactive and hoping, you started to be proactive and drove the referral flow into your business?
Imagine what would happen if you started asking every single one of your customers for a referral?
Do you reckon your business would grow?
Even if only one out of five of them said, “Hey, I’ve got a referral for you,” what difference would it make to your business?
The key to this is very simple. Start asking.
To get you started, let’s unpack three different ways that you can start asking for referrals in your business so that you grow your business and generate more enquiries.
1) Ask your customers for referrals
The first place to start is with your customers. And this starts with doing a great job. When we do a great job, quite often a customer will make a comment, and that is the moment to ask. They may say something positive about the work you have just done. This is the moment to say, “Look, I appreciate that you liked the work that we did. We are a referral based business, is there anyone else that you know that could use our services in the way that you have?”
And this gets them thinking, it is a proactive approach. And nine times out of ten you’re going to get more referral business than if you said nothing at all. Your business will grow. And this is the point of the proactive approach.
2) Ask family and friends for referrals
The next place to ask is family and friends. See too often our family and friends want to help us, but they don’t really understand what we do. They may have a basic understanding but often don’t fully understand the products or services that we ‘re involved in.
Your job is to educate them on what you do, how you do it, and the quality of the work that you do. When you do this, they are more likely to be able to send the right type of referral your way. They often want to help you, but you need to help them first.
Once you have educated them, keep reminding them to send business your way for people who are looking for the sort of work that we do.
3) Put referral partners in place
The third one is referral partners. This takes a whole lot more work than the other two but ifs definitely worth it. Basically you are looking at approaching another business who deals with the sort of customer you deal with. Just that they don’t sell what you sell or do what you do. That way there is a synergy there as you are both dealing with the same target market.
There are two approaches here, one is a one way street and the other is a two way street. Let’s deal with the two way street first, because that’s very simple. This is you sending business their way, and they are sending business your way. That’s what makes it the two way street.
The second one is the one way street. This is where they are not sending business your way, so you’re going to have to do some sort of deal. For example, it might be a discount or a package package deal that they can only get because of their relationship with the partner.
This can take a lot more work. You may have to talk with five or even 10 businesses before you get one that says, “Hey, that’s a really good idea, let’s do it.” The good thing is your hard work will pay off. Once you’ve got a partner on board, you’re going to get a regular flow of business. They want to send people to you because they get to look good by having a special deal for their customers.
So start by asking your customers first, then your family and friends, and finally put referral partners in place. And then just keep adding one referral strategy at a time. By building more and more referral strategies into your business then you will be controlling the flow, and you’ll grow your business.