Referrals are one of the most cost effective and simple ways to gain new business, and yet many small business owners don’t get nearly as many as they should. We thought these tips and ideas from online local advertiser Yodle.com might be useful for your readers. First, some myths about referrals:
- Great customer service alone will make your clients refer people to you. Unfortunately, most people expect great customer service these days (and you always provide great service) so they are not necessarily inclined to mention good service to others. In actuality, people are more likely to mention bad service to their friends than any good service they’ve had.
- People who are close to you are great people to refer business to you. You would assume that this would be the case, and it certainly can be, but you must always educate those close to you on how to look for referral opportunities so that they refer the type of customers you want.
- You should always ask for the referral at the end of a transaction with your client. You should constantly be asking for referrals! There is no set time to ask for a referral. You should ask any time the opportunity presents itself.
- Looking for referrals in an indirect manner reduces stress and is normally the best way to get referrals. Though this may work every once in a while, typically, if you don’t ask for it, you won’t get.
So…How do SMBs start getting referrals?
- ASK! Don’t be afraid to be direct about asking for referrals. Also, ask regularly to maximize the amount of referrals you can generate. A great technique is to view every client you work with as though your sole purpose is to get a referral. This will not only keep you cognizant about getting them, but it will make you more service-oriented as well.
- Create a referral program. Offer service credits as an incentive to your clients who send you new business. It can be as a discount on their next service or a credit to their account, or any other trigger that will help entice people to refer new customers to you
- Spread the word! Send a description of your referral program to all of your satisfied clients. It also doesn’t hurt to send it to all past clients; it’s not only a great way to get referrals, but you can also rekindle old relationships!
- Some other tips to think about:
- Don’t ask for a referral when presenting a bill.
- When asking for a referral, also ask for a testimonial from the client. It’s great for websites!
- Ask people who perform complementary services to you. (i.e. If you are a contractor, why not ask an electrician or plumber who may be on the same site?)
- Have some type of collateral handy to provide clients with that describes everything you do
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