How important is it to ask for referrals for your business?
Whether you are just getting started or already running a business, you are probably well aware of how important referrals are to your business. Currently 84% of people trust recommendations from people they know. When you compare that to online ads or other marketing strategies, good word of mouth wins out and it's not even close. This makes referrals still one of the most powerful ways to grow your business.
Having a great referral marketing strategy in place has compounding effects and can help skyrocket your business. New business that comes through referrals has a 30% greater chance of converting and these customers are 4 times as likely to refer more customers to your business!
So how can you get more customers to refer your business?
We often let referrals just come naturally over time. While this is great, you can grow your business much quicker by prioritizing referrals and asking for them whenever possible. To help you do this, we've put together a few tips and tactics to help you supercharge your referral strategy!
10 Ways to get more referrals for your business
1. Deliver five star service
Delivering exceptional service or a great product is the most important thing you can do for your business. By referring your business, customers are vouching for you and taking responsibility for the service quality you will be providing. If your service only meets customer expectations they may hesitant and think twice before introducing you to their close friends and family.
Make referring your business as easy as possible by going the extra mile to provide service that goes beyond their expectations. Do your best to personalize what you offer to match each customer's needs and do a little extra to show how much you value their business. For example, If you're a power washing or cleaning service, you can clean extra areas around the home that customers did not expect. Or if you're a landscaper, show your customers how to better care for their lawn or what products to use. Taking the time to do what other companies may not bother to do will help you stand out.
Having great customer service is also important towards building trust and receiving high customer satisfaction. 90% of customers rate getting a fast response from customer service as extremely important. If your work doesn't allow you to respond to customers in a timely manner, consider getting yourself a dedicated business line that can automate some of your communications. If you don't have one yet, you can sign up and try the Prophone App for free. The Prophone App allows multiple people to answer calls from your business number, tracks which calls you missed and still need to return, and lets you create automatic replies for when you can't come to the phone.
2. Don't be afraid to ask
Sometimes asking for referrals can seem like too much effort or can be uncomfortable. It's the same way for many customers when it comes to sharing your business. Most satisfied customers will gladly share your business, but sometimes just need a small nudge.
The best time to ask for a referral is right after they've complimented you or expressed how happy they are with the work you've done. Keep in mind, how you ask is just as important as when you ask. When asking for referrals, do your best to avoid asking for names directly.
For example avoid questions such as:
"Could you refer me to any of your friends or family?"
"Do you know anyone else who would be interested in our service?"
Asking in this manner could come off as a bit demanding and puts customers on the spot. A customer has to think through specific individuals, evaluate whether these individuals need your service, and then decide whether they should give out their contact information. Asking in this way may lead to a lot of responses such as "I'm not really sure, I'll have to think about it and let you know later."
Instead of asking in this manner, ask customers in a more natural and sincere way. Focus on helping customers identify problems that you can be the solution for.
For example, try asking questions such as:
"You've mentioned that the issues we solved today are a big problem in the neighborhood, can you think of anyone else experiencing similar [insert problems]"
"I've been helping a lot of folks with [insert problem], because [explain why it's important], do you know anyone else that could use this help."
3. Build up your reviews
Some customers may still be hesitant to provide a referral even after you provide great service. A good strategy is to follow up and ask them to leave you a review. Generally customers are more willing to leave reviews than to refer a customer, not to mention they are less likely to turn you down twice. Getting customers to leave a review can help improve your chances of getting a referral from them later down the round. Leaving a review reinforces the positive associations that a customer has with your company and seeing all the other great reviews will increase their trust in your services when referring to friends and family.
For home service professionals and small business owners, we've found that the best places to build up your reviews are by through a Google my business listing or a Facebook business page. These review sites can help you generate a fair share of new leads and visitors. If you don't have one of these, we've got you covered. You can visit our guide to how to create a google my business listing and how to create a facebook business page to get them set up.
4. Give out referrals
Aside from asking for referrals, you should proactively give out referrals as well. If your customer runs a business, go out of your way to share and refer their products and services. This is a great way to come off as someone who is willing to help others and often increases the chances that the effort is reciprocated back. If your customer base are not business owners, see if there are other ways to help out such as supporting causes they believe in or providing a business referral to one of their family members instead.
5. Create a customer referral program
A great way to encourage referrals is to create a customer referral or customer loyalty program. Offer incentives to anyone who refers a new client to your business. Here are a few ideas of program rewards and prizes you can offer to customers that help spread the word.
- Discounts on your services
- Service upgrades
- Freebie items (t-shirts, pens, products, etc)
- Cash rewards
- Amazon gift cards
- Contests & giveaways
At Prophone we have our own referral program, where we offer $100 in cash for each referral that becomes a paid member to either our website service or the Prophone App. All they have to do is fill out the "Refer a Friend" form, and we'll take care of the rest!
6. Build Personal Relationships
Referrals often don't come right away. Each person builds trust at a different pace and has a different threshold before they are willing to refer your services. Get to know your customers on a personal level and personalize your interactions. Over time as they purchase more of your services and turn into to loyal customers, they will be much more likely to share your business.
7. Highlight support from other customers
One of the best ways to encourage customers to share and refer others is to show them how your other customers are doing it. You can post screenshots, videos, or re-share post of customers supporting your business on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other social media.
Seeing the different ways customers are supporting you, gives them more ideas as to how to share your post and adds more credibility to your business. Be sure to show your appreciation by thanking them in your posts and try to pick examples of your most enthusiastic customers to showcase.
Here is Shaun, one of our most enthusiastic customers sharing his experiences working with Prophone.
8. Make time to Network
As with any business, your network will determine how quickly you can grow your business. Make time to network and get your business name out. The more customers that see your company, the more likely they and the customers they refer will end up purchasing your services. Below are a few ideas to help you expand your network and increase your credibility.
- Join community boards
- Attend local events and gatherings
- Get your company listed on directories
- Join trade associations
- Join facebook groups for your trade
9. Follow up with customers
After completing a job, it's a good habit to follow up with your customers thanking them for the opportunity to service them and letting them know that you'll be available to provide any additional support. This leaves a positive impression of your company and shows that you will stick around even after they've paid.
If a customer has agreed to provide a referral, a follow up message is also a good way to remind them that you appreciate any referrals that they can send your way. If a customer does end up providing you a referral, be sure to thank them regardless of whether the it's a successful referral or not.
10. Stay top of mind
If the business you're in provides services that are needed on a less frequent basis for example painting, auto detailing, home repair etc. it might be easy for customers to forget the name of your company when getting ready to refer you. To avoid missing out on these referrals you'll need to stay top of mind. Try adding your customers on facebook, having them follow your facebook page, or asking for their email address. This way you'll have a way to reach out to them if needed and it also allows you retarget them indirectly.
If you have a facebook business page you can share promotions, customer testimonials & reviews, and photos of your work from time to time. We've found posting before and after photos of your work to be great for converting new customers and reminding existing customers of the quality of the work you do.
Another great way to stay in touch is to text or send emails with your latest offers or news about your service. If your business is seasonal, send out a reminder before the season starts. You can also send out an email or text with a nice holiday greeting from you and your family to help reconnect.