Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Getting referrals

     Free daily tips, information and advice for people in small business
     from my personal experience founding and growing small businesses.

     Referrals bring you the best new business. Jon refers Marie who walks in your door pre-sold.

     Well, not really sold. But ready to hear your proposal or give your products a favorable browse.

     So, how do you promote more referrals?

     Example: Getting my first business off the ground, I used a tip I learned from the insurance industry. Get in touch with current clients/customers and ask them for referrals. Do it about every three months. It worked. It kept me in touch with people who had bought services from me, and it reminded them to call again. I prompted them to mention me to others, and I asked for three referrals--people they knew who might use my services. Over the years, and in other businesses, I have refined this process, tailoring it to the changing times. These days, cell phones, networking and social media afford more options to keep in touch--and bring in referrals. When someone is nice enough to give you referrals, make certain that you follow through by calling or otherwise contacting the referrals. You already have your opening line--"Mary mentioned that you might be interested in what I do."

     Example: The owner of a retail store I know makes extensive use of Facebook. The store's specialty is women's clothing, along with accessories. Every day she snaps pictures of items in the store using her cell phone. She selects one or two and posts them on her Facebook page. The pictures grab the attention of her existing customers, and they in turn pass the pictures on to their friends. It results in referrals that extend the reach and it builds the business.

     Example: An ice cream store uses an older--but no less effective--method. Here picture postcards are used. One side of the postcard is covered with a colorful picture of a scrumptious ice cream concoction. On the other side is the name and address of the recipient, a stamp, and a simple message--"Bring this card in and get a dollar off anything you want. Or pass it to a friend." The store sends out a new card every month or so to the store's list. Many cards are returned to the store--by both existing customers and by new ones. The advantage of a postcard over Facebook is clear. Facebook gets a two-second viewing and perhaps passed on. The postcard gets kept, taped to the refrigerator or bulletin board, or passed on. That one dollar off ($1 off in big type) feels like money. 

     To build your business, you want to get as many referrals as you can. Think through ways that can work for you. And get busy. 

     I've spent a lifetime founding and growing small businesses. With this blog, I'm helping others with the problems of operating. You get advice from all sides, but always value the advice that comes from someone who has been there, done that. Only they have felt the acid burn of cash flow. If you have questions, email me at and put BLOG in the subject line so I don't delete. Your privacy is always respected and I do NOT give your email address to anyone. 


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