Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Referrals from seniors

     Free daily tips, information and advice for people in small businesses
     from personal experience starting-up and growing businesses of my own.

     Seniors are a good source of referrals. And they are a formidable market themselves for your products and services.

     Many seniors are now retired, with more coming every week. They're also living longer than previous generations. They have disposable income--but they've learned to live on budgets. And they have many friends, relatives, and associates who trust their judgement.

     You can put all this to work in your business.

     Example: Peter's small computer business needed more customers. He noticed that he got a few referrals after giving a free computer workshop at the local senior center. Thinking about it, Peter realized that all those grandmothers and grandfathers were spreading the word out in the community. His workshop had been a beginner's introduction to how to email a photo to someone, how to access and use Facebook, and other simple uses. Today, Peter gives free computer workshops at several area senior centers, and his business is growing.

     Senior centers are everywhere. You can volunteer to give free talks, demonstrations and workshops. These people appreciate the attention, and they go home and talk about you and your business. 

     Example: Ellen owns a tea shop. It used to be a small place with only four tables. But the shelves were lined with teas of all descriptions. People stopped in for a cup of tea and to stock up on loose and bagged teas to take home. The town held a street fair, and Ellen set up a table outside her tea shop offering free cups of tea. She noticed that her teas seemed to be a hit with all age groups--but especially seniors. She began offering tea demonstrations and talks at clubs, group meetings, and senior centers. Today, Ellen has expanded her tea shop into the larger space next door. She still serves tea and pastries to an expanding clientele, but her business really took off over the Internet. Seniors have referred people from all over the country to Ellen. They order teas for themselves and as gifts for their friends. Ellen now spends lots of time daily packaging and shipping out her teas. 

     Seniors can be extremely loyal.

     Example: Bill runs a small home improvement business. He and two helpers take care of the odd jobs around the house--painting, replacing a window, cleaning gutters, etc. He takes a two pronged approach--especially with seniors. (1) On his initial visit, he takes the time to listen to their concerns and homes in on what they want done. He always suggests that he begin with only one job. If they are satisfied, he'll estimate and go on to the next job. This puts the client at ease, and it stretches out payments--a real concern with seniors. (2) Bill always asks for referrals and leaves a handful of business cards with the homeowner to give out to their friends and neighbors. It's working for Bill. 

     Seniors are a good source of business and referrals. You can tap into this market if you are sensitive to the concerns of seniors. 

     You build your business one customer or client at a time. Getting seniors to give you referrals is a good way to extend your reach and bring in new customers. Perhaps more than any other group, seniors will refer others to you.  

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