Friday, March 6, 2015

Getting referrals

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      to help you better manage your small business.

     Referrals are the lifeblood of every business. Referrals come to you on another person's reputation, friendship or recommendation. 

     You never know where the next referral is coming from. This simple fact tells you how to treat every visitor to your website, every person who calls your business, and every person who walks in your door.

     Example: Mary had her hair done at a local salon. She enthusiastically referred her friends. One was dissatisfied with the results and she spread lots of negativity. When the bad words reached the owner, she went into action. She contacted the dissatisfied customer, offering a free "do-over" plus a gift certificate. The owner also called Mary, thanked her for the referral and offered her a gift certificate as well. The bad-mouthing stopped and more referrals came in.

     Turning around a dissatisfied customer can be tricky. But it is always worth the effort. You never want bad-mouthing going around the neighborhood--or on the Internet.

     In business, you can always expect referrals. People talk to each other and refer others to your business. But it can be a slow process unless you do some things to increase the flow.  

     More straightforward ways to get referrals are available. Some can be even more effective in spreading the word.

     Example: When John got his plumber's license, he had few customers--mainly friends and relatives. He passed out his business cards at every opportunity. This included several networking events he attended. He also placed a small ad in a local newspaper. Nothing seemed to bring in new customers. John decided to call people he had done work for. First, he asked if they needed any more plumbing work done. Second, he asked each one for referrals--names and phone numbers of people they knew. Everyone needs a plumber sooner or later, he reasoned. Many were happy to give John some referrals. One of these was the owner of several small apartment buildings. Jackpot! The word is spreading, and today John employs two helpers. 

     Example: Angie is a holistic practitioner specializing in massage. To increase referrals she contacts other practitioners--nutritionists, chiropractors, hypnotherapists, and medical doctors. She has set up a network of non-competing practitioners to refer people to each other. Her massage business is growing, based on these referrals. Each practitioner in the network keeps a stack of business cards of the others and hand them out when they refer people. The practice has expanded Angie's massage business considerably--all based on referrals. It has also increased the client base for the others in the small network.

     Referrals arrive at your door predisposed to your services/products. They are leaning in your direction based on the word of a third party. 

      Don't let a week pass without doing something to increase the flow of referrals. The future of your business will happen more quickly. 

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