Monday, April 13, 2015

Speeding up referrals

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     Everyone in business knows the value of referrals. Referrals come to you on the wings of another's reputation. Mary mentions you and your work to Janice who calls you. 

     Referrals happen quite naturally. And they happen all the time. People love to talk to others and your business can come up in their conversations. 

     You can speed up this process using all sorts of methods. Today's social media can put older advertising methods to shame. Facebook is much quicker and more effective than an ad placed in the local newspaper. 

     Example: John is a plumber. He did not renew his telephone book ad when it ran out. Instead, he put the word out on Facebook--posting pictures now and then showing leaky faucets. The pictures were reminders that everyone needs a plumber--sooner or later. John got calls as the referrals went around the neighborhood.

     Fitness centers, salons, wellness centers, bakeries, garden centers, and others use social media to extend their referral reach these days. But some older methods still work beautifully.

     Example: Takisha opened her small neighborhood restaurant offering meals based on her mother's recipes. After the initial grand opening activity, business settled into a ho-hum routine. She knew that, if she could get more people through the door, they would become regulars--and bring even more people. To spread the word, she had some special cards printed. One side showed a colorful picture of a plate overflowing with food. The other side was printed like a coupon--present the card and receive any menu item at half price. The card was not to be used by the customer but passed on to a friend, and there was an expiration date. Soon the cards began to come back in, and Takisha saw faces she had not seen before. For the price of one half-price menu item, she doubled her customer base by putting regulars to work in the field. She continues using this method about 2 or 3 times each year. 

     Example: Robert runs a small construction company. He handles projects small and large. To grow he actively follows up with clients by visiting them, ferreting out any problems they might have, nails down any future work they might be planning, and he asks for referrals. These follow-ups enhance Robert's reputation and keep his construction capabilities fresh in their minds. Many of his customers refer people to Robert, especially since Robert reminds them what he can do by following up. 

     When you go looking for ways to speed up the referrals, don't ignore methods that have worked in the past. Social media can be very effective, but older methods can still work. The trick is to get the balance in place that works for you and your business. 

     Asking for referrals still works. If you have a good relationship with your clients and customers, they won't mind being asked to refer others to you. As with anything else, don't become a pest about it.