Any small business owner knows that a business can live and die by referrals. A survey of small businesses from Alignable found that 85 percent of respondents said referrals are the best way to acquire local customers. Especially for local service-based work like interior design, referrals are a key way to grow business.
While in an ideal world all of your referrals would happen organically and through casual word-of-mouth, you’ll have to make a focused effort if you want to steadily grow your client base. Here are three tips for boosting referrals for your business.
1. Create a reward system
A happy client ideally won’t need a reward in order to recommend your business, but a reward system can give them that extra nudge and make the client feel even more special. Offer a discount for referred clients or a gift card to a client who can offer some contact information for a potential new client. At the end of a project, you can send a thank you card to your client and offer them a discount on the work if they can send a referral in the next week or so. Find whatever reward system works best for your business and makes sense for you financially, and add a personal touch whenever possible.
2. Make sure local listings are up to date
If you want to increase the likelihood of your client successfully referring one of their friends to your business, it’s important to make sure your local online listings stay up to date. If your client recommends your business to a friend but they can’t find your information online or your listings aren’t very robust, they might second guess that recommendation. While word of mouth is huge for lead generation, consumers still want to do their own research and see a strong online presence from a business these days.
First and foremost, check to make sure your Google My Business listing is current and features strong images along with your updated contact information, address and hours. Not only will solid listings inspire more confidence amongst your potential customers, but you’ll also see a local SEO boost from Google.
3. Just ask
While it may feel awkward, simply asking a satisfied client if they have any friends or family that could benefit from your service can go a long way. If there’s a moment during the project or at its completion when your client is happy and enthusiastic, capitalize on that feeling and casually ask if they might know anyone else who could use your service. If they can’t come up with any names or contacts right away, just leave some extra business cards — it can’t hurt! If you want to formalize this process a bit, you can also send a customer satisfaction survey at the end of the project and include a section for referrals.
Regardless of how you get them, it’s also important to keep track of your successful referrals in some sort of spreadsheet or record. That way, you can see exactly who you’ve reached out to and the money that referrals have generated, which can help keep you motivated to pursue more leads. What are your referral strategies? Let us know in the comments!