Unfortunately, that proximity to customers isn’t enough to keep you in business. To grow your business, take advantage of your great service by gaining customer referrals from existing customers.
I know. Asking for referrals feels pushy. However, do you really have a choice? Think about it. You are in business because you think your product or service will help people. Most people like to help others. They enjoy passing along a good tip about a great product or service. By asking for a referral you are actually doing them a favor. So ask your customers after you have given them great service – Who is a person you know who would benefit from having our product/service?
Other than providing great service, another way to make a personal connection with your existing customers is to send a newsletter. Instead of sending the average, boring email that most businesses send, focus on success stories of your existing customers. Explain how you solved a problem that one of your customers faced. Explain why solving that problem was important to them and explain how you solved it. Then include a testimonial from the customer.
When you look for products or services for your business or even in your personal life don’t you find it helpful if you see how someone else had a success with a service?
Lastly, ask the person who gave you a testimonial to name any people they know that are in a similar situation.
Formal referral programs seem old fashioned, however they are still effective. A formal referral program can be as simple as mailing 50 business cards to each one of your customers and explaining to them to pass them on to friends and write their names on the back of it. If a new customer walks in with a name written on the back of your business card, that person will receive a reward from you.
Strike up alliances with ancillary businesses. Have you ever had a doctor refer you to a specialist? Think about it. There are businesses that are in a similar situation as the generalist doctor. In pest control I have found small pet stores that I partner with. When one of their customers complains about flea infestations, the store owner tells them that he knows a great pest control company that can help them with their flea problems.
Here is the way I got in touch with pet store owners. I asked a current customer with a pet to recommend a pet store to me. Then I asked the customer to call the owner of the store to let the owner know that I will call. Now, when I called the owner already knew who I was and how we were connected.
Don’t ask for referrals right away. You need to build a relationship with the store owner first. Show him that you can provide value by finding him referrals first or helping him in some other way. Once you have built the relationship you can approach him with your strategy on how your company could help his customers. To make the offer appealing let him know that you are willing to provide discounts to the customers he refers.