How To Get Referrals For Your Small Business

Brendan Egan

How To Get Referrals For Your Small Business

We’re heard it a million times “If you want to grow your business, the best way is through referrals”.  But you provide an excellent product or service at an excellent price and have satisfied customers but still–why aren’t you seeing the amount of referrals you would like to see?
Let’s face it–it isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination to get a referral.  For every 100 happy customers, you might get 1-2 referrals if you’re lucky.  And for every 2 unhappy customers, you’re likely to have at least 1 of them tell another person about their experience.  So clearly the odds are against you.
There are a few great ways to get referrals though–and they are extremely simple and cost effective:
1) Try to make every customer a happy one.  Obviously there are always those people who you can’t please, but even in those situations there are right and wrong ways to deal with this.  One of my web design clients recently started a brand new business, and he has no idea how to properly deal with upset customers–I’ve witnessed it first hand.  Learning how to deal with unhappy customers is the first step to possibly getting more referrals, and is definitely the first step to reputation management.
2) Offer your current customers something for a referral.  From a spa package to a gift certificate at a restaurant–put something on the table.  If they are a repeat customer, offer them a free or discounted product or service.  This extra incentive almost always sparks more referrals.
3) Never directly ask for a referral.  The worst thing you can do is ask someone to refer you business–it’s like begging for more work because you can’t get enough on your own.  Even if this is the case, never directly ask.  Instead, be indirect about it–publish your referral program on the back of your business cards, on the bottom of an invoice, or in your email signature.  People will notice it–trust me.
4) When all else fails, you may need to turn to a marketing company to develop a strategic referral program for your company.  Most companies can get by developing their own program, but in some situations we’ve seen companies that require a very in depth or technologically difficult referral program where we step in to help.
Referrals are great, virtually free new customers–so if your business isn’t already properly taking advantage of all the potential referrals out there make sure you step up and do something about it!