Get the referrals you deserve by fostering the connections you create with 4 tips to get people talking about your business.
The Erie-ality factor. A phenomenon in Erie, Pennsylvania, whereby you cannot step foot in a grocery store, bank, restaurant, or just about anywhere in the community without seeing someone you know or who knows you.
Case in point, a few weeks ago I was meeting with Laban Marsh of Marsha Marsha Real Estate Services at their new office in Harborcreek. A photographer came into the office. When I went to shake hands with him in greeting, he just stared at me. Awkward. Until finally he said to Laban, “I’m waiting for Jenny to recognize me. We’re even friends on Facebook.” Then he revealed that he was my paperboy in 1983. Um ok. Nevermind that I was only four years old then.
Living in Erie is like living in a big small town. That might seem like an oxymoron and yet it is the reality of those who live here. So often you hear “Wow, small world!” when two unlikely people share a common connection. My answer is always, “No, it’s Erie.”
I believe that the Erie-ality factor exists because of the deep-rooted ties people have within the community. People may move away from Erie but are still tied to it in some way.
So what’s my point? Have a network and nurture it – starting in your hometown. The connections you make, no matter how small you think they are, will fuel your business.
Let’s talk about the power of referrals.
What are referrals? When friends, families, networks, and past clients recommend your services to someone else. Referrals are a powerful and inexpensive way to market your business. They can be used year-round and have an unlimited amount of potential.
Let’s examine the real estate industry which attributes 86% of their business to referrals. We’ll start with a common scenario.
Suzy is ready to buy a home but doesn’t know where to start or how to select a real estate agent to best represent her. She looks online, she reads bios, looks at listings, but the most influential tool is her friends and family. She listens to their stories and who had the best experience. She finds out who she won’t choose. She asks to hear more about Mary–what a great agent she was, how smooth she made the process, how Mary answered all of their questions, and turned the biggest investment of their lives into a pleasant and satisfying experience.
Hearing the story from real people makes a huge impact. Sure online reviews, ratings, social media presence, certifications, etc., help — but nothing beats the power of hearing from real people who used the services and were pleased with the outcome.
Here are 4 tips to maximize your referral business:
1. Set Clear Expectations
For new clients (or when delivering a new service to existing clients), be clear from the start how you plan to give them excellent customer service. Breakdown how long it will take, who is expected to do what, what the final outcomes will be, etc.
TIP: People remember 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they read, and 80% of what they see and do. Using visual aids like charts, timelines, and infographics will make it easier for them to connect with the language you are used to speaking every day.
2. Be Consistent with Process
Outline your selling process to make sure that no matter how busy you get, you deliver the same great quality to each and every client every single time.
Print a checklist of your selling process for you and your team to follow. You will be surprised at what opportunities the outline reveals to help you nurture your clients even more for memorable experiences. Memorable experiences result in more referrals.
Follow up the sale with a special gift for specific price points spent toward your business. The client will surely tell their colleagues and networks of the generous token of appreciation. Include a personalized notecard to say thank you for their business and for referrals.
Grade your clients in a database, assigning each a grade for their value. At the end of the year, you will be reminded who supported and championed your business and therefore deserves the higher-end holiday gifts.
3. Get the ‘Right’ Testimonials
Testimonials tend to be volunteered when the experience was above and beyond the call of duty, or beyond your client’s expectations. Yet what if you could capture testimonials from each client that helped? Turn that up a notch and show how you value their experience and would appreciate their referrals. Now, this part gets tricky, offer them some talking points about the services you provided.
Empower your clients with the tools to help them be the best ambassadors for your business with items like scripts for them to easily massage into their own voice, showcasing the services you offer, the passion you have, and how you would love to help more people like them.
Itemize the services you offer with descriptions that are easily relatable.
4. Reward Each and Every Referral
Good referral or bad referral, you need to thank the person who thought of you, took the time to share your name, and supported your business. When they are bad referrals, use the tip above and not only thank the referral but remind them of the type of services you offer and the type of clients you want to help.
Lumpy Mail: A trend that is getting great reviews is “lumpy mail.” Skip the business trifold that fits into a standard business envelope and send your clients literally a lumpy package with a custom-wrapped chocolate bar or a gift showcasing your business or community. They are more likely to open a package hand addressed to them than to keep a small postcard.
Thank You Note: Remember when your mom would make you send a handwritten thank you note for the awful present a relative gave you? The art of thanking people with a unique thank you card that grabs people’s attention goes a long way. It’s not an email that can be easily deleted or a text or a post that gets lost in the news feed. It’s a printed, tangible product that strikes up conversations and makes you memorable.
Ok, take a deep breath…
Take a moment to reflect on how you nurture your clients and networks. Are you doing everything you can to foster stronger relationships and better brand ambassadors? Are you overwhelmed or not sure where to start in exploring how to take care of your referrals?
Let’s schedule a Meet & Greet and see how I can help your business market and grow smart. I can help you build the tools to foster referrals you want and need. Those deep-rooted ties you cultivate and strengthen will cause your business to grow and thrive!