Want More Referrals? Here's How

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door." If it were only that easy!

Ask anyone in business, and they'll likely tell you that it takes more than having a good product or service to attract customers.

Some companies advertise, which helps bring customers in, but most business owners will tell you that they get their best customers through referrals. They only wish they could get more of them.

referralsIf you want more referrals for your business, consider the following ideas.

Look to the past. Do you know where your best referrals have come from in the past? Maybe they came from current customers, or maybe they came from other complementary businesses. For instance, a call center owner gets many referrals from marketing companies who are setting up advertising programs. Each new marketing company can be targeted to generate referrals from them as well. If you haven't been tracking where your business comes from, start doing it today. A simple question of "How did you hear about us?" can help you figure out where your best referral sources are.

Ask for referrals. If your customers like what you do for them, they are probably more than willing to tell others about you. They may simply not think to do it unless you ask them. Business owners are sometimes reluctant to ask their customers for referrals. They think it sounds desperate or needy. In fact, if you do it right, you can pay your best customer a great compliment in the process. When you're having a conversation with a good customer, tell the customer why you so appreciate working with them. Then tell the customer that you'd enjoy having more customers like them. Chances are, they know people who are like them, and they'll be happy to pass your name along.

Do something memorable. Human beings like to share stories, especially when something unique has happened. When you give your customer a truly memorable experience, they'll share the story, and in the process, they'll refer business your way. The employees of a dry cleaning company had a knack for memorizing the cars that their customers drove. By doing so, they could have orders pulled for customers before they entered the building. Quite impressive, especially for customers who had been in only once or twice. That's the kind of service people talk about.

There are some basic tenets that you have to abide by if you want to get referrals. First, keep your word. Customers won't refer you if they don't trust you.

Second, provide value. Whether you offer the highest priced product or the lowest priced, make sure your product provides the value your customers expect. That's something they'll talk about.

Finally, be sure to thank your customers for honoring you with their business. You certainly want referrals, but you also want to keep your existing customers. Don't take them for granted.

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