Everyone wants to know how to get more referrals. Right?
Appointment based businesses get the bulk of their growth from word of mouth referrals. Have you noticed that some people are better at referring than others? How can you get more people to refer business to you?
Check out our six easy steps to improve your referral rate (don’t miss #6, which almost no one does).
1. Create a tracking system
I was at my hair stylist a few weeks ago and a friend I haven’t seen in ages was just paying her bill. We hugged and caught up and then I sat down in my stylist’s chair. My stylist said, “I didn’t realize that you and Stacy knew each other.” I gently reminded her that I had referred Stacy to her about 5 years ago.
At first I was surprised and a little hurt. Then I thought, it’s been 5 years. While I do not expect my stylist to remember everyone I referred going back 5 years, if she had a good system, it would be easy for her.
Your referral tracking system could be as low tech as keeping a note card of each client with their contact information, appointment history and who referred them to you and whom they in turn have referred. If you are more techy, an excel spreadsheet or online scheduling program can help you track your referrals.
2. Acknowledge your clients for referring
It is very important to thank your clients for sending you business. It seems simple, but if you don’t have a good tracking system, then you might forget who referred who, especially if they visit you weeks or months apart.
I am a connector. I like to connect old friends with new friends and people I know with service providers I use. I like to share information I have and help other people grow their businesses. I do this because I enjoy it.
At the same time, I appreciate when a professional acknowledges and thanks me for referring someone to his or her business. Last year I sent my friend Grace to my esthetician for a Brazilian wax. My esthetician never mentioned anything about the referral. I would have just loved to hear, “Oh thank you so much for sending your friend Grace to me. “
3. Reward for referrals
Have you considered rewarding your clients for their referrals? It requires that you create a system for tracking referrals (see step #1). I have talked to massage therapists that will give a free massage for every 5 referrals or will add on extra time or an upgrade such as aromatherapy or hot stones for every referral.
I suggest creating a reward system that “thanks” your client immediately on their next visit. For example, you could give them an upgrade on their service as mentioned above, such as a $10 discount or a % off of product they are buying.
The instant gratification is great for the client, and it is also easier for you to track. You don’t have to try to remember, OK, Jamie has referred me four clients, after she refers one more, I need to give her a free massage.
Finally, you need to tell your client you are rewarding them for the referral. This is why we have step #2 (acknowledge). A few months back, I noticed my bill was lower than I expected and asked my massage therapist about it. She said it was because I sent her three new clients. Her gesture would have been so much more powerful if she had thanked me and shared in advance why she gave me a discount. What if I hadn’t noticed?
You might say, “Natalie, thank you so much for referring Linda to me. I really appreciate your help in growing my business. I am going to take $10 off your bill today as a special thank you.”
4. Be consistent
So now you have a system to track your referrals, you are verbally thanking your clients and giving them some time of reward, now you need to be consistent.
Whatever reward you have decided on, you need to make sure you do it for every referral you get. This is especially important for those clients who send you multiple referalls. Make sure you acknowledge and reward them for every person they send to you.
If you haven’t seen the referring client in a while, give them a call to thank them.
Ring, ring…”Hi Jamie. It’s Natalie from SpaPerfect. Thank you so much for referring Linda to me. She came in last week for a facial and I really enjoyed meeting her. I wanted to let you know that next time you come in, I will be giving you $10 off your service. I really appreciate you helping me grow my business!” (An added benefit to a call like this is that Jamie is likely to book an appointment with you on the spot!)
5. Understand the 80/20 rule
The 80/20 rule is very valuable to remember in many aspects of your business. As you start to track your referrals, you will see that 20% of your clients are doing 80% of the referring. That is because only certain people are connectors and get that joy from helping you and helping others.
Once you know this, you can start to track your best referrers. I bet you already know a few off the top of your head. They have sent you 3 or more new clients.
I would create a special list of these people and consider them my VIP clients (you also want to track who your biggest spenders are as well and keep them on a list).
6. Bend over backwards for your “VIP’s”
Your VIP clients (top referrers and top spenders) are the clients that you want to bend over backwards for. If I am your top referrer and I ask if you can come in early or stay late, you want to say YES. If I ask if you can squeeze me in before an important event, you want to do everything in your power to make it happen.
You also might create special one off rewards for them that make sense based on what you think is important to them. For example, I love coffee. You might give me a gift card for coffee down the street from your shop or if you sell product, give me a free product that would help me. This is in addition to your regular referral gift.
Make sure you are telling your VIP client why you are treating them special. They will appreciate that you have noticed how they are helping your business grow.
My friend Jodie is one of those VIP clients you would want to jump through hoops for. Jodie has a wide and diverse network of friends. If she is a fan of you, she is going to tell so many people it will make your head spin.
Last year she wanted to take a parenting course, but the day being offered did not fit into her schedule. She asked the instructor if a new class on Thursday mornings could be created if she found enough other people. The instructor agreed and guess what happened? Jodie filled the class using her network.
How would you have rewarded Jodie? She is one of those VIP clients you covet and want to make sure she feels appreciated.
We would love to hear your system for tracking referrals and how you reward for them. Please share in the comments section below.
Get started with online scheduling today. Our client history and notes section helps you track referrals. #freetrial
about the author: Natalie Eckdahl is the co-Founder of ScheduleMAX.com, an online scheduling solution that is elegant and easy to use. ScheduleMAX allows your clients to book online 24/7, reduces no shows through automatic Email or SMS notifications and saves everyone time!