How to Get Referrals from Your Existing Service Customers

Two of business’ biggest challenges are keeping clients and attracting new ones. Want to know how to get referrals from your existing customer base? Smart service businesses know that the path to growth and more revenues is through client referral programs.

In 2014, a Verizon and Small Business Trends study in Philadelphia revealed that 85% of their business came from word of mouth and referrals. While word of mouth is indeed a great business generator, waiting for it to happen organically is risky. Instead, make it happen through a client referral program.

Everyone’s Doing It

Billion-dollar empires were created by Uber and Airbnb through their client referral programs. They made it worth their customers’ time to share member experiences by rewarding their efforts. Even today, booking an Airbnb listing results in being asked to share a link with your social network. If anyone signs up with your link, both the sharing member and the new sign-up receive discounts on future bookings. Uber’s model is similar.

These are inspired by Dropbox’s explosively successful referral program from 2008. Starting with 100,000 members, after 15 months they had 3900% growth and 4 million new users. The program? Every sign-up generated by a member’s referral link meant that member got 500 MB of additional cloud storage space. But it wasn’t a one-time offer. That referring member could amass 16 GB of free storage, a lot in 2008. Essentially, they could profit from driving as many as 32 new clients to sign up for Dropbox. Today, this program continues with Dropbox awarding a gigabyte for every new sign-up.

How to Get Referrals the Easy Way

In keeping with these successful models, it’s critical your client referral program be simple to participate in. Clients need something for their efforts. They’re busy people. When rewards are simple to achieve and easy to claim, you’ll hook them on helping grow your business.

Obviously, on-the-ground services are different than online biz, but the referral-reward principles are the same. You can offer endless rewards. Send them a pre-paid coffee card or have a driver drop by with a thank-you note, a smile, and a crisp $20 bill. Offer a deep discount on their next service call. Be creative, because originality can create buzz. Or follow these 6 tips for how to get referrals without asking for them.

Beyond “What’s in It for Me?”

Why Dropbox, Google, Uber, Airbnb, and infinite other online client referral programs are so successful is because of that two-sided reward. They woo new clients with a discount for trying them out, while rewarding loyalty, and so should you.

But just giving a service and a discount isn’t enough. People spend their hard-earned money for your services, so they deserve great service. That should be obvious, but it often isn’t. From the top down, everyone in your organization needs to believe in great service.

With great service and great results, plus incentive for spreading the word, you’ll soon earn yet another customer ready to tell their friends about how your team wowed them.

So, Get Your Team in the Game

Don’t assume your team knows about the power of good service, educate them. Do they realize successful businesses attract 85% of clients through word of mouth? Do they understand they are the public face of everything you do, and any word of mouth depends on their performance?

Drive this home constantly. Help them understand how critical client referrals are. In fact, consider rewarding them, too, when clients they’ve serviced refer your company to others. Keep track of jobs resulting in referrals and celebrate your team members when their hard work pays off.

Consider giving them points toward an end-of-year payroll bonus, hand out coffee cards, or even just praise them in front of others. Maybe have a company-wide reward where every new referral is a step toward a day of laser tag, or a golf tournament, or some other team-building fun day. That way, you don’t just reward your team, but you create an even closer team.

The point is, without providing quality service, those referrals aren’t coming in. Start with your team and build out from there.

Don’t Bury It in Fine Print

It’d be nice if customers read every bill or letter they receive, but they don’t. Your client referral reward program can go unnoticed unless your team pitches it to customers.

Train your team so every service call’s completion is an opportunity to grow the client base. Have them talk to the client to see if everything was well-done. It’s a great opportunity to educate customers about your client referral program. Consider having a basic script for your team to follow.

Such as, “I’m thrilled you’re happy with our work today. Have you heard about our client referral program? Tell your friends about us. They’ll get a discount, and we’ll knock 10% off your next call. It’s a small way for us to thank you for your loyalty.”

Print client referral cards to hand out, so they know how to claim their reward, but make sure customers know rewards come with or without the card. This ensures you don’t lose referrals just because a card gets misplaced or falls under the car seat.

Think Location, Location, Location, Too

Let’s say you have a landscaping business. Getting to job sites uses travel time, eats gas, and wastes payroll, too. What if you increase rewards for client referrals for friends who live near them and are willing to be serviced the same day?

Suddenly, it’s not just new work, but it’s servicing two properties back-to-back, a few short blocks from each other. You’ve reduced gas bills, wear and tear, travel, and even staff costs. Now that’s a client referral worth rewarding!

Maybe, instead of just a one-time $20 cash reward for new client referrals, you give each client an ongoing 10% discount off every bill for syncing up their service visits.

Think about it. Neighbors on the same street are those most likely to see how great your lawn care and hedge trimming are, right? Imagine that exchange.

“Angie, your shrubs look great this year! Do you like your new landscapers? We’re looking for one.”

“We love them! You know, they have a client referral program where they’ll give us and a neighbor 10% off each visit if our yards get maintained on the same day!”

“Really? I like the sound of that.”

And hey, so will you.

Let’s face it. Your job is basically making clients happy. Do that, and you succeed. There’s no better advertising than a happy client who wants to tell others about it. Rewarding them for doing so is just smart business.

Want to know how you can use our job scheduling software to help grow your service business? Book a demo of Vonigo, and we will show you.