Four ways to increase referrals to your business

When it comes to getting referrals for your business, look no further than your existing customer base. There’s nothing better than the recommendation of a satisfied customer.

Most business owners will tell you that it takes more than having a good product or service to attract customers.

While advertising may attract some new customers, most business owner say they get their best customers through referrals. They only wish they could get more of them.

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

1. Review the source of past referrals.Do you know where your best referrals have come from in the past? Maybe they came from current customers, or perhaps 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.

2. 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 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.

3. 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.

4. Give an incentive. Make the incentive something the customer wants and would have trouble getting any other way. It should be unique and meaningful and tie in with your company. Perhaps a free product or upgrade on a service from your business.

Make it easy for the customer to make the referral – little or no paperwork – and give the reward immediately.

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, 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.