As a home service business owner, client referrals are among your most useful marketing tools. The truth is that any business benefits from referrals, and it's no different for the service industry. If you are in the process of growing your business, you need referrals to make it known by others and, consequently, grow your client base.
In one of our previous articles, we discussed the top ways to get initial clients in the service industry. We mentioned referrals as one of them, and today we would like to explore this topic in more detail. Referrals are such an invaluable business strategy because they cost you nothing or very little to promote. Yet, many entrepreneurs still refrain from using it.
One of the questions that home service providers constantly ask is: "How can I obtain more referrals from my existing clients to grow my business?" In this article, we will share some referral strategies that you can start using right away to find new clients and achieve your business growth goals.
Let's begin with the most successful types of referrals in the service industry:
1 - Word-of-mouth
You will see us talk a lot about how word-of-mouth referrals are one of the best marketing tools you can use in your business. We say it over and over because it is the truth. People trust recommendations from those close to them over any other type of review. A word-of-mouth recommendation shows you provided exceptional service and established a great relationship with your client.
2 - Online reviews
Reviews on Google, a Facebook business page, and marketplace apps such as Yelp are another common strategy for attracting clients in the service industry. People who shop for these services online are looking for these reviews to make a decision. Some businesses offer customers a discount to leave reviews online, creating an incentive for them to do so. When a customer is happy with the service and receives an incentive to leave a review, it's very likely that he will do so.
3 - Social media mentions
Social media reviews differ a bit from online ones. They usually take the form of posts where your clients tag your business to show off your work and praise you. Another common practice today is for customers to post a story review on Instagram or Facebook. They mention your business, acknowledging a job well done. You can then repost these stories to your business's social media pages and share them with your own followers.
How to get more referrals from your clients?
Now that you know the different ways a client can review your work and put on a good word about your business, let's review some ways in which you can make it happen.
1 - Ask for it
We are not trying to be captain obvious here. Many business owners fear asking clients to leave a review or refer a friend, missing out on an excellent opportunity to grow their business. If your only fear is that your client says no when you ask for a review or a referral, it is worth it to overcome it. By not asking, you surely will not have it. But if you ask, your chances of obtaining more clients increase automatically.
The ideal time to ask your clients to refer you is when you notice they are happy with your service. A satisfied customer will happily refer a good service to others. On the other hand, those receiving the recommendation will take it very seriously, simply because they come from a trustworthy source.
2 - Find loyal customers who will always give you great reviews
Those customers exist, and when you find them, you will have found a gold mine. As a business owner, you will have to deal with different people. Some will be easy, others not so much. You will also find customers who align very well with your business model and your values. These are your ideal customers.
Be on the lookout for these ideal customers and invest in building a strong relationship with them. Once you have that established, you will probably not even have to ask for their referral because they will do it anyways. But if you ask, the chances of them saying yes are much greater.
3 - Provide exceptional customer service
This is probably the golden rule of the service industry. When your customer service is above average, your business stands out. Your customers will notice it and refer you for that different approach they don't see in other businesses. Invest in a great relationship with your customers. Make them remember your business way after the service is complete.
What will make your customer service stand out is in the details. For example, returning calls or messages right away to acknowledge a customer's question or complaint, using a friendly tone of voice, communicating clearly from the very first meeting with your customer, following through with all parts of the service agreement, immediately notifying your customers of any change of plans and explaining why, taking responsibility for your mistakes if they happen, honoring established prices and not creating hidden fees. The list is endless, and soon you will also start having your own ideas of how to improve your customer service.
4 - Show off your online reviews on your website or business pages
When a customer leaves a great online review, ask for their permission to share it in all your pages. Share them on your website, post them on your Facebook or Instagram business page, post them as a story. Use these reviews as content for your social media channels as a way to show your visitors and potential clients that you are continually receiving good reviews.
5 - Offer a discount in exchange for referrals
A great way to honor and thank your loyal clients is to offer them a discount when they refer your business. You can offer discounts based on word-of-mouth recommendations or online reviews. It's a win-win situation for you and your customers. You will reach more potential clients and grow your business, while your customers will save some money. If you are looking for a way to build a recurrent clientele, this strategy can work great for you.
6 - Ask non-clients for referrals
Think about your network and all the people you know. You will find some people who trust you and could refer your business even if they have not been your clients before. These are family members, close friends, coworkers, or neighbors who know you at a personal level and trust you. They can recommend you when you are just starting out and don't have many customers yet. Most importantly, they will be among the happiest to help your business grow.
Client referrals are among the top key strategies to grow your business. There is great value in recommending a business, especially when the referral comes from people we trust. Add to that a collection of outstanding online reviews and your business is set for success. It will cost you nothing or nearly nothing to create opportunities for your customers to refer you. Home service providers rely a lot on client loyalty, so consider asking your clients for a referral the next time you finish a project for them.