#1 Biggest Mistake Contractors Make Aaron O'Hanlon May 5, 2011 Share: While most companies cite referrals as their most important source of business, ironically, most companies do nothing to stimulate or increase their flow of referrals. They simply sit back and wait for the phone to ring on its own. This has got to be one of my biggest pet peeves. When running a business, regardless if you are a contractor or not, your client base, is your best base when it comes to marketing. Simply relying, hoping, and wishing that your grand, efficient, and beautiful work style will pour in more customers is not enough. You need to do something to push them to refer you. Great work can often go unnoticed. Yes, of course you will get the random phone call, request for consultation, because you did excellent work, but you are missing out on so much more if you're not directly reaching out for referrals. You need to generate referrals. You need to make your client base the cheerleaders of your company, and here are a few ways you can do that: A Newsletter Running a newsletter monthly, bi-monthly, etc. can be extremely helpful. A lot of clients ask about our "Around The House Newsletter" and how often they should send it out. If they do not want to send it monthly, but rather quarterly, I always tell them to expect "quarter the results". The more contact you have with a client, providing them good information and "Top of Mind Awareness", the more referrals you will receive. Business Cards Make sure that you are always handing out business cards, and that your cards have a referred by place on your card. This will allow people to strongly suggest other people to not only accept your business card, but also give your card away. Also when handing out business cards, always give three. One they can keep, and two they can pass on. A Referral Program This is highly important and every contractor should have one. A contractor that believes that their work is so valuable that they should not offer any type of bonus or benefit for a referral is losing out. There is a strong and large population of people that do things for money. We call them the workforce of America. Offering gift cards, vacations, straight cash, or even a plaque with their name on it, will incentive people to refer you. Regardless of you what program you decide to implement, make sure you have one with your company. And be sure to use the other tools, via monthly contact to promote the referral program on a regular basis. Discounts For Referrals This referral system is very simple. Give your products or services away (or significant discounts on your products or services) in local raffles. One idea is to hold a raffle for a free kitchen design with the local Chamber of Commerce. The tickets sold in the raffle go towards paying for the cost of the project and the contractor gets to display the remodeling for several months leading up to the raffle in high-profile areas provided by businesses that are members of the Chamber of Commerce. By Referral Only This is the "cream of the crop" when it comes to referrals. Footbridge Media is currently managed that way, and we would hope that all our clients achieve this success. By Referral Only means: We invest 100% of our time and energy to delivering first-class service to our clients. As a result, our valued clients, suppliers, and friends refer their family, friends and work associates to us for advice on their home. We're interested in building strong lifelong relationships one person at a time. Regardless, implementing a strong referral program within your company is beneficial. Please let us know what you are doing to generate referrals. Reach out to us on Facebook to share your referral ideas! About Aaron O'Hanlon Aaron O'Hanlon is the CEO and Co-Founder of Footbridge Media, a digital marketing agency, specializing in the contracting industry. It is his mission to create awareness of marketing online to the home improvement industry and to educate, inform, and assist contractors in taking over their own online presence. Recent Articles The Importance of Reputation Management for Contractor Businesses What Makes Your Business Unique - Discovering & Defining Your USP 7 Proven & Effective Ways to Improve Online Presence for Your Contractor Business 5 Tips for Positive Brand Building for Contractors Successful Ways to Earn Repeat and Referral Business Is Your Contractor Marketing Plan Up-to-Date?