Successful Ways to Earn Repeat and Referral Business

Successful Ways to Earn Repeat and Referral Business
Footbridge Media
Footbridge Media January 20, 2023

Every professional has heard the term "feast or famine" regarding the ebb and flow of earning customers and generating revenue. Being your own boss can be exponentially rewarding when things are looking up. The lull in attracting new business is the intimidating part; it can make you question if you've made the right decision.

Slow times often frighten good contractors enough to pick up side work with another company, which defeats the purpose of self-employment. Learning to use these pauses to your advantage to help concentrate on marketing and building your brand identity can be integral to your success.

The goal is to focus on the feast and eliminate the famine. Savvy contractors find ways to earn repeat and referral business so that the lulls become few and far between, and your own pre-existing client base can work for you to help you stay busy, continue to satisfy customers, and generate more work than you can keep up with.

Keep Earning From Past & Current Clients

The people you work for can be one-time customers or part of a vital networking system that earns you repeat and referral business. The type of client each becomes is up to you and how you manage your dealings with them.

  • Convert customers into supporters - Being authentically interested in your customers and their needs speak volumes for any tradesperson. The key to success with this step is the authentic part. Consumers pick up on disingenuous "sweet talking" motivated by gains for you with no benefit for them. A genuinely caring contractor can earn brand-loyal clientele who eagerly recommend you to their inner circle.
  • The job shouldn't end once the project is complete - It's true that checking in with your clients opens the doors for grievances they forgot they had or weren't going to mention. However, the art of the follow-up is about showing people you've worked for that you care and are standing behind your work. And, even if you occasionally get negative feedback, it can help you learn and grow from possible mistakes you weren't even aware of.
  • Remember how far and wide negative feedback travels - It's a shame that positive word-of-mouth doesn't spread as quickly as negative feedback; the latter can take off like a summer wildfire through a dry field on a windy day! Do your part to actively make your customers feel heard and appreciated; deal with potential problems early on. Increasing your chances of five-star online reviews and clients who rave to their family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers about your level of professionalism will do wonders for your business and help stifle any existing or potential negative commentary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask - In your mind, it's obvious that you could use some repeat or referral business. Refrain from assuming your clients know this. There's nothing wrong with broaching the topic, as long as you're not aggressive. Use phrases like, "If you enjoyed my work, feel free to tell a friend." You'd be surprised how many people will have that lightbulb moment and immediately think of at least one person they know looking for the precise service you're offering. Once you've got the wheels turning in their head, they'll usually continue to come up with more contacts that could become referrals.
  • Consider incentive programs - The last thing you want to do is create pushy salespeople from your customer base. However, some people have a natural knack for parlaying a referral opportunity into a lucrative side gig for themselves. And more than likely, you also have at least a few customers who seem to know everyone; use that to your advantage. Popular incentive options include gift cards for a local restaurant, discounts on future projects, or a donation to a beloved community charity - some of which open up valuable, local networking opportunities.

Being a Great Contractor Beyond Skilled Craftsmanship

It goes without saying that your work has to be impeccable. Quality craftsmanship speaks for itself and is the most effective way to make clients happy and earn repeat and referral business. But contractors who focus solely on their workmanship tend to fall flat in other areas, which sets great companies apart from mediocre ones.

  • Go the extra mile - Treat your clients with the respect you'd expect, and then exceed their expectations. Whether it's making sure your technicians wear booties in the house, or you do an extra walkthrough to ensure there's no debris left behind, it will get noticed.
  • Be the epitome of excellent customer service - According to a Forbes article from 2022, "58% of customers will pay more for better customer service." That's also the type of clientele that's more likely to refer you to someone they know.
  • Ask for feedback and learn to take constructive criticism - No one likes to hear adverse reports about their work. However, it's better to receive it directly from the source when prompted than be blindsided by scathing criticism in the form of an online review. Customers will actually appreciate that you made the time to ask, actively listened, and took their concerns seriously, which often diffuses the situation.

Moving Forward With Referrals

You've finally gotten over your nerves about approaching clients for referrals. In fact, hopefully, this motivates you to take the time to check in with previous clients to see how they're doing, using this as an opportunity to request referrals. But now what?

Some professionals prefer letting the source do the work. It feels less aggressive if your customer with several co-workers who might need your services contacts these people themselves. Who better to break the ice than the middleman who knows these potential clients in real life? But be prepared to make good on incentives as a reward for your customers doing the work.

Don't treat them as cold calls if you decide to get in touch with them directly. When appropriate, have your client give prospects a heads-up, letting them know you'll be contacting them. This saves the trouble of wasting time explaining who you are and why you're calling and possibly starting things off on the wrong foot. Either way, be professional but conversational. You already have one person in common, so talk to them like a friend of a friend.

Want to reach more customers and make things easier regarding generating referrals? Let us assist by creating materials to help make the referral process simpler; choose between one of our attractive and memorable referral business card designs.

Don't forget how far appreciation goes. Thank your customers for referrals, even if nothing comes from them. Extend a follow-up note of gratitude to the prospective referrals you contacted. Leave everyone thinking about how courteous and professional you are and give them one last reminder that could come at the exact right time.

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