Implementing the Top 10 Referral Sources

February 11, 2010
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Referral marketing is the best way to grow your company. Your clients will pay higher prices because they want to use you, the cost of each client is less than advertising and your clients are more loyal and a great source of referrals.

My wife is one of only 200 National Sales Directors in Mary Kay Cosmetics. I asked 75 of these very successful businesswomen to describe in one word what it takes to be a success. The top two words mentioned were persistence and consistency.

The following is a snapshot of the top ten referral markets. What each one of them needs is a persistent, consistent effort that is on-going.

I have coached carpet cleaners who have done Realtor-referral marketing for three months and then slacked off. They said it didn’t work and, with that type of effort, it won’t. Decide which market you are going to work and then visit, call, e-mail and give gifts to your prospects on at least a monthly basis.

1. Current Clients
Your best source of referrals comes when you send “Thank you” letters, follow-up calls, a newsletter, postcards and reminder letters.

2. Realtors
Meet them face to face by joining the local Realtor association and go to their events. Set up presentations at their offices where you will take them breakfast and tell them why your company is outstanding.

3. Web site
OK, this is not really what you would think of a referral source, but it truly is one. Your Web site ought to be so good that after a prospect looks at it, they will want to use your services because you made your company look fantastic. Many Web site clients call with the same attitude as a regular referral client desiring to use your company.

4. Carpet and Tile Retailers
Consistent visits are key here; remember to offer the retailer a 10 percent referral reward. Sometimes the referral will go to the salesperson and sometimes to the company. Set up educational events along with bringing in food. A great piece of print material about your company should be placed in a plastic stand where all the customers can see it. Oh, and did I mention consistent visits? Once a month is mandatory.

5. Plumbers
If your business does water damage, plumbers are a great source of leads. Plumbers are a different breed, as they are far different from Realtors or salespeople. Make them a nice offer for referring you; you will have to constantly be in their face or they just won’t remember who you are.

6. Networking Groups
Go to meetings of groups like BNI and the Chamber of Commerce, and make a real effort while you are there. These associations are only as successful as the work that you put into them. Many companies that are thriving use this type of marketing as a major driver, of their marketing strategy.

When you go to these meetings make it a point to get at least three or four new contacts and then follow-up with each with a card. Build up an e-mail and mailing list and, in a few years, you will have a solid foundation of good referral sources.

7. Condo Associations
If your market has condos you ought to be marketing to them by visiting the sites and joining the condo association in your area. Go to their monthly meetings, make yourself friendly and sponsor events.

8. Interior Decorators
Join ASID, the American Society of Interior Designers, as an affiliate member and work this lucrative market. Interior designers are loyal and they can get you into those upper income homes that can be a dream come true. Be classy and professional when dealing with interior decorators as they will not refer you if you are not going to represent them well.

9. Property Managers
Not all property managers are going to deliver you high-end clients, but enough will to make your effort worthwhile. Our company has been pleasantly surprised at the number of property managers that really do care about quality, and not just a low price.

Although they are a great source of steady income, do not waver on price and don’t ruin your bottom line by lowering your prices to get their business. Stick with the ones who use high-end professionals and let the bottom feeders have the rest.

10. Homeowners Associations
Sometimes it takes a Sherlock Holmes mindset to determine how to crack this market, but there are ways. If you have done work in one, you can ask the homeowner to help you get the word out about your company. You can put an ad or article in their association newsletter. Offer to clean their clubhouse or sponsor an event, and give an educational presentation.

The list of referral sources could go on and on, such as dry cleaners, insurance agents, hair stylists, maid services, veterinarians, garden clubs, etc. Make referral marketing an important part of your business and take some time to set up a plan. Get alone for at least 4 or 5 hours, determine what markets you want to work, write down your plan and get to work.

If you are persistent and consistent in your marketing, chances are your business will grow and prosper and, along the way, you will make many great friends.

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