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How to make your business ready for referrals

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By Monika Kristofferson
Office Efficiency
Published: Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
  • Monika Kristofferson

    Monika Kristofferson

What’s the highest compliment and vote of confidence we can receive? It’s a referral from someone we know to do business with someone they know. Not only is it a compliment, it’s one of the best ways to grow our businesses, increase our income and become known as an expert in our chosen field.
People love to share stories of positive business experiences and services with the people they know in order to give them a positive experience as well. How will you hold up your end of the bargain? Will you shine when you receive a referral? It’s important to make sure you’re organized with simple systems in place to make the process of creating a new client relationship seamless.
These suggestions will provide a great foundation to create your own systems.
Follow up fast
Create a golden rule for follow-up time for a referral after receiving it. Once someone sends business your way, you don’t want to lose it before you gain it by letting too much time pass before acting on it. A long lag time could look like you aren’t interested or you are too busy to take on new business. A good rule of thumb is to contact your new lead within 24 hours.
Capture contact info
Create a basic intake form to capture important information while speaking with your new contact. In today’s busy world, a vital thing you need to know is your client’s preferred method of contact. Do they want a call, an email, a Facebook message or a text to set up an appointment or receive a reminder? I’m still a bit surprised that most of my business contact is now through email or Facebook and I’m receiving more and more texts from clients while phone calls are dwindling.
Exceed expectations
You have received business on a silver platter at no cost to you. Now is your chance to shine and prove why you were referral-worthy. Here are a few easy ways to make yourself stand out like the superstar you are.
Treat your clients like gold. Clients can easily work with someone else at any time. Besides doing great work, what will make them want to stay in a relationship with you? Standing out doesn’t mean spending a bunch of money, it means showing a genuine interest in another person. If a client is working with you on something challenging, send them an encouragement card. If you have tulips blooming in your yard, bring your client a little bouquet at your next meeting. Or, leave a few chocolates on their desk (my favorite) with a friendly note. All small efforts will say big things.
Follow through. Business doesn’t end because your transaction ends. Let your client know that you’ll check in at a specific time in the future to see how things are going and then do it. Make sure nothing slips through the cracks by adding a reminder to your calendar.
Send thank you notes
Send a thank you card when you get business. As soon as you’ve worked with your new client, take a few minutes to write a thank you note. Make it easy for yourself by keeping note cards and stamps on hand at all times. A thank you note alone will make you stand out in the crowd.
Send a thank you note even when you don’t get business. It really doesn’t matter why someone chooses not to work with you. What will matter is the positive impression you will leave for being gracious, which may still lead to business down the road.
Send a thank you note for the referral. It really surprises me when a professional doesn’t show their appreciation to someone who proved to be a cheerleader for their services and increased their revenue. A gift card is an added bonus if you decide to go the extra mile.
Track referral sources
Create a simple system to track where your business is coming from and how much revenue is being generated. Pay close attention to who is sending business your way. These are the people who are spreading the word about you, they are invaluable to you and they should be acknowledged for helping your business flourish.
What will you incorporate in your business today to make sure you are referral ready as well as referral worthy?
Monika Kristofferson is a professional organizer and productivity consultant who owns Efficient Organization NW in Lake Stevens. Reach her at 425-220-8905 or monika@efficientorganizationnw.com.
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