When we do a good job creating a solution for a client, and they like what we did, they may be inclined to tell others about our work or to mention us favorably when friends of theirs see and comment on the work they had done. Getting referrals is a great - and inexpensive - way to expand and grow our business.
Nevertheless, referrals aren't automatic just because we do a good job for someone. We generally will get referrals, but we have to be patient for them. They actually are available to us in two ways - direct and indirect - and may be voluntary, requested, or incidental.
Direct referrals are those that our satisfied clients and customers tell us in our presence - either while we are completing the work in their home or when they see us again later. They mention how satisfied they are with the work we did and that they have someone else we should talk with about helping them.
They may give us permission to contact the people they are suggesting and use their name as an introduction, they may give our name to their friend or neighbor for them to contact us, or they may agree to invite a few of their close friends over for a reveal of the work done so that we can make a presentation.
If the names of people for us to contact are not volunteered, but there is an expression of satisfaction with the work we performed, we can directly ask for the names of people to contact. Give them an index card with two or three numbers on it. Then ask them to provide the names and phone numbers of two or three of their friends who might be interested in hearing from us to discuss a similar solution in their home. They might provide the two or three that we are requesting, or they may able to come up with just one name. Either way, we are leaving with someone that we can contact. If we just ask them who they know that might be considering work like we did for them, it is too easy for them to reply that they can't think of anyone - even though they probably could if they tried a little harder.
We know that we will get a certain amount of indirect referrals because people like to talk about good service they received. However, unlike referrals that we receive directly from our clients and customers, we won't know specifically who will be contacting us, when that might be, what they will need done, or how many people might be reaching out to us in this way. We just know that we will get some of these throughout the year.
Nevertheless, referrals are a fantastic source of new business. They typically are qualified because of their relationship with our client or customer and the fact that they wouldn't talk with us without some degree of interest in having work done. The biggest plus is that they are free to generate. We already have done work for the source of the referral.