A good friend from out of the area called asking me to refer a body shop in my area as he had a friend who was local in need of repairs to her car. I was on the spot. I know all of the body shops around and I know that they, for the most part, do good work.
Now he wasn’t looking for a freebie he only wanted to help out a friend and he knew, as well as I do, that some repairs shops will take advantage, selling parts and services that aren’t needed. Without coming out and saying it, I could tell that’s what he was hoping to avoid for her.
I could have suggested a number of places but only gave him two. I specifically suggested them because I wanted him to deal with professionals. People who would take good care of his friend’s car. But the main reason I suggested these two companies is because I have a deep respect for my friend and I wanted him to think of me in a good light.
Here he was asking me for a favor, something he rarely does, and I didn’t want to let him down. In that moment my decision of who to refer became more about how my friend would be treated by those whose number I was handing over and less about helping find a body shop that’s cheap or does good work. But at the same time I wanted to look good for suggesting someone good.
It’s human nature to want to look good in the eyes of others and that’s exactly what your customer is looking to do when they refer their friends to you. You need to be a professional and take good care of them before they’ll ever think about sending their family and trusted friends your way.
Once you’ve got your act together and know what kind of service your customers deserve you’ll want to offer your services to others and grow your business but how do you ask for and get referrals?
The best way to get referrals that stick is to:
- First do an exceptionally good job for your customer.
What’s an exceptionally good job? When you’ve communicated from the beginning everything you’ll do and then do it, as you’ve said, with concern for your customer’s time and property you’ll have earned the right to respectfully ask for a referral.
- Ask for the referral in person immediately after the work has been performed.
When you ask this simple question after the tow is complete it’ll work wonders. “I’m trying to grow my business and I’ve heard the best way to do it is through referrals. If you’re happy with my service would you please refer a friend or family member to me?”
There’s two reasons why this method of asking for referrals works better than any other.
- When you send out a blanket statement in your advertising that says something like “We love referrals” or you send a note in a letter or email that says “Please refer us to your friends and family” there’s a slim chance that people will refer you. The reason is because they don’t see that communication as being directed towards them and they don’t feel the urge to take action. Also, we’ve all gotten accustomed to such pleas in all forms of media and it goes ignored. We’ve become desensitized to this type of stuff. So when you ask the customer, in person, if they would be willing to refer your services to others there’s a higher chance that it gets done because you are directly requesting that they do something.
- If you’ve done a good job most folks will agree to refer you saying something like “Oh yeah you did a great job, no problem.” When they’ve done that they will have used words to express your praises which means they’ve committed themselves to believing that you run a respectable business and they’ll be hard-pressed to go against their word. You’ll have to do something negative to get them to change their mind.