Marissa Schaefer Jan 17 2024

How to Create an Awesome Referral Program

4-minute read

I've recently received quite a few emails from professionals curious about referrals. The biggest question is 'How effective are they at growing a business?'

So, today's article is all about referrals and creating your referral program.

What’s a Referral?

A referral is when clients encourage their friend(s) to use your business.

Definition: an act of referring someone or something for consultation, review, or further action.

Referrals are one of the highest forms of flattery a professional can receive.  Someone was so impacted by your business that they referred someone they trust to you too.

What business owner wouldn't love a referral?  Especially since referrals bring in higher-quality leads who are more likely to book. That said, I don’t view referrals as a foundational marketing strategy.  Instead, I see them as a bonus. 

When I started my business, I thought all my clients would refer me to their friends. I expected my business to grow with minimal effort from me.  I later learned that it’s not my client's job to grow my business - but my own.  I stepped up my marketing and began to view referrals as an incredible gift.

So can we agree that marketing your business is your responsibility? Okay, cool. Now let's dive into what you can do to boost your referrals!

(But first, grab your FREE referral system worksheet HERE)

1. Provide awesome service(s) + quick wins

Did you know 94% of people will recommend a business whose service they rate as ‘very good’?  This means if you have a ‘very good’ (or better) service, there is a good chance your clients will mention you to others.

How do you do this?  Under promise and over-deliver.  When you exceed expectations, people want to share their excitement with others.  People also love the thrill of seeing progress and wins.  If you can provide quick wins to your clients, you’re much more likely to get a referral (psst - this is why B&A pics are so popular!)

2. Focus on building relationships

When your clients know and trust you, they’re more likely to refer their friends to you.  Focus on building a genuine rapport with everyone you meet. This isn't from a place of hoping they will refer you one day, but because you care about them.

Some of my biggest promoters weren’t even clients of mine - they saw my work, believed in me, and told others about me. Begin planting seeds and building connections with others. Down the road, there is a good chance those seeds will bloom into referrals.

3. Ask for reviews

Did you know 88% of potential customers trust reviews as much as recommendations from a friend? Reading reviews influences people to use your business. This means that reviews are a great way to get indirect referrals. 

Encourage clients to leave reviews on your website, ProConnect, and Facebook pages.  Don’t be shy - ask for the review!  Include links to leave reviews in your follow-up emails.  Share texts from clients on your social pages (with permission).  Leverage reviews and feedback every chance you get.

4. Create a referral program

A referral program is a marketing tactic that encourages clients to refer you to others.  Instead of hoping clients will refer to you, a referral program entices them to.

There are a few parts to creating a referral program:

  1. Determine your referral tiers

For example….

Tier 1 - social media post shout-out

Tier 2 - review on website/FB page/Google

Tier 3 - referring a friend

Tier 4 - setting up a barn day

Tier 5 - special gift once they’ve referred 5 friends

  1. Choose the incentives

Referrals should be a win-win - what’s in it for your client?

Tier 1 - $5 off

Tier 2 - $10 off

Tier 3 - 20% off appointment

Tier 4 - free add-on service/ upgraded service

Tier 5 - free athletic shirt with logo

*Remember! With a referral program, the money you would have spent on advertising goes towards the referral instead.

  1. Decide how you’ll advertise it

Actually let people know you have a referral program! Include it in a follow–up email, print it on handouts, and promote it on your social media/website.  People can't join in the referral program if they don’t know about it.

  1. Thank the referrer

This is as simple as a thank you email, postcard, text, or acknowledging it at their next appointment.

  1. Continue to follow up with referred leads who haven’t booked

It can take 8 touches to get a client to convert, so keep nurturing those referred leads who haven’t yet booked.

5. Stay connected

Continually keep in touch with your clients through social media and email.  Share updates, promos, and tips. Keep your business at the top of clients’ minds so when friends ask for recommendations your clients think of you!

Wrap Up

Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool. Providing excellent service, client wins, and having an awesome referral system in place will help bring in those bonus client referrals.  And don’t forget to celebrate every referral you get!

I've also created a free worksheet to help you build your referral system. Be sure to download that worksheet HERE.

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