How To Get More Business Recommendations/Referrals

I’m sure you’ve all noticed that getting referrals from your customers and clients is essential to growing your business. It’s a potentially huge revenue stream, just waiting to be tapped into. Some businesses even operate solely from referrals/recommendations.

But even though it’s a necessary step, not everyone knows how to ask for business recommendations or what to actually say when they do.

Business Referrals vs Business Recommendations – which one should you ask for?

‘Recommendation’ and ‘referral’ are two (somewhat) interchangeable words, but the term you use when talking to clients, partners, suppliers, etc., is important. 

Typically, when having a conversation with someone and we make a suggestion, we use the wording “I recommend going to…” or “I recommend doing…”. Now, you could argue that this is business and it’s different. But as soon as you use the word “referral”, it sounds like there’s more work involved. 

The people you’re asking probably want to help you, but don’t understand what to do. Some will ask you, but others won’t, and you’ve lost that opportunity. By using the word ‘referral’, you’re making this process more complicated, which creates resistance. Making the process easier means you’ll get more business recommendations/referrals.

Are Recommendations or Referrals Better for Business?

While sounding more complicated, referrals can be seen to build a greater connection. Making a referral typically formally introduces two (or more) parties to potentially get a ball rolling. Whereas a recommendation can be done in passing, without a business knowing it’s been done. This is where an effective recommendation process comes into play. 

If you asked your clients to recommend your business, they would instantly know what they could do, such as sharing a post in a local group on social media. 

If you asked your clients to give you a referral, many will struggle, because it would require them to put some time and thought into who they know that needs your service right now.

The important thing is that you make it easy, and the terminology of a ‘recommendation’ is easier. 

How To Get More Business Recommendations

All you need to do to get recommendations is to be on time, on budget, plus give a little more. The third is CRUCIAL! It doesn’t need to be a lot, just a little. 

If you’re on time and on budget, well done. You’ve provided a standard service. Not bad, but not great, because it’s what you SHOULD be doing. You’re providing the service people expect, and you’re being paid for that. You don’t deserve extra, in this case in the form of recommendations, for that.

You don’t recommend a restaurant, because they provide the bare minimum service in exchange for the cash you’re giving them at the end of your meal. You recommend it because they go above and beyond your expectations going into that experience. 

If you deliver on time and on budget, you simply avoid a bad review. What’s the likelihood that someone will go out of their way to make a recommendation? But if you deliver on time, on budget, AND a little more, you get a 5 star review, and they’ll want to help you when you ask for a recommendation.

How to Ask For A Recommendation

Getting more recommendations boils down to two things: the method and the timing.

Many businesses use methods such as a link to Google Reviews with their invoice/email signature, but notice they get a low completion rate. What we know brings more success is asking someone directly. This can be done in many ways, such as a call directly after a job, in a job review meeting, face to face during the job, or even when you’re quoting.

Timing is also important, because if you leave it too long, you’ve lost someone’s investment in your relationship. Making a recommendation becomes less and less of a priority as time goes on. Most of our clients ask as soon as a job is finished, and as mentioned above, some even ask before and during jobs.

You can even take it a step further and check in with your clients every 3-6 months. See how the job you did is holding up, check if they have any more work that needs to be done, and ask if they know someone else who could use your services.

Don’t worry about the frequency of asking for recommendations. That’s your own head trash talking. People forget, or they don’t know of anyone at that point in time. If you check in several times, they might know someone they can send your way that they didn’t know last time. Don’t ask, don’t get.

How To Follow Up Recommendations

You’ve spoken to a previous client, and they said they recommended you to a friend in the market for your service. Great! But when you speak to that same client a few months later, and they ask if their friend has been in touch, you reply: “No”. Sound familiar?

Life gets in the way, and people push tasks they need to do (like reaching out to tradies) down the road, because there are other more pressing matters to take care of. That’s not going to change. What can change is how you handle it.

Instead of waiting for someone to come to you, you go to them. When your client tells you they’ve referred you to a friend, ask if you can have their contact information. You can then reach out directly and begin to build that all important relationship. Do this, and more of your recommendations will turn into cash in the bank.

Don’t neglect your recommendations process

There are many ways to give a little more and ensure that you get referrals on which you can build your business. If you use this approach as an ongoing process, your customers, clients and staff will be keen to recommend you, because they’ll also see the value in doing so.

If you’re looking for more insights into how to grow your trades and construction business from people who’ve been in the industry over 20 years, built their own successful business and helped hundreds of tradies grow theirs, join our Trades and Construction Mastermind Facebook Group.

Have a great week!

Damien Churton

Partner and Coach, Business Benchmark Group


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