Referrals are an effective form of advertising and incredibly important to most small businesses. By having your customers advertise for you to their friends, relatives, and coworkers, you are creating another marketing avenue that costs little or anything at all. So what’s the biggest impediment to getting referrals? Being afraid to ask!

Here are 10 tips to help you get more referrals without feeling desperate or pitchy:

#1 Advertise. The simplest thing to do is to let your advertising, letterhead and business cards do some of the asking for you. Be sure to include things like “Loved our service? Feel free to refer a friend!” or something similar. Be sure to add a referral link to your website if possible.

#2 Referral Programs. Be sure that a business process is in place if you actually get a referral. The person doing the referring should be able to do so easily and without any extra work on their part. Also, offer real value for a referral that makes your current customer feel as though they are getting a benefit, like a loyalty rewards program.

#3 Act Now! Don’t wait for your business to begin slowing down before you put a referral program into place, which can lead to offering deals that hurt your bottom line. A successful business is always more likely to get referrals than one that’s slowly circling the drain. Nobody wants to be the only one getting their hair done in an empty salon.

#4 Guarantee It. Be a business that people want to refer. Your customers may be afraid to damage their relationship/reputation with the person they referred if the service isn’t great. Consider offering a guarantee to referred clients on their first visit to alleviate your customer’s concerns. For example, “if you are a referred client, we guarantee you’ll be pleased or your money back!”

#5 Refer Your Neighbors. Consider referring people to neighboring businesses and asking them to return the favor, business to business. For example, if you are a hair salon and the local spa offers different services, they may send customers your way to get their hair done if you send customers their way to get a massage. This can work with any type of business as long as your clientele is similar.

#7 Be Thankful. Be sure to thank your referral sources! Whether you do this through communication (a telephone call, or a handwritten letter) or something more valuable like a gift card or discount, recognition can get a referrer to send more business your way.

#9 Use Social Media. If your social networking is working for you, be sure it is working for referrals as well. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the like are great ways to reach out to your network.

#10 Try Testimonials. If a customer thinks the world of you, but doesn’t give referrals, it may simply be part of their character. You may never get a referral from them, no matter how high they think of you. This customer may be an excellent opportunity to get a testimonial from that can be included on your website or in advertising.


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Matthew Wiggins

Matthew Wiggins

VP of Sales at ProSolutions Software

With over 20 years experience in the beauty industry, Matt teaches classes to salon and spa owners on business topics including branding, management, marketing and advertising.