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Referrals are the most trusted form of advertising, with 84% of consumers trust referrals from their friends, family, and colleagues. Also known as word-of-mouth marketing, referrals have a level of authenticity that is unachievable with traditional marketing and advertising because there is no sales pitch or agenda.
This should go without saying, but you absolutely must do a good job before asking for a referral. If your customer is unsatisfied with your service, asking for a referral is only going to make matters worse.
Why Asking For Referrals Is Worth The Effort
One of the biggest benefits of a referral is that the customer is four times more likely to buy. Although disaster mitigation is predominantly based around emergencies, that doesn’t mean consumers still won’t ask their friends and family for a referral.
Most people are hyper-connected today, so they are likely to post their predicament to social media before they start searching someone to help them. Facebook even has a feature that allows users to ask for business recommendations.
Example of Facebook Recommendations
Referrals are effective because a trusted relation has already told them how amazing you are. You’ve already proven your skills to them by effectively completing that job. In many cases, referral customers are ready to hire you based solely on the referral alone.
This allows you to secure more jobs without spending time or money on marketing your water damage business. Compare this to the typical customer acquisition path, where you need to market your services to potential customers and convert the call to a job.
But Won’t Customers Refer Me On Their Own?
Sure, some customers may refer you to their friends and family without needing to ask, but there is no guarantee. While 83% of customers said they would give a referral based on a positive experience alone, only 29% actually followed through. Considering that referral customers require less time and effort to convert to a job, isn’t it worth the time to ask satisfied customers for referrals?
How to Ask Customers for a Referral
Much like asking customers for reviews, ask for referrals should be one of the last things you do. Asking in person is most effective. If they say yes, you can ask about leaving an extra business card but avoid leaving a stack of brochures. They are unnecessary clutter that will likely end up in the trash.
“Thank you for your business, Mrs. Smith. If there is anything else I can do for you, I’m always happy to help. I would also appreciate it if you wouldn’t mind recommending me should your friends or family have a similar emergency.”
You could also leave behind magnets, calendars, or pens to remind your customers. While they do cost money to produce, your customers are more likely to keep them around. Having your name and phone number on them doesn’t hurt either.
Getting Referrals From Neighborhood-Wide Disasters
As a general rule, you can’t ask your customers for names of people you can call on because it’s impossible to predict emergencies. However, you may have a number of referral opportunities during a widespread disaster, like when an entire street floods during a storm.
Your primary commitment needs to be fixing the issue of the customer who actually called you. Once you have their emergency under control, ask them if any of their neighbors need help as well. It goes without saying, you should canvas the neighborhood once you’re finished or even call in extra crews if you can.
How To Get Your Employees Involved
Every employee should be invested in asking customers for referrals. Explain that referrals are an extremely effective way of getting the jobs necessary to provide greater job security. Train them when and how to ask customers for referrals and provide them with a script to follow.
Incentivizing your employees for referrals can be effective in motivating them to ask customers. Unfortunately, you still need to rely on your customers to give the referral, so it may not be the best way to measure employee engagement.
Another option for incentivizing employees is to ask them to directly refer their own friends and family. This may be an easier way to track employee engagement, but there is no guarantee it will be more effective. If you do choose to incentivize employees, make sure you clearly outline what you expect them to do and how they will be rewarded.
Customers Aren’t the Only Source for Referrals
You should also look for opportunities to get referrals from other professionals. You probably know at least one electrician or insurance agent who would be willing to give you referrals. How do you get those referrals? You offer to give them referrals.
“Hey Daniel, I referred Mrs. Jones to you last week and wanted to see if that turned into a good job for you.”
By focusing on what you can do for them first, it’s more likely that they’ll be happy to refer you in kind. There is a chance that they may not reciprocate, but one good job will likely change their mind. You might want to consider following up with them after referring someone as well just so they know where the job came from.
Following Up On Referrals
When a customer says they were referred to you, make sure you follow up with the source of that referral to thank them for their business. This may seem silly, but it increases the chances they will refer you again or even call you for additional services themselves.
“Hello, Mrs. Smith, I’m Jim from Acme Water Damage, we restored your basement last summer. I just wanted to thank you for referring your brother Mr. Jones last week. I appreciate your continued business.”
While you can follow up with by mail, email, or text message, a phone call is more personal and really only takes a few minutes. Also, you are asking how customers found your business, right? If you aren’t, start now so you can track which of your marketing efforts are the most successful.
Referrals are a great way to grow your water damage restoration or disaster mitigation business because most people want to help their friends and family. There is no reason to feel apprehensive about asking for referrals as long as your customer is happy with your service. Remember, the worst thing that could happen is they say no.
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