11 Habits of business owners who get the most referrals

how-to-get-referralsIf you can grow your business using referrals, then it’s a sign that you are a smart and savvy business owner.  If your referral business is not growing, then it’s a sign that your daily habits need work.

Habits are the muscles of your business.  Good habits build strong businesses, while bad habits tear down businesses. That’s why you don’t want to just skim this post and move on to the next thing.  This post is going to teach you how to get referrals by learning what habits the people who do get referrals have.

Nothing I’m sharing is difficult, however it does take time and commitment. Two things savvy business owners are always willing to invest when the ROI is as good as creating a viral referral loop.

So without further ado, below are the 11 habits of business owners who get the most referrals.

1. They befriend their best customers

Your repeat customers, who always pay full price, on time, with no complaints and who refer you new business are your best customers.  There is no reason you shouldn’t treat them as friends.

Business owners who get the most referrals nurture their best customers by getting to know them as much as they can.

They send them holiday cards and birthday cards. They ask about their family. They show up to their retirement parties. They give their kids and grandkids graduation and birthday gifts.  They check up on them if they haven’t heard from them in a while.

This is how you would treat a friend, and this is how you should treat your best customers.

2. They don’t mind “hooking up” the friends of their best customers

There’s nothing better than getting an unexpected hookup when you are ready to pay full price.

If I was referred to a business, and they gave me the hookup because of who refereed me, I’m not only going to admire that friend, I’m going to go run and tell them thank you with a big smile on my face. After that reaction do you think that friend will continue to refer other people? YES!

There’s a tendency to believe that paying for referrals is the best way to grow a referral business.  This is debunked in a post that teaches you how to get referrals without paying for them.  Blogger Jeff Riddle also does a fantastic job explaining this by breaking down Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation on a post titled Why Refer a Friend Incentive Programs Don’t Work.

The best way to encourage your customers to refer you business is not to pay them, it’s to hookup the people they refer.   Business owners who get the most referrals don’t talk about this, but they do it informally all the time.

3. They provide better than average customer service

By definition, most businesses provide average customer service.  However, the businesses who get the most referrals are not average.  They go over and beyond in their customer service.

The respond to emails within minutes, they accept returns and give refunds with no questions asked, they offer free bottled water and snacks while you wait, their staff is always super friendly and helpful.

Providing “wow” customer service is simply essential if you want to increase your referrals.

4. They host customer appreciation events

This may seem like busy work to many, but I always see the businesses who get the most referrals hosting customer appreciation events.   It’s usually little stuff, like a car dealership serving Barbecue during Memorial Day weekend or on the 4th of July.

Or doing something special on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day to acknowledge their customers who are moms and dads.

Or it could be even a little more self serving like providing free lunch to your best customers if the come in for a focus group to provide you ideas to help you improve your business.

Whatever it is, businesses who get the most referrals seem to always be up to something to show their appreciation to their customers.

5. They track their referrals

Business owners who get the most referrals keep a written record of not only how someone found out about their business, but also record the name of the actual person who referred them. They also track the number of referrals they got last month as compared to the current month.

As the saying goes, you can only manage what you measure.  That is why business owners who are serious about their referral business are great at tracking these records.

6. They acknowledge referrals

If I refer someone to a business, I love to know if that person actually took my advice and if they had a good experience.  I also wouldn’t mind if the business I refereed acknowledged the fact that I sent them new business, as a memorable acknowledgement would encourage me to refer someone again.

I’ve noticed that the business who get the most referrals help create this memorable referral cycle.

Business who get the most referrals always provide a genuine thank you for referring someone. In addition, these business always gently remind the referred customer to go back and tell their friend that they were satisfied with the service.

7. They OVER communicate their unique selling proposition

Either through a piffy tagline, a jingle, or simply through the way they operate their business, businesses who get the most referrals reiterate what makes them unique and valuable over and over and over again.

If someone is looking for a particular type of product or service, I don’t have to think much before one of these businesses pops in my mind.  It’s usually an instantaneous mental cognition that connects a problem to the business who can solve it.

This type of brand recall is no accident.  These businesses work extremely hard every single day to make sure each one of their customers understands their unique selling proposition.

8. They speak at industry conferences

When someone is a featured speaker at a conference, their credibility and trust factor multiplies by 10.

As it turns out, credibility and trust is a key factor for referrals. Who would ever refer a friend to someone who they didn’t think was credible and trustworthy?

When the owner or CEO of a business delivers a quality presentation, they transfer this credibility and trust factor directly to their business.  Everyone in the room during that presentation then becomes not only a potential customer, but also someone who will likely refer customers to that business.

Businesses who get the most referrals always take advantage of this and constantly seek out conferences where they can speak.

9. They use email marketing

Email marketing is by far the most efficient and affordable way to automate repetitive communication tasks in your business.  Invoicing, reminders, thanking, birthday greetings, holiday greetings, promotions, events, contents, you name it; email marketings has you covered.

The businesses who get the most referrals understand the power of email, never abuse it, yet still use it to their full advantage.

10. They Blog

If you haven’t gotten the memo, I’m here to tell you that creating a credible and consistent blog is a game changer for any business.

Even if you get zero traffic to your blog, you still get the benefit of learning how to formulate your ideas and opinions in a clear and concise way.  This in turn helps you then communicate better with your customers and could become content for a future book (authoring books help referral business in the same way as speaking at conferences).

Chances are though, your customers will read your blog and when they do you begin to learn much more about what they care about.  When they share certain types of post with their friends, you immediately know you hit a hot button.

Businesses who get the most referrals use this knowledge to help them refine their unique selling proposition and develop new innovative ideas that allow them to stay ahead of the competition.

11. They invest in their brand

Business owners who get the most referrals know that paying for advertising and PR is an investment in their brand. These savvy business owners don’t avoid paying for brand building activities like the plague.

Instead, they know a great way to amplify their referral business is to maintain a strong presence in the minds of their customer base by paying for brand placements in the right place at the right time.

Everything from traditional paid advertising, to new media, to event sponsorships, to cross-promotions must be on the table as an option for brand building.


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