For any company, customer referrals are the bread and butter of the business plan, but it’s especially important for home services businesses. Why? Because home service technicians work directly in the home. Customers want to make sure that whoever walks through the door is someone they can trust and that they’ll get the job done well. How many of us rely on word of mouth to recommend a plumber? What about turning to your neighborhood social media page asking for reliable electricians? According to Nielsen.com, 92% of customers rely on the recommendations of family and friends over any other type of advertising.
So how can you as a home services business owner take advantage of word-of-mouth marketing to advertise your business? It’s about referrals. Here are the top ten ways to get referred by your clients.
Create a Happy Client Base
This may seem like a given, but we’re going to spell it out anyway. No matter what type of service your customers receive from a job, chances are they’re going to tell their family and friends about it—especially if it’s exceptionally good or astonishingly bad.
In order to even begin to think about customer referrals, you need to make sure your business is providing the type of customer service that makes your client want to brag about you. Here are some things to consider when evaluating your company
- Are technicians arriving on time and treating each client respectfully?
- Are you providing honest estimates for each job that comes across your desk?
- Are customer interactions polite and professional?
- Do you respond to customer service estimates in a timely manner?
These are just a few checkpoints to consider when evaluating your business. Another place to gather feedback is from customer reviews. Look for common complaints and make adjustments as needed. When you create happy customers, referrals will quickly follow.
Make Follow-ups Part Of Your Company Culture
Building up a happy customer base is the start of getting referrals. But don’t gain new customers at the expense of current ones. It’s one thing to offer a particular home service, but quite another when it comes to the execution of it. Check in regularly with technicians about the latest jobs. Make sure the client has been fully dealt with (in a non-mob sort of way). If a follow-up is needed, make sure it’s completed on time.
Follow-ups let the customer know you care about them and their home service needs. It also opens the door to better communication. You never know if the client has questions about their new water heater or panel lighting that they didn’t ask at the time of installment. Nurturing current customers provides an organic incentive for them to want to refer your business to peers.
Develop a Customer Referral Program
The most genuine customer referrals will come unprompted by your business, but that doesn’t mean you can develop a way to say “thank you” for their recommendation. A referral program may look different for home services businesses, but you can still offer similar incentives.
If you don’t have a marketing strategy in place, companies like Scorpion can help you get started and tie it to a referral program. There’s nothing flashy or spectacular about needing to replace plumbing, but you can still provide a program that helps bring down the cost for the customer.
Just remember to keep your referral program simple and easy to use. And start small. Software services are available to help launch your word-of-mouth advertising efforts. Don’t forget to promote it and offer incentives that will appeal to home services customers.
Steer Clear from Typical Referral Rewards
Let’s face it. When it comes to referral rewards, a simple coupon code or promo item seems tempting to use even for a home services business. But remember, your customers aren’t shopping for socks or skincare. They’re in the neighborhood of home repair. But you can still take advantage of the appeal of promos and offers.
For your specific home services business, what is a small service you can offer to do for free? Perhaps it’s a free estimation or diagnostic visit. How about a discount on repairs? Or a ductwork analysis? The important thing is to offer an incentive that your business can provide rather than what popular product-based companies are doing.
Use Your Social Media Presence for Referral Opportunities
As much as some home services business owners try to avoid it, you need to be on social media. Word-of-mouth and customer referrals can be one of your strongest marketing tactics, but it needs to be backed up with an online presence. Why? Because potential customers like to review your business online. That includes a functioning website and social media presence.
Now is your chance to use it to your referral advantage. If you are able to, offer giveaways or contests on your sites for customers to enter in (new and current). Contest ideas can include a raffle draw for drain cleaning, or refer two friends to your site and win a thermostat upgrade. There are countless ways you can incorporate rewards for referrals to your site and social media.
Train Your Technicians To Sell
You don’t want to come across as pushy or aggressive with your requests, but you can mention to happy customers that you appreciate referrals. And one of the best times to do that is after a technician has finished a job.
Make sure your technicians know how to sell and understand when it’s appropriate to remind customers that referrals are accepted and appreciated. For example, if a job is not completed to the customer’s satisfaction, it is inappropriate to ask for referrals until the job is complete and the customer is happy.
Provide your technicians with business cards or other pass-along resources so customers have an easier time finding and referring you to others. Make sure your business name, website, and contact information are prominent on any information that is passed to the customer including invoices, appointment reminders, and tags that may need to be permanently attached to home equipment.
Having technicians request referrals is an ideal way to build your home services business.
Add a Referral Submission Form to Your Website
Make it easier for your current customers to refer their family and friends with a referral submission form on your website. Similar to a nomination form, the customer would provide the contact info and why the person they’re referring might need your service and submit it for the business to follow-up with.
Submission forms can be placed on landing pages, home pages, email schemes, or wherever you get the most traffic. Incentives can be handy here as well, including a coupon or discount code for the next time they book a service. Just remember to honor whatever perk you offer.
Reward First-Time Referred Customers
While you always want to show appreciation for the current client who referred you, it can be beneficial to reward the referred customer for choosing you as well. As mentioned before, you may feel like product-based companies have the leg up on rewards, but home services businesses can provide their own rewards.
As a service-based business, you could consider providing a welcome bundle where two or more maintenance services are performed at a lower price. Or perhaps a free first-time estimate. The sky is the limit to what you can provide. Be sure to promote your reward system to current clients so they know the benefits family and friends could receive from acting on a referral.
Cultivate Relationships with Fellow Home Services Providers
Like the old saying goes, ‘you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.’ It brings to mind the physical satisfaction of getting your back scratched by something other than a nearby baseball bat or the dog’s chew toy, but in fact, it refers to helping each other out in a business sense.
When you build relationships with different home service providers (usually not competing ones), you can rely on word-of-mouth from them to help you land jobs. Say, for instance, if you have a good working relationship with a local plumbing business, that plumber may recommend your services to a homeowner who also needs electrical work done. Just make sure you provide the same courtesy. And only provide recommendations for home services businesses who provide excellent work or else you risk your own reputation.
Building local relationships is a key piece of growing your business.
Show Gratitude When You Are Referred by Your Customers
Similar to the first tip, showing gratitude may seem like a no-brainer, but it bears mentioning as a tip of its own. With the tide shifting towards supporting local businesses over big boxed names, that applies to local home services as well. Customers appreciate knowing how much they help you and your team out.
While showing up with a bouquet of flowers may be overkill, saying thank you via email, postcard, or at the next appointment is not. If you’re not sure who referred the new customer, feel free to ask them so you know who to thank. Make an effort to be sincere with your appreciation. Coupon codes and discounts are great, but sometimes a heartfelt ‘thank you’ and a continuation of great service is all a customer needs.
Referrals come in all shapes and sizes. They can be reputation-based, experience-based, or even relationship-based. But they all have one clear-cut roadmap which leads you to a bigger client pool, successful marketing efforts, and more jobs. Because as they say, talk is cheap, but referrals speak volumes.
If you need help getting referrals Scorpion is an expert in lead generation and review monitoring which are critical places for referrals. Reach out to our team and we would love to work with you. Get Started