Small businesses often have a hard time competing with large corporations on the basis of price and volume. After all, the economy of scale actively works against a small business trying to compete directly with a multinational corporation. Fortunately, small businesses shine when it comes to customer service and will often go the extra mile to make sure that their clients are satisfied. This personal touch is often what keeps small businesses alive and satisfied customers from turning to their larger competitors. However, most customers won’t go that same extra mile to repay you once you’ve delivered. What can your customers do for you apart from paying you for your services? Something just as important as cash: giving your business a referral.
How to ask your customers for a referral
If you have provided outstanding services and feel that you have done a great job, don’t be shy about asking your clients for a referral. Of course, this can be somewhat awkward if the moment isn’t right or if they aren’t as satisfied with your work as you think. Below we’ve listed some good strategies to make sure that your catered, outstanding work is rewarded with a positive referral:
- The most simple referral is word of mouth. Simply encouraging happy customers to “tell their friends” can do wonders for your new business. In fact, referrals are the life and blood of small businesses, since they cannot afford to invest in large-scale advertising campaigns like their big business competitors. “Tell your friends about us.” Learn this phrase and use it frequently.
- Share testimonials on your company’s website. Regardless of how local your business is, your company should have a website. A company web page is easy to set up and manage that there is no excuse not to have one. Ask satisfied customers to take a couple of minutes to leave a testimonial on your website to recommend your services.
- Social media networks are great for getting out the word about your small business. Make sure that your business has a Facebook page and a Twitter account and that these are properly tended to. Do not underestimate the value of a Facebook “like.” Make sure to ask your customers to “Like” your Facebook page or profile. If you can find ways to encourage clients to tag your business along with pictures of a service or product they were happy with (for example, a delicious plate of food from your establishment or a before and after picture of an outstanding construction job) you can be sure that their network of Facebook friends will learn about your company.
- Ask your customers for a positive review. Every day businesses are relying more on Google local reviews and other reviewing websites. For example, today most restaurants can live or die depending on their Yelp reviews and hotel ratings on TripAdvisor can make or break a business. Today, most customers will Google your company before trusting you with their work. Having positive reviews online ensures that they will pick you over your competitors. After providing a great service, ask your customers to leave a review if they were happy with your service.
Customers can pay you with more than cash
Do not be afraid to ask your customers for more than cash, especially when you have gone the extra mile to provide them with a great service. Be proactive about getting referrals. As good reviews start to accumulate and word about your business spreads, referrals can make the difference that ensures that your small business succeeds.
The real value comes in the fulfillment of your customers’ needs. Arguably, it’s much easier to craft a business to please your customers than it is to incite referrals from them. Here’s a challenge for you: physically visit a four-five star establishment from Yelp. Take note of how much business they get during your visit. More likely than not, they’re either satisfied repeat customers, or their friends.