Kitchen and Bath Referrals
Still the best source of new business, but too scarce.
Kitchen and bath referrals are still the most effective and preferred way to find new customers. What’s not to like? Customers come to you with the recommendation of a third party. That’s a pretty good first step.
Some referrals happen on their own – but the most successful businesses work at building their referral business.
Build your referral network and then stay in touch
Referrals typically come from people who know you and trust you – who can vouch for your work. Other than friends and family, this group may include past customers and other industry professionals.
- Past customers. This should almost go without saying, but you need to stay in touch with your past customers – whether it’s through email, direct mail, an occasional phone call or even an event. Through consistent communications with your past customers, you’ll not only be building a referral network; you’ll also increase your chances for repeat business. But you need to stay with it.
- Industry professionals. You already have of professional referral network in place. These are people you do business with now. Kitchen/bath designers, cabinet makers, interior designers, contractors, plumbers, electricians, appliance dealers. They already know you. But have you reached out and asked for referrals? And are you consistent with this outreach?
A good referral program will include consistent outreach to your target audiences to make they remember and keep you top of min when comes to referring.
As you may already experienced, referrals are few and far between. You love them when get them, but you can’t get them on a regular basis.
But there are steps you can take to improve that process and increase your volume of referrals.
Here’s how …
If you have a good reputation in the eyes of your past customers and the professionals in the industry, you probably already get your share of new business referrals.
But while they may like and respect you (and the work you do), you are not always top-of-mind when they come across potential customers for you.
What can you do to accelerate the referral process? How can you build a referral system that maximizes your opportunity to generate a steady flow of referral leads?
Be willing to ask for referrals
The first step requires a change of mindset – and that is to be willing to ask for referrals.
When you’re finished with a project, and you know your customer is happy, find some way to ask (or suggest) a referral before you leave. It may be difficult to do this face to face, but work out the language ahead of time and practice using it in your conversation.
You could even leave a referral flyer with your customer.
But asking in person or even by phone is difficult for most people.
More than likely, you will want to use email and/or direct mail to reach back to your satisfied customers with a referral request.
By consistently connecting with your past customers and the professionals in your area, you can stay top-of-mind when referral opportunities come by.
Set up an automated email outreach
As your business develops, you’ll have more and more customers – most of them, hopefully, satisfied customers. These are people who might be willing to refer you, but they need to be reminded and encouraged – and they need an easy way to do it.
The easiest and most consistent way to do this is through email. Phone and mail might have a greater impact, but email will be more consistent – in part, because it is mostly automated.
The email could be a straight request for a referral, or it could be integrated into a content-based email or email newsletter.
Think about your “ask”
One approach when requesting referrals is to simply ask. Say something like, “We appreciated your business and hope you were satisfied with our work. We’d love to be able to provide the same level of professionalism to others – perhaps someone you know …”
But you could also sweeten the pot.
Tell them if they refer you to someone they know, you will send them a gift. Suggest something like this:
- For referrals that turn into quotes, we’ll send you a $5 or $10 coffee card.
- For referrals that turn into customers, we’ll send up you a $100 gift card
You can manage this any way you want, but I think it’s important to recognize people who make effort on your behalf, and then reward them when something good happens.
Not everyone is comfortable with this approach. And that’s okay. But understand when you offer an incentive, you will get more response.
Another way to approach this would be to replace the gifts with a donation to a charity. Some people might feel better about participating if they thought it would result in a donation to a favorite charity.
Consistency is key
Whichever approach you use, try to be consistent. Send out an email once a month (or whatever schedule you want). Some of this can be placed on auto-pilot.
For recent project completions, you may want to start with a satisfaction survey to find out if they were actually satisfied with your work.
If they are satisfied, then follow up with a referral request. If they were not satisfied, I would be looking for ways to respond to their complaints. There’s nothing better than turning around an unsatisfied customer.
If a satisfied customer refers you to a friend, how will you know? If the customer sends the prospect’s name to you, that’s easy. But what if the customer told their friend to contact you? How will you know to credit the customer if the friend doesn’t say anything?
This can get tricky – and maybe you just don’t give the credit if no one says anything.
Another approach is to reward the prospect when they call you from a referral. In other words, tell you satisfied customer if they refer you to a friend, the friend will also get a reward – a discount coupon if they make a purchase. This gives everyone an incentive.
Get started with your own Referral Program
To learn more about implementing your own Referral Program for your kitchen and bath business, or if you have any questions, please contact Bob McCarthy at 508-473-8643 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read Bob McCarthy’s article in
Kitchen + Bath Business (K+BB) Collective