The truth is, people would rather do business with a company they have a personal connection to. Often times this connection comes through a business being referred by someone they trust. If someone you know and trust is willing to refer a business to you, likely you will trust that business before you even get started with them. That is why referrals really are your most powerful sales tool, as a business owner. tells us that referrals are anywhere from 50 to 500 percent more effective than any other sales method. If that doesn’t convince you, maybe HubSpot will. They suggest that 92% of people will use a business simply because it was referred by someone they trust!


With the internet and social media being as prominent as they are, you should be taking even more advantage of how easy it can be to get your customers to refer you. People are always confiding in their Facebook friends to tell them where to find the best plumber, carpet cleaner, HVAC specialist or any other service professional. Now is the time to really jump on that referral train!


So, what can you do to get more referral business? Here are three things to try:


Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

Believe it or not, sometimes getting more referral business is as simple as asking. If you have happy, loyal customers, they will probably be willing to refer their family and friends just to help you out. They can do this through word-of-mouth or online reviews. If you receive a compliment from a customer about how happy they are with your work, you have a perfect setup to ask for a referral. Your response could be as simple as, “I’m glad you were happy with our service. Please let your friends and family know how we did!” That will put it in your customer’s mind, and make it more likely for them to move forward with your request.


It’s true that sometimes people don’t refer businesses just because they didn’t think of it. If you give them the idea, you are already a step ahead in them actually following through. If you can get yourself in the habit of mentioning, or asking for, referrals after each successful service you complete, you will be surprised and just how many new customers you’ll see from it.


Create a Referral Program

Everybody loves a good incentive. People are far more likely to do something if they feel like they are going to get something in return. If you create a referral program for your customers, they will be quick to refer you to friends and family member. You really don’t have to do anything fancy that will break the bank. Simple referral programs could be:


  • $10 or 10% off your next service for each new referral
  • 10 membership points each time you refer someone (the points can go toward earning free or discounted services)
  • $25 Amazon gift card for each referral you send to us
  • Free service once you’ve sent us 3 referrals

You get the picture, and you can be really creative with this! People love to earn something and feel like they’re getting something out of whatever they’re doing. If they can help you out, that’s a bonus, but it never hurts to add a little incentive to really get people involved.


Provide Content/Marketing Collateral for Referrers to Use

If you can create some good graphic art to post on your social media and have your customers share, that’s an easy way for them to refer without having to put forth much effort. It’s a good idea to leave a few business cards or flyers with each of your happy customers that they can pass along to other potential customers. Leaving behind marketing collateral for them to pass out is also a great way to ensure they won’t forget your business name in conversations, or for their own future use. If you can provide the content and collateral for your customers, there’s really not much work for them to do, which makes it appealing on their end. If all they have to do is hand someone a business card or share an image on social media, they could be much more willing to help out.


You could even add part of your incentive program to this one, and tell your customers to write their name on the back of your business cards/flyers. Each time a new customer comes in with their name on a card, they receive __ (whatever you want to use as an incentive).


It’s a good idea to get a referral system going now, and to really get in the habit of asking for referrals and making it easy and tempting for your customers to refer you. Get creative and really think outside the box, and you’ll be surprised and how much referral business you’ll see!

For more insights on marketing strategy that actually works for small business, connect with Jay Bean, Founder of FreshLime and Small Business Marketing Expert on LinkedIn and Twitter. If any of these tips have helped you or if you have anything to add, please comment below. We’d love to hear from you!