What do you do if you’re a small business, local business or home improvement business looking to get more referrals? Do you start phoning your customers on the fly and asking for referrals, write a Facebook post or attend a networking event?
Referral business is actually one of the most important channels of business for any home service company, yet one that home improvement companies have serious trouble leveraging.
Why is Networking So Important for Home Service Businesses – Anyways?
At Workiz home service scheduling and communication software, we recently surveyed over 3,500 home service business to understand their best and worst advertising sources in 2017 and 2018.
What we found, is that referral business has some of the lowest job cancellation rates, and are some of the most profitable channels of business for home service pros.
Yet, home service pros are leaving money on the table….
In 2018, home service businesses did not receive any more referral business than they did in 2017. Which means that home improvement businesses don’t know how to leverage more referral business from their network.
So, that’s where Andy Lopata comes in, or “Mr. Network” as he’s referred to by The Sun. We recently sat down and picked Andy’s brain about networking for home service pros, so contractors can learn how to get more home improvement referrals and jobs for their service business.
The trap: We often believe that doing a good job does means more business, recommendations or home improvement referrals. But, it’s not true. If it was true, Home Service professionals would be drowning in referral business. And this simply is just not the case according to the facts and figures of our recent study.
This can also be defined as “service with a smile.”
You can do your job and focus on it, but you can definitely choose to do it with a smile on your face. Focus on delighting your customers in a way that leaves you memorable for all the right reasons.
Andy shared a great example in a recent video he filmed with us on How Home Service Businesses Can Get More Referral Business. After receiving service from an Electrician he recently had round for a house call, he offered the man a cup of tea with oat milk.
The electrician’s reply? “It’ll have to do,” he said with a grumble and a sigh.
That’s definitely not the “smile on your face approach” that’s going to leave you memorable for the right reasons.
According to Dale Carnegie, “the sweetest sound to any man is the sound of his own voice.”
Great, but how can you get more home improvement referrals from this tidbit of wisdom?
Phone your customer a few days after providing service to ask them if everything is alright with the service you’ve just provided them with.
This isn’t a waste of time, but rather, a part of your long-term sales, marketing and networking efforts.
Because, it’s a proactive approach to building relationships, creating trust and ensuring customer satisfaction.
The key to getting more referrals is making sure your customer remembers you and that you form a relationship with your client.
This is so that if someone asks your client for a recommendation of a plumber or HVAC pro – you automatically spring to mind.
However, If you’re in the emergency services (i.e. a locksmith, roadside assistance serviceman, plumber, etc.) you can’t really be proactive and ask customers if they’re looking for a service.
You’re going to need to wait for calls to come in, educate clients, build relationships, create trust, send Christmas cards, monthly emails and stay in sight and “top-of-their-mind.”
If you’re an electrician that does house calls, but you’d much rather work with businesses – then communicate that. Do some homework and be really clear on what you want to do and which referrals you’re looking for.
So you can say something like, “This is the type of intro I’m looking for. This is to whom I want to be recommended.”
So, the more specific you are in what you ask for, the more likely you’ll get a result. Andy speaks about painting a picture in people’s minds of someone who your contact (customer, friend, family member, business colleague, etc.) knows. Make it easy for someone to recommend a customer to you, by painting a picture in their mind when you ask.
For example, you are not painting a picture in someone’s mind when you say: “Who do you know with a phone?” However, you are painting a picture in someone’s mind when you say “Do you know anyone with children who are leaving the house for the first time, or with kids who are about to go away to college in September?” The person you are speaking to is now, actually visualizing the person you have in mind, that you would like to network with.
Remember: Relying on clients for recommendations is not always the best option. This might actually be a little bit shocking, but it’s true.
There’s this myth that the best person to refer you are your clients. Yes, there is some truth to that, because they know the quality of your work and they understand it better than others.
However, your clients do not have a vested interest in seeing you grow – only for you to stay in business and survive so that they can continue to get the service they expect from you.
Many customers actually do not want you to grow because they view it as threatening. Because, if you grow, then your attention to them will shrink.
You should be trying to network with those who have a vested interest in your growth – such as your equipment suppliers, Bank Manager, Printer, Office Stationery rep., Cleaning company, etc.
These people have a vested interest in seeing you grow and succeed.
Your personal and professional life don’t have to be separate. This doesn’t mean selling to friends and family though.
If they want to buy from you, then great.
What it does mean is asking them to support your business without putting their hand in their pocket. So, you can ask them to refer you to others.
They might be able to recommend you five times (x5) and that’s a much easier ask then simply saying, “buy my product or service.”
Don’t send a mass email or just make a generic post on Facebook and think that’s it, you’ve networked. Because, you haven’t…
This is actually taking the path of least resistance.
What you’re doing is investing in your long term business growth and success by building a team of people spreading the word about you and selling for you. Networking is actually long-term game, not a short-term solution or a one-time ask. You can’t just click your fingers and make it happen – it’s not a magic pill.
It’s about building relationships over time. So, the people who you build relationships with will recommend you and refer your home service business more frequently.