No matter what industry you are involved in you can’t beat gaining new business through word of mouth. It’s not just that feeling you get knowing that your service or product is valuable enough for someone to hold a conversation about it with a friend, neighbour or work colleague, but the fact that it has not cost you a penny to win this work.
Being a tradesman you are more than likely aware that the public prefer to source tradesman this way. They gain a level of trust when ‘Uncle Tom’ points them in the right direction when they need a ceiling plastered. They trust Uncle Tom’s judgement and when he tells them that he knows a guy who is a fantastic plasterer who offers a great service, they have no need to go else where. ‘Bingo’ every one is happy. The Plasterer who received the call out of the blue is happy because he has gained work without spending a penny, Uncle Tom is happy because he saved his relatives a headache and has maintained the respect that lead to his relative asking for his advice in the first place, and the relative is happy because they have made contact with someone they know they can trust to fulfil their requirements.
You just need to look at the amount of websites that are popping up online that operate on the fact that they are able to connect the homeowner to reliable trustworthy tradesmen! This again proves that this is a desired route for people looking for the right trades person.
If your service is spot on and the end result of your labour is more than pleasing, then you have earned the customers respect, and when people find something they like they will talk about it. Sourcing the right person is the biggest decision that anyone wanting home improvement tasks carried out has to make so why not make it easier for these people.
This is where you can work smart and use this earned respect to your advantage by making it easier for people to spread the word about you. Provide them with the tools to talk and show you off.
Here is a list of ideas to help you help your customers talk.
- Provide the reasons for people to talk. (why will they want to talk about you. Be different. Provide a guide on the best way to prep and paint that freshly painted ceiling for example)
- Offer incentives to both talker and listener to encourage referral. (Great article here about one companies idea for incentive)
- Ask for testimonials and place them on your website or with your other marketing efforts. (Spread these where ever possible and show them off)
- Send out new offers to past customers by post or email and include a easy way for them to it pass on. (New product or discounts on service and include a reason for them to want to pass it on)
- Create a Facebook fan page and ask for them to become fans. (Include DIY tips or product offers from third parties. Ask them to recommend your page to their facebook friends)
- Send out newsletters. (Include home improvement ideas or info on ways they can cut their energy bills)
- Give them a handful of business cards not just one, and make these cards work for you. (Offer other trade contacts numbers on the back and get your associates to do the same for you)
- Just be yourself. You offer a great service and just being a nice guy on top of that is reason to talk alone.
These are just a few ideas about how you can generate referrals. Use you imagination and you will find loads of ways you can encourage referrals. It costs almost nothing but time to implement and will remove the need to spend fortunes on advertising and the need to go head to head in a price war with the other tradesmen all chasing the same job.
Here is a great book by Andy Sernovitz (Word of Mouth Association) which I highly recommend you read should you wish to dive right in and harness these methods to your advantage.
If you are encouraging referrals then I would love to hear how you are doing it. What methods are you using and do they work?