If you’re not getting referrals from your existing clients, then you’re losing out on a whole lot of additional business.
Creating a referral-based business can ultimately replace your entire need to do any additional marketing. Many practitioners are scared to death to ask for referral business, because they are afraid of being overly intrusive to their existing clients.
If this is how you think, then you need to adjust your thinking. If you genuinely provide good service to your clients (you do, right?), then your clients are benefiting from the services you provide them. You are saving your clients time, money, and stress. If somebody was doing that for you, wouldn’t you want to share that with other people you know?
This is a major paradigm shift for many accounting and legal professionals, but it is one of the most important mental changes you can ever make. This is completely a mental inner game thing. If you don’t think your clients place enough value on your services to be willing to refer you to others that could use your services, then why on Earth are you offering your services to your existing customers as it is?
The mental inner game aspect of running a business is so important, that it requires further study. To help get you started, I’m providing everybody with free access to a CD a that I recorded a couple years ago, titled “The Mental Inner Game of Running an Online Business”. The principles apply equally to professional practitioners, so it’s worth taking an hour to listen to this. Click here to download your copy.
So, now that you understand the importance of getting referrals, how do you go about getting them?
Like anything else, getting referrals requires a systematic marketing approach. To start with, if you only contact your clients in January to set their tax return appointment, then you immediately need to start thinking bigger. At an absolute, bare bones minimum, you should be contacting your clients once per quarter. Ideally, you are contacting your clients at least monthly. This can be accomplished through something as simple as a monthly newsletter, either via email or postal mail. Postal mail tends to be much more effective for helping you build strong client relationships.
In addition, consider contacting your existing clients to join in your various activities. Perhaps reserve a large picnic spot at a local park and hold a client appreciation BBQ, especially with summer upon us. Consider getting your clients involved in a local charitable event, walk-a-thon, or other community event. Find another local professional in another area, such as investing, financial planning, insurance, or real estate, and invite them to speak in front of your invited clients for a seminar (and get that other professional to do the same thing for you — this is another business building secret).
Getting referral begins by doing things like this to build strong, year-round relationships with your clients. Then, it becomes easy to ask them for referrals, which doesn’t even have to be done verbally.