Welcome to part 1 of the “Business Networking for Home Service Industries” blog series. In part 1 we’ll go over referral networks: what they are and the best practices to make the most out of a referral network. If done right this will result in recurring referrals even when you are not actively running a marketing or sales campaign.
What is a Referral Network?
For many home service businesses word of mouth is the best and sometimes only way of getting new clients. One mouth talking about your business can help but many mouths talking about your business is way better.
A referral network is a network of individuals, businesses, and business professionals who refer clients to you. Each person within the network actively asks their contacts, church groups, neighbors, volunteer groups, fraternal organizations, and circle of influence what products and services they need and passes the leads on to the relevant member in the network.
There are three key things to note for this to work:
- Each member actively listens to their contacts for any and all products and services they might need
- Members in the network are part of a business that offers products or services that are related but not competing with each other
- For members to refer other members to their contacts, they’d need to know as much as possible about these businesses. To refer someone you’d need to know what they offer, what they do not offer, their delivery region, etc.
A referral network can include other industry professionals within a shared market sector, suppliers, and even your loyal customers.
Referral networks when done right are a great way to attract new customers without spending money or ads, or investing in marketing campaigns. This is THE BEST and the most cost-effective way for small businesses to grow. Referral networks could be said to be a very organized and effective word-of-mouth marketing campaign.
There is one more thing to know before you build a referral network or join an existing one and that is:
Be very clear with what your business brings to the table
For the most part, at least at the start of your network referral journey, you’d be educating members of the network on your business, so make your business a no-brainer to them. Know your Unique Selling Point and convey it to members at every chance you get.
Prepare an elevator speech that summarizes your business and positions it as an ideal solution to your customer’s problems.
Referral Networking Best Practices
1. Always acknowledge, appreciate and follow up with your referral source
A referral source is a person who passes on to/gives you a referral. It’s good practice to thank them for the referral, doing this goes a long way, as not only does it win you goodwill, it also encourages them to send you more referrals in the future.
There are a few things to do as you thank your referral source:
- Keep them informed on how your business is going and how their referral has helped.
- Mention the outcome of the referral briefly and thank them for the opportunity.
- Offer them a referral in exchange if there is a chance for one.
Here is a template from SignPost on how to do this, In this example, the business is in electrical maintenance
Dear [Referral source name],
I am writing to express my gratitude for your customer referral to our business, [Business name]. Thanks so much for your confidence and support in our business; your referral has enabled us to work with a new customer who needed support installing overhead lights in her garage. This customer has also, coincidentally, helped us achieve our sales quota for the quarter!
As a token of appreciation, we would like to extend a special contract with you for your office’s electrical maintenance needs. Do get in touch with us regarding a business discount, or if you have questions.
[Business owner name]
2. Reciprocate and refer another business
To quote the philosophy of one of the biggest networking platforms BNI, “Givers Gain“. This means you should also give referrals to others within the network, rather than always receive them. You must contribute to the referral network ecosystem, networking is not a one-sided relationship. No one wants to build business relationships with someone who always takes and never gives.
Here is a VERY good advice from SignPost:
A great way to do this is by establishing a partnership in which you exchange referrals for specific services. Let’s say, for example, you’re a plumber who always seems to get asked if you know any good roofers in the area while on the job.
This would be a great opportunity to connect with a roofing business and agree to exchange referrals whenever they get asked for a plumbing service.
Doing this increases the chances for your business to expand its services and generate referral opportunities for key partners. It’s a win-win!
Start Networking with existing groups in your industry
One of the fastest ways to kick-start your referral networking journey is to start with low-hanging fruit in front of you – trade associations, networking groups, or organizations in your industry. This is a very good way to form partnerships, and build authority.
The professionals in this group may have a clientele interested in your service, by showcasing your expertise, and your business’s unique selling point, you can build synergy with the network and grow your opportunities to generate more leads.
And how would you do this?
- Attend trade shows, special networking events, and industry conferences to meet people in person. Nothing beats face-to-face interaction.
- Join Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, or other groups on various social media platforms. Interact with key stakeholders and start getting your business’s name circulating online.
- Join and engage others in online forums specific to your industry. See the hot topics of discussion pertaining to your industry. Then, get involved in the conversation!
- Join BNI groups! Tap into BNI’s network of referrals to grow your reach. With over 275,000 businesses on the BNI network, your business is sure to find its place and generate valuable leads.
- Join or attend events held by your local chamber of commerce. Chambers of commerce are a great way to tap into an entire network of local and regional businesses in your industry.
And that’s it for Part 1 of the Referral Networking series. In Part 2 we will go in-depth in discussing Networking Groups.
How Pink Callers Can Help
You’re already great at providing expert home services for your customers. That’s why you’re in business! But, while you’re out solving your customer’s problems, it can be easy to forgo other important parts of running a successful business, like responding to customer queries, scheduling appointments, collecting payments, and following up on leads. Whether it’s due to a shortage of skilled workers, or limited operating hours, Pink Callers can step in to help.
Pink Callers Customer Service Rockstars (CSRs) can man the scheduling and customer service front while you handle the more important stuff. You do what you do best while your CSR handle:
- Managing all forms of communication like phones, email, texts, and website leads
- Follow-up calls and callbacks
- Scheduling of estimate appointments and accepted work
- Quoting and sales over the phone
- Monitor your social media accounts and marketing outlets like Home Advisor, Angie’s List, Yelp, and more for potential incoming leads
- Collecting payments and completing work in your CRM daily
Reach out to us today to learn more about how our CSRs can help you grow your business, and stand out in the industry. Call us on (888) 325-7465 or fill out the Contact Form to find out how Pink Callers can help your Home Service Business.