Creating a Killer Referral System

Creating a Killer Referral System

Making sure your clients can bring customers to your front door

One of the quickest ways to double your security business and get better quality clientele is to have systems in place that put your clients to work for you—systems that generate referrals. If you are not actively encouraging referrals, then you are choosing to ignore one of the most cost-effective, results-producing, new business-generating strategies available.

There are many tools and techniques you can use to generate referrals: a referral tracking form, a telephone script, a referral request letter, thank you cards or gifts, a client newsletter with referral-producing pieces, promotional items, a referral contest or a combination of any of these.

But before committing resources to generating referrals, you need to ask yourself a few questions: “Do I have a security business that is worthy of receiving referrals? Just how good are my security company’s products and services? Do I constantly ‘wow’ the pants off my clients or is my service just okay?”

If you want to have people refer you, you’ve got to really “wow” them!

The Happy Client Experience

There are three types of clients you can create in your security company:

  1. Unhappy clients who got less than they expected.
  2. Satisfied clients who got exactly what they expected.
  3. Happy clients who got more than they expected. (Hint: These are the clients you want!) If you want clients who refer you, you’ve got to make sure you do everything possible to have every client go from just a satisfied client to a happy, loyal client. Because if they are not impressed enough with your security services that they’d want to use you again, then they certainly aren’t going to want to refer you to other people.

Dan Sullivan, founder of Toronto-based The Strategic Coach Inc., has identified four habits he calls the “Refer-ability Habits.” He writes that in order for you to have a business that generates referrals and for you to be the type of person a client would want to refer, you need to follow these four simple, but oft-neglected, habits:

  • Show up on time.
  • Finish what you start.
  • Do what you say you’re going to do.
  • Say “please” and “thank you.”

No matter how good your security products or services are, no matter how great your technicians and staff are, no matter how honest you are, no matter how highly skilled and trained you are, if you break just one of these Referability Habits, you have dropped the ball. When you break one, you’re saying to your clients and to your employees and to everyone you associate with that you don’t respect them and that you’re not dependable.

The bottom line is this: If you don’t show people respect and dependability, they’re not going to refer you!

The Referral Process

Implement a number of simple but effective processes into your daily routine; for example:

  • Send clients pre-confirmation letters before the job by mail or e-mail.
  • Educate clients with a complimentary client newsletter, or a consumer awareness guide or other educational literature.
  • Do a security inspection or evaluation presentation for the client that discovers their security needs and conveys the value you will be delivering to address those needs.
  • Be attentive and “present” when communicating with a client—turn your cell phone off.
  • Share testimonials and other evidence of success to help build trust.

At the end of the job or sale—after you’ve educated your clients and you’ve provided a great product/service and they’re happy with it—is the perfect time to ask for a referral.

Educate your clients as to why they should give you referrals. If you don’t ask them and let them know the way you build your business is through referrals, don’t expect them to really think about it for you. You’ve got to plant a seed in their mind.

This can be done through something as easy as a referral-tracking form that educates clients about your referral system and gives them an opportunity to list friends or family who may be in need of your company’s security services.

The form also could be sent as an e-mail message to clients that can be easily forwarded to others.

Be sure to follow up with all newly referred prospects promptly. Any time you are given the name and contact information of someone who may be interested in your security products or services, it’s your responsibility to turn that referral into a sale.

Offer a Referral Reward

You need to thank and reward those who refer you. Imagine what would happen if you not only started going out of your way to thank clients for sending you business, but you also started rewarding them with gifts or perks. (Thanking and rewarding your employees works very well, too, so don’t forget to thank those who come back with a completed referral tracking form and reward them for any new business attained by the form.)

To thank a client for his or her referral, you should send out a handwritten thank you card. Nothing says thank you more than a handwritten note. It means that you personally took the time to sit down and express your gratitude.

Gifting your clients for each referral that turns into a sale also is important. One gift idea you should consider is rewarding clients with cash. It’s much more cost-effective to give small cash rewards for a referral than to pay for expensive advertising or other forms of promotion.

As an alternative to cash, you could give a bonus, such as free additional services or a gift card to a chain store that everyone likes, such as Target, Walmart, Kohl’s, or a gift certificate to a local restaurant or movie theatre.

Client Champions Are Your Business’s Goldmine

Go out of your way to identify the people in your client list that refer you most often and treat those people with great care. They are your unpaid sales force and often can outperform your paid sales force.

You can maximize the enthusiasm of your happiest referring champions through special recognition and events. You can give public thanks to champions in your client newsletter or post it in your lobby. You can have Client Appreciation Dinners and invite your champions for a free meal.

You can have a referral contest, with each referral leading to a ticket in a drawing for some big prize—a dinner for two at an upscale restaurant, a weekend getaway or a cruise. The great thing about this is that it can easily be done through your client newsletter.

So start making your security business a smashing success by implementing the simple referral-generating strategies I’ve shared with you, and don’t forget a key ingredient for referral rainmaking: wowing your clients!

This article originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of Security Today.

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