It's time to implement a referral system

Posted Dec 1, 2020 12:13:27 PM

By Stuart Colligon

Most businesses get referrals. However, very few have what I would call a referral SYSTEM. Good businesses get what I call ’passive’ referrals. In other words, they get referrals from their clients, customers or patients because they’re good at what they do.

Of course that’s great. As we all know, referral business is the BEST business. But the problem with this is that without a referral system in place, the business is simply hoping they get referrals, rather than having a proactive process in place which churns out referrals like clockwork.

What about you? Do you have a referral SYSTEM in place? It’s one of those ‘compulsory’ strategies that every business should be using, but few do!

A friend of mine recently returned from a ‘4-day retreat’ (just before lockdown) with his family in the north of England. They stayed in a stunning hotel called Slaley Hall. It’s based near a town called Hexham and just a few short miles from the world famous ‘Hadrian’s Wall’. Anyway, the hotel, like many others, has a spa and gym. But what impressed my friend about the gym wasn’t its facilities, although they were high quality... it was how immersed their referral programme was in their normal day-to-day activities. You see, it’s all well and good having a referral system, but for it to be outstandingly successful you have to immerse your business in it completely.

You should be using every opportunity to engage with your clients, customers or patients to bring the referral programme to front-of-mind awareness.

For years I have been telling business owners they must offer incentives when it comes to their referral programme! And then promote it at every opportunity.

As long as you do this in good taste and you’re not ramming it down your customers’ throats, you’ll see a huge leap in referrals.

Slaley Hall does a very good job in immersing the business and its staff in the programme. They obviously know (like you do) that it’s the best type of business and they aren’t afraid to promote it at every opportunity.

For example, take a look at the pop-up banner opposite that my friend sent to me. These inexpensive promotional tools are apparently all over the spa, the gym and, of course, the hotel. Notice the incentives increase in value for more referrals given. Obvious, but clever!

They also have similar leaflets printed and positioned in areas where their customers congregate (reception, bars, hotel rooms, lodges and restaurants, etc.). You basically can’t miss their referral programme.

Staff even have their name tags printed with ‘ask me about our refer-a -friend programme’.

Total cost to do all this? Minimal.

You cannot underestimate the impact a referral programme will have on your business when you implement it correctly. Better still it’s a nil- or lowcost strategy!