By Lisa Chinn
Referrals are a great way to gain new clients. New clients are more likely to trust a friend or family member’s recommendation than marketing or advertising they see, so word of mouth is an ideal way for clients to learn about your wellness practice. Unfortunately, it does not always occur to customers to recommend you to their friends. If the topic of wellness does not come up in conversation, clients often forget that others might benefit from your services. Word of mouth advertising is incredibly powerful, but you cannot control it. Referrals are different because you can create and implement a system/program for obtaining them. You control the process and you can start or stop the program at any time. You can also periodically change your referral program to test how effective a strategy is; just be careful not to annoy clients by changing tactics too frequently.
The first step towards getting referrals is perfecting your services so that clients would want to recommend you. Remember that referring a friend or family member to you is a risk for clients, because they lose credibility if they recommend a service to someone who ends up disliking it. It’s best to attempt to get referrals from clients who you know are satisfied with your treatments, such as repeat clients or clients who write a positive review about your practice. Once you build up some clients who love your work, it’s time to start working to get referrals.
The second step towards getting referrals is finding ways to let clients know you appreciate their referrals. Even your biggest fans might forget that you could use more business from new clients, and it’s important to actively ask for referrals. You don’t want to be pushy and ask for referrals during every interaction with clients, but you do want to make sure to ask occasionally.
Ways to Get Referrals
1. Include a request for referrals in your marketing materials.
- For example, add a statement about referrals to the comments page of your website that says something along the lines of: “We’d love to hear your comments and suggestions. If you liked our services, please also consider recommending us to your friends and family.” You can also include a general request for referrals at the end of emails and in brochures.
2. Create a promotion to encourage referrals.In a recent article about promotions
- , I suggested offering a discount for existing clients who refer a new client to you. Other options include a buy-one-get one half off special for combined sessions with an existing client and a friend, free product samples for clients who refer someone to you and discounted gift certificates that existing clients can give out on birthdays or holidays. Post about your referral promotion on your business Facebook page and Twitter account.
- Print out referral cards that allow an existing client to fill in his name and contact information to take credit for any referrals. Tell clients that you offer rewards for referrals, and ask them to fill the cards out and give them to friends. Offer slight discounts for new clients who come in with referral cards, and also send coupons or small gift cards to clients whose names show up on the referral cards that new clients bring in. Give the cards out to clients after appointments, to friends, and to family members.
4. Display the names of those who provide referrals in your office or in your newsletter.
- It’s a free and easy way to let your clients know their referrals are appreciated. Of course, you should obtain permission before displaying their names.
5. Ask satisfied clients for referrals.
- When an especially happy client calls in to thank you for a great appointment, feel free to ask her if she has any friends or family that might benefit from your services. You can either ask her to give the person your contact information, or offer to add the person to your e-mail list.
6. Make a referral arrangement with another wellness provider.
- If you perform one type of service and your friend or neighbor performs a different but complementary one, you can work out an arrangement to recommend each other to clients. Make sure to trade appointments with each other first, so you feel confident that you are referring clients to a skilled practitioner. The key is to refer clients to somebody who will contribute to what you offer without taking business away from your practice. For example, you could suggest that a birthday party hostess who hires you to do manicures also hires your friend who does makeup.
7. Have a monthly or semi-annual drawing awarding a prize to a client who provides you a referral client.
- Enter everyone who provides a referral during that time into the drawing. Award a free product or treatment they have not tried before.
8. Post contact info or a link to your website at the end of any guest blog posts, advice columns, and instructional videos you create.
- Every time somebody reposts your writing or video, he will be referring you to new clients. Writing articles or blog posts also allows you to demonstrate your expertise in your area.
9. Sell or give out t-shirts, water bottles, or tote bags with your logo on them.
- Offer them for purchase at an inexpensive price and consider giving some away with gift sets or as a reward for clients who prepay for a certain amount of appointments in advance. When your satisfied clients wear your logo, they are subtly referring your services to just about everyone they encounter. Potential clients might also ask the wearers of your logo about your services, which will prompt existing clients to refer new people to you.
Referrals are one of the best ways to attract new customers, so it is important to actively encourage them. Remember that if each client refers just one new client to your services, your number of clients doubles instantly. Finding a way to ask each client for a referral just once or twice per year can increase your business exponentially over the span of just a couple of years.
For more great blog posts, visit Wellx.com.