Simple Tips On How To Get More Referrals

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by Tom Watson on February 22, 2011

One of the best ways to grow your cleaning business is through referrals.

Referrals give you the luxury of potentially adding more revenue and profit without the added expense of a traditional marketing campaign.

Another benefit of referrals is that when someone is referred to your company, they are “pre-sold” on your services. This increases the chances that you can convert them from a prospect to a paying customer.

They are pre-sold because whoever referred them must have been pleased enough with your service to go “out on a limb” so to speak and recommend your company. They certainly wouldn’t have referred you if they were unhappy in regards to your service.

The best way to increase your chances for a referral is to have a plan in place that makes getting referrals more likely than not. This plan does not need to be complicated or hard to understand. In fact this plan can be spelled out in only 7 steps.

One – Involve your staff. Many times your cleaning customers will want to know “who” is cleaning their home or office. In other words they want a “name”, as this makes the person real to them. Sometimes they may even request a meeting to get acquainted. If they take this route, make it happen, you will be better off for it.

Two Exceed their expectations. Aim to please the customer from top to bottom, leaving no stone unturned in your pursuit of this goal. Failure to do so will sabotage all your hard work in getting the account in the first place and erase any chance for referrals along the way.

Three – Stay in touch. Make a habit of calling them to tell them you appreciate their business. Contact them to just see how things are going as well. Don’t be just another faceless vendor that cashes their check but never says “thanks” or keeps in touch. This approach can create the foundation for a relationship which you can build on later.

Four – Be sure to hire friendly staff. You can train people to do just about anything in life, but being friendly certainly isn’t one of them. Take the extra steps necessary during the hiring process to discover and hire only the friendly people.

Five – Engage your cleaning customers. Tackle the challenges of each particular account head on and find solutions that are win-win. Ideas that solve a customer issue and either save you time or allow for a better job cleaning would be ideal.

Six – Train. Train. Train. Keep your staff focused on the task at hand with regular “reminders” of what makes this particular customer happy. This may be a weekly phone call or a memo that goes out regularly, but whatever the case COMMUNICATE.

Seven – Share good news whenever possible. When a customer takes some time out of their busy day to call you and complement your staff on a job well done, make sure you let the employees know. The news will make them feel appreciated, which is a fundamental ingredient to maintaining a happy staff.

Making use of these tips to gain more referrals does not take a lot of money, energy or effort. It just takes a small “commitment” to strive to be the best you can be. In doing so you’ll reap the benefits of increased customer loyalty and tremendous profitability. 

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michele Whitehead November 18, 2011 at 10:47 pm

How do you price jobs, hourly or by the job? Do I need to be licensed in Maryland? I want to get jobs with realtors, but I’m not bonded and insured and cannot afford it. I’ve been doing this for 8 years, and only have 8 clients right now. It seems like they’re dropping like flies! I don’t do contracts and clients cancel last minute, I’ve been with one for almost a year now. She cancelled a month ago, said she was travelling and forgot to leave my check and she’ll catch up with me the next week. I have not heard back from her as of yet and she always always complimented me. I have 4 clients that’ve been with me 8 years, I’m a perfectionist and do great every time

2 Tom Watson November 18, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Hi Michelle!

I normally price a job by how long it will take me, as that is the only way to make sure you cover your expected expenses. I don’t know the particulars about Maryland, but at a minimum you need to register your business and get insurance (bonding is nice but not normally required). To get the accounts with Realtors you will need to be insured, as that is the only way to get accounts (the good ones anyway).

3 Dave Metzger January 3, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Hi Tom, I have been doing residential cleaning for approx 12 yrs now but I have reached a plateau or I’m stuck in neutral as you say. I have been working hard to change that so I may buy your ebook if you think it might help me. Anyway, I was wondering what you thought about the Deal of the Day companies out there now, the ones that advertise at least 50% off of regular prices. It’s good for the deal hunters but after the discount these companies take half of what is left over which means it costs me money to service these type of customers. I tried one because the salesman was very adament that I would love the results. It turns out that most people and I mean almost all the them won’t buy extra time at regular prices so of course we are unable to clean the whole house which leads to complaints at worst or no referrals at best. I know it costs money to advertise but the only winner here was the Deal of the Day company. What are your thoughts on this type of marketing? I think it’s bad for service businesses who hire people. Thanks, I look forward to your reply.

4 Tom Watson January 6, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Hi Dave! Sorry for the delay, been away for a few days. Ok to your questions….Yes, I do think my course will help you. It’s a peek inside my head, and how I approach the customer. What I teach is nothing that’s hard or technical, so anyone can make the process work for them.

Concerning the deal of the day…I must admit that I have never used them BUT with that said, I would approach them with a slightly different approach than you see. For me, I would not try to only clean part of the house THEN try to upsell for the rest. I would clean the WHOLE HOUSE for the discounted price.

I know that sounds crazy, but the math would be in your favor over the long haul (like the casino has the odds when you walk in to play a few bucks). Once you go all out and clean the house, the odds are high that they would be a regular customer from there on out. Sure, some people will take advantage of you and get one highly discounted cleaning then leave you, never to be seen again, but THAT’S LIFE! It goes with the territory.

When I offer house cleaning services via a flyer, I offer half off the first service ALL THE TIME. Like I said, over the long haul many more folks will like the work you do then continue to be a customer for a very long time (making you money). This is a risk that is worth it in my opinion.

I do the same on the commercial side of my business (EXCEPT I offer half off the ENTIRE FIRST MONTH, and sometimes that can be a thousand or so dollars in ACTUAL savings to the customer). In the carpet cleaning part of my business I sometimes even offer to clean a room or two for FREE just to get my foot in the door.

Just like in court, “possession” is 9/10ths of the equation, so if the customer is in your “possession”, you are in control.

5 Mrs.SpeedySteamer August 20, 2012 at 10:43 pm

We do a referral rewards program. But in order to do this we have to have what you said to get the referrals coming.

Nice staff, standing behind our work, and taking the time to say thank you.

Also we send Holiday and Birthday cards. Can you imagine having a client with all their holiday cards out on display (my grandmothers on both sides do this) and having one from your carpet cleaner. Just imagine all the talk that starts for everyone. Giving gifts, like spotter with our information on it, and asking them to give one to their friends. Good way to drum up referrals too. Spotter generally cost about $1.15 per bottle, but can make thousands in revenue.

6 Tom Watson August 20, 2012 at 11:25 pm

I LOVE the sending out of holiday cards, and the birthday too if you can get the dates! YES, you are so spot on, these actions make you STAND OUT from the crowd.

I’m also a big fan of the spotter. Great chance to brand your company AND provide a giveaway that the customer can actually use at the same time. A company called Jon-Don has a program that allows you to create coupons and pretty much whatever you like on your personal bottle of spotter. It basically looks like a bottle you private label.

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