Getting a brand new client is one of the best feelings a service-based business can experience.
But you know what’s better than a new client?
A new client that was referred to you from someone else!
Although I know a lot of my business comes from referrals (I ask where people found me on my Hire Me form and always talk about it in the first consult call), I never took the time to actually calculate how much money I have made from referrals alone.
So out of curiosity this week, I did.
I went through every invoice I’ve sent in the past year-ish of business and made a list of each one that I was certain came from a direct referral. Then I totaled it up.
You know how much it was?
Fifty eight thousand dollars that I received from people that were recommended to me from a past clients.
That’s 58K I didn’t have to go out and get on my own. I didn’t have to blog, learn Facebook ads, put a crazy email marketing funnel in place to get it. I didn’t have to do anything really, my clients did it for me.
I wouldn’t have had that income without those clients that referred me. But they wouldn’t have referred me if they didn’t love working with me.
And not just with a finished product that they liked (a lot of people can produce a nice finished product).
They liked the value I provided, but also the process of working with me.
I may not have put a lot of work into getting that new client when it comes to straight-up marketing strategies. But I did put the work in to create a streamlined process that made working with me easy, fun and stress-free.
You may have heard me say that referral business is the best business. (I do tweet that phrase often afterall) But I never really add why.
$58k extra income is why.
So if you feel like you’re constantly needing to market yourself to get new clients in the door, keep reading.
4 Ways To Increase Your Referral Business
1. Be organized — starting with your process
Make sure your client feels like they aren’t the first person you’ve ever done this service for. To do so, you need to be organized about your process.
Make your process clear on your website for them to see before they even contact you, and then again in a pre-written welcome email or pdf.
You need to know (and make it clear to them) what happens and when it will happen.
Clients are handing over their hard-earned cash and don’t want to feel like you’re just going with the flow.
So the first step in having a clear process is to write down every single task that needs to be completed by you AND the client to get to the finished result.
Sure, this might change a bit from client to client – but there will be a repeatable skeleton to follow.
Use this list to outline your process for your client and to be able to put together a clear project outline in your project management system.
2. Use a project management tool
Clients don’t want to wade through hundreds of email threads any more than you do. We’ve all got a serious case of email madness these days already. Projects run more smoothly, with less stress, and finish faster when steps, to-do’s and deadline dates are outlined from the start.
Using project management tools like Basecamp (my favorite), Asana or Trello make this super easy for you. Plus, you can setup a template in these tools with the common elements that you can just copy and reuse with each new client.
3. Go above and beyond
You gotta treat your clients like royalty. Without them you can’t do what you do (or at least survive while doing it).
This DOESN’T mean low ballin’ your prices then giving them everything they ask for and not charging for it.
But it does mean paying attention throughout the project and always being open to going above and beyond where you can.
If it’s clear at some point that a little extra somethin’ or other would really help your client, and not take much extra time on your part to do, throw it in!
Then be sure to tell them why you threw it in (i.e. “I think you would really benefit from having this as well and although it wasn’t included in our initial project, once I got in there and realized you need it, I went ahead and did it for you”)
I’m all about getting paid (and paid well) for every minute you put into your work with clients. But going above and beyond whenever possible (for “free”) can turn into a lot more income down the road.
4. Tell your clients
I recently got to meet author Lewis Schiff whose book “Business Brilliant” talks about what makes millionaires different from the middle-class when it comes to making more money.
One of the reasons: self-made millionaires ask for what they want when others are too shy or scared.
When you wrap up a project with a client and thank them for the business, tell them why you loved working with them and that you’re looking to work with more clients just like them. Be open about the fact that you love referral business and ask them to spread the word about you if they were happy working with you too.
They may have done that anyway — but people get busy. A simple mention of it from you will help make sure that the next time they get the chance, they’ll bring up your name.
These are Just 4 Ways to Impress Your Clients
If you’re serious about growing your referral business, while saving yourself a lot of time and stress in your day-to-day along the way, my course Stress Less & Impress will help.
Putting together a streamlined process that makes clients love working with you doesn’t have to be hard. There isn’t some special super-secret tool or persuasive tactic that makes your clients refer you to others.
It’s just a matter of putting into place a few keys steps and elements at each part of your interaction to not only make them happy, but to save you a lot of time and stress too.
Grab my free Freelance Process Cheat sheet below!