Referrals Rock. They are awesome. We work like crazy to catch our potential customers attention and spend a lot of time and energy in doing so. The estimate I have from asking people I speak to and consult with is that on average we spend about $250-300 per bride in our Marketing and Advertising. In other words to get a Bride who signs a contract, we usually put out that much in Magazine ads, Bridal Shows, Networking Events, Keeping our web sites up and running, running around town working one on one with other vendors, etc… That is a ton of dough! When someone is so kind and gracious as to simply send us a Bride (who by the way, is easier to close because she trusts the other vendor and she usually spends more with us), we usually want to pay them back for their kindness.
In the natural chronology of the purchases made by the Bride, it’s no state secret that she will typically go to either the Venue or to buy her dress first. Because she goes to these places before many other vendors, it is hard if you ever get a referral from these vendors to “return the favor” and send some business their way. It is important to remember that keeping the relationship solid will maintain those good referrals that the venues and the Dress shops send your way. That being said, here are a few ideas to help you to show some love to these good people.
1. Give them your services free of charge. One DJ could go to the dress shop on a Saturday morning and play some music to bring a little more life to the shop. A Photographer can take headshots of the Employee of the Month at his local venues. A Florist can bring over fresh flowers to either of them. There are a multitude of ways this can bring a little bit back to help them create value and make their business shine.
2. Give them something that matters to them. Many corporate structured businesses (i.e. Marriot, etc…) have policies which don’t allow the employees to take any kind of referral fee or kickback. It is important that you ask them what works in their world. You want to repay their kindness, however, you don’t want them to get in trouble. The best way to do this is ask, “I am so appreciative of your referral and wanted to send you something, but not sure what your policies are. Can I send you a giftcard to a local restaurant? What have others done?”. They will tell you. Taking over donuts, bagels, fancy chocolate usually works also, but again, check with them on what they want/feel is appropriate.
3. Step out of the box. I was recently in Binghamton, NY. Binghamton is a small market and Ryan Bombard is well known and respected as a Mobile Entertainer who really lives up to a high standard of performance and results. He was the reason why I was in Binghamton. He went well out of his way when he noticed I was coming to the Upstate area and worked it out to have me come address a group of his contacts. He worked out a deal with a local hotel and charged a minimal fee (what I call a pay attention fee- if those who want to be in attendance pay something, they will more than likely show up as opposed to those who have free admission, usually half of them show) and the hotel provided lunch. It worked out on all corners- The vendors were thrilled that Ryan put forward such a great effort and was so thoughtful to make this happen for them. Remember- Our businesses are our babies and when someone does something nice for your kids, you remember it. This is something I personally would like to do more as well because the people were so grateful and nice to me as was Ryan (call me if you want to do this in your city- We may have a match!)
Simple “thank you’s” are nice. Going beyond that to something actionable is a great method to cement your relationship with those who are sending you business. Keep the relationships solid and you will win by getting those hot referrals that spend a bunch of money with you.
Until Next Week, Here’s to your success