The traditional contractor was an expert on their trade. If it was a carpenter who could form any concrete job or the finisher who made concrete smooth as silk the traditional contractor knew his or her business. However, there was also something that many contractors were not as effective at addressing.
Completing a job is still the best and easiest part of concrete for many contractors. When the project is completed too many contractors still fail in getting referrals from the customer. This not only is a failure to land future business opportunities but it is also a failure to bring a professional closing to your efforts. Let?s take a brief look at the latter reason to ask for referrals and then focus the remaining article on the methods to employ in getting referrals from your customers.
Asking for referrals at the conclusion of your projects sends a very direct and professional signal to your customers that you are proud of the effort that your company has completed from start to finish. A contractor who is embarrassed by their company?s effort will send the bill in the mail or ?chicken out? and have their foreman drop the remaining bill on their way departure from the job.
The contractor, or the estimator/salesman who landed the job, should approach the customer confidently, thanking the customer for the opportunity to perform their work. Then, the contractor should personally hand the remaining billing statement to the customer and walk through the life of the project, encouraging the customer to ask any questions that they might have. This effort brings a strong close to a process that was started to improve the customer?s needs or meet their expectations.
Now, let?s address the great need to solicit referrals from your customer. First, customers who are satisfied with the work you have completed are more likely to share the names of others who might be in need of your services. Why wouldn?t they? Think about it! If you have just taken your spouse to a new restaurant and enjoyed a quality meal with attendants waiting on your every move wouldn?t you be very excited about telling your friends about your experience? Many of us might even call a friend to tell them of the experience. The same is true for your customers if they are satisfied.
OK, let?s assume that we are dealing with satisfied customers. Then how do we go about getting referrals from our customers? Here is the first step you need to take - and it?s a big one: Just ask!
No secret here. Asking your customer for the names of others who might also be interested in your services and quality concrete work should be as natural as breathing. How do you actually ask for referrals? Let me give you a non-threatening phrase you might adapt.
?Mr. Humphrey, thank you for your business. We really appreciate the opportunity you gave us to do your work. We?re always interested in working with good folks, would you be able to provide three or four names of individuals you know that might be interested in some of our services??
At this point you should be looking up at the customer with a pen and pad ready for the names. You might only get one or two names; then again, you might get five to seven names. It?s happened to me several times. Keep that pen and pad in full view of the customer and watch the names start coming!
And, as long as your asking, don?t forget to ask for contact information. In fact just as you might ask for the names of friends from your satisfied customer so too can you ask for e-mail addresses of their friends. It?s a sign of our times when we memorize more e-mail addresses than phone numbers. Depending on the type of customer you have performed work for, try asking for e-mail addresses for their friends who might also need similar work performed.
Next month, now that you?ve asked for referrals, I?ll tell you three sure-fire ways to make referrals pay off for you!