How Service Professionals Can Expand their Referral Community with Technology

Ryan McCabe, Co-Founder of Ocoos

07/31/2013 22:32 PM
Total Views: 3539

The service industry is notorious for being largely referral based. Consumers like to ask around before scheduling a plumber, massage therapist, or tennis instructor and there is no doubt that this will not change. So it seems the key to growing a largely referral based business is to expand the markets from which referrals are developed. This article will discuss the ideas and practices for growing your referral community into new social groups.


Determine your current customers’ demographics and DON’T MARKET to them!

If a large base of your customers are between the ages of 40-60 years old, have upper income jobs, and live on the west side of town, there is a good chance that you have a strong presence in that social group. Continue your work in this community, but don’t spend advertising dollars on them. Instead, determine social communities where you are lacking a presence and market towards them. The best way to determine this information is through Client Management Technologies.

There are many different companies that offer Client Management softwares and range in price and capabilities. It is important that your system is:

  1. Simple: Don’t waste your time learning a system of which you will only use 40% of the capabilities.

  2. Cloud Based: You should be able to access your data anywhere and on any device. This will give you the ability to insert data on the go and avoid double entry.

  3. Safe: You have worked hard to create the data, don’t lose it.


Ideas to consider when breaking into new social groups and communities

Social groups tend to be relatively small and can saturate rather quickly. They also revolve around even smaller congregations points like churches, parents of a local elementary school students, traveling soccer teams, YMCAs, and country clubs. Therefore reaching into as many as these groups as possible will reduce the risk of saturation.


Within every social group there are a few key influencers These people and organizations  have strong, trusted voices within their social circles and should be the center of your marketing efforts. Check out the organization’s/individual’s social media accounts to determine their rate of activity and how many others are linked to them. Check out places like:

  • Facebook

  • Twitter

  • LinkedIn

It is important not to confuse their online influence with their physical world influence, but it is a good place to start.


How to influence referrals in newly developed social groups

You should consider two factors when attempting to expand your referral community:

  1. How easily can referrals be made

  2. What are the incentives for making the referral


First you must make the referral as easy as possible. A great example of this is when your lawn company leaves a stake in your yard with their company name and contact information. They have completely broken down the barriers to creating referrals and created a situation where the customer is automatically making a referral.


If you don’t own a landscaping company, you're still in luck. You can leverage social media to leave a virtual yard stake in your clients online community. After completing a service with a client, post a quick thank you or response on their social media accounts. Not only is this a great way to follow up, but it creates awareness about your company within their social network.


Some people need a little push when making a referral, so create programs to incentivise your customers to spread the word about your business. You can use points programs or encourage people to bring a friend for a discount.

Overall, technology should not be thought of a as a way to replace your referral based marketing efforts, but as a way to grow it. As the internet and technology are making it much easier and faster for people to share information, make sure that some of that information is about your business!