Referrals and Networking: Building Your Customer Base
Referrals are the easiest and least expensive way to build your customer base. The best way to get qualified referrals is to ask your existing clients. If that makes you feel uncomfortable (like you’re asking clients for a favor), remember: They already like you and your service, or they would be using someone else!
Join a Local Networking Group
If you talk with individuals who have built solid and successful companies in the professional cleaning industry, most will tell you that they either have been or are currently an active member of some networking group - anywhere from LeTip International-style groups to your local BNI (Business Network International) group.
You'll need to determine which type of group will best help you grow your business. It may require visiting multiple groups until you find one with which you are comfortable as a business owner. Some groups are very active, and others are not. You make the choice.
What you need is a group of professionals that meet and exchange business referrals to help you build your customer base. It should be comprised of members just like you who are offering a professional service and, like you, want to build their customer base with qualified new customer referrals.
Most groups will allow only one carpet, upholstery or tile and grout cleaning service company in the group, so if you find a fantastic group that already has a cleaning company as a member, don’t worry – normally a successful networking group will know of other active groups that may have an opening for your services. Keep trying until you find the right fit for you.
Hone Your Speaking Skills
Now for the FUN! If you are uncomfortable speaking in front of people, networking groups offer a chance to polish your public speaking skills – something that’s critical to being able to speak to your customers in a confident and professional manner.
Take advantage of every opportunity to market yourself and your company to anyone and everyone every day. That includes asking EVERY existing customer for referrals. And if you can join a solid local networking group, you'll be a leg up on your competitors.