Operating a small business sometimes means that you don’t have the resources to do everything. For example, you want to grow your business. But you don’t want to spend all your spare cash on marketing. You could save money by doing personal outreach. But then, you’d have less time to serve the new customers you hope to gain. If only there were a way to gain new clients that didn’t take a lot of time or money.
You know what’s coming next, right? There is a way!
Referrals are a type of word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing. A referral can be as simple as one friend telling another,
“Hey, I had an awesome time at this new park last week.”
A request from a friend can also prompt a referral,
“I need a new hairdresser. Do you know anyone good?”
These types of referrals are called “organic” because they occur naturally. You don’t have to rely on organic referrals alone to grow your business, though. Give nature a little boost by encouraging your clients to refer their friends and family.
Here’s how to do it.
How to encourage your massage therapy clients to make a referral
- Tell your clients you would like their referral. If your clients aren’t business owners, they may not realize how valuable a referral from a satisfied customer is. And, let’s face it, promoting your business probably isn’t top of mind for your clients.
You can gain more referrals by simply letting your clients know that you want them. Add the message, “Accepting new clients. Referrals welcome,” to your website and email signature. You can also ask for referrals in person and post signs at your business to share the news.
- Reward clients who make referrals. Telling your clients that you are interested in referrals may give them a slight nudge. However, if you really want to ramp up your referral program, offer them something in return for their help. Test different offers, such as a percentage discount, gift certificate or a treatment upgrade, to see what works best with your clients.
Along with choosing your rewards, you’ll also need to decide when the reward is earned. Will you credit your client when a friend or family member books an appointment or once they’ve paid for their first session?
- Make your referral rewards program “double-sided.” According to a 2020 survey of referral programs, more than 90% offer a something-for-everyone incentive. These double-sided programs provide an incentive to both the person making the referral and the person they refer.
When your program is double-sided, it makes it easier for your clients to make the referral without appearing selfish. It also gives the person who receives the recommendation an incentive to book an appointment to get their reward.
Of course, offering rewards means that your referrals aren’t completely free like organic ones are. But, you’ll only have to pay if your program is a success.
- Keep the momentum going. Once you have your referral program up and running, encourage more referrals by telling new clients about it. Make sure individuals who book an appointment after being referred know that they can refer friends and receive a reward, too.
Also, send a personal message saying thank you to your referring clients. This lets them know that you appreciate their support and will encourage them to continue making referrals.
Finally, make it easy for your clients to tell others about your business. You can help your clients spread the news by distributing printed referral cards, sending a promotional email for them to share, or giving them a personal promotion code that they can share with friends.
Reward your loyal customers and watch your business grow
Once you begin offering incentives, make sure you track each referrer and referee so that everyone gets their rewards. This record will also help you calculate just how much of your business is attributable to referrals. A high referral rate signals that your customers are happy and loyal.
Gaining referrals is just one reason building a base of loyal customers is good for your business. You can find more strategies for earning customer loyalty in our free ebook, The Loyal Customer Generator.