Just because you’re good at what you do, it doesn’t mean you’ll get referrals for new business. Many business owners know that the best source of referrals is from satisfied customers. They go about doing great work and making their customers happy, then wait for the referrals to come in.
To a degree this works, depending on your business and its reputation in the market. However, this alone does not generate enough new referral work. The problem is that receiving referrals is more important to you than giving referrals is to your past customers. Customers may love working with you, but may be too busy to pass your name along.
Asking for referrals is a good place to start. You might mention it in a phone call or email as a natural part of the work you do together. You can have a form on your website or in paper form that customers fill out when they start work with you. It doesn’t matter what you do, just as long as you have integrated it into your business system.
If you don’t remember past customers, they certainly won’t remember you. When you stop working with a customer, they don’t have a reason to think about you anymore. If you want them to remember who you are, keep in touch with them. This is easy to do with ongoing customers. If you work with them every month, they will naturally remember you.
Stay in touch with former customers with regular email marketing, an invitation to an annual event or perhaps a message through social media. You could consider following them on Twitter as they may follow you back.
The key is to keep in touch with customers through scheduled email / marketing. Quarterly or twice yearly contact is often enough, and don’t forget to ask for a referral. Make sure you get the message right rather then being too pushy. Something along the lines of, “Business is going well. We are always looking for more. If you would like to refer a friend or contact to us we will look after them as well as we looked after you…”.