Referral programs, when executed correctly, can be a fantastic marketing tactic for any business. Many companies were built by having a referral program. These companies include Uber, Dropbox, Airbnb, and many more.
I personally discovered Uber through a referral program when a friend recommended them to me when I needed a ride. He told me to use his link, and I’ve been a paying customer ever since (over eight years, give or take). I started using them when they only offered rides, and since they released Uber Eats, I now also use them to order food. Overall I have spent thousands of dollars using their services since I became a client. Not to mention I referred them to many others over the years. So now you decide. Is one free ride to the referrer and the referral worth gaining such a client?
Using a referral program for your service business is no different. I’ve been testing this at a much lower scale for years, and in this blog post, I will show you how King of Maids uses a referral program to drive more customers. We have this set up to be completed automatically, and we spend 0 hours leveraging this strategy.
Let’s get started!
To have a successful referral program, you need three key parts: provide excellent service, promote it actively, and implement one ASAP. The rest of the post will focus on each of these parts separately.
Provide excellent service
The first part may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people neglect this part. Providing good service is the key to growth, and it’s the only way someone will want to refer your company to their loved ones.
Take care of your existing clients! We have many clients for who we’ve billed $50,000+ in services in a 2-5 year span. These are not businesses. These are individuals who need their homes cleaned regularly. These clients are also our loyal supporters who regularly promote us to their loved ones.
One mistake I see beginners make is they focus on new clients. They blow their budget on marketing to try and attract as many clients as possible, neglecting the important ones that are already paying. For example, if you screw something up, give someone a discount, so they continue being a client. It’s much cheaper to do so than to spend money acquiring a new one. Not to mention, keeping someone happy will give them a reason to promote your business for you. Just imagine losing a client who paid you $50,000 (lifetime) because you broke a picture frame and didn’t give them $100 in credits towards a cleaning.
Fun fact: We spend most of our marketing budget finding cleaners instead of marketing our services. We have been doing this for years because by finding more good cleaners, combined with a good referral program, you gain clients at the lowest costs.
Promote your referral program actively
It’s true if you accomplish the above step (step 1) and provide excellent service, your loyal users will refer you even if you don’t reward them for it. However, if you incorporate a referral program that rewards them, it will drive even more people to participate, and in the long run, you’ll see the results.
Here is what we do at King of Maids.
We’ve been offering a $50-$50 referral program for years now, and we actively promote it to our users. The image above is what a Customer sees when they visit their account. They can easily refer friends and family by visiting the ‘Earn Credits’ page and sharing their unique link via their desired outlet.
If they decide to share on Facebook or Twitter, they will see something like this:
Then on Twitter, it will look like this:
As you can see, we strategically changed the images and text so that people engage with the post when someone shares these links.
Now when all that is set up, it’s important for people to learn about this page and constantly be reminded of your referral program. Some customers will naturally learn about this page by exploring their accounts after getting one. For those that aren’t so curious, we remind them of the referral program in various ways. The first is by including a banner in all of our emails:
We include this Give $50 – Get $50 banner inside all of our emails sent out to a customer. This naturally reminds them about our referral program, and if someone clicks on this banner, they are redirected to a page where they can learn more about it. Each time a customer gets a booking reminder email, a reminder to tip their provider, a cancellation email, a reminder to rate their recent service, they always see this banner, reminding them of the referral program.
The next thing we do is leverage 1 of our SMS triggers to get people to use the Referral program. The trigger looks like this:
This SMS gets automatically sent out to a recurring customer who rates the service 4 out of 5 or higher. We send out an SMS here instead of email because most users rate from their phones, and the moment they submit the review, the SMS will show up on their phone. This increases the chance of them opening up the text right away and referring someone. (This is also one of the reasons why our internal review is so powerful. If you’d like to learn more about why it’s essential to implement it for your business, click here.)
Campaigns are the next thing we leverage to promote our referral program. On repeat, once per month, we send out an email to everyone on our list that looks like this:
We’ve set it up for the system to send it every 4th Monday on repeat.
Leveraging the thank you page is another way that increases our referrals. I designed this after using other software and seeing companies upsell after the initial purchase. It works brilliantly, and we decided to build this out inside BookingKoala as well. Right after someone completes a booking, they are shown this on the thank you page:
It’s a game-changer because instead of showing nothing, you’ll get extra clients from someone who just booked. It’s also a great place to educate new users of your Referral program.
Implement a Referral program ASAP
The last point out of the 3 is to set up a referral program from the start. It’s crucial for every user who books a service from your company to find out about your referral program. The more users learn about it, the more you will get out of it, hence why there’s no point in waiting.
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Also, not everyone will continue using the program. Some folks will book and refer right on your thank you page, then never refer again or visit the dashboard or even book with you. That’s why it’s important to start such a process immediately when you launch because otherwise, those are opportunities that otherwise would’ve been missed.