Past clients and referrals give Terry Bennett Builders & Remodelers (TBBR) about half its projects, and “we take nothing for granted,” says Mary Bennett, vice president. Here's how the Westlake, Ohio, company keeps its word-of-mouth network strong:
Step one: Solicit referrals from past clients. Newsletters mailed two or three times a year feature a “Rewards for Your Referrals” notice that encourages clients to refer friends and colleagues. “For any referral resulting in a job, we'll send you a special gift to thank you for the gesture and the new business it brings to TBBR.” This is followed by a list of new clients and the clients who referred them.
Step two: Notify the client when their referral makes contact. TBBR personalizes a standard form letter into a short, friendly thank-you letter that promises the company will let past clients know if it is successful in establishing a remodeling agreement with the referral. The three owners sign the letter, and Bennett sometimes adds a short personal note as well.
Step three: Mail the reward. A second personalized form letter announces that the referrals have hired TBBR and adds, “Please accept this gift as a small token of our appreciation for your thoughtfulness.” The gift is usually a $50 gift certificate to the client's favorite restaurant.
“I call or e-mail and ask what they'd like,” Bennett says. Sometimes they resist, “but I always take care of them. We're grateful for every single call that comes into this office.” She adds that the company is working with GuildQuality (www.guildquality.com) to make its referral business even stronger.