A new referral card serves many purposes for Case Design/Remodeling of Bethesda, Md. Not only does it help keep the company's name fresh in the minds of existing clients, it also encourages them to refer new clients at a slight discount. “Remodeling is a big loyalty business,” says Joaquin Erazo, VP of marketing and public relations, “and we figured out how to get the client to come back, spread the word, and create some degree of loyalty.” The cards are mailed to past clients in the fall to remind them of Case during the winter months. In just the short time the company has been using the cards, they already have a record number of new jobs lined up because of them.

While Case never discounts work through a direct mass mailing or running ads, this discount works in their favor by cultivating a client base that feels as though they have received a special deal. The $250 discount is a good maximum for new customers, especially if they become repeat business and also refer their friends.

Personalizing the card for an existing client helps “John Smith” feel as if he, too, has obtained something extra out of working with Case and reinforces positive feelings toward the company, even if the project ended months before. And the new client feels a sense of trust due to the personal relationship they have with “John Smith,” which encourages them to redeem the card.

Mailing the cards in late September and creating an expiration date at the end of February gives the recipients enough time to mull over a project. It also helps to bolster Case's job volume during the typically slower winter months while preventing too many calls during the summer.

When designing these types of customer discounts, consult an attorney to ensure that all loose ends are tied up. Case wanted to be clear about when and under what circumstances the cards can be redeemed. Attention paid to the small print helps ward off large future misunderstandings.