How to increase word-of-mouth recommendations
Despite everything, work for many contractors is starting to pick up. Many clients who had been waiting to see if COVID would “blow over” have realised they need to find ways to continue in the new normal and so the self-employed are finding themselves back in demand. However, things aren’t yet at the level they were pre-pandemic, which means it’s a competitive time for contractors, as several are competing for a limited number of roles.
It’s good, then, to be able to get in on the ground with potential clients before their contract is even put out to tender and one of the best ways of doing this is through word-of-mouth recommendations. After all, if a prospective client mentions to a colleague that they’re considering hiring a contractor to carry out an assignment, and that colleague says “I know just the person,” then you could find yourself with the enviable position of being the only person in line for the task.
But how to generate that word-of-mouth? We’ve pulled together some of the best ways.
Always ask for feedback
Whenever you finish an engagement, always ask for written feedback from your client. Do this within a few days of the project finishing, while your work is still fresh in the mind of your client.
This could be something they email to you so that you can post it on your website, or perhaps through LinkedIn’s own recommendations portal. This allows anyone searching for your services to read first-hand accounts of your work and see how happy other clients have been with you. It also encourages your client to reflect on your engagement which may make them more likely to recommend you to others.
Leave clients with a business card
Always leave clients with a copy of your business card or, if you don’t use them, your contact details so that they can easily pass on your details to others.
Going back to that prospective client mentioning their need for a contractor to a colleague. If their colleague says “I know just the person,” and whips out your business card, the prospective client is even more likely to get in touch because they don’t have to go searching for your information. It’s just removing a hurdle that helps you get in ahead of the competition.
Ask for recommendations
There’s no shame in asking a client to share your details on social media or recommend you to someone. In fact, it’s something contractors need to be more up front about in general. In your final email to your client when wrapping up a project, include a line to the effect of, “if you have been happy with my services, please feel free to recommend me to others or to share my Facebook page/Twitter profile with your followers.”
There’s no guarantee your client will do it, but if you don’t ask then you don’t get so it’s always worth asking the question.
Introduce a recommendation incentive scheme
One way to really increase word-of-mouth recommendations is through an incentive scheme. Usually, clients are asked to recommend your services to others and, should those friends or colleagues hire you, your client gets something in return. It’s not, as some people suggest, “buying” recommendations, but rather incentivising a client to make a referral they would have been happy to do anyway, they might just have not got around to.
Incentives you could offer include:
- Money off your services (although this will only work if you tend to get repeat business)
- Gift vouchers for popular retailers
- A cash gift
- A “luxury” item such as a bottle of wine or a gift hamper
There are some things to be careful of though so that you don’t end up paying out for incentives, only to have referred clients leave you in the lurch. So, you should always include a caveat that the incentive will only be sent out once the contract is signed, or once the final invoice has been paid, or whichever milestone you feel is appropriate.
While we’re on the subject, now would be a good time to tell you about Kingsbridge’s own Refer a Friend incentive. For every successful referral you make to us, you’ll get up to £40 in Amazon vouchers (this will be based on the total net basket premium).
All you have to do is fill in some details on our online referral form and we do the rest.