Remodeler: Building a Referral Base Builds Your Business

Remodeler: Building a Referral Base Builds Your Business

Baltimore, MD The sales process doesn't just stop at obtaining and closing sales, according to Steve Klitsch of Carlyle Construction Co. in Germantown, MD. Klitsch spoke about how dealers can create a strong base of referral business quickly and easily with a little creativity at the Kitchen & Bath Design Expo '98, held here in October. Since "kitchen and bath remodelers have to rely on referrals heavily" to keep their businesses going, says Klitsch, dealers and remodelers have to understand that in addition to advertising, they can and should build their businesses with word of mouth from satisfied customers.

In building a customer referral base, Web sites can be an effective tool, says Klitsch. "It will be key to invest some time and money in a Web site, one that's right for you. It can increase your referral base, even though you [may] be in a small geographic area." Klitsch also suggests on-line profiles, which are similar to Web sites, as well as linking your Web site to manufacturers' Web sites. "Linking with brand-name manufacturers helps increase your referral base by virtue of your name being associated with them," notes Klitsch.

Another, less high-tech way of generating referrals is to "develop referral incentives," advises Klitsch. "Personal contact is the best way to reward referrals." Klitsch suggests personal thank-yous, gifts, free home repair services, even contests where customers can build up credit points for services or discounts based on how referrals they give.

"We've [also] got to educate clients, show them what we're doing, invite neighbors and friends to showcase your work in progress," adds Klitsch.

"Cultivate referrals from allied professionals, as well," Klitsch emphasizes. That includes architects, kitchen and bath and interior designers, realtors, suppliers, lumber yards and builders. "And reward them with referrals."

But what do you do with the referrals once you've gotten them? Klitsch says that referrals are often misunderstood because they are "not in the bag. You still have to work."

The sales process then begins with the phone call to the client who referred you. "It's a courtesy call. Say 'Thank you,' and then ask, 'What does your friend want? What does your friend like about your kitchen?'" You're getting information, explains Klitsch, that will help close the sale. "[You] want to get more information from the 'referrer' before calling the referral," says Klitsch. This enables you to ask the right questions, and "get on their level."

"Good will to existing clients will keep those referrals coming," concludes Klitsch.