Designers Discuss the Importance of Referrals and Recommendations from Clients

"Referrals are the life blood for any remodeling company that wants to grow its business and make a fair profit margin on the work. We all know there is a much better chance of getting a job when someone calls in and says they were referred by a previous client as opposed to someone who calls and says they want to get a ‘bid’ on some work they want done. We set the stage up front for referrals before a job is finished by telling the clients we would like to be able to use them as a referral source in the future. We also send out post job e-mails and letters giving them instructions on how to go on our Web site, Facebook and even Angie’s List to post a comment about the work we did. I have one person in my office who is responsible for handling all of the post job contacts and follow up.”

Ron Lucas

R Lucas Construction and Design

Columbus, GA


"Probably 75% of our business comes from referrals from satisfied customers, so referrals are extremely important for our business. We encourage clients to make recommendations to their friends and family as well as post testimonials on our Web site and Houzz page.”

Ross Smith, owner

Artisan Kitchen and Bath Remodeling

Leland, NC


"Referrals are a very important part of our business. In fact, we have gone without advertising for years on the strength of our referrals. Since they are so important, and in order to raise our online profile, we formally ask for a referral as a part of our job close-out process. Many of our clients use Houzz and we’ve found that the site is an easy place to have people post reviews.”

Megan Padilla, designer

Aidan Design

Bethesda, MD


"Referrals are invaluable. I consider them my business savings account. You have to earn the savings to be able to draw from it in the future. The client/designer dialogue is firmly established from the first point of encounter. Any requests after a job is complete are submitted in writing and then followed up in person. Houzz has become our primary online review source.”

Nancy Gracia

owner, interior/kitchen designer

Bare Root Design Studio

Newtown, PA


"Referrals are our life’s blood, with 29% of our annual sales being the result of referrals. Some referrals come from prospects who did not go with us, and had a bad experience with the kitchen remodeling company they did go with. At the end of each project, we send out an evaluation form that asks questions about our showroom, the designer, project manager, subcontractors and materials that were used on their project. We also include a place to make comments. Three months to a year after a project is finished, we will also call to make sure everything is going well and ask for any comments at that time again. If the project is photographed, we like to get comments that we frame and hang on the wall with the photographs. Lastly, we will also ask clients to post comments on Angie’s List or other social media sites. We give gift certificates to restaurants or salons (depending on the client) to those who have made referrals and the job was sold.”

Jolynn Johnson, president

Crystal Kitchen Center, Inc.

Crystal, MN


"Referrals are critical to our success. Fortunately, having been in this business for more than 30 years, we receive referrals from previous clients, architects, contractors and other industry partners. When I hear a client say ‘once you’ve had a Jennifer Gilmer kitchen, nothing else will do,’ I am humbled and proud. We are privileged to have longstanding relationships with our clients because of our exceptional level of customer service. When a project is completed, we send out a short survey to ascertain our clients’ opinions of our work. We include a polite request for them to post a review and include a link to the review page of the Houzz site. As a follow-up to service calls, our staff emails clients a ‘glad we were able to help you out’ message. We include a Houzz review request, as well. We professionally photograph many of our projects to use for editorial and design contest submissions, share with our clients and add to our online portfolio and project folders on Houzz.”

Jennifer Gilmer, CKD, owner

Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath

Chevy Chase, MD


"Most of the time, free marketing is better than paying for it, so referrals are extremely important to us. They provide consistency to our business by sharing real-life remodeling successes to other prospects in our target market. After months of construction and dust, clients are really focused on just moving into their new spaces. This factor makes obtaining recommendations and reviews more difficult. It’s crucial to plant the referral seed earlier, when clients are at their peak of excitement. In addition, we use the GuildQuality review service as an independent third party that contacts our clients after project completion and asks a series of questions ranging from project budget to communication. This way we are increasing trust and we are not being perceived as influencing what real clients have to say.”

Nick Sannes

director of business development

SJ Janis Company, Inc.

Wauwatosa, WI


"The most important marketing strategy I have is referrals. I use a Houzz profile to ask clients to review my services. Those reviews actually work as a referral system. Clients are so technologically savvy these days, and they do look at reviews. It’s great to finally have a way to be reviewed for potential clients. I usually don’t ask for referrals, I just strive to satisfy my clients and they refer me upon their own accord.”

Jodi Crosby

owner/residential building designer

Crosby Creations Drafting & Design

Meggett, SC


"I would say about half of our business comes from referrals. We get a lot of people coming in who say we did their neighbor’s kitchen, their sister-in-law’s kitchen, etc. We find that we don’t have to do too much to get a good recommendation because we focus on providing great customer service, which results in a lot of recommendations and referrals without even asking for them.”

Joanne Murphy, ASID, designer

Cabri, Inc.

Summit, NJ