The Business of Trust and Referral
I’ve often thought about this subject of business relationships and recommendations, but perhaps starting my own business has made me reflect on it even more! This weekend I saw the power of recommendation and referral work so brilliantly at it’s simplest level that I thought it was worth sharing.
So here’s the situation. Our house has had a few problems that we haven’t quite overcome yet. We always seem to have people round with tape measure in hand tutting about something that needs to be fixed! Rather more work than we realised when we moved in, and perhaps we’ve been guilty of naivety but we’re getting there slowly. Along our journey to improve it, some of the “experts” we’ve called in haven’t always lived up to the promotion and promises surrounding them. Let’s call one of them “X”. Not imaginative, but it will do!
Some of the work done by “X” has been a bit “half-hearted”. A bit amateur. It left underlying problems that had a knock-on effect and created further problems. The work wass done with an attitude of “I’m finished so if you just pay me I’ll be on my way”. No thinking beyond the quick buck to longer term benefits and growth through networks. “X” was the expert and we didn’t doubt him. More fool us.
So to cut to the chase, am I surprised when I hear that my friend down the road has had the same problem? Nope! Do I wish I’d checked with more people first? Yes (lesson learnt).
Am I going to recommend “X” to others? You can bet your bottom dollar I’m not!! Neither is said friend down the road. Nor are the ten or so people that we each talk to about our experience, or the ten people who spread out in ripples from each of them….BUT what about when it works the other way round? When the power of referral and recommendation works for your business because you DO deliver what you promise, when you promise it?
This is what I saw over the weekend, and it was really fabulous! We had some work to do that would solve the underlying problem in our house. Other friends had recently had the same work done, and the results were +1 on what was promised. The services of Mr “Y” cost a little bit more than “Bodgit and Leggit” might have charged, but we knew the result would be excellent and came with a follow up guarantee. So that’s a referral and two happy customers.
My neighbour needed some work done, so we recommended “Y”. Their friend a few miles away needed a major project undertaken so who did they use? How many people have we told in total? Probably enough to keep “Y” busy for the next two years! As we sat round the table the other night we realised that, not only had “Y” earnt over £50,000 just from the jobs we knew of in our immediate group of friends, but we would always trust this skilled craftsman and carry on recommending him as long as the feedback remained the same.
The power of personal recommendation works at any level and in any industry, and I hope that this is how my relatively new business will develop. It is certainly working so far, but I won’t rest on my laurels. There is a responsibility that comes with the trust that people place in you, and a motivation to keep up the good work. That’s a kind of positive pressure and enhances working life rather than detracts from it! My challenge at Business Toolbox Cumbria is to manage work load and commitments while I remain a one-man-band!
Perhaps one of the most powerful online examples of testimonials and recommendation at work (both positive and negative) is on Tripadvisor. I have always been fascinated by this as I have a background in hospitality. I’ll save my views on this for another post, but it is such an immediate barometer of opinion that its power is immense. Love it or hate it, you certainly can’t ignore it! I also see Google+ as an increasingly important platform for endorsement and referrals, and all the indications show that this is creeping up fast on Facebook as a platform.
It is down to delivering +1 on all that you do, and then letting your network of satisfied customers be your greatest advocates. There is no more powerful word of mouth marketing tool than this.