These days, customers have endless options when it comes to finding a service business. A quick Google search can provide them with at least ten viable companies, and it can be difficult to stand out in the crowd. That’s why leveraging your existing customer base and asking for plumbing referrals is so essential.
After all, someone searching for a plumbing business on the internet most likely isn’t loyal to a particular company already. So if a friend or family member recommends one to them, chances are they’ll take the referral.
If you want to be that recommended business and increase your plumbing sales, you’ll need to follow these steps:
A customer recommendation is an extremely powerful thing. And this is especially true for businesses that want to sell more. It’s been found that referred leads have a closing ratio of 50 to 70 percent (while other leads sources average a close ratio of 10 to 30 percent). Not to mention, plumbing sales from referrals are typically twice as large.
So if you’re wondering how to grow your plumbing business, referrals should be a key part of your strategy. Let’s dive into them!
1. Nurture relationships and ask for plumbing referrals at the right time.
When it comes to referrals, there are two mistakes you’ll want to avoid. The first is assuming you don’t need to ask for them and that customers will naturally recommend you. The second is making the request before ensuring your clients are actually happy with your services.
Let’s break them down:
Asking for the referral
When it comes to referrals for plumbing businesses, timing is key. Chances are, you’re a fairly busy person–and your customers are too. Therefore, while they might be over the moon with the job you did for them, it probably won’t be instinctive for them to call up all their friends and instantly recommend you.
The bottom line is, if you don’t directly ask for plumbing referrals, you most likely aren’t going to get as many as you want. When you do ask customers for reviews and to recommend you, though, it’s been found 70% of consumers will! Therefore, making the ask will have a big impact on helping you to generate new business.
Nurturing relationships to ensure positive referrals
Remember, though, it’s crucial to make the request only when you’re sure your customers are actually satisfied with your business. Imagine asking an upset client to leave you a review or recommend you to a friend. Chances are, their referral won’t be a positive one.
It’s not always easy to gauge how happy customers are though, and we get that. That’s why we suggest using tools like an after-sales care portal. Send them a feedback survey immediately after the job and really take the time to understand their responses.
This is where nurturing customer relationships comes in. If they leave only positive feedback, send them a follow up message thanking them for their time to answer the survey, reiterating how great it was to work with them, and then ask them for a referral for your plumbing business.
If it’s clear they feel you dropped the ball somewhere, make the effort to pick it up! Just because the job is done, doesn’t mean the relationship is over.
Make the effort to reach out and ensure their satisfaction. If you need some help with this, be sure to check out these customer satisfaction tips. Once you’re positive they’re happy, you can then ask them for a plumbing referral.
However, sometimes you need to incentivize people need. Which is why you should consider…
2. Implementing a plumber referral program to increase your plumbing sales.
If you’re unsure of what a plumber referral program is, we’ve got you covered. Essentially, it’s an incentive for a customer to recommend your services to their friends and family. And when that referral turns into a job, you reward that customer for it.
Referrals shouldn’t be seen as things that happen organically. They’re a plumbing sales technique, and should be a part of your sales strategy.
Therefore, when your technicians are learning how to sell plumbing services, make sure you’re also training them on how to communicate the value of referrals. Because with a plumber referral program, you can generate new leads and sell more to existing ones.
For example, the offer might look something like this:
Refer a friend, neighbor, or family member to [Your Company Name], and when that person hires our team to do a plumbing job, they’ll receive a $25 credit for the service. Plus, we’ll credit your account $50 for the next time you book a job with us!
Maybe you don’t feel the need to discount your services, but incentives like this pay. Not only are you gaining a completely new customer (through minimal effort of your own), but you’re also incentivizing existing clients to do repeat business with you and not your competition.
And let’s not forget the power of word of mouth advertising. With an incentive like this, a customer might recommend you to five of their friends. While all of them might not book at once, you’ve now gained five new people who had never heard of your business before.
Maybe three months down the line, when they’ve run into a leaky pipe, they’ll remember their friend’s recommendation and reach out to you for help. In a case like this, they might not even use the plumber referral program and actually pay full price for your services.
Of course, for people to use a plumbing referral program they’ll need to know about it. Consider adding it to your website and promoting the offer on your social media accounts. You can also email it out to customers every few months. Which leads us to our next step!
3. Grow your plumbing business by leveraging your database and setting reminders.
A great way to grow your plumbing business through referrals is by managing the customers you already have exceptionally well. The reality is, 80% of your work will come from 20% of your customers (it’s Pareto’s Law).
They’ll be the ones repeatedly booking and referring new business to you. So, if you manage them well, you can grow your company quickly and with far less effort than most other methods entail.
To do this effectively, you’ll need a strong customer database. It should let you personalize each customer’s experience while also automating messages to save time and be more efficient in your sales process.
Messages that include details like a customer’s name in the subject line, the type of services you’ve done for them, or even how long it’s been since you were last in touch can go a long way. Sure, they’re small details, but they’re details that demonstrate to customers you made the effort to remember them.
Subtle touches of personalization help to build customer loyalty, and loyalty can translate to referrals and rebookings. So the more devoted customers you have, the more business you can expect them to refer your way.
A great way to capitalize on this is by including a small message at the end of your communications asking for plumbing referrals. It doesn’t have to be anything grand, it could be something as simple as:
We’re looking forward to working with you again soon, and if you have a friend in need of our services, don’t hesitate to take advantage of our plumbing referral program!
If your customers feel like you’ve already gone the extra mile by personalizing their experience, they’ll be more inclined to pay it forward and recommend you. Therefore, don’t hesitate to include a blurb like this in your emails and have it go out to your customer database.
And when a customer does give you a referral, be sure to always thank them with a follow up message! Recognizing their efforts will go a long way, and only help to create an even better relationship with them.
4. Use social media to reach an even wider audience and get plumbing referrals.
Social platforms can be intimidating, and creating content for the whole world to see may not seem the most appealing. However, if you want to get more referrals and boost your plumbing sales, it is a must.
To grow your plumbing business, you need to create brand awareness and social platforms are an easy and effective way to do this. Plumbing referrals are essentially more people becoming aware of your business, and these recommendations don’t always have to be verbally given.
In fact, by utilizing social media, you can recommend your services to a lot of people in a short amount of time. How? It starts with showcasing your reviews (and if you’re lacking reviews, check out these tips on how to get more).
Let’s say your loyal customers have left some awesome words on your public profile–that’s amazing! But you don’t just want to leave it at that. These reviews are a powerful way to sell your plumbing services, because they’re essentially testimonials of how great you and your business are.
And 81% of consumers say that they need to be able to trust a brand in order to buy from it, and your reviews will build this trust. Even if a potential customer doesn’t know the reviewer, their recommendation matters. It instills confidence that you provide quality service. So much so, that a twenty-five word review can convert a cold lead into a buyer.
It’s pretty powerful stuff, and you should prioritize leveraging it. If a customer leaves you a five star review, make a social post about it! It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, either. Simply copy and paste what they wrote, add a nice background, and thank them for their kind words in the caption. And then simply press post.
The best part is, the update will be shared with your entire network. And anyone who likes or comments on the post will also share it with their connections as a result. That means you’re reaching hundreds of people with a post that took you five minutes to put together.
And out of the hundreds of people seeing your customer’s review and recommendation, you’re likely to win a referral or two from it. Even if you don’t, you’ve still created brand awareness and have gotten your name out to people who didn’t know about you before, which will undoubtedly help your plumbing sales in the future.
No matter how you look at it, it’s a win-win!
5. Partner with local, non-competitor businesses and ask them for plumbing referrals.
When asking for a referral for your plumbing business, don’t limit yourself to only reaching out to customers for recommendations. You can win a significant amount of work by partnering with companies in your area.
For example, maybe there’s a local electrical company you’re familiar with, and you know they work on a lot of new construction projects. It would be a great opportunity if they recommended you to project managers and/or homeowners to do the plumbing for the build.
If there’s a company you have in mind that would be a great fit, you can approach them with a partnership offer. If they refer you to their clients for plumbing jobs, you’ll refer them to your customer base for electrical jobs.
Of course, you’ll need to ensure they’re a trustworthy and quality business before recommending them. Even if they can generate new opportunities for you, you don’t want to refer your loyal customers to a business who doesn’t provide the excellent service they expect. If you do, it will reflect poorly on your business.
Also be sure to really take the time and understand who their ideal customers are. It’s great if you can recommend one of your customers to them, but if you refer a customer for a service they don’t actually provide, you’ve wasted their time and your clients. This won’t bode well for either relationship.
And in turn, make sure they understand the type of plumbing referrals you’re looking for as well. For example, if you only do residential services, make sure they don’t recommend you for commercial work.
When the right processes are put in place, a referral partnership like this can help you to grow your plumbing business and boost sales.
If you want to sell your plumbing services to more qualified, ready to buy leads, then it is important to incorporate referrals into your sales process.
Remember, they shouldn’t be seen as something that happens organically. You need to ask for plumbing referrals, and ensure you’re making the request only to customers who are genuinely happy with your services.
Also be sure to leverage your customer database, and consider creating a plumber referral program. Incentivizing your customers will not only gain you new business from referrals, but also repeat work from existing clients. It’s also a great way to promote your business via word of mouth and to build your brand’s recognition.
We also recommend looking into potential partnerships with local, non-competitor businesses for plumbing referrals. If they’re willing to recommend their customer base to your company, you can generate a significant amount of leads and grow your plumbing business exponentially.
If you’re not using the power of referrals, it’s time to tap into them. There’s a reason 78% of salespeople and marketers say they generate “good or excellent leads”. Referrals are one of the most effective ways to boost your plumbing sales, and shouldn’t be overlooked.
And if you want more tips and expert advice on how to increase your sales, be sure to download your copy of our sales communication guide below! It has everything you need to keep leads in the funnel, even when you’re too busy to get in touch.
Hi! I'm Ashley Tortorelli
When I'm not researching industry trends and writing about business strategies, I spend time with friends and family, travelling, and searching for the world's best chocolate chip cookie.