As a business owner, you understand the importance of receiving referrals and getting new customers on a consistent basis. There are a number of potential sources of referrals and different techniques you can use to obtain them. We’ve outlined our top 5.

Online reviews

No matter what type of business you run, chances are that your customers are researching your product or service online before they buy. As a result, it’s important any information potential customers read about you is positive. Encourage your customers to leave a review on Facebook or Google by making it easy for them. Maybe include some basic instructions in your email communications or, if you have a physical business, include some information in places customers are likely to see it like next to your POS machine (you can download and print our handy guide here ). You might also consider rewarding customers who provide a positive review with a special offer. It’s important that this isn’t seen as a ‘bribe’ for a good review but a discount offer or small reward such as a free upgrade can be seen as a nice gesture.

Just ask

Another great way to get referrals is to just ask for one, but this has to be done in the right way. Chances are, if you ask your customers if they know someone who could use your product or service, they won’t be able to think of anyone. However, if you phrase the question so that it focuses on a particular problem you solve, they are more likely to know someone they can recommend. For instance, a bookkeeper might ask a client if they know another small business owner who is drowning in paperwork and struggling to get their BAS done on time. By structuring the question to emphasise the problem you solve, you are painting a picture of the type of referral you are looking for.

Think outside the box

Don’t restrict yourself to current customers. Anyone with an understanding of your business can be a potential source of referrals. For example, you might ask your suppliers, your accountant or lawyer, even family and friends. Any networking event can also be a potential opportunity to ask for referrals from business associates.

Say ‘thanks’

It’s important to show your gratitude when you receive a referral. Depending on the type of business, a quick email or hand-written note may be all that’s needed. Other occasions might warrant something more substantial such as a gift. Remember you’ve got to give to receive and giving other people referrals is a great way to receive some in return.

Keep it simple

Make it as simple as possible for your clients to refer you to their contacts. Put together a special offer that they can give away, making sure it’s exclusive and substantial. For instance, you might email your clients a discount voucher that they can forward to their contacts; your customers are more likely to recommend you if you’re giving them something that makes them look good rather than feel obligated. You can also put together an email template outlining the benefits of using your business, to save your customer’s time composing their own message.

There’s no one way to source new business referrals. You might like to employ some or all of these techniques, depending on what type of business you own and whether you’re just starting out or you’re well established. Regardless of what strategy you use, it’s important to be consistent and ask for referrals on a regular basis. Not only will this make it easier for you to ask, it will also ensure you have a steady stream of new customers coming to your business.