Referrals - still important, always appreciated, not a one-way street

If you've ever started or worked in a business you'll know how important referrals are.

Before I moved to Tasmania my business was growing well based on networking and referrals only.

I think I only once paid for advertising in the very early days.

Referrals work well to generate income in population dense communities but not so much in semi-rural and more sparse areas.

Referrals are still very important but they alone cannot be relied upon to generate business.

And, of course, in semi-rural locations "everyone knows everyone" so referrals are very important in that context.

When I moved to Tasmania and the Huon Valley over 10 years ago my first port of call was to the local business groups such as the Kingborough & Huon Business Enterprise Centre.

I'd realised that, for my business to be successful the region had to be successful - happy and positive about business.

In those 10 years it is evident that the KHBEC has been integral to the improved attitude, wellbeing and success of local businesses.

They've put on business expo's, held business awards, held countless business breakfasts, arranged numerous "Happy Hours" at local businesses and all that on top of the huge amount of work that Scott and his team do on a day-by-day basis.*

Kerry, Daniela, Scott
Kerry, Daniela, Scott

In those 10 years, through the KHBEC and other sources, I've met a lot of people and seen a lot of businesses come and go.

For me networking and referrals is who I can trust and who I can tell my customers about.

You'd be amazed how many times I am asked non-computer advice and who I know that can help.

It is quite satisfying to be able to answer confidently and help customers fix their other problems.

I don't expect anything in return for these referrals. I'm just happy to help my customers.

But you know what, I do pay attention and listen for feedback.

If you've read my early posts you'll know I also like "feedback" in advance to avoid problems.

I ask my customers how they found me and I ask the businesses to who I've referred work how it went.

I put my money where my mouth is and I buy from these very businesses I refer my customers to.

But as is too often the case with humans, sometimes I am let down.

When that happens there's no song and dance. But if there's an imminent danger to any of the people I've referred to a business, or indeed a threat to a business from a customer gone bad...I will let people know ASAP.

That danger or threat is usually in the form of financial loss but it can take other forms; time-waster, lyer, scam, unethical, racist etc.

Life's too short to deal with these types twice.

Recently a business that I had spent lots of money with, and to whom I had constantly referred people to over the years, decided to treat me (as a customer) very poorly.

As I reflected on this relationship I realised that I had not so much as received a "thank you" for all the business I had referred to them over the years. I know that recent referrals alone account for more money than I earn in a year.

I also realised that I had not received a single return referral from them. I know, because I usually ask my customers how they found me if it isn't offered or obvious.

So I don't waste my time on them anymore. They may not notice but I don't care. At least I'm not wasting my time or pointing my valued customers in their direction.

Referrals are still vitally important to business. The quality of them even more so.

So I thank you in advance for the good referrals to send my way.

Thanks, David.

* I have to confess a bias as I am currently on the board and have had a hand in helping Scott with some of these events over the years.

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