Over 3,000 referrals since 2003.
That’s around 200 referrals per year.
Every year for the past 15 years.
And that is just what he has tracked in a spreadsheet (since 2003). Prior to switching over to tracking in excel he kept a list of all referrals and referral sources in the back of his yearly paper calendars since 1977, the year he started his own law practice.
And 100% possible.
From time to time I have people tell me their business is built by 100% referrals. As you can imagine my ears perk up and I want to know more. I always ask to interview those who have a business built by 100% referrals to see what else I can learn. I feel it is my obligation so I can continue to provide the best solutions and advice to my students and members of my Growth By Referrals online and VIP programs.
But what I have found is that while people say their business is built completely by referrals when I peel back the data that is sometime not the case.
Like the realtor I heard interviewed who said he attributes his business growth to referrals and then when asked to explain, he talked about the leads he buys from an expired database as one of his top business building techniques.
Or like a life coach who does have a business built from referrals but it is a part-time business so getting a handful of referrals from friends every so often works because she is not trying to grow or scale a business. Please understand there is nothing wrong with this model, it works for a lot of people and I commend them for their ability to build a business by design. But it is harder to extrapolate lessons learned in this situation.
I’ve learned to discern (and inquire) what someone means when they talk about building a business solely or even mostly from referrals.
Which is why my time with David Erdman, the attorney who has received on average 200 referrals a year – and truly has a business built on referrals – was so exciting, refreshing and validating.
He allowed me in to peel back the layers of how he made it happen.
And it was like looking in a mirror.
When David talked about what he has done over the years it completely aligned with what I teach my students and members of my Growth By Referrals program. And that was rewarding and validating.
I know what I teach works. My results are very real – 100+ referrals every year for multiple years. And my student’s results speak for themselves. Students who are attorneys, CPAs, financial advisors, business and life coaches, insurance agents, investment bankers, realtors, home builders and more.
But there is something really cool about meeting a business owner who over time has figured out how to generate referrals because he uncovered how and why referrals really work. Understanding the human dynamic and psychology of why referrals happen and what doesn’t work when generating referrals is important to having referral success…especially like the killer referral success David has enjoyed. What David shared with me that he has done to grow a business based 100% on referrals mirrors what I do and teach others to do.
Here are some key points that David and I think you need to know on how to generate referrals:
Implement a “Sticky” Client Experience
When we first sat down David walked me through his process as if I was a new client…it was incredible. But it all boiled down to these three parts.
- Set clear expectations up front and in writing which include fee arrangements, processes and limitations.
- Listen well. The first call is always free for him to listen to a prospective new client and help make a determination if he can help (or refer to someone else).
- Put into place processes and templates to give superior counsel (which I would guess is unlike other attorneys) but also allows him to streamline his work and save him time.
Remember the client experience is the foundation to build from to receive referrals from clients. But the reputation and buzz you receive for how you treat and work with clients will impact growing your non-client potential referral sources too.
Relationship Touch Points
I know you have heard me say this many, many times: referrals come from relationships. One way to build and strengthen relationship is to show the non-work side of yourself. When David shared with me the most recent Christmas card with his family photo that he sends to his referral sources (among others), I almost burst with happiness. He’s been sending out a personal Christmas card for decades as a way to connect and build relationships. It kills me that I sometimes have to arm twist my clients into putting a family photo on the holiday card.
You should be looking for ways to connect on a personal level with your referral sources (and clients) because we do business with and refer people to those we know, like and trust.
Thanking the Referral Source
Never miss an opportunity to thank a referral source…handwritten thank you notes are a must! Which means that super fast email you just typed and sent out thanking someone for a referral just won’t cut it. Your referral sources value your thanks more when they can tell you spent time on the thanks. While a handwritten thank you note doesn’t cost a lot and only takes a few minutes to complete – the impact your referral source feels is far greater because they recognize that you did take time to think about them and write a note. The impact is so great because writing thank you notes is a dying artform…so we appreciate it more.
Building a business supported by 30%, 50%, 75% or even 100% from referrals is possible.
David Erdman has been doing it for more than 30 years without asking for referrals, or using manipulation tactics, or paying a commission for referrals received.
It is possible.
Yes, even for you.
–Even if your referrals are in-consistent. Or sporadic. Or non-existent.
–Even if you don’t receive the majority of your new clients through referrals.
–Even if you don’t have a system in place to nurture current referral sources.
This. Is. Possible.
How do I know? Because results speak.
My results. My students’ results. And hopefully, one day, your results.
Here is a great place to start…learn about the 5 Steps to Creating a Referral Generating Plan by reading this article and taking action to build your plan. If you need help please join my free Referral Growth 15-Day Challenge which starts on October 19th. Grab your spot now!