Six Steps to Creating a Referral-Based Business

by Sydni Craig-Hart

Doesn’t it feel great to pass along the word about your favorite restaurant or tell someone about a terrific book you can read? You can make it easy for your clients and colleagues to do the same for your services. When you do great work for your clients, they are just as excited to tell others about you.

Creating a referral based business, where you’re consistently getting leads from your current clients, has multiple benefits. It helps cut down your marketing time and costs, it gives you more opportunities to provide great service and can help you grow your network exponentially.

Here are six PROVEN steps to use to create the type of business that people love to rave about!

   1. Be worth of referring – Always do your best! This doesn’t meant that you have to be perfect. But it does mean that you need to give your very best effort and deliver on what you promise. Under promise and over deliver at every opportunity that you can.

   2. Ask for referrals – Don’t worry if you feel intimidated! Asking your existing and past clients to introduce you to those in their network is a perfectly acceptable way to grow your business. This is simple to do when a client has just commented on the excellent quality of your work.

   3. Educate your audience on how to refer you – It’s easier for your contacts to refer to you when they know exactly what you are looking for. Give specific and relatable examples. For example, “I work with small business owners who are struggling to get organized in their workspaces so they can have peace of mind.” Provide terms and problems they should be looking for so they know when to present your services.

   4. Create referral agreements with key “Power Partners” – For example, if you are a professional organizer, reach out to a real-estate agent, an interior designer and a personal chef to create a referral circle. All of you are committed to making sure your clients have a comfortable, functional home space and lifestyle. And likely your clients will at one point or another need the services of these professionals and vice versa. Your Power Partners will introduce your services to their clients when they need it – and you’ll do exactly the same for them.

   5. Systemize your efforts – Send out a monthly letter to your referral partners to let them know what’s new in your business. Be sure to promptly follow up on any leads you receive (within 48 hours). Keep track of your leads and check-in regularly with prospects.

   6. Offer a gracious and generous thank you to anyone who refers business to you. Show your appreciation by promptly sending a thank you card and a gift. Whether it’s a gift card, a delivery of flowers or another gift of your choice, make the time and extend the effort to let that person know how much you appreciate their confidence in your services.

By implementing these six steps, you’ll be able to create a solid stream of referrals and create more profits and more freedom in your business!

What was the best referral you ever received and what did you to to secure it? Share your story in a comment on the blog!


   1. Ask your current clients who else they know who would be a good match for the solutions you offer.
   2. Create a list of qualities, problems and terms that your ideal clients would use so that your referral partners know what to look for.
   3. Make a list of people that you know (or want to be introduced to) who can become your Power Partners. Reach out to them and set up a referral arrangement. Give them your list of things to look for and ask the same of them.
   4. Create a system for connecting with referral partners, following up on leads and referring business to other people.
   5. Send a surprise gift to clients and partners who refer work your way.

Sydni Craig-Hart, The Smart Simple Marketing Coach, is founder of Known for her easy, strategic and results-focused approach to marketing, she also has the unique ability to find untapped profit centers in her client’s businesses so they can create mo.ney NOW. Visit for your FREE training course, “5 Simple Steps to More Clients, More Visibility and More Freedom” and apply for a FREE "Profit Breakthrough" session with Sydni!


Zsa Zsa said...

I think no. 1 nails it -- you have to be worth referring in order to expect referrals! And of course, we shouldn't be shy to ask for referrals. I used to think that this is a little too brazen, but it actually works! So yes, we have to get out there, be our best so others will refer us, and in turn be happy enough to refer others too.

Deb Bailey said...

Hi ZsaZsa,

You're right. It really is not a bad thing to ask for referrals. But so many of us have trouble asking for what we want. If we don't ask, people won't know what we need!
Thanks for your comments!

glori jarvi said...

Thank you for the insightful material. I especially like the concept of Power Partners and keeping active with them. It also helped me to have my "elevator speech" well practiced so that I am able to share immediately what I do and who my market is.

Deb Bailey said...

Hi Glori,

I tend to change my elevator speech a lot - so it always comes out differently! Not sure that's a good thing, though. :) But it's key to know and understand your market. Thanks for your comments!

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