Building a network of referral relationships with other businesses is one of the most important things you can do to grow your own business and weather market downturns. When markets dip, regular advertising becomes more expensive but referral partnerships continue to generate clients.
Networking is critical for any business, but it’s especially important for independent flooring businesses. When you network with other businesses you’re building relationships that can fuel your growth for many years after the relationship is established. By connecting with other aligned businesses, you can share knowledge, resources and leads.
Following are some tried-and-true networking tips:
Attend networking events. This represents a quick way to meet other professionals who are aligned with your business. When you introduce yourself to an attendee use the 70/30 rule: spend 70% of the time talking about their business and how you can help them. Spend only 30% of the time talking about your business. Get their business card and after the event send them a handwritten note telling them how much you enjoyed meeting them and learning about their business. Call them a week later and invite them to lunch. Subscribe them to your newsletter.
Join business organizations. This is another great way to connect with other professionals. Look for organizations that are aligned with flooring such as a local chamber of commerce or industry-specific trade associations—like the local realtor’s association.
Offer referrals. When you refer clients to other businesses, you build goodwill and trust. This can encourage other businesses to refer clients to you in return. Additionally, offering referrals can help you build a reputation with your clients and referral partners as a trusted advisor in your industry. Train your sales team to look for opportunities to refer. For example, if someone is getting new flooring as part of a remodeling project, see what other home improvement services your client needs and refer them to your aligned partners.
Host events. Consider hosting a workshop or seminar that is relevant to your business and invite other professionals to attend. This is an effective way to build relationships, share knowledge and position yourself as a trusted authority.
Aligned businesses to target. When building referral relationships, it’s important to target businesses that are aligned with your own. These may include interior designers, real estate agents, remodeling contractors, architects or property managers. Once you have established a referral partnership with another business, it’s important to nurture that relationship to ensure it continues to be mutually beneficial.
Follow up regularly. Don’t let the relationship go stale. Reach out to your partner regularly to touch base and see how things are going. Subscribe them to your newsletter. They’ll hear from you regularly and you’ll stay top of mind.
Jim is the founder and president of Flooring Success Systems, a company that provides floor dealers with marketing services and coaching to help them attract quality customers, close more sales, get higher margins and work the hours they choose. For information visit FlooringSuccessSystems.com.