Here’s a surprisingly fresh article on getting referrals – the most cost-effective way to grow your client base and your tax practice.
Ask for referrals three times during the process of completing a client’s taxes
Yep, three times.
It sounds corny, but the best way to get referrals is to ask for them.
Don’t worry about being pushy (as long as you are not pushy in other areas). Your clients will understand.
Oh, and, it works.
The first time you can bring this up is during your initial conversation with your client. I like to spend the first 2 or 3 minutes catching up with my clients, as most of them have sort of become friends.
I ask them how they are doing, what is going on in their lives, and what is going on with their taxes.
I listen actively for a bit.
Then, if they ask, I spend 15 seconds or so bringing them up to date on how my life has been going in the last year.
I don’t spend much time talking about myself, but I think it ads a nice touch in being personable. I make sure here that I am to the point and that I don’t ramble at all.
I often tell clients that I’m grateful for…you know, life itself. People like this positive vibe. It’s catching and it’s a nice reminder to enjoy everyday.
Everyday is a tremendous gift. Thank your eyes for working right now and giving you the ability to read about things that interest you.
Anyway in the last few seconds I explain that my client base is growing nicely but I could always use more. “If you know anyone that needs a tax preparer, please refer them to me”, I’ll ask them.
It’s as simple as that.
The “ah ha” moment is the best time to ask your clients for referrals
Sometimes you will wow your clients. Other times you will say something super smart of funny. Or you might please a client in some other way.
The trick here is to respond to any incoming compliment with a thank you and another “hint” that you can use some referrals.
Again, it may sound tacky or corny to do this (I always feel weird about it), but it works.
A good example is when you find a great deduction for them and they respond with a super appreciative comment. Go ahead and hit them up with a short and sweet, “glad you like it, don’t forget to tell your friends about me”, and accompany the request with a big smile.
Be sure to skip a referral request if you run into any reverse “ah ha” moments, however.
“Oh, I’m so sorry I forgot to add that capital gain to your tax return and now you owe another $20,000 in tax. Oh, can you tell your friends about me?”
Anyway, if you make a technical or social mistake, such as missing a number on a document or letting a liberal political comment slip out and your client is the devoted conservative-type, skip the ah ha referral request. These are the worse times to ask and it will only come out as super-cheesy.
Wait until you deposit into their emotional bank account to ask for a referral. Don’t do it right after you take a withdrawal.
The third time to ask for a referral is when their taxes are complete
For example, “thanks again and it is always so nice to see you – it’s really great having you as a client. Please pass these out if you know anyone who needs their taxes done”.
That’s all you need to do. Keep it short and simple.
How hard is that?
Now that you have asked them three times, they will remember it. If they like you and they like your service, they will be happy to do it. Some clients will almost make it their “mission” to promote you. It’s great.
You do not need to offer clients discounts or cash to refer you
This is a common misconception.
Case studies have clearly (and honestly) proven that monetary rewards do not increase either retention or referral rates.
You cant buy retention and you can’t buy referrals.
Clients will refer you because: They trust you. They like you. They think you are technically skilled. You are friendly. You ask them. That’s it. To fill these boxes, you actually have to be trustworthy, likable, and knowledgeable, of course.
You do not have to pay them. It will not do any good in he long run.
Have you had any recent ah ha moments where you wowed a client?