Thursday, October 27, 2011

Business Day Thursday: "Custom Referrals To Reinforce Booking Results"

Good Morning Everybody,

We wrapped my Captured By The Light three city California tour last night in Rohnert Park, California. And what a great crowd of people we had in attendance.  They were enthusiastic, fun, and really seemed to love the program. My thanks to all who came up during our breaks and afterwards to thank us for coming to Rohnert Park. Rohnert Park will be definitely on our list of stops next time we tour the country.

Wine countryLast night also wrapped my last speaking engagement for the year and LaDawn and I are looking forward to a little time off these next few weeks as we head into the holiday season. In fact, I was told I had to be off computer by noon today so we can head out and explore a little of wine country :~)  It's been a whirlwind three weeks and I think both of us are really looking forward to a few days off.

With that said, let’s get right on with today’s post.  Here we go.

“Custom Referrals To Reinforce Booking Results"

In today's Business Day Thursday post I would like to share with you a business building strategy that we have been using in my studio for a number of years. Basically it revolves around how we interact with our vendor buddies, the florists, bakeries, wedding planners and consultants, hotel event planners, etc..

Word Of Mouth Referrals Are The Strongest!

Whenever I'm interviewing a prospective client I, of course, always ask how they had heard about us. Many times the referral comes from one of our vendor buddies with whom we've worked  many times in the past. This kind of referral is one of the strongest that you can receive. I truly believe that building word-of-mouth referrals is something you need to constantly work on to grow build a successful business.

Word of MouthThe important thing to know is this; If you receive a word-of-mouth referral from a fellow vendor in your wedding community, please be sure to give them a call and thank them for that referral. It shows that you are appreciative of the kind words that they gave you.

Too many people don't say thank you often enough. The biggest thank you should be to the people who refer us.  Continue to let them know that you appreciate them and they will continue to refer you.

Let Your Vendor Buddies Know You Referred Them!

Now there's a part 2 of the process as well.  Whenever I'm meeting with a prospective client and things are looking like we will book the client, I always ask if they made arrangements with their florist, caterer, wedding venue, etc.  Many times that answer is no.

6 HandsAt that point in the conversation I am always ready to recommend one of my vendor buddies in our area. I might say something like this, “Have you guys got all the rest your wedding arrangements made?" The client may answer that they have everything settled except for their florist. At this point I'm going to recommend one of my favorite florists in the area which happens to be Ford-Ellington Florists. I explain to the bride and groom that we have worked together on some of the biggest wedding events in Cincinnati and in my opinion Kevin and his team do an outstanding job.

I also mentioned that my friend, Kevin, is a joy to work with and  just how much his clients love working with him and how much they love the finished result.

Ford EllingtonWhat I'm doing here is really giving Kevin a wonderful referral. So much so, that I really would like my prospective clients to book  Kevin for their wedding. I like working with Kevin. Kevin designs some of the most beautiful events in the city. And, when I get to photograph those rooms, I also have some wonderful sample images that I can display in my studio.

The bottom line of all this is that I want them to get fired up about my referral to my friend Kevin. I want them to know they can book Kevin with confidence and be assured a wonderful job.

After we wrap our appointment, I give them Kevin's contact information so that they can follow up with him to wrap their wedding day arrangements.  But, you’re not finished yet.

Now the the most important part. After the client leaves, be sure to give your vendor buddy a phone call and let them know that you were “singing their praises” to your prospective client. Let them know  a few details of the event and that you hope that they book the event too. And, I also let them know that I would really enjoy working with my vendor buddy if we're both on the same event.

So, now let's think of the benefit of that phone call to your vendor buddy. When your prospective client finally makes her appointment to visit with your vendor buddy, what is he or she going to do? He's/She’s going to do the same thing that you did – ask where the referral came from. When the client mentions that it was from your studio, your vendor buddy if he's anything like you should “wax enthusiastic” about your talent, your creativity, and your wonderful customer service - all things that give that client a reason to book you, if they have not yet completed that process, or to encourage and reinforce their decision if they have contracted you for their event.

Reinforcement Referrals

I call this reinforcement referrals. A client may enjoy the time they spend with you but is it is your referral to another vendor and their enthusiastic affirmation of your talents and your services

After I have made two or three referrals to my prospective clients, I am going to call those two or three vendor buddies and let them know that I am sending the client their way. If my prospective client visits all three of my referrals, I hopefully will get their reaffirmation of our wonderful photography and our great customer service from each of those referrals.

Cross PollinationI like to call this cross pollination. Each one of us is constantly reaffirming the talents of the other and as the client makes it through our small inner circle of wedding vendors she's constantly reminded that everybody she is talking with has worked together and that each of the other vendors do an outstanding job in their respective professions.

Success in any business, particularly the wedding business is based upon the strength of the vendor relationships that you create over time. It's about building authentic relationships with your vendors so that they will continue to refer you and you them so that each of you can continue to grow in your business.

So, make it a point to work a few hours each week on building vendor relationships in your community. Facebooking and blogging are not the only way to build business. People want to hear about the other top vendors in the area. Work with those vendors, get to know them, and as those relationships build between you and your vendor buddies so will your business.

Hey gang, that's it for me today - my time is up and it looks like it's shaping up to be a beautiful day. How about I see everybody same time, same place tomorrow morning for short Friday post.

Have a great rest of the day and I'll see you then.

Wine country, here we come! – David

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