A huge source of business for any successful company is word-of-mouth referrals. My company is no different — our #1 source of traffic is couples who heard about us from their wedding planner, photographer, caterer, venue or another vendor. This year, I’ve renewed my emphasis on cultivating great relationships with other wedding professionals, and the return has been completely worth the extra effort. I’ve been attending more networking events, having lunch and coffee with other business owners, interacting more on social media, and reading and commenting on others’ blogs. Most importantly, I’ve made sure that my entire team and I are also referring other pros at every opportunity.
Referring other vendors has three distinct benefits:
- It provides an extra level of service to your clients. Most engaged couples are planning a wedding for the first time, and are often overwhelmed by the hundreds of vendor options in every service category. I’ve found that they really appreciate when we offer to suggest other wedding professionals who may be a good fit in terms of service, style, personality or budget. It helps to build their trust in us, confirms our expertise in the field, and emphasizes our team approach to weddings. (When we tell a client we love working with certain vendors, the client tends to relax, knowing we’ll all be working together behind the scenes to make their wedding great!)
- It increases the chances we’ll be working with vendors we like and trust. Every wedding pro, especially those who actually work on-site during the event itself, wants to work alongside vendors they get along with well. Obviously, recommending your favorite wedding pros doesn’t guarantee that the client will take your advice, but it sure makes it more likely than if you didn’t say anything. And — just like not voting — if you aren’t taking two minutes to suggest good vendors to your clients, you can’t really complain when they choose bad ones.
- It often results in reciprocal referrals. This is probably the most obvious, but perhaps the most often overlooked, advantage to referring other pros. When you refer a client to another business owner, you’re demonstrating to that business owner that you believe in and support their business. That means a lot, especially in a market as saturated as Washington, DC. When you reach out to another pro in this way, it plants a seed that often blooms into shared referrals — and who doesn’t need those?
Asking clients whether they could use suggestions on their other vendors is such an easy thing to do, I can’t think of any reason not to help your clients (and your own business) in this way.