When I started my chiropractic office 4 years ago, I spent a lot of money on local advertising and mailers to get traffic. Now that I have a decent patient base, I want to encourage these patients to refer their friends and coworkers. What is the best way of going about asking, and getting, referrals?
To start, we need to consider "Why" people refer services, people, or companies - primarily it is because it makes them feel good, an emotional decision. Despite todays shut-in culture, people by nature want to help others. So if Andy knows that Jared has a sore back, and Andy has been a happy patient of XYZ Chiropractic, he'll let Jared know. If and when Jared seeks out XYZ Chiropractic and finds it a valuable solution... then Andy has in effect helped his friend Jared by being bart of the value chain. So Jared feels better, Andy feels good, and XYZ Chiropractic got a new patient.
The referral process is a very emotional decision or response, that is backed by logic. Andy needed to consider if XYZ Chiro was the right treatment, the right quality, at a reasonable price. Andy's experience had to be very good in order for him to refer Jared.
In order for your business to be considered referral-worthy, you need to satisfy both the logical and emotional experiences. People need to believe you can help, have great service, and great pricing (logical); and they must also feel good about helping you, the service provider, and trust that their friend will be treated well, and also enjoy the experience of doing business with you (emotional).
That's why money offerings alone for referrals are not good motivators, and usually generate referrals that are not a right fit for you or the person being referred. It is a far better decision to work on making your business more likable at the emotional and logical levels to make your business more referable before you go out and start offering incentives for referrals.
Make your service experience remarkable, make a personal connection, and provide more value than your customers expect. And when they do refer someone, then reward them. This shows that you value their referral and that you truly appreciate their help.