5 Ways to Increase Your Referral Business

As I have mentioned before in a previous post, I never imagined the day Candice Olivia Beauty, LLC would exist, and most days I still don't believe that it does. I was just a girl playing in makeup until a stranger from Twitter asked me to do her makeup for her birthday. Completely shocked and terrified, I did it anyway. While she had no clue that I was scared shitless, she was having a horrible day, and she said that she felt pretty and didn't want to take off her makeup the next day. Creating that pleasing experience for that initial customer has been the backbone of my business as it is today.

From that one client, she referred me to her best friend. "If you could make her look like that, then I need to have you do my makeup as well." From there, client #2 says "Well have you ever done a wedding? My cousin is getting married a few months." Bring on my first bridal trial. I then did my first wedding, and the rest was history.

To date, roughly 98% of my business has been based on referrals. Until the last few months, I have never actively promoted/marketed my business. This has been the biggest blessing for me because let's face it, it's free word of mouth marketing. Or so I thought. You may think it costs nothing for someone to share their positive customer experiences, but when you really think about it, all the blood, sweat, tears and product you put into your kit and your business, are not cheap by any means.

I have built a certain level of trust with my clients and have become friends and often "family members" as they have told me. I've been listening to them and taking mental note on why they continue to do business with me and refer me to their friends and loved ones. They were really things that lend them self to my business model. As long as I stick to these things, I'm sure I will continue to get referrals. So, here are 5 ways that you can ensure your clients refer you.

1. Be Professional

This seems like a no brainer, but clearly a lot of makeup artists struggle with this portion. Consumers are educated and have a clear choice how and when they choose to spend their money. As a business owner or any person dealing with customers directly, always think about how you would like to be treated as a customer. As a customer I know I want someone who is going to effectively communicate with me in a timely manner and quickly answer any questions that I may have. I have had friends of mine that are clients ask me "Why are your emails so formal" and the fact of the matter is I'm not shooting the shit with you via text or in gchat. This is business, and I'm going to treat it as such. Professionalism goes beyond your written and verbal correspondence, but showing up to a job prepared with all of your tools and/or working parts. Have your chair, lights, full working kit, your assistant. Whatever it is you need to get the job done, have it.

2. Be Honest

I am always honest with my clients. While the customer is always right, as a professional and subject matter expert, you should not be afraid or refrain from sharing your opinion or giving feedback on a suggestion or request that the client has. In most cases they will take your professional opinion into account TRUSTING  you and your skill. Most of the times when a client has come to you based off a referral they already trust you because of what you did for their friend so half the battle is already won.

3. Be On Time!

I hate being late. It honestly gives me anxiety and can put me on the verge of a panic attack. I'm a stickler for time and hate being off schedule. As much as a client being late showing up can throw off your day, so can being late to a client. Respect their time as much as you would want them to respect your own. Who is going to think you're worth your rate if you're always late?

4. Be Flexible

I have done many things for my clients that were completely out of scope, but its by doing those little things, and going the extra mile that have secured trusting relationships with my clients. I have curled hair because a hairstylist has cancelled, I have picked out an ensemble and accessories for a shoot, I have laced a wedding gown, I have held breasts in my hands to adjust them into an adhesive bra. (Not an exaggeration. I've done it all). Some things I have done are completely crazy and maybe I shouldn't have done them, but what I constantly hear from clients is "Thank you for being so flexible". Only you know your limits and boundaries, but if it's not going to kill you and you have time to do it, I say go for it.

5. Be Yourself

Don't put on a front. Don't act like someone you are not. Be your authentic self. Don't have a spam like personality. They can sniff that out a mile away. Just be you!

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