Do you find that a small percentage of people refer you the majority of your work? Instead of trying to build a wide network of people who could possibly send you work, focus on these 3 automotive professionals who will certainly send you thousands and thousands of dollars of work...once you earn their trust.
- Other reconditioners. Easily our biggest referral source. The PDR techs, interior techs, and window tinters we hired as vendors were asked all the time: "who's a good detailer around here?" Because we paid them well, often, and on time, they always sent qualified customers to us: no tire kickers, just people with money in hand wanting our next appointment. And believe it or not, I actually had some good relationships with competing shops! When we were overbooked, I'd refer customers to friendly shops. When they were overbooked, they'd send customers our way. Every chance you get, exchange cards with other reconditioners, talk business, and maintain a friendly relationship.
- Body shop estimators. People trust body shops to answer questions like: "Who can fix this leather tear?" "Who can shampoo my interior?" "Who's a good rim repair guy?" You should know your local body shops. Know their service writers by name. You should send them business, and make sure they know it came from you. The business will come back to you.
- Suppliers. The guy who sells you chemicals and equipment knows EVERYONE in your local car economy: managers of car dealerships, body shops, and of course, other reconditioners. If you're damned good at: PDR, odor removal, paint reconditioning, overspray removal, cigarette burn repair, or any other niche service...let him know. Better yet,show him. He'll send lots of work your way.
You hear all the time that business is about relationships. True, but you have to be selective about the relationships that you invest time into. Maybe you've bent over backward for customers who swear they'll send you all their friends and family if you give them a deal. How many times did they follow through?
Treat your customers like gold, but treat local reconditioners, body shop estimators, and your suppliers even better. They have immense power to send you the steady diet of profitable work you need to succeed.
This ends part 1 of this 2 part article. In part 2: how car dealers and service shops can send you clients, and how to ensure they're the right clients for you.