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How to Get Referral Leads with Solid Systems + Simple Automations

solid systems
photo credit: Johnathan Allen Photography

When you get a recommendation from a friend about the new pizza joint you just “have to try” or the stylist that made them “feel like a million bucks” you’re excited to check them out, no? You have full expectations that the quality and the service that you receive will be equal to that of what your trusted friend told you it would be. But what if they don’t have solid systems to make it happen?

What happens if it’s not the same experience?

Would you blame your friend? Of course not!

Would you think “perhaps they were just having an off day”? Eh, maybe.

Would you be hesitant to refer someone else? Absolutely.

That’s exactly why having solid systems and automation in place directly correlates to an inbox exploding with leads.

By systematizing your business practices and automating your workflow, you are creating a precise and detailed client experience that will have you wowing every single client and rolling in referrals in no time.

If you have niched down and perfected your craft, you know the exact path that the client will walk to get from “hi, my name is” to “oh my gosh, thank you so much, I am so glad I got to work with you” and every touch point in between. You know your ideal client, you know their needs, wants, and desires; and you know you can deliver them. You just have to have everything in order to execute your delivery flawlessly and on beat every.single.time.

Alright, so how do we do this?

Map out your customer journey for solid systems

Sure, you’ve done it 100 times, but do you really  know if you’re hitting every single step of your process every single time? And what about the touchpoints you could add? You’d never know about them if you can’t visually see your workflow.

Whether you take it old school with pen and paper or do it digitally with a flowchart program, visually seeing the path your clients will walk will help you to fill in the gaps where needed.

Maybe you identify a drop off in communication, or a place where you can interject another touchpoint. These are all areas in which you have one more opportunity to better serve your clients and allow them to become raving fans.

Next stop to solid systems? Automation station!

After that, we need to see where we can automate. It’s great to have a plan, but it’s even better to let the plan work itself.

If we miss the important step of sending the “vision” questionnaire you might not know the address of the shoot location!

Or maybe your client emails at 7 am on a Saturday to ask for an info on their project because they don’t know when to expect their next communication touch-point from you.

Both workflow downfalls that can be avoided with a little automation and even less effort from you. 

There is an outdated belief in our industry that automation is directly the opposite of high touch and personal.

I’d like to argue the opposite.

Imagine this scenario: during your mapping you identified a drop off in communication between the booking and the project start date. Maybe it’s because you’re booked out for a while (because you’re an amazing designer, obvi.) or because you’re a wedding photog who’s secured the contract a year in advance. Whatever the reason, there is this time period where you want to ensure your clients feel seen and heard.

So why not pop a 3 week email update into your workflow?

Ask them about how they met, where their first date was, or play a quick game of him or her. Ask them about the inspiration for their brand, how they came up with their business name or what they are most excited about in working with you.

Opening the conversation with an (automated) canned email can do more for your client relationship (and subsequent referrals) than simply sending a welcome gift and scheduling a kick off call ever could!

(Both of those are very important workflow steps, but I think you see what I’m getting at.)

Providing quality and consistent experiences to every client, every time, will allow your clients to see that you are trustworthy. They know they are well taken care of and will have no problem referring friends, family members, and other ideal clients.

Bring it home with a CRM.

Last step, plug it into a client workflow automation software that works for you.

A CRM system is a great way to manage leads, workflows, online contracts, forms, and all the things you need to make a business tick. But more than that, it makes automation 100 times easier and has a relatively encompassing “set it and forget it” model.

Once you set your workflows up to work like clockwork every single time, you’re taking the guesswork out of your client’s experience with you. You know it’s awesome every single time.

That’s why no one will have trouble recommending you to friends, family, and business associates. They know they will be able to trust you and your process.

Once you’ve completed step three, that’s it! Time to watch the referrals roll in. And now that you have this shiny new workflow set on autopilot what are you going to do with all your spare time, Amelia Earhart?

Just joking, that’s a trick question.

You won’t have much because you’ll have people knocking down your door to work with you, remember?

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