I want to mount a referral machine for my business. In Europe in general, and in Portugal in particular, most people go to realtors to buy a land to build a house. Specially when buying overseas. Being a residential architect that want to design modern vacation homes for overseas clients, one of my best options are the good realtors (unlike me, they are in contact with my potential clients almost everyday). Since they all have their “fellow architect” friend to do some freebies for them when they need it, how can I use their leverage to feed my business? I intend to mount a system/process for referrals but What’s the best strategy? Give them a commission (10% for example) of my revenue with the clients they send me?
You can base your business in mostly referrals, however, if you want to grow substantially, you should use some paid advertising to boost your revenue. It all really depends on how much you want to grow and how fast. If you are alone as an architect without staff, then referrals are a good place to begin since you can only take on so many projects at any given time.
There are a couple of ways to make referral work for your business and to transform it into a system for ongoing leads.
You are on track by finding realtors who are looking to sell land to international clients. I would do a couple of things to make sure they want to support you.
You can start by investing a bit of marketing to actually film the process of how it is to work with you and the realtor so that your prospective clients can get a glimpse. By doing this, not only will they enjoy 10-25% referral fee.
You can also help them in the sales process, by perhaps offering a one time consultation or a mock design to get your buyers moving towards the yes line.
I would do this base on a one time fee, because your clients can come back to you with more changes but at the same time you are becoming a long term marketing partner.
I would it depends, but yes, you can base your entire business on referrals. I'd suggest formalizing your plan, being transparent with the realtors, and providing an exceptional experience to the prospects so the realtor feels good about recommending you in the future.
- formalize how you ask them (recommendation might sound better than referral)
- formalize fee structure, or what you'll pay them (e.g. 10% of what?)
- share with realtor your process and how you take care of the prospect to gain confidence
- your realtors now become your sales force. Take good care of them, train them, show them the opportunity, and stay in consistent contact with them
- also, create a formal (or informal) training program for your realtors so they use the right words, descriptions in talking about you
- have a good website that the realtor can tell the prospect as they'll probably want to check you out.
- finally, address how the realtor can ensure they'll get paid and you will 'forget' about the recommendation.