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Want New Business? Make Each Client Your Wingman.


Everyone knows how dating works. You see someone you like, and you ask your friends, “Do you know that person? How do you know them? What do you know about them? Will you mention me?” Any kind of information can make it easier to approach that person and increase your chances of success, right? That’s why having a wingman – someone who can scout out a situation and act as a go-between to put in a good word for you – is so important!

Those questions don’t just happen in the dating world; they apply to business, too. Because relationships make the world go round. So if you want new business, make each client your wingman. Here’s how (and why) it works.

Business_DatingWhen it comes to making choices, most folks are resistant to taking risks. We don’t want to waste our own resources, such as time and money (or maybe even our own dignity). So, we tend to do research and ask for feedback before making decisions to mitigate those risks.

That’s why people read movie reviews before picking which movie to watch or look up a restaurant on Yelp before trying it. They ask friends what they know before asking someone out. And, people definitely ask around before they choose a caterer for a big event.

What can you do about all this chatter as a business owner? Same as you’d do if you were interested in someone you met at a party – make sure they hear positive things about you from other people.

To put it simply – step one is do your job well. Wow your clients. Make them your allies – your wingmen, if you will. Gain their trust through your integrity and the quality of your work.

Your clients are asking other friends these “dating” questions, just as sure as your clients are being asked these same questions by their friends: “How did you pick that company? What was your experience with them? Do you think I should try them out?”

So how do you increase the likelihood of getting good referrals?

  • Always keep in mind that every client is your next reference. Make one-on-one connections with your clients. Make them feel good about working with you.
  • Ask for referrals. This is often the hardest part for people, but you can’t be shy about letting people know what you want and need.
  • Pay special attention to which clients can create buzz for you and your catering company. If you know this person is well connected in life and on social media, and you’ve had a good working relationship, you want to stay at the top of their mind. So talk to them. Learn how to build business relationships and do things to bolster it, such as send business their way or send them interesting articles you find.
  • Give referrals. There’s a saying that you have to give to get. Make sure you’re reciprocating the love to your clients. Hopefully they’ll remember that and pay you back in kind with more business and referrals. If they feel like you truly know them and have their best interests at heart, they’ll feel better about working with you and referring you.

Two of the best things about referrals are:

  • Referrals can often bring in some of your best clients. Why? Because if you liked working with a particular client, it’s likely that client knows more people you’d like working with, too. So, client referrals can lead to more good (hopefully long-term) clients.
  • Mouth-to-mouth referrals are better than almost any other kind of marketing or advertising you can do, because we tend to trust the feedback we get from friends more than any other type of marketing or advertising.

So, talk to your clients. Tell them you’ve enjoyed working with them, you appreciate their business, and you’d like them to refer you to their friends. Remind them about what a good time you had together at their event – and don’t be afraid to be specific about what kinds of clients you’re looking for (i.e., big corporate clients, weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, boxed lunches only … you get the idea).

Making each client your wingman helps not only create buzz about your business but also gives you an “in” with interesting people you may not have talked with otherwise.

The bottom line: Just like in dating, the other person is hoping to make a good match, too. Getting a common friend to introduce you – or a common client to refer you – helps increase the likelihood of a good relationship for both sides.

Stay tuned for more articles about ways to get referrals, including incentive programs and networking tips.

Ready to be inspired and informed? For the latest in catering industry news and trends and small business marketing, join the conversation on social media. Follow TPPSoftware on Twitter, like Total Party Planner on Facebook, and explore our boards on Pinterest.

Want to get advice from other caterers and find out how they do things? Join the conversation with #CaterQuest on Twitter!

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