According to Nielson’s Global Trust in Advertising survey, eighty-three percent of consumers report that they trust the recommendations of friends and family, making referrals by far the most trusted form of advertisement. This means that customer referrals are likely to be your most effective and least expensive form of marketing.
If you aren’t asking your clients to refer your tax preparation business to others, you’re missing out on a host of potential leads. Finding the right way to ask, however, is key if you want to avoid coming across as pushy or desperate. These guidelines will help secure referrals without alienating your current clients.
Before you ever think about asking for a referral, ensure that you’ve established trust and rapport with your client. Asking too soon could leave them with the impression that you’re desperate for work or that you don’t value them as a client.
As a tax preparer, you also have to consider the seasonality of your work. If you wait until the end of tax season to ask for referrals, potential clients may have already filed with another preparer.
Before tax season starts up, consider sending emails to past clients who were particularly enthusiastic about or grateful for your work. As a bonus, you can offer an incentive or discount for the upcoming tax season for each new client they refer. Plus, contacting former satisfied clients makes them 12 times more likely to use your services again.
If you’re new to tax preparation, you can ask current clients for referrals after they’ve had a chance to get to know you and benefit from your services.
Ways to Ask for Referrals
Once you know you have well-established, positive relationships with your clients, you can try the following methods to ask for referrals. Mix and match them and find what feels authentic and sustainable for you:
When a client compliments or thanks you for your work, take the opportunity to ask them to share your information with friends and family looking for tax help (or any of your other services). Hand them a few business cards as a reminder. Even if they never hand the cards out, they’ll be reminded to reach out each time they see them.
You can include a call-to-action at the bottom of your regular emails, but a separate email dedicated to asking for referrals is more likely to get results. To avoid sounding pushy, start by thanking your customers for their business and express how much you’ve enjoyed working with them.
Incentives give your clients an extra push to spread the word about your services. When you offer a small incentive to your clients’ contacts as well, your clients are more likely to feel like they’re doing their friends a favor by referring them.
Make it easy for clients to spread the word by providing them with a business card to hand out, an email template to forward, or a post to share on social media. The less effort they have to put forth, the more likely they are to share.
What Not to Do
Avoid these pitfalls to grow your business while maintaining your reputation with your current clients.
- Solicit referrals from brand new clients. Let them get to know you and see the quality of your work first.
- Beg. Be clear and polite in your request but avoid language that makes you seem desperate for work.
- Ask too often. Don’t become a nuisance to your clients by asking for referrals at every interaction.
- Offer unsustainable incentives. Customer referrals should be a low-cost marketing strategy. Extreme discounts may encourage more referrals but may not be beneficial for your bottom line.
If you’ve never asked your clients for referrals before, don’t put it off any longer. Asking in the right way, at the right time can help you grow your business and your income.
The information in this article is up to date for tax year 2021 (taxes filed in 2022).