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So, you have your business started. You’ve created your marketing plan, put together your team of people, taken the training and are now ready to hit the ground running. But wait, how is your online presence? Is your website up? Can customers find you with a quick Google search?

We commonly hear from many of our refinishers that building and maintaining a website can be confusing and frustrating. “I don’t even know where to start.” Or, “I am not tech-savvy, how am I supposed to build a website?” Not knowing where to start is sometimes the most challenging part of establishing your online presence. In today’s digital age, if you don’t have a website, your online presence will be almost non-existent so it’s a crucial step to marketing your business or services.

Starting your website, or learning how to maintain it, doesn’t have to be a scary experience. There are numerous website building sites out there that offer an account set up tutorial and are making it easier to navigate the process. So, let’s dive into the basics, how to start.

How to Create & Design a Website

1. Select the site that’s best for you.

Choose from a huge range of template designs already ready to go. Each site builder has its different perks and varies in pricing. All of these options have a demo or tutorial that can show you have to navigate the site and will have you started designing your very own website in no time.

Vistaprint – Vistaprint empowers small businesses like yours to market themselves effectively. Design and order custom printed marketing materials, signage and websites. If you’ve already printed your marketing collateral through Vistaprint, you can purchase a matching website. Or vice-versa. Design a website then easily print matching marketing materials for consistent branding. So your business cards, magnets, pens, brochures, etc. can all have the same matching deign. Vistaprint is one of the cheaper website builders but doesn’t offer as much as other top running website builders like SEO, customer tracking, email marketing, and other marketing tools to help you. The cost of Vistaprint starts at a low $14 a month and offers a free trial.

Wix – WIX  is a website builder that has grown in popularity over the past few years. It not only is a web builder but blog maker, logo designer, and is also SEO fixed.  WIX offers a 14-day free trial to get you setup and make sure you like their site. Then you can purchase the professional version starting as low as $22 per month. Tutorials and demos are available.

Squarespace Is an extremely popular website builder and has won awards because of its ease to create, navigate and is successful for almost all users who are taking advantage of all the site has to offer. It too has a web builder, logo designer, and is SEO fixed, but it also provides an online shop, a point-of-sale system to accept payments from customers, built in ability to send email campaigns and so much more. Squarespace also has a free trial offer and starts as low as $26 a month.

2. Get creative with how your site looks.

Now that you’ve chosen one of the above site builders, start to tailor the website to make it look the exact way you want it to. You can customize the fonts, upload your own photos, and change the margins with the built-in style kit. Think of your website as the face of your company. Take the time to make it look nice and professional.

3. View previews of your web design on all digital platforms.

Remember, the way your website looks on a desktop computer is going to be different than the way it appears on mobile. Make sure as you are building your site, you’re previewing in all platforms to make sure you like the way it looks.

4. Add your branding and logo.

The most important part is making sure you add your logo. Make sure you are following the correct size specifications so the logo is clear and not grainy. Don’t have a logo yet? That’s ok! You can create one for your brand with a free logo maker like this one.

5. Create your messages and setup your page(s).

Now that people will be able to find you online with your new website, you need to make sure they know who you are and what you do. Think of websites you like to visit. What pages do they typically have? Are there any refinishers or refinishing websites that you like, use those as a model.

You need to have at least a one page site that shows who you are, what you have to offer, and how you can help customers with the problem they have. All this can be said on one page, your homepage, and with just a few photos.

 

There are numerous amounts of build-your-own website building tools available on the internet to make building and maintaining your website an easy process. Utilize online demos, tutorials and videos to help guide you even further into this process and remember, your time and effort in building your site and establishing your online presence will quickly pay off when customers are easily able to find you when searching for a refinisher in the area.

In this “Market to Market” series, stay tuned for other blogs on marketing your services and how to reach more customers.

 

You’ve done most of the work – you’ve developed your marketing strategy, started your website, decided how and where you’re going to advertise, AND set up your social media accounts. Nice work! The hard part is done. So now that customers can find you and you are interacting with them, the last piece of business is making sure you’ve brushed up on your communication skills.

Good communication is A MUST in all successful businesses! It’s all about the right people getting the right message at the right time. If you are not communicating correctly to your target audience and, most importantly, to your customers, then your business will definitely suffer even if you thought you’d done all of the necessary steps to make sure people can find you.

They say there are seven keys to successful business communication.

1. Credibility – this builds trust.

2. Courtesy – this improves relationships.

3. Clarity – this makes people understand easier.

4. Correctness – this builds confidence.

5. Consistency – this introduces stability.

6. Concreteness – this reinforces confidence.

7. Conciseness – this saves time.

It’s important to make sure all of your messaging (i.e., in your marketing materials, on your website, social media accounts, and even just how you are speaking to your customer in person) have these seven factors when you are creating them. The HOW you say the message is just as important if not more important than WHAT you are trying to say.

Think about messages you see everywhere. “Best wings in town, stop by for a Wingstop.” They don’t say, “We got wings. Come and get them.” What message does that send? And why should you want to stop there? But when you hear they have the BEST wings in town, well, that makes you want to try them, right?

It’s all about HOW you say the message just as much as WHAT you are trying to say. Keep these keys in mind, and you will have excellent communications skills in your messaging and your daily communications and interactions with customers.

business communication

 

In our last blog about marketing, we discussed the importance of developing a marketing strategy and what that meant. So now that you have an idea on how to get started with making the plan, let’s talk about the different avenues there are to market your businesses and services. This is the HOW in how you are going to reach your customers.

Ask yourself, what kinds of marketing am I currently using? Are you hanging up flyers in your town? Or maybe you just have your website and customers are able to find you online. If you’re doing both print and digital, consider yourself ahead of the game. If you haven’t yet started with marketing, this is an area you should focus on in the next couple of months.

So, what kind of advertising should you be doing? First, let’s dive into the differences of traditional and digital marketing and the benefits of each.

 

Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing refers to any type of marketing that isn’t online and has to target the audience through physical printed forms like magazines, newspaper ads, tv ads, radio ads, billboards, pamphlets, direct mail, and banners.

Traditional marketing is not only one of the oldest forms of marketing and although we’re in the digital age, most businesses still utilize some form of traditional marketing today. You encounter some sort of traditional marketing in your everyday life, whether it’s getting the mail or your daily newspaper, reading a sign on the top of a taxi cab or a billboard along the highway, or watching a commercial in the middle of the football game.

So what are the pros and cons of traditional marketing?

Pros:

  1. Hyper-local reach: Traditional marketing plays an important part in reaching local
  2. Maintains a long “shelf life”: Printed advertising can be kept for a long period of time and give from one person to another. For example, if you mail post cards or magnets, those may be on refrigerators for some time, keeping you and your business in the back of their minds the next time they need a refinisher.

Cons:

  1. Reach may be too broad: While traditional marketing does reach a broad range of potential customers, it’s also wasting a lot of time and money by reaching people who aren’t considered your target audience.
  2. Limited use: All your printed material can be used once only. For example, you distribute 500 flyers, how many of those 500 people are actually looking for a refinisher at that particular time? There is no way to find out. If you need to make an update or your phone number changed for example, you would have to print all new materials rather than making a quick update.
  3. High cost: Paying for local radio and tv ads can be very expensive. They can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars per seconds and minutes of advertising, and again, reaching a broad range of customers without being able to target those needing your refinishing services.

All in all, it’s a good idea to choose your traditional marketing wisely. It’s important for you to know and understand the best marketing choice for your business at that time and for the type of customers you are trying to target.

 

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is referring to any marketing that uses electronic devices to convey messages. This typically refers to marketing that appear on a computer, tablet, phone, or other device and can take many forms including online video, display ads and social media posts.

We are living in a digital world where everything is just one click away. In this age, digital marketing has significantly altered the way businesses reach and communicate with their customers, but the processes are still very similar to successful traditional marketing efforts.

So what are the pros and cons of digital marketing?

Pros:

  1. Ability to transform traditional marketing into digital: You more than likely already have a few traditional marketing campaigns going. The best part about that is, you already have done most of the work, now just turn it into a digital piece. Digital marketing is one of the best techniques which can boost your business.
  2. Saves you money and time: it’s much faster to post a digital ad than to run a printed ad in your local newspaper. On most social media platforms, you can start a digital marketing campaign as little as $5 and in less than 5 minutes.
  3. Ability to target your customers: You can select the target market you want to reach, by gender, age, location, and even by a persons’ hobby interests. You can also track each person that clicks the ad.
  4. Ability to make ongoing updates: You can change and edit that ad endlessly so you can retarget and remarket the ad at any time based on its performance. Your phone number changed? That will only take you a couple of clicks to update.

Cons:

  1. The learning curve: The idea of digital marketing can be a little overwhelming if you don’t have a good idea of what it involves, especially if you haven’t even started to establish and online presence yet.
  2. Requires a lot of updates and monitoring: If you want your digital marketing to be highly effective, you can’t just create one ad then call it done. You should monitor its success, make any updates as needed, then continue to tailor your digital marketing to what’s working vs. not working.

 

All in all, both traditional and digital marketing have its pros and cons and there are benefits to each. Most small businesses do a mix of each type of marketing, and you should determine who your customers are and how they are finding you and your business to determine where to spend most of your marketing dollars.

In this “Market to Market” series, stay tuned for other blogs on marketing your services and how to reach more customers.

 

Developing a marketing strategy

As a business owner, either as a solo refinisher, or one that operates a small team, it’s important to have a marketing strategy in place to help customers find you. But wait, what even is a marketing strategy, and why is it important? Developing a marketing strategy is nothing more than setting business goals and making a marketing to-do list that will get you to reach those goals. Think of it as your plan to reach a much larger range of customers

Your marketing strategy is HOW you are going to attract customers and what you have to offer. When thinking of your marketing strategy, think of everything you are going to do from beginning to end – It’s essentially your business “game plan.” Developing this plan makes sure that you are making the most out of every resource, every dollar and every minute you are putting into your marketing efforts. Being proactive and developing your plan ahead of time will save you time and money.

 

Marketing Plans

A proper marketing strategy can take weeks or even months to be successfully created. And we know what you are probably thinking, “Isn’t there a faster, simpler way I can at least get started with today?” That’s what we’re here for! So here we are providing two plans designed to get you to start thinking, planning, and making money without it taking you days and weeks. While these aren’t the complete marketing strategy plans that every business eventually needs, they will allow you to start thinking about your strategies and long-term plans that you can eventually turn into your larger marketing strategy plan.

marketing strategy

Click on the image to download

The first plan above is a one-page plan that outlines the essential marketing components or categories like your Mission/Objectives, Target Market, Offering, Pricing, Distribution, Communication. These are essential components that go into your marketing strategy and allow you to think big picture and get everything into one place.

You can use this format as a place to put your big thoughts so that you can focus on what the strategies are.

marketing strategy

Click on the image to download

The second one-page plan above is less academic and more focused on emotional triggers that will get your ideal customer to choose you. It calls on a more personal level by using the true meaning that reflects the very reason of WHY you are in business and HOW your services can help those in need.

We recommend to get started, print and fill out these plans to get your wheels turning. Then you can begin to think about how much money you want to allocate towards your marketing, how you want to market and how you will reach your target audience. Stay tuned for more blogs for tips on effectively marketing your business and services!

In this “Market to Market” series, stay tuned for other blogs on marketing your services and how to reach more customers. 

 

Nearly three-quarters of American adults use social media, which makes it a crucial step for any business. Social media is easily one of the best ways to connect with your customers for free or a very low cost, while also reaching those who haven’t heard of your business yet. So not sure of where to start? Getting started with setting up or updating your social media pages doesn’t have to be expensive or scary. With these simple tips, refinishers of any size can reach new markets, build brand awareness, and in turn, drive more sales.

 

1. Choose Your Social Media Platforms

Let’s start at the basics. First, you need to determine your desired platforms. Think LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter…the list of platforms in today’s age is endless, making you feel stuck in deciding which one will be the most significant return of investment. Instead, think about which platforms you enjoy and where you’ve seen helpful information about your industry. A Facebook business page is one of the best ways for any business to connect with their customers and build a following. LinkedIn is the go-to platform for businesses, where users can establish credibility with products and services and a place to share company announcements and job listings. Houzz is a platform specifically for the construction management industry. Contractors, interior designers and architects can showcase projects directly to homeowners. Instagram is a photo-based platform, perfect for showcasing aspirational kitchens and bathrooms and/or before/after photos if your best work. Spend the time doing a little research to see what might be the best fit for your business.

 

2. Find Inspiration

Second, find inspiration in what other small businesses in your industry are doing. Emulate the posts, photos and videos you like (you can shoot photos or videos on your phone) and keep track of trending hashtags to participate in those conversations and ensure that your media is seen. You can also use these accounts to determine what you don’t like or things that you feel you can do better. Your regularly updated social media presence serves as your portfolio, a networking tool, a customer interface and a lead generator. A lot of times, social media is your first impression so use it as a way to have fun, showcase your work, and build relationships with your customers.

 

3. Define Posting Schedules

Third, make a realistic commitment to posting schedules defining how much you can post and stick to that plan. If you invest some time, you can get in front of your customers for free or very low cost. Followers will learn to expect your regular posts, so use your posts as a way to build trust with your customers. Keep the info short and sweet, and avoid direct selling appeals. Social media allows you to establish yourself as a knowledgeable, professional business owner, not necessarily just a salesperson. There are several social media management tools to consolidate then roll out your posts to consistently share fun facts and helpful tips about your brand and your industry. Tools like Hootsuite even allow you to schedule posts in advance, allowing you to plan ahead and not needing to think about posting every day. Posting regularly helps keep you in people’s minds next time they need a refinisher.

 

Become the Local Go-To for Kitchen and Bathroom Refinishing

We hope these tips allow you to feel that starting or updating your business’s social media doesn’t have to be complicated. By keeping your website current and venturing into at least one or two social media platforms, your social media presence will eventually help get your business to be the local go-to for kitchen and bathroom refinishing.

 

There’s good news and there’s bad news.

The bad news is that according to the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) released by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, remodeling spending is expected to slow down considerably by the end of 2019.

Specifically, they project that renovation and repair spending in the U.S. will shrink from 7.5 percent in 2018 to 5.1 percent in 2019. This is due to a variety of factors, including flat home sales activity, rising mortgage interest rates and slowing house price appreciation rates, which cause owners’ interest in making major investments in home improvements to decrease.

The good news is that home improvement and repair spending is still set to reach more than $350 billion this year, and the even better news is that as a refinishing business, there are things you can do to remain profitable and busy even during a remodeling slowdown.

 

How To Keep Your Refinishing Business Busy

Refinishing Profits Chart - bathroom and kitchenBelow are three proven strategies you can use to keep your refinishing business going strong.

1. Diversify your services. If you want to appeal to more customers, you’re going to have to make them an offer they can’t refuse, and that starts with offering them a variety of services. If you currently only refinish bathtubs and bathrooms, consider adding kitchen refinishing to your business to boost income. After all, one bathtub refinishing customer will be set for the next decade or so!

Keep in mind that customer will remember your good work and will likely hire you again when they learn that you offer new services like countertop or kitchen refinishing. This strategy allows you to appeal to past customers, and also add new customers looking for reliable refinishing.

 

2. Re-engage past customers and prospects. If someone has already used your services, they’re more likely to hire you again when their next refinishing need arises. Call on former customers to let them know that you have added new refinishing services to your business and how you can help meet their needs.

Don’t forget about contacts that entered your sales process at some point in time but didn’t hire your company for the job, for whatever reason. Now is the time to routinely follow up with them, even if you didn’t get the sale. Maybe they didn’t move forward for their own reasons, but now they’re looking to hire for that job again. Maybe they went with someone else initially but ended up unsatisfied with the results.

The goal is to engage with customers who were previously in the sales pipeline — either as a paying job or a prospect — and show them the value and expanded services you bring to the table.

 

3. Optimize your marketing efforts. Now is the time to step up your marketing efforts, and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Start by making sure your website is clean and professional and showcases all the services you offer, as well as customer reviews and important contact information.

Next, add your business to Google My Business, Yelp for Business and Bing Places, which helps your business rank better in the local refinishers search results. And finally, don’t forget about the effectiveness of a local newspaper ad, direct mail and advertising wraps on your company vehicle. This is an easy and effective way to get your name out to prospective customers.

 

The Bottom Line

Just because a remodeling slowdown is predicted doesn’t mean you can’t still have a thriving refinishing business. Follow the tips above, provide exceptional service and you can remain busy — and profitable — throughout the year.

If you would like further advice on how to expand your refinishing business, get in touch with our customer service team at 800-888-1081. We’d be happy to talk to you about growth strategies and share our training manual with you!

 

On our NAPCO blog, we talk a lot about how refinishers can use our products and services to start their own refinishing business. But what do you do when your company is already established? As a small business owner, it can be tough to know where to invest your time and money in order to take things to the next level. The first step to growing your small business is to increase your overall revenue. For refinishers, the easiest way to do this is to get more customers. Below are five proven strategies you can make use of to grow your refinishing business:

referrals

  1. Grow Your Customer Base Through Referrals

Instead of using your budget on marketing strategies like direct mail or online advertising (though these can be valuable tools as well), try attracting new customers to your business through existing customers. Though your excellent refinishing work and customer service will speak for itself, you should be actively seeking referrals after every job. This means asking the customer if they know of anyone else that could use your services and requesting they put them in contact with you. You could even set up a referral program with bonuses or discounts for friends and family!

  1. Extend Your Reach

To attract new customers, you may have to go to them. Though opening a new branch can be a daunting process, it can pay off in the end by allowing you to serve a much greater range of new customers. If you don’t feel ready to operate a multi-location business, you could also start by extending your reach online. Launching a website for your business is another great way to reach new customers, as you can take advantage of new channels of communication such as social media and email newsletters.

cabinet refinishing

  1. Diversify Your Services

If you want to appeal to more customers, you’re going to have to offer them more. After all, one bathtub refinishing customer should be set for another 5 years at least! However, past customers will likely remember your good work and be interested when they learn that you offer new services like kitchen cabinet and countertop refinishing. Not only do diverse service offerings allow you to appeal to past customers, but they can bring your business to the attention of new customers who may be only looking for kitchen refinishing.

  1. Keep a Handle on Costs

This one comes as no surprise, but in order to grow your refinishing business you’re going to need to make some tough decisions when it comes to spending. If there is a certain product, service, marketing initiative, or, sadly, employee that doesn’t seem to be worth the cost, you will likely need to let them go. However, don’t be overly quick to pull the trigger on certain expenditures. Some programs may take weeks or even months to bring value but are worth it in the long run.

  1. Get Yourself Out There

get the word outBe it local advertising, paid social media campaigns, a new website launch, or attending trade shows, the most important thing to do in order to grow your refinishing business is to get it out in front of people. Participating in targeted marketing strategies ensures that you are reaching the right people in the right area who could benefit most from your services.

 

If you would like further advice on how to expand your refinishing business, get in touch with our customer service team at 800-888-1081. We’d be happy to talk to you about growth strategies and share our training manual with you!

 

How do today’s consumers find the products and services they are looking for? They rely on internet search engines. You are on the road to marketing success when your services, products, and business locations show up first on search engines like Google. This process is known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

If you’re like many small business owners, figuring out how search engine optimization can work with your existing website can seem like a confusing job. Even the phrase “search engine optimization” can leave you scratching your head.

And while SEO has a lot of moving parts, by just understanding and implementing some basic optimization strategies for your website, you can yield big gains in the refinishing and remodeling industry.

Content is King

SEO tipsThe best place to start SEO is by focusing on creating unique content that’s relevant to your audience. The good thing about this is that you do not need to start from scratch. Most likely you already have quality content--whether in the form of blogs, photos and videos, pamphlets/brochures, social media posts - that just needs a little SEO boost.

For example, Backlinko found that by updating and republishing old blog posts with new content and images, organic traffic can increase by as much as 111%.

Unfortunately, there is not one tactic that will ensure your website is in the top spot. But we do know that search engines tend to favor content that includes fresh and detailed information, specific keyword targeting, and is easy for readers to understand.

Applying SEO Best Practices to Content

When updating your content, keep these best practices in mind:

Content Length: Write long, original content that can be copied and quoted. Longer content that goes deeper into a topic has a better chance of including what a specific user is looking for. Blog posts should be between 1,000-2,000 words and include multiple different points about your topic.

Keyword Targeting: Targeted keywords are specific phrases your potential customers might use in a search engine when looking for information like yours. Optimize keywords around important content elements. Use or add keywords in your content but take care not to be too redundant.

Readability: Successful website content is easy for users to read and understand. When your site content is clear for your targeted audience, search engines will rank your site higher. Content with good readability includes clear and concise information, shorter paragraphs and sentences, headings and subheadings.

While these elements are extremely important for your online content, they are not the only SEO best practices you should be following. For a full list of SEO best practices for website content, check out Proceed Innovative’s 2019 SEO Content Writing Checklist.

 

The Importance of SEO

SEO can seem overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to be. You are most likely already investing in techniques that are contributing to SEO and have quality content that just needs a little SEO boost.

SEO is critical because it leads to an increase in your site’s visibility which means more traffic and more chances to attract and convert customers. Going beyond conversion rates, SEO can help increase awareness for your business, facilitate stronger customer relationships, and establish your business as the refinishing expert.

 

 

NAPCO is happy to announce the reintroduction of both a print and online product guide containing information on products, equipment, and services offered by the company. The catalog provides an outlet to learn everything you need to know about topcoats, Eco-Glaze waterborne coating, spray systems, breathing systems and much more!

NAPCO catalogThe catalog discusses how NAPCO got its start, how NAPCO is improving services, and what innovations are being made in the pursuit of new and better products. It also provides access to information on ordering product and registering for NAPCO training sessions that feature a hands-on training program at their state-of-the-art training facility. Participate in this two, full-day program to learn everything you need to know about bathtub, countertop, and cabinet refinishing.

NAPCO is consistently looking for ways to improve their products for their customers and are conscious of their impact on the environment. Which is why, NAPCO created an eco-friendly coating that is featured in the catalog called Eco-Glaze. This product is water-based and VOC free which makes it safer for people, and safer for the environment. The Eco-Glaze coating is odorless, requires no thinner, uses less material, and finishes just as hard as other conventional bathtub coatings.

Ultimately, the catalog demonstrates NAPCO’s line of quality products and superior training. NAPCO is creating safer products and wants to make sure proper precautions are taken including the implementation of fume exhaustion and air breathing systems needed on refinishing jobs. The catalog demonstrates NAPCO’s quality products, but most importantly, it demonstrates how deeply NAPCO cares about your success as a professional refinisher.

If you are interested in receiving NAPCO’s Product Guide, digitally, in-print or both, please call 1-800-888-1081.

 

 

Vector of a businessman doing a teamworkYou’re starting to wonder where your next refinishing project is going to come from. Then the phone rings – it’s not a past customer sending you a referral but it’s someone practically as worthwhile – one of your strategic partners. He says he’s been doing work on a small renovation project and in passing, the homeowner mentioned how they’re considering doing work in the kitchen or bathroom, but are concerned about the cost of a full-scale renovation. Naturally, your friend offered up your name as potential solution that might achieve what the homeowner wants for far less money.

How great is that? You’re well on your way to earning new business and you didn’t have to do anything to get it.

For many tradesmen, looking out for each other as strategic partners is an outstanding way to efficiently win business you might not otherwise obtain. But how do you make a strategic partnership really work for you consistently?

Start With Someone Closer To Your Business

We don’t mean physically closer but closer in terms of a person who could complement what you do. Does the bulk of their work involve repairing or improving the look of the home? They should be different enough from what you do so there’s no overlap but not so far removed that there’s little chance they’ll ever refer you business. For example, an interior designer, flooring installer, electrician and more are the kind of people who find themselves working on-site. Or a real estate agent has a vested interest in upgrading the look of the home while putting the property on the market sooner rather than later – so she doesn’t necessarily want a huge renovation project with potentially big delays if a refinishing project can mean a quicker turnaround with a beautiful result.

Contrast this with professional service people who work in office buildings – attorneys or accountants, for example. How does what they sell compare to what you sell? Night and day, right? So how likely is it that home projects may come up in their conversations? It’s not impossible, but it’s less likely than those people who work in design or with industrial tools to fix and beautify the home. The customer they serve today could be yours tomorrow and vice versa.

Share Promotional Costs

If someone aligns well with you as a complementary service and is “knocking” on very similar prospect doors to yours, explore sharing the costs of advertising and promotions. Could an ad in a local paper with both of you featured make sense? What about a guest blog post on each other’s websites talking about tips for the homeowner’s benefit? For that matter, could you have a section of your site labeled “Partners” or “Recommended Vendors” that highlights their business while they return the favor for you on their website?

Tracking The Give-And-Take

A great referral relationship, including a strategic partnership, has to go both ways. You can’t give a partner 20 qualified referrals while they barely give you one. Meeting with them regularly such as monthly helps ensure you’re on the same page for tracking activity. They mentioned they might have a referral for you two weeks ago. What happened with that? Use the time to follow up.

Teach Them (Don’t Assume They Know Your Whole Story)!

“Face time” with your partner is important so you can communicate and re-affirm who you want to meet, what you do best and what kinds of things your partner should be listening in order to say, “I know someone who may be able to help you with that!” Grab a coffee with them at least once a month for not only guiding them but also to share what’s working with each other on the new business front. What networking groups are worth your time? Which ones aren’t? Is direct mail working? Or is digital media the way to go? Compare notes with someone closer to your inner circle.

Don’t Forget To Reward!

It’s not really about spending a lot to say “thank you” for a successful referral – it’s about recognizing it and encouraging your partner to refer again. A small gift card could be just fine. One suggestion: It’s not enough for them to merely give you a name. It should be a name that becomes a real, qualified customer.

At its best, a relationship with several strategic partners can provide you with the help you need to add qualified leads to your new business pipeline. With all the hats you have to wear as a business owner, it’s good to share the load on this particular role any way you can.