Interior design referrals are the lifeblood of your interior design business.
While they will happen organically, you can do a lot to ensure they happen on a regular, predictable basis.
But I do have a cautionary tale about how NOT to lose interior design referrals…
Growing Your Interior Design Business With Referrals: What Not to Do
I had just completed a couple of rooms for a client and his wife, both attorneys with a young daughter, in a lovely home.
Their firm was hosting a Christmas party and they had volunteered their home.
They asked if I could do the layout and tabletop decorations and, of course, I agreed enthusiastically.
This job was a little unusual because the husband was the lead. I really only met his wife once. Both of them were busy in their careers but hers was given priority. (This matters, keep reading.)
We stored their entire living room furnishings in a truck for the weekend of the event.
The tables were spectacular, sporting three feet tall martini glasses with floating candles.
They sent me a lovely email following the event saying how successful it was and how everyone had a great time.
But then they gave me the not so good news…
Many of the guests (attorneys, one of my favorite markets) had requested my card. But, (drum roll here) they asked the wife, NOT the husband.
She didn’t have any of my cards, he did.
I knew that with the crush of the season, no one would remember to follow up.
What did that mean?
No interior design referrals came through.
(Yes, I was well-compensated for the party design and decoration. It just would have been awesome to have a couple of new clients come from it!)
Well, I learned my lesson. When I speak at events I often talk about learning lessons like these. They are valuable lessons that can help both you and your business grow.
Now, I leave a tasteful tent card with my contact on the table for interior design referrals (not a business card, that’s tacky, and could possibly cost me business. Find out if your business card is costing you business here.)
Clients are fine with tent cards because it makes the referral elegant and easy. In fact, they are thrilled to refer because it’s a compliment to the success of the party and décor.
How to Get Interior Design Business Referrals With Ease
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
First, as you are working with a client and they are appreciating the results of your talent, ask.
Let them know how much you enjoy working with them and ask if they have friends, colleagues, or family that would appreciate your services also.
The key to asking for an interior design referral is to make it about the client, not about you.
Let them know how great they are to work with, and how you’d love a couple more clients just like them. (If you say 10 more, it sounds like you are desperate.)
2. Create a Reward System for Interior Design Referrals
Most clients don’t need or want a reward, but it’s great to say thank you with a bottle of wine, a gift card for dinner to their favorite restaurant, or a pair of tickets to a hot event.
You can also provide gift certificates for your services to clients as a thank you, and that’s a nudge to keep them coming back.
These are really simple ways to woo your client, and it doesn’t take much work at all (if you’re looking for more simple ways to woo your clients, click here).
If you make the certificate transferable, they can leverage that as an easy referral device.
These are all great ways to build client relationships and get referrals. For more tips on building better client relationships, read this blog post.
3. Ask for Referrals On a Regular Basis
Make sure that you are asking for referrals on a regular basis and not just of your clients.
Research real estate agents, builders, contractors, and other suppliers who share your market and form a referral network.
I’ve gotten business from all of those folks and often it was unexpected and unplanned.
Now, imagine what happens if you plan it!
What are some ways you get referrals for your interior design business?
I’m Melissa Galt, an interior design business consultant and business coach for interior designers. I’ve been practicing design for over two decades and have been an interior design business coach and consultant for over a decade. You want to earn more and I’m here to help you make that happen. Contact me today to see how I can help.
Enjoyed this article? Here are three more to help you navigate you grow your interior design business!
This article was originally published on December 9, 2017 and has been updated.