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How referrals benefit my business

Confetti and ribbonWHO: Phil Cavalier-Lumley, managing director of Affinity Productions.

WHAT: Bradford-based online-video production company.

THE ISSUE: How to generate more business.

THE SOLUTION: "I set up Affinity with my business partner in 2000. Originally we set up as wedding videographers and referrals were responsible for many of the jobs we did.

"In the wedding industry, obviously, we were dealing with customers who weren't likely to give us repeat business! The majority of our market was new business, so referrals were extremely important.

"Receiving positive customer feedback was key. We always tried to make sure customers were delighted with the service we provided, so they'd recommend us to their friends and family.

"From the start of the process, we placed great emphasis on customer service. Wherever possible, we aimed to exceed our customers' expectations.

"When we're working, we always made sure we carried business cards to give to people. People saw us doing our job, which made it easier to get referrals, because they could see we're professional.

"We only asked for referrals from customers once the job was finished, otherwise it would have come across as aggressive. We preferred to remind customers subtly that we'd done a good job. Then we asked if there's anyone they knew who would be interested in our services.

"A few years ago I met an electrician at a chambers of commerce event. He asked me to film his daughter's wedding and his son's wedding too. He was so pleased with the job we had done that he referred us to his friend, who also booked our services. It's important to do your job well, so people remember you."

LESSONS LEARNED:

  • "Referrals are the easiest way to generate business. It costs you nothing, but you do have to make sure you do a good job in the first place.
  • "Only ask for a referral once you have completed the job and make sure you're not too forceful."

Affinity Productions diversified in 2008 to capitalise on the move to online video. They now offer a service that allows small businesses to promote their products and services online via online video and social media.