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How Interior Designers Can Ask for Referrals From Happy Clients

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How to ask customers for a referral

One of the primary ways interior designers can generate leads is through word of mouth and referrals.

Unfortunately, many designers approach this topic with trepidation, uncertain how a client is likely to respond to their request for a referral. The good news is that learning how to ask for a referral doesn’t have to be as complex as many make it out to be.

With a few key strategies in mind, you can get more business referrals with less work and fewer advertising dollars. Learn the right way to ask for a referral in this detailed breakdown.

Importance of Relationship Building

Relationship building is an essential part of knowing how to ask for a referral from a client. From the very beginning, you want to prepare each one of your clients for the possibility of asking for a referral later on down the road. The process of working with a client naturally lends itself well to shoring up and strengthening that relationship.

If you want someone to give you a glowing recommendation to their friends or refer others to your services, you need to establish a good rapport with them. How can you set the stage for this important ask later in the relationship? It doesn’t have to be too complicated. Do the following:

  • Communicate openly with them throughout the process
  • Do your homework on what you think they will love when it comes to your services
  • Be organized and professional at all times

Most people have no problem giving referrals if they believe that your services are outstanding. Maintaining a professional persona in every aspect of your business will be vital to establishing rapport and learning how to ask for a referral later on down the road.


Create a Process for Referral Requests

If you want a business referral, one of the best ways to start asking is to create a process that you always adhere to. This process can make things much easier for you by giving you a pattern to work from with your clients.

Finding a system that works for you is a key way to start learning how to ask for a referral from a client. Follow some of these tips to help you create a natural process and start generating those important warm leads.


Ask for Referrals on Your Invoice

Many interior designers are a bit shy about asking for referrals. One way around putting yourself on the spot is to include a section for referrals on your final invoice.

When you have the client fill out their final payment details, you can also use this as an opportunity to collect email and contact information about other people they know who might be interested in your services.

You may even include a few extra business cards that they can pass out to friends and family members who are impressed by your work in their homes.


Ask Directly

If you want to learn how to ask for a referral, there is no way around the fact that a direct question should be one of your first considerations. It is straightforward, though it may feel a bit nerve-racking the first few times you have to do it. Before you make the big ask, make sure that you have a rapport with your client and that they are satisfied with your services.

You may even ask for a review or testimonial first to test the waters and see how they respond to the request. Clients who give out glowing reviews have friends, and family members who would benefit from your services, so asking for a referral after receiving accolades from the client is a great option.


Utilize Social Media

One way to maximize your advertising efforts is to ask for referrals on social media. Use your platforms to post valuable content you created for your blog, share photos of work you recently completed, or offer special deals and incentives.

Ask your audience to share these posts with their friends on their platforms, and watch the referrals start rolling in!


Personalize Your Ask

Interior designers who need to know how to ask for a client referral need to tailor their questions to the person they request.

Give genuine feedback to them on how much you enjoyed working on their project and helping them improve their home or business. Nobody likes a canned speech or response, so be authentic and express yourself, as long as you have something positive to say about the project you just finished!

When the time comes to close out your client’s profile, make sure to ask if they have any friends who may need similar services.


Use a Referral Template

Asking for a referral can make some people nervous. Take the heat off yourself and use a referral template.

A referral template is a simple sheet with the name and contact information of friends that your client wants to refer to your business. For example, you might include this page along with a packet of information you give your client at the close of a job, such as with their final invoice.

Are you worried that you don’t have the technical skills to generate your referral template? Of course, you can use Microsoft Word to create many things, but some designers prefer not to spend their time behind computers.

There is good news, though. With the rapid growth of the internet, there is always an option to find a premade referral template. Just do a quick Google search and browse letters.

It is a good idea to brand your referral template. A great tool to use Canva. It is an easy graphic tool to create social posts, advertisements, and electronic or printable handouts.


Implement Incentives or Thank You Gifts

Many people are suddenly inspired to offer up the names of their friends when they think that there might be something in it for them. So, in exchange for the names of three potential referrals, you might want to offer a small thank you gift or an incentive.

A “thank you” gift could be as simple as a $25 gift card to a local restaurant or coffeehouse. You may even choose to offer a certain amount off their final bill in exchange for a few referrals.

Remember that you don’t necessarily want to bribe people into giving you referrals, but a small token of appreciation can go a long way.


Build a Network

One of the avenues you can use to generate leads is to form a partnership with other local experts such as real estate agents or contractors.

Ask them if they would be willing to refer your services to clients if you are willing to give their number out to anyone looking for their services or goods. This business referral relationship is one simple referral avenue that can help grow your interior design business substantially!


Reaching Out to New Referrals

Reaching out to your new referrals can be a daunting task. It feels like cold calling, but it should be treated much differently. A referral given by another client is an open door that you can walk through to close another deal.

However, reaching out and building rapport with someone you don’t know can be awkward. These tips will help you to feel more confident in your approach.


Include Both Clients on Correspondence

One of the best ways to make it clear that you aren’t cold-calling is to include both parties in the email you send out to new referrals. Make sure to personalize the email and state just how much you enjoyed working with the original client.

Perhaps you might even want to share your favorite part of the project before diving into the specifics of why you are contacting them.

Keep in mind that your old client likely does not want to be included in an email chain that goes over job specifics or pricing. Therefore, after the initial email exchange, it is okay to take them off the message so you can focus on your new prospective client.


Make an Offer

Most people are more inclined to purchase or sign up for services if they feel that they are getting a great deal. Thus, this is an excellent time to offer a special incentive or offer specifically for this client.

Keep in mind that you don’t want to give your services away for free, but this is a client that you did not have to spend your hard-earned dollars advertising to earn.

At the end of your message, make sure to include a call to action (CTA) to give them the chance to respond. Make it clear what actionable steps they need to take to get the incentive that you’re offering just for them.


How to Ask for a Referral the Easy Way

Building up a solid business based on referrals can be a long and arduous process. It takes a great deal of time, and you must develop the proper mindset when learning how to ask for a referral.

If you need to generate leads, try implementing a few of these key strategies to make the ask and the response easier. Join our community at Behind the Design for more business and career advice!

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