[Webinar] Build a Referral Engine That’s Guaranteed to Grow Your Business!

Webinar Overview

Referrals should be the number one driving factor for your membership based business growth, yet the methods to promote this Word-Of-Mouth wonder are underutilized by most! Vahid brings to light, in this exclusive PerfectMIND webinar, how you can build your own effective referral engine. One that’s guaranteed to help you build relationships with your customers and grow your business.

Presentation Slides

Build a Referral Engine That's Guaranteed to Grow Your Business! from PerfectMIND

Video Transcript

Hi everyone and welcome to today’s PerfectMind Webinar. Today we have out director of sales and marketing here at Perfect Mind, Vahid Shababi. And he’ll be presenting a very interesting topic on how to build a referral engine that’s guaranteed to grow your business. We will have a question and answer section at the end. And this presentation is also being recorded. So, within 48 hours we can have that to you as well, in case you can’t follow through the whole thing. I want to remind everyone also to follow us on our social media channels. We have Facebook at facebook.com/perfectmindfans. We also have Twitter handle at Perfectmind and can also find us on Googleplus and LinkedIn. So you can follow us with any other future upcoming Webinars and presentations that we might have. So, without further ado, I’m going to pass it over to Vahid and he’ll take it away.

Hi everybody, thank you so much again for having us and I appreciate your spending time with us and I hope at the end of this Webinar that you will learn one of two things that will help you with your business. Before I start , if you can hear me and see my screen can you please type “yes” in the chat box? I just want to make sure everybody can hear me. Beautiful! Awesome!

So, let’s start. Today, I am just going to talk about the referral. But not about what you need to do to get more referrals. Referral is a culture; referral is the way that you run your business. Referral is the way you talk to people. That’s the way you provide your service. So, my goal with Webinar is to change the mentality of you and your business in a way that you will create a referral engine, instead of creating a referral campaign. A referral campaign is an event and an event will end but your referral engine should never end. It always should be going and going and going and going. At the end I will give you some ideas and strategies that you may be able to implement at your school, at your studio or your business and hopefully it will work.

I think you’ll all agree with me that the number one marketing campaign in our businesses is referral. If referral is not the number one source of the marketing at your business that means there is something wrong with your product or your service or the way that you treat your clients. Otherwise, referral should always be the number one marketing source.

Let’s talk about some realities. What are some realities of referrals? We all want to refer. It’s a pleasure that we get by referring. Why? Because we are all sitting in a group, we’re sitting in a party, we’re sitting with a group of friends and somebody there asks. “Hey, do you guys know of any good body shops?” And you like to be part of the conversation. So the pleasure comes by connecting with other people, and also being recognized as a source of good information. Most of us are in the same boat we want to be the person that people trust. And if they have any questions “Hey, you know what that person is a connective person so they pick up the phone and they call you. If they have any questions you want to be the one that always comes to mind.

So, that is the pleasure part of it. But it also comes with the fear. The fear is what if you refer one of your resources or one of your connections to a friend and they don’t deliver a good service? That means the trust between you and your friend or between you and your colleague won’t be as before. So the fear that we have when we do the referral is that we put the trust that we have established with a receipt on a loan to a person or company that you are referring. So, that is a reality that we are always faced with.

And when I will talk about some techniques and strategies you have to consider these two facts about your clients, your members about your students. As I said at the beginning never think of a referral as a campaign. Yes, you can have many different campaigns. But referrals should be a culture for your business. First of all, you have to be trustworthy and honest. Always be trustworthy and honest if you don’t have something that your audience or your prospects are asking for be honest with them.


If you do something wrong, be honest about it. Never try to come up with excuses. People will give you credit for being honest. So, the number one rule in order to have a good culture for referral is being trustworthy and being honest. Number two, believe in your customer’s happiness and satisfaction, and that is not only you but you have to make sure that your team has the same belief. You have to make sure that the people who are dealing with your customers is a good representer of your business and the way that you think. So they have to believe in that. You shouldn’t have anybody in your team that they are not following that strategy.

Your business shouldn’t be boring. There should be something special about you that people want to talk about. Are you cool? Do you provide an excellent service? So we’ll talk about this better in one of the slides that I have. Be consistent don’t be a business that sometimes you offer a good service and sometimes you don’t. It all goes back to if you’re in a good mood or if your staff is in a good mood or their not. Be consistent, always offer the best service, and I go back to the point number two you have to believe in your customer’s happiness and satisfaction. Build relationships. That is very important. Build relationships. The reason I have a star next to number 5 is because I want to talk more about how to build relationships. Building relationships are easy. But it has to be very honest. Build relationships with people around you.

Now, we talked about referral. Every time we talked about referral the only channel that we focused on is your customers, but that is not the reality. There are many different channels that you can work on that you can generate referrals for your business. That is why I am saying there has to be a referral engine instead of having a referral campaign. Your customers they should be your family, they should be your partners. If they bring you a business they have to be partners with you. You have to treat them like a family you’re a team. How many of you guys have a referral program for your staff or for your team? If you can, please type “yes” or “no”. Do you have any specific referral program for your staff? “Okay, K, K…..

I see a lot of “no’s” that’s a big resource. These people are your family. These people will see you every day. These people know you if not better than your family, just like your family, because they spend a lot of time with you. They trust you, why not partner up with them? Other businesses there are so many other businesses in your area that they would love to have access to your student’s data base, to your member’s data base. You can do the same thing with them. But there is one big mentality that always makes mistakes. We always make mistakes in a “give to get” mentality. We always want to “get” the first one……that won’t work. Have a “give” to “get” mentality. What is the worst situation may happen? You may “give” and don’t “get”. But trust me if you look at the big picture, if you work that way with too many businesses there is no way that you won’t win.

You have to be part of the team. You have to be part of the community. So you know you can work with other businesses in your area to create a referral program with them. So, this referral engine keeps going and going. Lastly, the people who don’t sign up with you or who cancelled with you maybe they’re not going to your school or to your studio just because they moved to a different house, they’re too far. Maybe they looked at you, they loved the professionalism that you have they love your studio. However, they are looking for a specific program and you don’t have it, but they can still refer people. They know a lot of people, and if someone comes to them and says “hey, I’m looking for a yoga studio”. “Hey, you know what I tried that gym and I loved them but I couldn’t work with them because of this.” So, you have to create four different channels; for customers, for your team, other businesses and the people who haven’t signed up with you. So, out of these four channels, if you can please on the chart box how many of these channels are you utilizing, right now for your referral program? 3,3,1, 2, oh, good job Sasha, 1, 3 very good.


So, the point from this is do not focus on one channel try to get all the channels going, and come up with a process. Meaning, don’t just do it once and give it away. No, it has to be a process that you know where you are going from it every step. In my previous slide, I said I am going to talk more about building relationships, it doesn’t matter what channel you take for referral, building relationships is a big thing. Doesn’t matter if you have a good relationship with the business next door or you have a good relationship with one of your staff or you have a good relationship with your students; that will always work. But there are some basics in a relationship that sometime we take for granted or we don’t pay attention to it or we don’t even do it.

  1. Respect. Always respect people always respect them for what they think. Don’t disrespect them when sometimes they give you feed-back that is against you. Always respect them. People enjoy being with people that are respectful. And I think you won’t be friends with anybody who is disrespecting you over and over and over. #1 rule: Always respect. Appreciate every single thing don’t take things for granted.

2.Always show them that you care for them. If, you want them to care for your business, if, you want them to care for you; you have to show that you care. There are many different ways. Set up a very personal email for birthdays. Send a very personal email for an anniversary after they have worked for you for one year. If somebody calls you and says, “Hey, I won’t be able to come to the gym for next month.” And when you ask the reason and they tell you that they will be having their baby. Write down a note,; create a task for yourself to send them a card or a flower or just a simple phone call in a month. And say “Hey, how did it go? Congratulations.” These small things will go a long way. It will make a big difference. Sometimes we don’t pay attention to the details. When they walk into your school, when they walk into your studio ask them their favorite color. List them, if their favorite color is red; for their birthday have a red shirt for them or you know I don’t know like different things. You have to show that you care. You have to show that it matters to you. You pay attention to them. What is your favorite drink? When a parent is waiting buy the favorite drink at Starbuck’s for them while they are waiting for their kids. That’s how you can show that you care.

Golden Rule: Treat them the way that you want to be treated. Don’t ignore them. Always think if you would appreciate it if someone treated you that way. And lastly, create a “Culture of Appreciation.” Don’t take things for granted between your teams, also, don’t take for granted your relationship with your team or between you and your customers, always appreciate and be thankful for simple things. I was reading an article about a week ago and it was about appreciation and how a simple “thank you” can go a long way with your team and your customers. It was a question and it really got me. Like Thanksgiving we’re thankful for everything we have. We are thankful for family and for friends. And are you thankful for your team? When was the last time I actually wrote a card and gave it to everybody on my team? When was the last time I wrote a thank you card to my clients?

Be thankful, small things make a big difference. People like to be appreciated. As soon as we take things for granted it’s going to ruin all the relationships. So, make sure to bring the “Culture of Appreciation” to your business. So your team members will appreciate what the other person does for them even if it is a simple thing. Your team members will be in a happy place and every single day they will look forward to coming back. And second, you are building some relationships that are going to last long. That is one of the key points for referral. Now, I’m just going to talk to you about all these cultures that we talked about. It starts with you and you, nobody else this is the rule.


The business takes care of the staff. The staff takes care of the customers. And the customers take care of the business. That’s a circle. Make sure the circle is solid. Make sure you are taking care of your staff. So the staff is taking care of your clients. And the clients will be happy to be part of your family to be part of your business. Your team will treat your customers the exact same way as you treat them. So make sure to treat them in a way that you want them to treat your customers.

Always hire for the fit. Hire for the attitude, train for the skills. If somebody’s not on the same page as everybody else, if somebody comes in for an interview with the best skills but you don’t see them with the right attitude…don’t hire them. They have to be on the same page. Attitude is a big thing. They should have willingness, they should care for your customers; they have to look at you as a family. They should appreciate the opportunity you are giving them. Some people walk into a business and the first 2 weeks they are very appreciative for the opportunity that you are giving them and then after that they take everything for granted. You cannot possibly work with these kinds of people. Those people will kill your “Culture”. Hiring is very important. When you bring somebody on board and train them to be at their best, but always the number one rule should be attitude. I personally had a lot of skillful people that they didn’t have a good attitude in the company, and they were not the best fit, and I had to let them go.

At the same time I had people who came for an interview that were very skillful, but I could see they were not going to work on my time, and you know they’re going to change the chemistry of the team; I didn’t hire them. I always want to work with the people with the good attitude that even when I’m down in the day they come to me, tap me on the shoulder, “Hey buddy, what’s wrong? Cheer up!” That’s the type of culture that you want to have. Now, we’ve talked about all of these cultures; culture thing and what needs to be done. When you talk about the referral, basically you’re talking about what your customers, or your former customers, or your team, or even other businesses will talk about. They have to talk about you, but one thing you have to know, they won’t talk about your service; they’re not going to talk about your product. They will talk about the experience that they have. They’re not going to talk about like a kickboxing class. They’re going to talk about how happy they’re going to be afterwards. How in shape they’re going to be, they’re going to talk about the great experience they had with the friends in your class. Experience creates feeling, product and services doesn’t.

So, make sure the experience that you are creating at your business, in your business; it is an experience that you want to go viral. It’s an experience that you want people to talk about it, right? So, focus on the results and the experience of your customers, not the service or product. Your service and your product and your customer service, has to create that experience for people around you, so they’re going to talk about that experience. They talk about experience not about your product. That’s a big thing, and you have to believe in that. Always create that experience, even for your team, right? They’re not going to go say, “Hey, you know what, I’m so happy I finally got a job at this gym.” They may say it once when they get hired, but every single time they’re going to be so thankful, “I’m so happy for the place that I’m working with, because every time I work, it doesn’t matter you know if I go in I’m happy or not, I will be happy.” They’re going to talk about the experience they will go through.

The customer journey, when you talk about the customers there, specifically in those 4 channels, let’s talk about what customers will go through in order to make a referral. First of all, they have to learn about your service, or your product. They have to know what exactly you do; what are the benefits out there, what are the changes that you make? Then they have to like it, that’s where experience comes in between, so they have to like the experience. When they like it then they have to trust you, so you can be referred to somebody else that trust them. Then they’re going to make a referral. Every single one of us, we won’t keep referring if we don’t feel we are being appreciated or rewarded. Yes, maybe if somebody asks when we’re sitting altogether with a group of friends, and say, “Hey, do you know any dance studio?” I’d say, “Yeah, this dance studio I go to, I’m pretty happy,” but I won’t talk about it unless I know I’ll be appreciated and rewarded. In order to have a powerful, referral engine you need to build a community.


Now, build a true community around you, don’t fake it! There are so many fake communities out there, and I will tell you why they’re fakes; what you have to do, what you don’t have to do. First of all, create customer loyalty. So, if anybody goes out there and asks a question, you don’t have to jump in every single time to prove yourself. There are so many people out there like that. As soon as somebody asking about this company or that company, the owner should talk about it, why, because he doesn’t have loyal clients… Number 2, be social, and when I say social be open and social. There is a misconception right now in specific industries have a closed group. Why, why do you have to hide? Is it something that you’re providing and you’re not proud of it that you want to hide, or you want to bombard the new leads and new prospects with some fake testimony and only a few people are happy with you? If it’s real social what is wrong with people getting involved, do you have something to hide? Make it easy for people to get in. Don’t hide things. If you made a mistake people would appreciate it better if you say, “I made a mistake, this is how it works, let’s talk, thanks for your feedback,” rather than, “Hey you know what, you’re talking negative about me, you’re not going to be part of this group.”

Make it easy for people to be part of your community. People they don’t like to be part of a community which is hard to attend, to join. Why every time they have to be accepted to be part of your community, have a set rule for your community, what to talk about, what you don’t talk about? Hey, you don’t talk about politics, you don’t talk about this; you don’t talk about that. It’s the same for everybody, but don’t be biased. Just because somebody said they don’t like it, you’re going to delete them; you’re going to kick them out. Don’t underestimate your direct network. All of the people that you are dealing with; your customers, your staff, other businesses, they all have a direct, they have a direct network. Those are your direct networks. If I have 20 clients and each client has 300 friends on Facebook, my direct network is 6,000 people. Make it easy for them to bring them all into your network, into your community.

Always share something that they want to share with their network. You shouldn’t always talk about yourself. Every single one of you guys that are attending this webinar, have great experiences on how you can make a change in people’s lives in different ways. It can be from having a better diet, from you know how to eat healthy, about how to be more focused, more disciplined; put them on the paper, type them out. Let your members to share all of those without mentioning your name, without anything; help people. In a community you need to help people. That’s how your community will grow, not just by faking it and creating something that is so bias, invite everybody there and start bombarding them with fake news. Is that really what you’re about? Don’t be bias, by eliminating questions and topics. If somebody asks a question and you don’t like it, address them. If you feel it’s not appropriate, then ask them to talk to you privately but let people see that, because even if the other person won’t cooperate with you, all of the other people will see what type of classy business you are, what type of classy businessperson you are.

Why do we have business? We have business to help people, to make money, to feel good…do you really feel good by eliminating things that is true, but you are eliminating them just because they’re against you? Isn’t easier for us to learn from those, and make an improvement? Be helpful, don’t always ask for good news; ask for bad news too! When was the very last time you sent a survey to your staff and said, “Hey give me feedback on our processes, our culture, my management skill, and this, this, this,” and actually thanked them and reward them, at best feedback, you give them something? I guarantee you; you will learn many things you can’t think of right now, and even if there is something that is wrong, those are the objections in their mind that they are not going to refer you and they’re going to quit. At least you know what they’re thinking. You can take them out for a coffee and talk about that, and say, “Hey, this is the reason; I just wanted to make sure you’re okay with that.” At least you’re communicating. Always ask for bad news as well! That’s the only way that you can improve your services. That’s the only way that it can be better. I never hide it, yes, like they’re talking about our company. Let me tell you a real example of how you can learn. Our company, you know we had to work on customer service a few years ago, because we got a lot of feedback from the people, and all of the feedbacks were right!


So we have invested in our product and customer service in the past 2 years, to simply improve that. Why we figured that out? Because we were open to learning, because we were open to hearing people’s feedback, and we are thankful for every single feedback that we got it. Fast forward to today, now we’re providing 24 hours support with 17 seconds wait, we went down from 17 minutes to 17 seconds, and it wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t because of those feedbacks. When you want to create a community around you; don’t take a shortcut. Shortcuts at some point will get back to you; leverage your relationship selling through education based marketing. Provide content; I was talking about every single one of you went through so many stories, so many cases, that you know a lot more than the people who walk in. Share them, if you think that will help one more person; share those.

Be authentic, and provide authentic and shareable educational content and testimonials. It’s better to have one testimonial on your website, but that’s the true testimonial, rather than have 20 testimonials which is fake for every single website out there. That is wrong. The content you have on your website, make sure it’s yours! It is okay if you have content that is educational, that has been shared, but make sure you will able to change the content, and have the content that is your language, it’s your personality. The website is not only for the people that sign up with you, no, it has to be an educational place at heart for everybody that wants to work with you. You should have a nurturing strategy based on what benefits them.

Create an automated series of emails with educational content based on where they’re at. If they’re young people, if they’re parents, it doesn’t matter if they’re customers or they’re not customers; let them know you as an expert. Provide a content that they forward to a friend, “Hey,” you know they get an email about how to deal with kids to make them more disciplined they have the same conversation with another parent the school, they had the same problem; they’re going to forward your email. Provide all of those contents. That is how you can create a referral engine. Don’t take shortcuts. Make it easy for them to share, everything you do make sure it’s shareable. If it’s sending an email it has to be shareable. If you put something on social media make sure it’s shareable. Make it easy for them to share; they’re not going to go through extra steps. Facebook is great. The party is on Facebook, everybody is on the Facebook, but you have to look at the Facebook as a vehicle, not as a destination. Facebook should bring the crowd and the traffic to your online community.

Facebook changed the fan pages to business pages a few years ago. You never know what is next. Do you want to create a community somewhere that you’re not owning? I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a page, I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a group but there should be a purpose behind it. Facebook is distraction, sometimes people go there and they’re going to see some ads on the right hand side, and they’re going to see their personal identification and their personal messages; it’s easy for them to be distracted. Use the Facebook, create all these great groups, but try to send all of the traffic to a specific place that you are owning it. That can be your website; that can be your…anywhere that you own it, and you can do whatever you want to do with it, so you don’t have to always take the specific guideline for the content that you want to provide.

Now, what is your checklist for referral? When you create a referral campaign or a program, which is part of this referral engine, always make sure to have a goal. What is your goal from this? Set the goal. The goal should come from some numbers. You should know what is your cost per lead today, from online, from sending a brochure, and then you can cancel the cost needed for referral? And you know how much you can spend on people that are referring you. What is the reward? That reward should come from the number you decided in the first step. What is the process? Process means not everybody is going to do it in one way, not that if you take a vacation nobody is going to follow the process. Process is something that is in place, and it doesn’t matter who is going to be in that process, they’re going to do the same thing. Use your task management system. Have all of the tasks setup. Have your 2, 4, 6 goals; when the 2, 4, 6 goals need to be met. How are you going to follow up with the people who have been referred? How you’re going to update the people who referred you to somebody, because they need to know, because they may help you to close them? What is your process, A to Z.


You need to write it down on a board from A to Z what you need to be done, think about it a few days, make a process where everybody follows the same process; it will be consistent. Then you need to have the tools and necessary elements. Content… Write email, the nurturing system, you set up in your email system… You know have the rewarding, the cash reward… It depends on the type of system you create and the process you create, and then you need to have measurements. You have to measure any marketing or advertising activity, otherwise you don’t know if you were successful or not successful.

Now, when your clients, or your customers, or your members, they want to make a referral they have a journey. First, you have to educate them; you have to educate them what is your referral process, what is your referral program, what they need to do, what you will do and what they will get. Second, you need to motivate them. People need motivation and that’s going to be part of, “Hey, you will get this or this is our program.” Third, you have to appreciate them. It doesn’t matter if they refer you anybody or not, it doesn’t matter if they refer you and the person who has been referred become a customer or not, you have to appreciate what they’ve done for you. Then you have to reward them. If they sign up with you, you have to reward them. You have to make sure these 4 steps are being considered in your process. Again, don’t skip the step one and then go to 2, you make work with one or 2, but you won’t have a process. In your process these are your checkpoints. You have to go through all these 4 steps.

Now, I’d like to give you a few strategies and a few ideas that you can work on. Number 1, ask for referral. Referral won’t come. When they’re happy, when they thank you, make sure your staff has the same mentality as well; ask for, “Hey, do you know anybody else that can benefit from our services?” Ask for it! Video story contests, you know have a program, have an event, have a week, have a month… You have a lot of big achievements with these people. You have made a lot changes in their life. So, “Hey we would love to hear to know the change that we made in your lifestyle, and you being in shape,” different things, right? We would love to hear that, and we would love to have a contest and the person who has the most impressible story, the best story; we’ll give them a gift, we’ll give them a prize and it will be voted by you guys. So, all you need to do is just have your camera, have your I-phone, make a video on what changes you’ve been going through that you can see that you feel are the experience you’ve had with us, post it on our Facebook and then all of our students will vote and whoever gets the most likes will get this prize.

What will happen is you’ll get 20, 30, 40 different videos from different people and all of the people are going to start liking it, which is going to their next work and it’s going to be huge, and they’re all talking about the experience that they had at your school, at your studio. Have quarterly referral campaigns. Make it big! Everywhere in your school, in your gym, in your studio…there’s a poster, there’s an email, on the map, shirts, talk about referral, make it big…have it from a different angle. Have a yearly share the arts program. The share the arts program that we have at our school we have twice a year, and twice a year for a week they can bring any friends to any of our classes, and the name is Share the Arts. They can get free lessons, they can get referral points, but we make a big deal out of that. We make a buzz 2 weeks before, a month before. If you want more info on Share the Arts, I’ll be more than happy to share that with you.

Have a referral points system. The same way that all of the VISA cards are working, right? Let them have points, and then have all the points set for different prizes, and they can just cash out anytime they want. For every referral that you make you get 3 points, for any referral that you make and they sign up you get 5 points and then let them have all these points, take whatever you want from the pro-shop, discount cards! Or limited promotional code email, how many months it goes out, and say, “This is the promotional code you can give it to any friends that you want, there are30 of them,” they save 50%, 100 bucks, 200 bucks. People like to help their friends. That’s the community we’re talking about.


Have some cards on your front desk counter, “Hey, with the promotional card they can go on your website, purchase anything they want or they can bring it in.” “Hey, and this week it’s Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, what is it Valentine’s Day? We do have some specific promotion for referral, anybody that has been referred by our people they’re going to get this; they’re going to get that!” You know, is it Father’s Day? Ask them to bring their fathers. Is it Mother’s Day? Ask them to bring their mothers! That’s how you can go viral; you have to find excuses to ask them to invite more people. Similar people with similar interests, to your school…to your business… Have a staff referral contest, “Hey we have a contest and we give stuff away, we’re going to give 200 away, 500, or whatever it is,” it goes back to your goals, and your numbers.

As simple as them going on Facebook, and they’re going to change their status, “Hey anybody looking for a martial arts class, anybody looking for a yoga class?” Have a different program for your staff, because they have network; they have family, they have friends… 2, 4, 6, calls, take those seriously. Call them 2 weeks, 4 weeks, and 6 weeks after they sign up. Make sure, “Hey, how was your first week, how was the first 2 weeks?” You may hear 2 different things, “Ah, you know what,” when they say that you know that you have to step in and make some changes to make sure they’re happy, and they won’t quit. If the say, “It was pretty good,” that’s awesome. When people are hyped up at the beginning of the program is the best time to ask for a referral, “Hey, did you know that you can get a free month from us?” “How?” “Simple, do you know anybody in your friends and family that can go through the same amazing experience that you went through in the first 2 weeks, so we can call and invite them? Or did you know that you can bring a friend for free?” “Seriously, I can?” “Yes!” Same thing after 4 weeks, same thing after 6 weeks…

Have referral clubs, so basically you categorize them. …Up to 3 referral this is what you get, and this is going to be the club; 3 to 6 that’s what you get, 6 to 10 that’s what you get. And people always want to go to the next one. Make it easy for them to be part of these clubs, motivate them. Before we go to the question and answer, there is a book that I hardly recommend you guys to purchase and read it, that change your mentality on how to change the culture of your business to become a referral engine. The name of the book is The Referral Engine, and this book has been a great book in marketing the past few years. If you haven’t read it, make sure to purchase that book and read it. Now, thank you all for staying, and I hope you learned one or two things you can implement at your school. Now any question that you have, I’ll be more than happy to answer your questions!