Should I Join a Professional Referral Group?

Yes. To get started in this profession you need a lot of people to know that you are a handyman.  You need them to be confident that you do good work and that you are reliable and reasonably priced.  You need these people to refer you to their friends and for their friends to refer you to more friends.  So how do you find them without spending lots of money on advertising?

Join a referral group!  I joined BNI (Business Network International) and built my entire business.  You’ll find other referral groups out there that operate on the same principle as BNI.  LeTip International, Inc. is another popular one.  There will be at least one of these referral groups in your area.  To help you find them I’ve provided links to their home pages in the Resources and Helpful Links.

These groups are not free but they are worth it.  BNI and LeTip are networking groups of professionals, limited to one person from each profession.  They get together regularly to support each other and to trade business referrals.  A networking group is exactly what you need, and may be all that you need in the way of marketing.  With a good referral network you are on the road to success as a handyman.

Because they have the one person per profession rule, you will not be competing with other members of the group for business.  Try to join a group that has the most power partners for your profession.  Your power partners would be painters, electricians, general contractors, carpet cleaners, and other professions that offer home services and repairs or deal with seniors.

When I joined, 35 people instantly knew what I did and started to get to know me as a person.  This was the start my business needed.  I did work the very first week for members in the group and they gave testimonials at the next meeting praising my work.  Others members hired me and they referred me to their friends.

Success!  The formula became obvious.  Show up consistently at the meeting, be an active member of the group by finding as many referrals as possible for other group members, follow up on the referrals that you receive, and do a great job as a handyman.

In addition to the large number of people that quickly know who you are, there is an element from the networking group that is indispensable…people will know and trust you.  You can spend money on newspaper or yellow pages ads and will probably get some calls, but people who call from these ads will not know you from Adam.  They will want to know who you are, who you have done work for, if your work is any good, and if you are fairly priced.  They’ll ask these excellent questions because they are afraid to open up their homes to someone they don’t know.

People who respond to your ad might call three other handymen and compare the services and prices of each.  “Do you give free price quotes?” is a typical question.  I would answer yes, of course, but I’m not anxious to get into a price war with other handymen or to waste my valuable time running around town.

People would rather deal with a handyman who has been referred to them and has proven to be trustworthy.   This is where BNI and LeTip come in.  The minute you were referred to this potential customer the balance tilted in your favor.  You are already a trusted handyman who came highly recommended.  What more could you ask for?  You’re two steps up the ladder of trust and you haven’t even talked to them on the phone yet!  When you do, you can quickly get down to the business of evaluating the job.  You’ll find that you are negotiating the price from a much stronger position.

The more referrals you give to members in your group, the more you will receive.  “Givers Gain” is the BNI philosophy.  I’ve referred many remodel jobs to our group’s general contractor and carpet cleaning jobs to our carpet cleaner.  To my customers I have become a “go to” guy for all kinds of tasks because of all the business associates in my group.  In return these associates are always looking out for referrals for me.

Locally, I find that less than half of the groups have a handyman in their ranks.  This means that there is a pent up demand for handyman services.  Of course these groups aren’t free but, when you consider that you get great referrals instead of phone calls from strangers, the dues have proven to be a genuine bargain.

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