Referral Programs

In a previous blog, we discussed ten different ways to increase referrals to your business.  This blog will address Referral Programs and how to establish a successful program using your business management software.



What Are “Referral Programs”? Referral Programs encourage current customers to talk as much as possible about your tattoo shop. They also increase “word-of-mouth” marketing by offering a reward for each new customer referred to your business. (usually discounted or free products and services).




Referred Clients Are Great.  According to a recent study[1], referred customers are both more profitable and loyal than normal customers. Referred customers spend more money, have a higher retention rate and are more valuable in both the short and long term. The value of a referred client is generally larger than any referral fee you pay!




Where Do I Start?  Asking a previous client that visited you one time, 8 months ago, may not be the most effective way to go about getting referrals. Rather, start with your regular customers since they like your shop and will have something positive to say about it. Being able to generate a list of these types of clients is something your management software should be able to easily do. Whether you base this list off of money spent, services purchased or simply how often they come to visit, you have an excellent place to begin your Referral Program.




What Do I Say? Once your list is generated, create a simple email asking customers to bring or refer a friend and include a benefit to the customer, or to the customer’s referral. For example, ask your best customers to bring a friend and the two of them will be able to use a 20% “referral” coupon together. Another idea is to ask your customer to send a friend who will be given a free minor service in conjunction with any new tattoo they purchase (i.e. a small coverup or shade job is an inexpensive way to say “thank you” for a referral.)





Keep It Simple. Remember, the key to a successful Referral Program is making it easy for your customer, so your email should have a coupon readily available (or simply make the email the coupon). Also, having links to your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and other sites makes it easy for your customers to include beneficial comments about you. A simple Facebook post by a regular customer like “Hey guys, my shop will give me and anybody I bring in 25% off a new tattoo. Who’s coming with me?” will give you immediate access to hundreds of potential referral clients.


trackingTrack the Benefits With Your Loyalty Program. A lot of small businesses like to do “punch cards” and other similar loyalty programs. Having to keep these cards handy in a purse or wallet decrease their value because they’re easily lost or misplaced. Instead, track your loyalty program with software. This way, your customer can come in, go on-line, or call and find out what is available to them. To do this, it is invaluable to have a client file that tracks your client’s points or benefits they’ve earned. Also try printing any “earned value” onto your customer’s receipts so they know many points they’ve earned.


Everybody’s business is a little different and will require a unique Referral Program. But using the ideas or general concepts above have been proven in many successful tattoo parlors.