You know that to attract high-net-worth individuals and high-income earners, you have to be a little more creative and sophisticated with your approach to the referral process. One powerful strategy in my referral system is hosting client-appreciation events. Client-appreciation events help you grow business friendships with your clients. As your business friendships grow, so does client loyalty and the amount of referrals. Here are a few client-appreciation events that some Top Producers have employed with great success.
The “Magic Bus”
Don Zimmer, from Ohio (top ½ percent in his company), likes to mix a little referral business with pleasure. Once a year, Don pulls together a simple, but special, trip for his clients. He charters a luxury motor coach, and they all head off to Chicago or Toronto for a Broadway-style play or gourmet meal, followed by a stay at a nice hotel. All his high-net-worth clients pay for the trip. Don and his staff merely handle the arrangements with the hotel, theater, and bus company. He gets his clients a great deal.
Now, here’s the kicker. He urges his clients to invite other couples that are not his clients. Of the 20 couples that go each year, 10 are clients, and 10 are prospects. So, for about 36 hours, Don is the grand host to prospects who fit his profile. They get to know each other and like each other. They see how he relates to his existing clients, and they like it.
Don says he’s batting about 90 percent or better in converting these prospects to clients. Invariably, before the trip is over, they quietly lean over to Don and say, “We have a situation we’d like your advice on. Do you have some time to visit with us in the near future?” Does Don have time? You bet he does.
Hit the Slopes
David Atkinson is a top-producing rep who also happens to be an Olympic-level skier. David organizes a ski junket every year that has catapulted his practice to the top. David’s clients pay for the junket, but in a creative way. Price of admission? Five referrals to David. If the referral prospect goes on the junket, that’s worth three referrals.
On one recent trip, David netted over 1,000 referrals. He needed to get an associate involved to handle all the business coming his way. David says, “Getting your clients involved in your practice and your life shields them against the competition.”
It’s Party Time!
One of the time-tested strategies in this vein of referral acquisition is client-appreciation parties (and dinners). Some reps like to make them “client only” events, while others encourage the invitation of friends or colleagues (prospects). Jeff Chandler, out of Denver, is a master at this particular type of client-appreciation event. .
Every year, Jeff hosts an incredible party for his clients. He gets a tent set up on his 5- acre property, brings in a band, and books a comedian. The list of attendees has grown to more than 300 (and continues to grow). It’s the event of the season in Denver (at least for his clients and centers of influence). Jeff says that many of his colleagues don’t understand why he spends so much money on these parties. But, it’s because these parties are a powerful investment in his practice. First, the parties solidify his relationships with his clients. Second, these parties stimulate a significant number of referrals.
The Lifetime Value of Your Clients
All things being equal, people naturally do business with their business friends. All things being not-so-equal, people still do business with their business friends. In my referral system, we talk about the lifetime value of our clients. The lifetime value of a client is not just the business you can do with them over a lifetime, it’s also who they can introduce you to over a lifetime. And, creating as many business friendships as possible ensures those introductions. Appreciating your clients for their business does three things:
1) It helps you build a business friendship
2) It shields your clients against the competition
3) It directly and indirectly generates referrals.