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Referral marketing is acknowledged as one of the most credible forms of advertising these days. According to a Nielsen Trust Survey, a whopping 92% of customers trust recommendations from their family and friends, over any other type of advertising.

However, nearly 70% of businesses fail to make the most of referral and word-of-mouth referrals – just because they shy away from asking or because they do not have an incentivised referral program in place. As consumers, we know how complacent we can sometimes get when it comes to posting reviews or passing the word about an excellent service we recently used. A friendly reminder (and, well, a little reward!) is often all it takes to nudge the lazy reviewer in us to take action.

So, if you are offering a brilliant service that you are customers are happy about, make sure you get started with a good referral system to give your business the boost it deserves.

Now, how do you get started?

If you are at a loss of where to start in terms of your budget, it's a good idea to consider what your current cost of acquisition is for each customer.  For instance, if you spend £60 on acquiring a customer through advertising or other paid marketing channels, you could start by allocating the same for your referral programs as well.

You could offer the amount as a one-off discount from their next payment, or you could spread the cost as a smaller discount of, say £5 off their monthly bill for a year. Explore Learning’s refer-a-friend scheme is a good example.

Referral programme for childcare centres

Explore Learning's Refer-a-Friend scheme

Implementing the program

If you have a website and a substantial budget for the program, you could consider going for a referral marketing software like MentionMe or ReferMeIQ. But if you are looking at keeping it simple, here’s what you can do:

  • Keep referral forms at your reception for the referring parents to fill out. Check out Hubspot for some amazing free customer referral templates
  • Add a section in your registration form for new parents to indicate if they were referred to your centre
  • Maintain a spreadsheet to keep tabs of all details
  • If you use Cheqdin, you can set a rule in your system to deduct the discounted amount automatically from the referring child’s invoice. Check out our post on rules-based invoicing for more details. If you are giving out monthly discounts, you could also consider creating tags for ‘children on a monthly referral discount’ - to filter them out quickly.

Now, the last thing you want when implementing such a scheme is parents bringing in a barrage of friends for a tour of your centre to claim the discount. Make sure you set clear terms and conditions on how to claim the referral bonus and give out the reward only after the referred child has enrolled and been in the setting for a month, for instance.

And finally, don’t forget to spread the word about your referral scheme. Remember to keep a poster or fliers about it at your reception, promote it on social media, add it to your email signature, and send out the occasional reminder in your newsletter.

You might also like:

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