Once in a while, at a chapter meeting, I’ll hear someone say:

I’m not looking for any referrals this week. I’m booked out until next month.

While being booked out a month in advance is a great problem to have, it doesn’t mean you aren’t looking for any referrals! You should never come to an ONE meeting only to tell people you don’t need any referrals.

Usually when people say this, it’s for one of two reasons. Either they have enough business to work on in the immediate future, or they’re about to be unavailable for another reason. Let’s look at what to do differently in each situation.

I’m Going Out of Town

Generally, if someone is “unavailable for referrals”, it’s usually because they’re going on vacation. In most industries, however, no one is bleeding out while you’re on vacation. Their need will still be there when you get back next week.

In these situations, continue asking for referrals just as you always have, with the simple caveat that you’ll follow up on them when you return next week. That way the group can set expectations if they send someone your way.

This is your 60 seconds to share with the group what makes a good referral for you, today, tomorrow, or in the future. Don’t waste it.

I’m Booked Out

Congratulations! Being busy is awesome! But it doesn’t mean you aren’t in need of more business. There are three ways to approach being booked out:

Add Customers to the Queue

Time marches on. While you may be booked out today, you’re only booked out for as long as you’re booked out. Eventually, you’ll need business again. Much like going on vacation, depending on your industry, people can get in line and you’ll take care of them as soon as you have a chance.

For some industries (or some clients), that won’t be enough. They want service now! How can you give it to them?

This means it’s time to scale your business. This can happen a couple of different ways depending on your business and how you envision it growing.

Hire on Staff

One way to scale is to hire on staff. Bringing on employees means you fulfill more work without actually doing any more work. In theory, anyway. Make sure the numbers work out on paper, and consult with someone about the nuances of hiring on employees if you’ve never done it. If it pencils out, time to scale up.

But some people just don’t want to manage staff. While it can mean greater profits, you’ll generally still be working 40 hour weeks. Your work will just have a managerial bent to it. What’s the alternative?

Raise Rates

Rather than hire on staff, it could be time to raise rates and be pickier about the jobs you take on. This will naturally eliminate some of your existing clients, and it might mean you close fewer jobs. But ideally, it means you’re working less while still making as much (or more) money. For some people, this is their idea of growth! Time to go fly fishing.

I don’t even have time to prepare a referral!

Your attendance and your member moment every week are important, and you should be fulfilling those obligations if you expect to be a valuable member of ONE. During new member training, you should have gotten a great tip for those times you’re don’t have time to craft a referral for the week. You should sit down and create five easy-to-reuse referral asks that you can come back to in a pinch. Heck, they could be the only five you ever use! For example, if you’re a plumber, here are five referrals you could always fall back to:

  • At Johnson and Sons plumbing, we know toilets. If you know someone who has trouble with a toilet clogging frequently, send them to us. First we’ll do a thorough cleaning, and if necessary, we’ll make recommendations on a new system.
  • At Johnson and Sons plumbing, we know bathtubs. If you know someone with a slow bathtub drain, get us out there. Rather than just dump Draino in there, we’ll get out the auger and give it a good cleaning. Depending on the type of clog, we’ll recommend steps they can take in the future to prevent it from happening, like hair catches!
  • One thing most folks don’t know Johnson and Sons does is water heater maintenance. Your water heater should be looked at annually to ensure it’s performing efficiently and safely. We’ll look for build-up, leaks, and anything else that might cause trouble.
  • This week Johnson and Sons Plumbing is looking to expand our commercial reach. For places like restaurants, it’s important to have a reliable plumber available on call. Put us in touch with anyone you know who runs a restaurant for a free review of their existing systems. We’ll show them what we can offer in terms of reliability and service.
  • At Johnson and Sons Plumbing, we don’t just do repair work. We also do new construction. If you know contractors or construction companies, these are great connections for us, opening the door to subcontracting jobs. We’re especially always looking for new developments, since they’re bigger jobs that keep us busy longer. If you talk to any contractors this week, send them our way.

Easy! Keep five referrals just like that handy, and lean on them anytime you need to.