Showing posts with label referrals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label referrals. Show all posts

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Why Resume Writers Always Need New Referral Sources


Many veteran resume writers say they get a large percentage — maybe even a majority — of their clients through referrals. If that's the case for you, it's important to remember that even though you have a strong referral base, you need to constantly be looking for new referral partners.


Referral sources are constantly changing. Referral sources may stop sending you clients for a variety of reasons: people leave the industry, or retire, or die, or get mad at you.

Referral sources forget fast. If referral sources do not see you or hear from you on a regular basis, they tend to forget you. Remember, they are bombarded with information all the time. You may not be on their mind all the time. (In fact, it's highly likely that you are not!)

Referral sources will not know you exist if you don't let them know you are out there. Marketing strengthens your business. Continual communication enhances your reputation, your reliability, and the confidence people have in you.

Marketing enables you to maintain your independence. An abundant supply of clients allows you flexibility in choosing who you work with, and which referral sources to continue to nurture.

When economic conditions deteriorate, resume writers who consistently market new referral sources will have a better chance of staying busy and surviving.

Marketing is an anti-depressant. Marketing is empowering. Resume writers who wait for clients to call them are more likely to go through periods of depression and self-doubt. Depression is caused by a sense of powerlessness and helplessness. Taking action by cultivating new referral sources helps psychologically as well as financially.

It’s not enough to be a good resume writer. It’s not good enough to provide your clients with great service. The people with the busiest businesses are the best marketers, not necessarily the best resume writers. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

What is a "Fair" Referral Fee for Resume Writers?

I got a couple of questions from a resume writing colleague today about referral fees, and I wanted to share my answers in today's blog post.

Securing Referrals Special Report
* Can you please advise what is the prescribed fee amount/percentage range that one should offer another career professional for a referral (career service) that would be fair? (Is there any minimum and maximum offered?)

Referral fees are negotiable. 15% is the most common referral fee, but I've seen anywhere from 10-25%. 

One thing to consider when you're deciding what percentage to pay as a referral commission for being sent prospects from a colleague is: What is the QUALITY of the referral? If someone sends a client to you who is pre-qualified and pre-sold (meaning they're a good fit for you and they're ready to buy from you based on what the referring person said), that's worth it.

There's a mathematical way to figure this out, for the most part. You can add up what you're spending (in money and time) each month, and divide it by the number of clients you secure yourself. For example, you might spend 1 hour/week on marketing and $100 on your marketing (website, paid ads, etc.). Let's say you value your time at $75/hour. So that's $75 x 4 = $300/month (time) + $100/month (hard costs) = $400. Let's say you secure 6 new clients/month. So divide $400/6 = $66 (cost to acquire one client).

Let's say that referral partner sends you a client that pays $500/project. Your 20% referral fee would be $100. But remember, unlike your own marketing costs, you only incur this "marketing expense" if you secure the client. With your other marketing costs, you spend $400/month and might get 0 clients out of it. (Or, things might go really well, and you get 10 clients out of it!). But the advantage with referral commissions is you only pay them when you're making money (the other 80%). 

* Are referral fees always required or mandatory? For instance, I offered a referral to a resume writer once for a client that I was not able to take due to other deadlines. However, I did not charge a referral fee upon the client retaining her service. 

No, referral fees are not always required or mandatory. As the referring person, you can always request a referral fee, but it's not mandatory. HOWEVER, thinking of that resume writer, wouldn't you be MORE likely to send clients their way if they HAD sent you a 15% referral commission (even if you hadn't asked for it?) Or even some kind of thank you?

* Are referral fees based on certain factors, or more on the negotiation or agreement between two career professionals what is suitable?

Just like with subcontractor fees, I believe that the more "work" one party does, the higher the compensation should be. For example, subcontract writers who have direct client contact (including conducting intake interviews) should make more than subcontract writers without client contact (and who work from questionnaires). However, because there is no standard in the industry, this isn't always equivalent.

In an "ideal" world, I think it would be:
10% referral fee -- pass along the name of a colleague
15% referral fee -- "normal" amount of selling -- give name/contact info and some information about the resume writer to convince the client they're a good fit
20% referral fee -- going above and beyond -- information about why this resume writer would be a good fit plus introduction of client directly to resume writer

The reason why I generally think referral fees should be 20% and under is that now you're getting into the "subcontract" rates territory. When you'd pay 20% to another writer to create the actual content for the client (again, subcontract fees are generally 20-35%), I think that's the top level. But I have seen some writers who offer 25% referral fees.

In the affiliate marketing world, referral commissions can be up to 75%, but usually these are for set programs (webinars, courses, group programs), not custom services.

If you're looking for more information about eliciting referrals from colleagues, check out this special report:

If you're interested in learning more about subcontracting as a resume writer, check out:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Affiliate Relationships with Recruiters - Compensation

As I am researching my new Special Report for resume writers on developing strategic alliances with recruiters and headhunters, I'm learning there is a wide variety of compensation strategies --- from NONE (the most frequently asked question I hear from resume writers: "So why would they refer someone to me, if they're not getting a referral fee or commission?") to 15%, on average.

I hope to have the Special Report done by the end of the month!! More details to follow...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Using Your Client List

If your appointment book isn't full, the first place to turn to is your existing client mailing list.

Here are some tips for how to use your client list to generate repeat business as well as stimulate new clients.

• Find New Customers Like Your Best Customers. Look at your mailing list and analyze our customers. Are you doing a lot of business with 35- to 45-year-old women who are looking for MORE out of their careers? Think about how you can reach these women and you'll tap a whole new group of prospects.

• Do More Of What You Do Best. Look at your last 50 projects -- what kind of work were you doing for these clients? You might find that there's an opportunity to target a niche of prospects. For example, if you did a handful of follow-up letters for these clients, you might decide to contact ALL of those past clients and offer them a special on follow-up letters.

• Get Feedback. "Out of sight" is out of mind in business too. Contact customers to ask how their job search is going. You can write a letter or send a survey. These types of contacts help keep you top of mind and bring customers back (and generate referrals!)

• Offer an Annual Check-up. Your dentist does it ... so does your car repair shop. Contact your customers at least once a year to offer a resume "tune-up" so that they're prepared if the perfect opportunity comes around ... or the unthinkable happens, and they lose their job unexpectedly.

• Reactivate Inactive Customers. If someone hasn't done business with you in a while, send the person a special offer. It reminds them of your business and may help spark a renewed business relationship -- or a referral.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Encourage Referrals by "Sticking Around"

Encourage referrals and repeat business by making your business card a permanent fixture. You can purchase magnetic backs for business cards as well as Rolodex® tabs that adhere to the bottom of your business card. Look for both products at your local office superstore (Office Max, Staples, Office Depot).

Mail clients a magnetic-backed business card with your thank-you note after their final appointment -- or send it with their documents.

VistaPrint offers excellent, inexpensive business card printing -- including custom magnetic business cards (in quantities in as little as 10 pieces!). Use the link provided, or click on the VistaPrint ad on this blog. (VistaPrint is one of our affiliate partners, and we receive a commission on orders received through our link. Your purchases help support this blog and our bimonthly newsletter! Thanks!)

Clearance Sale at VistaPrint! Save up to 90%.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

$100 A Day

For a startup, the idea of making $2,000 a month can be overwhelming -- especially for a new resume writer. So make it more manageable. Focus on making $100 a day. Break the goal into small, specific tasks you can accomplish quickly. Ask yourself, "What can I do today to reach my goal?"

Measure your success using observable criteria. If you're trying to increase referrals from career coaches and mental health professionals, you need to increase your visibility with this audience. So your tactics may include sending one letter each day to a career coach or mental health therapist (you can find them in the Yellow Pages) to introduce yourself and ask how you can work together.

Consider subcontracting. Contact other resume writers in your area and inquire about taking on their overflow work.

Find opportunities to speak. Write articles. Increase your visibility.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Push Hard to Achieve Your Goals

The year is drawing to a close. Are you on track to achieve your personal and professional goals? When the year began, if you're like most of us, you established some revenue, marketing, and professional development goals. Have you done the things needed to hit the mark in achieving these goals?

If you're on track or ahead of schedule, congratulations -- that's excellent, and 2007 will go down as a great year for you! However, if you're not on track, it's not too late to take action!

Here are some tips:
  • First, reach out for help. All of the major professional associations have feedback tools -- e-lists or message boards -- where you can solicit ideas for ways to jumpstart your sales.
  • Second, get focused. This industry changes rapidly. Keeping on top of key changes is critical. Don't try to be all things to all people. Select a niche market and then serve that market well. (It can be a geographic area, a specific industry, or even selected populations, i.e., women, or executives).
  • Third, look at your business and determine what you're most passionate about. Talk to your best clients and ask them for help by providing referrals. If you've provided value to them, they probably know someone who could benefit from the work you do in helping other people achieve their dreams.
The careers industry is about developing relationships, so don't expect a quick fix. However, the tactics you employ today might result in some additional business later this year or early in 2008.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Cultivating Referrals

Once you've been in business for more than a year, you should have a solid network of referrers. These can be clients, people in your network, other careers professionals, other business owners, etc.

If you don't have a network, get one! Think of some strategic partnerships you can develop. Be creative -- how about a referral relationship with your dentist? Or hairstylist? Or a divorce attorney? Or a mental health therapist who does career testing? Or a recruiter? An employment lawyer? The possibilities are endless.

Incorporate your request for referrals into your business. Tell clients that you get most of your new clients by referral -- and you'd appreciate, if they're satisfied with your services -- that they tell other individuals about you. Help them understand what kind of clients you're looking for ("Sam, as a senior executive yourself, you may comes across another executive who has been downsized and isn't having much success with traditional outplacement. If you are telking with someone like that, give me a call -- perhaps I can help him/her."

Develop (or enhance) your Reward for Referrals program. At a minimum, you should always send the referrer a handwritten thank you note.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Put it In Writing

I've always been a big proponent of staying in touch with clients. Not only does it allow you to see the results of your actions -- how many times have clients not gotten back to you to report how their job search is going? -- but it also fosters repeat business and referrals.

E-mail is an easy inexpensive way to keep in touch (I recommend using an e-mail newsletter for consistency), but at least once a year, you should also mail something to your entire client base. It can be a special offer (perhaps a postcard each September to coincide with Update Your Resume Month), or a holiday card, or even a print newsletter.

In the next week, I'm mailing out more than 500 postcards to promote the release of our first Special Report, "Making Money as a Resume Subcontractor." While 500 names is only a fraction of my mailing list, I know there will be several dozen people who will have received e-mails from me but didn't open them (or their spam filter caught them) who will be surprised that the Resume Writers' Digest newsletter is back.

By the way, if you want to order the "Making Money as a Resume Subcontractor" 30-page special report (available for PDF download), you can do so here:

Mailings have an advantage over e-mail -- they're hard to ignore. And postcards are even better, because you don't have to open them up. So plan a mailing and take advantage of the power of print -- to reconnect with your clients, to spark new business, and to generate referrals.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Five Questions to Get More Referrals

To get more referrals (not to mention testimonials), try asking your clients these five questions:
1. Why did you buy from me/us?
2. How do you feel about the work I/we have done?
3. What are you happiest about, and most satisfied with?
4. What would you change or do differently next time?
5. How can I/we serve you better in the future?

These five questions identify motivations behind the purchase that can help you target your marketing materials and sales pitch.

I challenge to you to ask just FIVE of your clients these five questions. I think you'll be surprised at the answers.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Guest Author: Easy Marketing Plans

A Simple Way to Create a
Kick-Butt Marketing Action Plan
by David Frey

Have you ever sat down to write a marketing plan and your mind goes as blank as the white sheet of paper sitting in front of you? In this article you’ll learn how write an effective marketing plan that’s simple to create and that will get you results.

The secret to creating a fast and effective marketing plan is to break it down into bite size chunks by creating what I call mini-marketing plans. By that I mean, brief, action-oriented mini-plans in each of the areas of your marketing. Here’s how to do it…

Get out a blank sheet of paper. Now write down the left side of the paper these categories of activities. Make sure you leave about 10 spaces between each one. Ready? Here goes…

1. Publicity Marketing Plan – In this plan you’re going to write down the activities you’ll do to spread the word about you and your business through the media. This includes pitching stories to the press and writing press releases on a consistent basis.

2. Promotional Event Plan – The promotional event plan includes different promotional activities such as, having sales if you’re a retailer, or sponsoring contests, awards, or events.

3. Joint Venture Marketing Plan- Your joint venture plan includes things you can do with other businesses to promote your business. For instance, I have a good friend that sells burial plans and has teamed up with the VFW to market to their membership. That’s a joint venture.

4. Referral Marketing Plan - Every small business should have a referral marketing plan seeing as how it’s the most popular way for small businesses to get new customers. Your referral marketing plan will include specific referral programs that you plan to roll out this next year.

5. Internet Marketing Plan - Every small business should be on the web and actively engaged in promoting their products and services on the web.

6. Advertising Plan - Not every small business advertises but most do, so you should plan where you’re going to advertise and how much advertising you’ll be doing.

7. Customer Marketing Plan - A customer marketing plan helps you think about how you’re going to keep in touch with your customers and what types of targeted offers you’ll be making to them.

Now, these aren’t the only mini-marketing plans you should be thinking about. Service providers often also have a networking plan, public speaking marketing plan, or a volunteer charity or association involvement plan. The idea I’m trying to get across is to break down your overall marketing plan into bite sized mini-plans that help you to crystallize what it is you’re trying to accomplish.

Now that you have the titles to these mini-plans all you have to do is start filling in the holes. You see, this method helps you think in terms of marketing activities and the goals you need to set for yourself. Your plan doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does need to motivate you to do something. After all, how good is a plan if you don’t put it to use.

© Copyright 2003 David Frey, Marketing Best Practices Inc.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Developing Mutual Referral Relationships

Recently, on one of the resume writing professional association e-lists, there was a discussion about a client who seemed to be depressed and unable to find work because of this. The resume writer was trying to find a way to help the client, but realized she was not a mental health professional with the skills necessary to help this client overcome his depression and get working on his job search.

I'd like to offer you an idea of how you can help this type of client -- and help yourself develop a potential source of referrals at the same time: Develop a mutual referral relationship with a (mental health therapist) career counselor.

One place to start is your Yellow Pages -- look under "Counselors". Look for ones who list Career Counseling (or Career Coaching or Career Testing or Personal Coaching or Goal Attainment) as one of their specialties (If they offer career testing, such as the Myers-Briggs or other career tests, that can be a bonus, because you can refer the client for that -- "I think you'd benefit from having a career assessment test done, to assure we're targeting the kinds of jobs that you'd be most suited for).

NOTE: There is also a section in the phone book titled, "CAREER COUNSELING." If you call any of these services, assure that they are mental health therapists, and not just fee-for-service employment services (often, your competitors). For example, in Omaha, Voyager Career Solutions (like a Bernard Haldane & Associates) is listed in Career Counseling (but not under "COUNSELORS" because counselors are mental health professionals who must be licensed in the state of Nebraska).

Call and introduce yourself to the therapist. Ask if you can meet with him or her for a few minutes to get an idea of the services he/she provides and to pick up some of his/her brochures and business cards for making referrals to him/her. Tell him/her what you do and that you want to be able to refer clients to him/her who are in need of services beyond your scope of services. (Add him/her to your mailing list for your client newsletter too).

While I was in college, I worked at a local mental health counseling agency. One of the therapists there did career testing and career counseling. When I started my resume writing business, she was (and still is!) a fabulous source of referrals. Obviously, she's not competition, because she doesn't write resumes. I'm not a true "career coach" although I sometimes coach my clients. We collaborate on "action plans" for our mutual clients -- she gives them direction, ideas, motivation and support -- I put the plans into action (resumes, cover letters, electronic resume distribution). You can cultivate multiple relationships like this. She and I also offered a free joint morning seminar on "Career Power" that attracted media attention and prospective clients.

But start developing these relationships now, before you need it. Then you can confidently recommend these professionals to your clients when the time comes.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Getting "Better" Clients From Your Referral Sources

A while back, there was a thread on the a resume writing association's e-list from a résumé writer who was having problems with clients referred to her by third parties. Basically, she was finding these clients to be ill-prepared for meetings and sometimes ill-suited to be clients.

While some résumé writers are wondering HOW to generate referrals at all, those who are successful sometimes wonder HOW to maximize these referrals for the benefit of everyone -- client, referring source, and you!

Think of it first from the referring person's point of view. How nice to have a resource to refer someone to, if it is outside your area of expertise (this includes job coaches, employment services, recruiters, etc. who don't provide résumé writing services themselves). The flip side to this is that they are taking a risk by recommending your services. If you don't do a good job, they look bad.

Then there is the client. They are often pre-sold by being recommended by a third party. But they might not know much about your services, and you might make the assumption that you don't need to tell them much because they were referred by someone else. But they have a problem that needs to be solved, and they were told that you could help them.

Finally, there's you. While it's nice to be needed, it is frustrating to try and work with clients who really aren't suited to the work that you do or who aren't prepared to do the work necessary to make the relationship succeed. You end up frustrated and ready to toss the "baby out with the bathwater" -- not wanting to take referrals at all.

Let me offer a solution: Educate your referral sources.

Set up a time to meet (bring along a thank you gift for the referrals so far) or take him or her to lunch. Say that you appreciate the referrals and you want to make sure that you are best able to meet the needs of the clients being referred. Share information -- how you manage the resume development/career search process, what clients need to prepare, etc. Give him or her materials he or she can pass along to clients he/she will be referring that clearly outline the process/benefits/your credentials (this might be your brochure or you might have some other communication piece for this purpose).

One nationwide tips group, BNI, has a good way of handling the issues of referrals. They recommend asking, "If I were going to recommend your services to someone, who might be a good candidate?" Find out what common "problems" these clients share, what solutions they are interested in, what they "look like" -- in a mutual referral relationship. As you educate him/her, you also need to know more about the kinds of individuals your referral source interacts with so you can say (to a therapist, for example, who provides career coaching): "When they have narrowed down their job search target to a specific job description and can find job listings that match what they're interested in, they're a good candidate for my services. I'll work with them to develop a focused, hard-hitting résumé to help them specifically get interviews for that type of job." You might also add: "If they don't know what kind of job they are suited for/interested in yet, they're not ready for my services. Those are the kinds of calls I'll refer to you first."

Also, make sure all your referral sources are on your newsletter mailing list (whether it's a print newsletter or an e-mail newsletter) -- continue to educate him/her just as you do your clients and prospective clients! You'll find that the clients that come your way are better prepared to work with you effectively (just as I've found that my best referrals come from clients who actually used my services, rather than from sources as you've mentioned -- such as employment services and recruiters). The quality of my referrals improved once I realized that these individuals often don't know how I work -- but want to make the process work for the people they refer as well.

Think of it from their perspective too -- they're not going to continue to refer people to you if the feedback they hear is that the process didn't work -- and that's a lose-lose situation for everyone.