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Last Update: Wednesday June 23, 2021

Key Idea: Build On Referrals

If you do not get referrals from current customers, there is something very wrong with your product or service.  Homepage

Key Question:


Actively ask for referrals.

Q: Is there a formula that will produce referrals?

A:  Yes.  It is relationships + results.  While working on a project or just making a quick sale, you and everyone who works for you has an opportunity to form a relationship with the customer.  The project teams at Altoon + Porter are very aware that they must work well and closely with every person on the customers' team.  Positive, frequent and clear communication is the oil that keeps the interpersonal part of the project moving smoothly.   When there is a problem, blow up, or slow down, the oil is present to make the task of fixing things easier.

Assuming that you have excellent relationships with a customer, you then musdt deliver on time and on budget what it is that you promised.  When your task is close to completion, you simply ask for a referral.

Q: How does a small business capitalize on existing work to obtain new work?

A:  Form strategic alliances when you can.  John Donne said it best, "No man is an island". No business is an island, either. The point is that rarely does one company have the breadth of product or service to meet a customer's needs entirely. Each of us is part of a supply chain consumed by our customers. If you know who else is in your chain, you can team up in your marketing and delivery efforts. Start by thinking about the supply chain you are part of. If you sell paint, recognize that customers who buy paint also buy lumber, frequently at the same time. Have you met the owner of the local lumber yard? Could you pool your resources and make something happen for both of you?

Maybe you could take out an advertisement in the local Sunday paper together. The advertisements are sold by size, so you could split the cost and get twice the size ad you would otherwise get. You could have a sale at the same time. Would more "honey do" projects get started if the paint and the lumber were on sale at the same time? Could be! If you don't know who is in your supply chain, ask your customers. You might even ask your customer for an introduction. It's certainly in your customer's best interest to foster collaboration among vendors.

Strategic alliances are not just for the Fortune 500 companies, all of us can accomplish more if we work together.

Think about it

Do you ask your customers to refer you to potential new business? If not, why not? Should you put a referral program in place? Do you have strategic alliances with other businesses?

Clip from: Architects Altoon + Porter

Los Angeles, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Amsterdam : They worked for Frank Gehry and found that it had limits. So, architects Ron Altoon and Jim Porter started their own firm and today they are quite literally changing the world.

They do not try to cultivate "star power" but brain power. The result? This professional practice went global virtually overnight. Brain power translates into  extraordinary product power in any language!

Every customer and every architect is a star. Keep your egos in check.  Focus on customers and  growing your team. The result?  This firm now has ongoing work in 16 countries with more international work on the drawing boards for the future.

Like so many of our businesses that go global, they have proving that the world does want American products and services!

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Altoon Partners

Ron Altoon, Senior Partners

617 W 7th St #400
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Visit our web site:

Office: 2132251900

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1984

Build On Referrals

JIM: It took a leap of faith for clients to say, `Gee, here's a couple of young whippersnappers that, you know don't have the facilities, they don't have the staff of 50 people,' you know. But we did it with smoke and mirrors a bit at times, and--but we did have the personal relationships and, you know, that paid dividends when--you know, because we were honorable. We accomplished things. We were able to do what we said in the past. So people tended to trust us, in general, and the next day, literally, we had a call from a client that we were working for in Washington, DC. And we went right ahead with a project that was--turned out to be a million-square-foot office building. It's now the corporate headquarters for Fannie Mae. Bingo, you know, we had a winner.

HATTIE: Let's talk about how you get business then, because the firms that have that big star name on them, they sort of lead with that. `Well, of course, you're going to use us because we're so-and-so.' Well, you're not doing that. You've taken a different strategy. So how do you get business?

RONALD: There's several ways. I would say most of our business comes to us by referral. The best way to get business is to serve your clients well, have them come back and have them refer you to other people. We are also very active across the board in the partnership, in industry organizations. We've been involved in the Urban Land Institute. We've been involved in the International Council of Shopping Centers.

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