Now is the time to mesh all of these lists together into a database. Now I will warn you, this is a big job. Most contractors that I work will have someone from their office staff handle this task. If you do not currently have staff or if your office help is busy with other tasks, a virtual assistant can handle this task if you have a central address book or have records such as contracts that contact information can be pulled from.
You will want to make a note of your contact’s name (first and last), address, phone number, email, note qualities that make them an ideal client or an ideal referrer and any other pertinent information that you want to include.
The main purpose of this database is to give you a single point of reference for future marketing and outreach so be sure that you create it in a way that will be useful for you. When we help our clients create these types of working documents and databases they range in style from all electronic databases housed in specialized software to paper Rolodexes. It is all a matter of preference and what you will ACTUALLY USE. Do not set up what you think the “best of the best” would use in their perfect existence.
I have been using the same Microsoft Excel spreadsheet since I was twenty years old and it has never let me down. I can use it a million different ways and I can update it easily.
Identifying Ideal Qualities of Your Current Relationships
If someone on your list has never referred someone to you and you have never done work for them, your sister in law for example, they can still be a vital resource. While most of the people on your list have shown themselves to be ideal or worth social capital in the business aspect, there may be other ideal qualities that these people have that relate them to your ideal clients. Does your sister in law live in a neighborhood where you would like to secure work? Is she part of a social group, country club or other “community” that is a good fit for your product and service offerings?
While you may not be interested in doing repair work on the fraternity house, your college age son may have friends whose parents are members of your “ideal” group. Identify how the people in your life either are ideal or relate to the ideal customers on your list. If you can’t think of anything, you may choose to eliminate this person from your list.
Within your database, list a few qualities that “qualify” this individual for “referrer” status. Ideal clients will only make good referral sources if you tell that that they are ideal for you and why.
Paring Down the List
Not everyone in your life is going to be an ideal customer or referrer. There will be some people who are extremely close to you who you may eliminate.
Last year I worked with a client who was shocked after we did this exercise. As he went through his list and ranked people, he realized that his father, who he had always thought of as a supporter, was really no doing his business any favors in the manner in which he was sending referrals. Nearly every customer his father had sent his way had turned out to be a problem customer and it was putting a strain on their personal relationship.
Updating Your Database
Knowing who you have worked for and what important relationships in your life you want to leverage to maximize your business helps you to create opportunities for your business. In order to make certain that your database stays current, update it weekly or monthly. If you have a system for updating your database that is tied to something else in your business (filing, bill paying, etc.) that you do at least monthly, it will help you to be consistent.
If you do not have time or cannot make time to update this information with new contacts, customers and relationships, make sure you provide the information to a virtual assistant, office manager or other team member.
Having a system is critical for your long term success and consistency.
Feel free to remove people from your list if you do not feel that they will be beneficial to the overall health of your business.