When to ask your current client for a referral of future clients?
The client referral literature does not suggest a consistent time to ask for the referral from a current client. The suggestions are all over the board: at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of your engagement.
First time to ask for a referral for new clients.
I suggest you ask your client for a referral of new clients in the middle of the time you are together. In a Chapter 7 case, this would be about three months as a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case time from start to finish of the case lasts approximately six months. By the “three month” point with your client, you have demonstrated your worth to the client. The client knows you and your work and a certain level of comfort has been built up between you and the client.
“Ms. Client, it has been a pleasure working with you so far and our meeting of creditors went well last week as the trustee had no further questions for us. I remember that you work at Target, so if there is anyone of your fellow employees that would like to talk about problems with creditors, please ask them to call me.”
This plants the seed in the client’s mind that you are available to help her friends.
The second time to ask for a referral:
Then ask again for referrals for new potential clients at the end of the engagement when you have delivered what your client expected. This occurs after the case is discharged and the client has received her final papers from the bankruptcy court.
“Congratulations Ms. Client you received your discharge of your debts. It was a pleasure working with you. I remember you said the creditors were calling you several times a day and now the harassment has gone away. Thank you for your business and please pass my name along to your family, friends and those you work with at the Riverside store. If you have any friends that are being bothered by creditors, I would like to help them.”
If you ask at the beginning of your time together, it appears too pushy as you and the client are just starting to get to know each other. I would wait until you know more about the person and have developed a comfort level.
If the person does not want to give you a referral, do not worry as not all people want to discuss their bankruptcy with others. Remember though, the finance industry slogan “If you do not ask, you do not get.”