Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Getting good referrals

Many of us like to ask our friends to refer to us their tradesman, mechanic, physician, or dentist when we need such services. This helps to reduce the chances of landing up with poor service, high cost, or both. However, one still has to exercise wisdom in making the choice when given the choice of several recommendations.

Let's say a friend recommends his mechanic to you, based on a very pleasant experience. His car did not give any problem; it was just a routine service. The mechanic was jovial and friendly. The charges were reasonable. The job was completed quickly and your friend walked away feeling good.

Let's suppose another friend had a different experience with his mechanic. During a routine service, the mechanic found some problems that could affect the reliability of the car. This coincided with your friend's lingering suspicion, so he knew the mechanic was telling the truth. The mechanic was knowledgeable. He explained the problem clearly and he outlined the charges professionally. He was understanding about budget constraints and he gave several options for the repair, while not pushing your friend to have it done.

Comparing the above two examples, your first friend would have given his mechanic a rave review, while the second one may not be so enthusiastic since his visit to the mechanic cost him a bomb (and I don't mean his car).

When looking for a good referral, you need to ask why the person thinks the service provider is good. What kind of experience has he had? Had there been any difficult situations? How did the service provider go about it? Was your friend happy with the charges? Were there any surprises? The best referrals are those based on actual encounters with difficult or unexpected problems, and how the service provider had handled it.

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