Looking to grow your pipeline of new business without starting from scratch every time? You're not alone. The Renovated Home, launched by Lee Stahl in 1990, has done just that with referrals from clients like Debra Messing and Ryan Serhant. Over 90 percent of the business comes from recommendations.

Lee's tips for referrals:

  1. Build a business model that leads to referrals.
    "Define your business's core strength and build a team to support this 'sweet spot'. Then develop parameters of what clients you will take on to ensure your team's best assets are used," says Stahl.
  2. Never bite off more than you can chew. "Ask yourself this question: If I take on this client, are the odds of securing a referral in my favor? If the answer is no--do not take on the business."
  3. Give clients the attention they don't expect. "The top reason we're referred is because we give clients the unexpected. We not only customize design and renovation, but we approach the job with immediacy and urgency--at a New York pace."
  4. Keep your client for life by solving their 'forever problems'. "There are natural life cycles to every product. We're not only renovation experts--we're long-term problem solvers."
  5. Head off concerns by being transparent. "We tell clients right away that we guarantee the agreed upon budget and timeline. If we don't believe a client's initial budget is in tune with reality - we will absolutely tell them - even at the risk of losing them as a client. We will never 'yes them'."
  6. Don't be afraid to be bold. "We were competing for a high-end Park Avenue renovation. This job was right within our 'sweet spot' and the client wanted a quick turnaround. I knew we were the only firm in the room that could do this. That's when I opened my mouth. I placed a $100,000 bet that we could perform a six-month renovation project in four-months. We finished one day early and yes--the client was not only happy, but referred us!"
Published on: May 22, 2015