Run an Effective Referral Program for Cleaning Business

January 18, 2023 in Business, Marketing

Last Updated on December 8, 2023 by The ZenMaid Team

As a residential cleaning business owner, referrals can be a great way to grow your business. You can expand your reach and gain new clients with minimal effort by asking for referrals from existing customers. In this article, we will provide practical tips on asking for referrals and examples of what you can say in person, over the phone, or in an email. We will also show you how to promote your referral program and give you tips on practising your pitch so that you get the most out of your efforts.

How To Structure Your Referral Program for Your Cleaning Business?

Our panel of maid service experts unanimously agree: a well-designed referral program is a great hack to business growth. Referral programs don’t just broaden your client base; they build lasting loyalty among your existing customers. To give you the best insights, we asked a group of maid service owners from our ZenMaid Mastermind what their top strategies are for structuring referral programs that truly resonate with clients.

Here’s the breakdown:

Discount on Services

Offering a discount on services as a referral incentive typically involves reducing the cost of a future cleaning session for clients who successfully refer new customers. For instance, a 10% discount on the next cleaning service for every new client referral.

1. Immediate and tangible benefit for the referrer.
2. Encourages clients to use your services more frequently.

1. Marginally reduces immediate revenue.
2. May attract one-time customers seeking discounts rather than long-term engagement.

Free Deep Clean

This incentive involves offering a free deep cleaning service to clients who refer new customers. It’s a higher-value service compared to regular cleaning and is often perceived as a premium offering.

1. High perceived value, encouraging more referrals.
2. Allows clients to experience a broader range of your services.

1. Higher cost to your business compared to other incentives.
2. Not all clients may see the value if they don’t require deep cleaning services.

💡Mastermind Insight: Martha Woodward rewards referring clients with a one-time free cleaning, offering a strong incentive to participate in the referral program.

Cashbacks and Monetary Rewards

Cashbacks or monetary rewards can be offered in various forms, such as direct cash rewards, credits to the client’s account, or gift cards. For example, a $25 reward for every successful referral.

1. Cash or cash-equivalent incentives (like gift cards) have universal appeal.
2. Easy to implement and manage.

1. Could be less effective if the monetary value isn’t significant enough.
2. Might attract people more interested in the reward than the service.

💡Mastermind Insight: One member uses a balanced approach by giving a $25 Target card to both the referring and the new client, creating a win-win situation.

Gifting Incentives

Gifting incentives can range from practical items like cleaning products to more personal gifts. It’s about offering something unique as a thank you for referrals.

1. Unique gifts can create a more personal connection with clients.
2. Clients may perceive gifts as more valuable than cash discounts.

1. Selecting the right gift can be challenging and time-consuming.
2. Managing inventory and distribution of physical gifts can add complexity.

💡Mastermind Insight: One member keeps it simple and offers $25 off the existing client’s next cleaning after the new client’s first recurring cleaning, which is both a gift and a discount.

Combining Different Incentives

You might consider combining various incentives, such as a small discount for every referral and a free deep clean for every fifth referral, which can cater to a wider range of preferences and increase the program’s attractiveness.

Regular Feedback and Adjustments

Regularly gathering feedback from clients about the referral program and making adjustments based on their preferences ensures the program’s effectiveness and alignment with client needs.

How Do I Get More Housecleaning Referrals?

Expert Tips for Asking for Referrals

First, keep it simple—you don’t need to write a long-winded letter or make an elaborate pitch. Just politely ask if they know anyone who might be interested in using your services. Don’t forget to thank them in advance—most people are happy to help. And remember to follow up with them afterward; a simple thank-you note is always appreciated!

Asking for Referrals Over the Phone or In Person

When talking with people in person or on the phone, it’s important to be concise and confident in your request. For example, “I’m so glad that you’re happy with our cleaning service. I would love it if you could refer our services to any friends or family members who may be looking for a maid service.” is an effective way of making an ask without being too pushy.

You could also try something like “If you can think about anyone who might benefit from the cleaning service I offer, I’d love an introduction to see if I can help them as well.

or “Do you know anyone who needs help with their house cleaning? I’d be happy to see if we’re a good fit to help them out!

PRO TIP: Only ask for a referral from a customer that you know is happy with your service and has given you positive feedback! Martha Woodward, founder of Quality Driven Software, explains how to implement surveys into your processes with customers. She recommends sending a survey after every single clean! Find out exactly how in this guide.

How To Ask For Referrals In An Email

If you’re new to asking for referrals and a little nervous – emails are a great way to reach out to existing customers, without the pressure of stumbling over your words on the phone or in person! 

You can use the same template for your referral outreach, just keep it polite and direct; (And make sure you personalize it for each customer! Never send a generic, nameless email when asking for referrals!)

Subject line: We appreciate your business! (special offer inside)

Hi [Client Name],

Thank you for choosing [Your Business] for your cleaning services. I’m [we’re] very happy to hear you’re satisfied with the cleaning we provided [last week/today/yesterday]. It’s our pleasure to work with you and as always, please let us know if there is anything we can do better!

I want to let you know about our preferred customer referral program for friends and family. If you know anyone looking for a new maid service, tell them about us! For every person that mentions your name and completes a house cleaning with us, you’ll receive [50% off] your next booking!

Just our way of saying thank you for spreading the word and for being such a loyal customer!

Thank you again for your business.
– [Your Name/Business Name]

❗️ Don’t forget important details such as contact information, pricing info, etc., as this will make it easier for potential customers to decide whether or not they want to use your services. Be sure to customize this email to suit your business! Swap out anything in square brackets and write it to sound like you!

Use Your Email Signature to Ask for Referrals

A simple note included in your email signature on all emails is a great way to make sure everyone knows about your referral program and a quick way for them to see how they benefit by referring new clients to you.

An example Email Signature for Cleaning Referrals

Maria Smith
Founder, Sparkling Abodes

Like our work? Refer us to your friends, family, and neighbors for 50% off your next service!

[Social media buttons]


an example email signature for cleaning referral program

Promote Your Referral Program

Once you have crafted your message, it’s time to promote it! 

Putting together a referral program is an easy and effective way of getting more customers through word-of-mouth marketing; create incentives such as discounts or free gifts when someone refers another customer – this encourages existing customers to share your services with their network, increasing brand awareness and hopefully leading to more clients coming through the door (or logging into their computer).

Social media is also a great place for promotion – post about your referral program on all major platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) so that more people know about it! (Pro tip: include it in your social media bios like you do in your email signature!)

Here’s some ideas for where to promote your referral program:

  • Flyers / Postcards
  • Door hangers
  • Brochures
  • Social media posts and ads
  • In your social media bios (ie. Instagram)
  • Homepage of your website (make it easy to find!)
  • Email signature (for all staff who communicate with customers and potential customers)
  • Invoices (include a note at the bottom of every one)
  • Quotes (include a note at the bottom of every one)
  • Customer follow-up emails – set these up with an easy survey link right inside your ZenMaid account. (See how to here.)
  • Business cards

Pro-tip: Contact complementary service providers in your area or city and strike up a referral deal with them. If they refer a new client to you, offer to give them a referral fee. Then be sure to ask them to do the same!

For example, you’ve got a client that needs window washing but you don’t offer that service. Refer them to your “partner” window washing company. Your client gets extra service they need without having to shop around, your partner gains a new client and you develop trust as a knowledgeable local business owner. Win-win for everyone!

For more ideas about how to do this, check this out. 

Referrals = Reviews

Your referral program can also be a good way to get more online reviews for sites like Yelp and Google. If they were satisfied with the cleaning service they received, they should be more than happy to provide one! 

Pro-Tip: Use the automatic follow-up email templates in ZenMaid to ask for a review after a set number of cleanings with long-term customers.

Be sure to craft a message that is polite and respectful, thanking them for their time and business. A simple “We appreciate your business! If you have the time, we’d love to hear your feedback on our page: [LINK]” should be enough to get the ball rolling.

Don’t worry, ZenMaid has tons of helpful articles to show you how to set this up. Like this and this.


NiceJob is a word-of-mouth platform that helps you to automate requests for reviews. It will decide the right time for each customer and send the review invitation.

The best part? NiceJob can then automatically share the review on your website and your social media. How’s that for automated and easy?

Practice Until It’s Easy!

Finally, practice makes perfect! This goes without saying but take some time before actually making requests – practice saying them aloud until they feel natural coming out of your mouth; this ensures that when the time comes that you actually need ask someone for a referral, words won’t fail you!

Asking people for referrals can be intimidating but by following these steps outlined above – keeping things simple yet professional while promoting yourself properly – you will increase the chances of gaining new cleaning clients so you can grow your cleaning business.

With practice and patience, one will soon see their client base expanding quickly thanks largely due to referring individuals taking notice of their stellar services offered at competitive prices. Good luck!


Amar is the founder and CEO of ZenMaid Software, Inc. He started and ran Fast Friendly Spotless, a maid service in Orange County, CA. With the help of customized software to automate work he successfully operated the service in under 30 minutes per day. He created ZenMaid scheduling software to help other maid service owners do the same.

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