How to Get Referrals When You Become a General Contractor

For a lot of us, self-promotion is one of the hardest aspects of day-to-day business. To take some of the pressure off, it helps a great deal if you’ve got people in your network who can talk you up and spread positive messaging about you around the construction industry.

A successful career as a general contractor is about so much more than just technique, skill, and building up knowledge and work experience in the field.

It is also about nurturing relationships with clients and demonstrating your expertise so that they trust you and feel good about recommending your services to others.

In this article, we discuss how general contractors can get referrals to maintain a solid professional reputation while also boosting their business.

Providing High-Quality Workmanship

Actually performing at a high level and delivering high-quality workmanship is the first step toward receiving all that valuable positive feedback that you seek.

When you’re consistently making a good impression on clients, they will want to say good things about your work and they will recommend you to friends, family, and colleagues.

To get specific, here are ways to ensure that you’re making a lasting positive impression with high-quality workmanship:

1. Attention to Detail

A detail-oriented contractor is a very good and very much coveted contractor.

This list on LinkedIn offers some amazing tips for how to display that you pay close attention to detail for the benefit of your clients and collaborators.

2. Use Quality Materials

Invest in high-quality materials that you know will make all the difference to your client. This builds trust with clients and extends the life of their construction projects.

Communicate with clients about how local codes and regulations may affect your decisions when selecting construction materials.

This guide from Indeed covers six steps you can take toward optimal quality control in construction.

3. Communicate Effectively

Maintain open and transparent communication with clients throughout the project. Do not gloss over confusion and instead check-in and help the client stay on the same page.

When clients feel confused or left out of the process, they are less likely to give generous reviews and referrals.

Address concerns promptly and follow up to ensure that the client is satisfied. Check out our post What to Expect from Clients as a General Contractor for more guidance about how to keep optimal communication going between you and your clients.

Leveraging Online Platforms, Trade Organizations, and Referral Services

1. Online Platforms

Online platforms can help you keep your name and the name of your business on the top of everyone’s mind. It’s a great way to tell your story to future clients and help them feel included in your company’s positive narrative and mission.

You can invest in a professional website for you and your company and you can build a presence for your brand on social media.

2. Professional Associations

Joining professional associations are good networking opportunities and as a potential side benefit, they can keep you sharp and competitive among your competition.

Here are a few organizations that help contractors stay in the mix and keep themselves in the know:

3. Contractor Referral Services

According to the Contractors State License Board (CSLB), using contractor referral services is completely legal and within limits.

These referral services function as online marketplaces where clients can shop for licensed contractors — a very useful tool for contractors interested in gathering more referrals for their business.

Here are a few services that can increase visibility and reach for general contractors working on generating referrals:

A few words of caution:
– Referral services cannot solicit or negotiate contracts on behalf of contractors.
– They can’t do anything to suggest that they are licensed to complete construction work valued at over $500 including materials.
– They must leave that business to the license-holding contractors that they are referring!

Garnering Good Reviews and Testimonials

1. Request Feedback

You have to request good feedback to get good feedback. Tell your satisfied clients that you would love to hear from them.

Make it easy by providing links to review platforms or sending follow-up emails requesting a review.

Even if they have constructive criticism to offer, the way you respond to their feedback could prompt an even more positive review from them in the future.

2. Showcase Success Stories

Display testimonials and photo evidence of satisfied clients on your website and social media platforms. It makes it easier for people to recommend you when you tell them verbatim why they should.

Showcasing past successes is also a great way to make a first impression on new clients who stumble upon your page.

3. Provide Exceptional Service

This one is in line with high-quality workmanship, but providing excellent customer service overall is an obvious method for reeling in future referrals.

Go above and beyond to exceed client expectations and you’ll make a lasting positive impression that they won’t be able to stop themselves from sharing with others.

Managing Negative Reviews and Protecting Your Reputation

1. Respond Promptly

It happens. People leave negative reviews online or share negative feedback in person. Address negative reviews promptly and professionally.

Make sure clients feel acknowledged and understood. Invite them to be a part of the solution and show them your willingness to resolve the issue both online and offline.

Demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction and you’ll mitigate the impact of a negative review.

2. Learn from Feedback

Negative feedback can actually be a wonderful prompt for improving your product and services.

Identify whatever the issue is that has been flagged and be transparent as you take proactive measures to make adjustments.

Your track record of correcting issues and preventing them from occurring moving forward is a huge asset to your business.

3. Maintain Professionalism

No matter what happens when you receive negative feedback, maintain professionalism. This is not the time to take anything personally. This is not an opportunity to win an argument. This is an opportunity to grow your business.

If you maintain poise and professionalism when you’re hit with a negative review, you build trust with your clients and potentially draw in new positive attention for your brand.


To conclude, generating referrals as a general contractor takes a great deal of effort and patience, but it is worth it.

Try using one tool at a time to see what works for you and your clients and gradually work your way up to relying on more tools for generating referrals from there.

No matter what, you definitely want to deliver high-quality workmanship and the best customer service possible.

Prompt satisfied clients to share their feedback whether it’s good, bad or neutral.

You can learn a lot from client feedback — even if it’s negative — and you can demonstrate your ability and willingness to improve, which could potentially attract even more strong referrals.

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About CSLS

Contractors State License Service (CSLS) is the largest school in California devoted to the Construction professional. For over 23 years, CSLS has helped its students pass the exam to become licensed contractors in the State of California, licensing more students than any other school. From our main offices in Southern California, CSLS operates over 25 locations with full-service support and classrooms. We have grown to this extent by providing quality, professional services. In comparison, this provides 7 times the number of convenient locations than the second largest contractor school. Contractors State License Services is one of the only contractor schools in the state that is run by educators, not lawyers or people mostly interested in the bonding and insurance business. Contractors State License Services formerly operated under the oversight of the State of California's Bureau for Private Post Secondary and Vocational Education. As of January 1 2010, the new Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) came into existence replacing the BPPVE. CSLS now operates under the provisions of the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 (CPPEA), Article 4 Section 94874(f). Our Mission is simple; We can help you pass your California Contractors License Exam. Celebrating our 25th year, CSLS has helped over 120,000 students pass the California contractor licensing exam to become licensed contractors in the State of California. Additionally, we offer complete home study and online contractor’s license programs to help you pass your California contractors license exam. CSLS offers licensing classes for all types of contractor licenses, including General Engineering Contractor, General Building Contractor, Specialty Contractor, Insulation and Acoustical Contractor, Framing and Rough Carpentry Contractor, Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry Contractor, Concrete Contractor, Drywall Contractor, Electrical Contractor, Elevator Contractor, Landscaping Contractor, Warm-Air Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning Contractor, and many others. For a complete list of contractor licenses, visit and tuned for more informative posts.