If you are going to build up a long term business the most important aspect of that business is to build a strong relationship with your customers. The more closely tied the customers feel towards you the more likely they are to stay around for the long term and not just be a one time buyer.
The way to create this type of relationship is to always put the customer first and figure out what you can do in order to help them achieve the desired feeling they are going after.
Everyone is after a certain feeling and that is why we buy or purchase any types of products and services. Maybe it is to feel excited or loved or cared for or elite....those are all feelings that customers are going after and it is up to your business to be able to give them those feelings over and over again.
Finding time to invest more in your customers and not just investing more into people who don't know you yet says a lot about your company. If you are investing in your customers they will allow you to keep generating repeat business and also increase word of mouth referrals.
Referrals are talked about a lot and creating a lot of referrals I think is more of an art than a step by step science. I believe that it comes from a mindset. If you are able to have and keep the mindset of how can I make my customers "feel" the feeling that they are looking for they are going to let other people know.
The problem with trying to force referrals is when you try to force referrals it ends having you focus on the wrong things which will drive the referral. You are more worried about the referral and thinking less about the "feeling" of your customer who will get you the referral.
Invest as much thought, time, money, and energy into having a great customer experience and build those relationships and the return will come back!