Tracking And Understanding Your Referral Sources, with Mike Boothby

Oct 25th, 2021

The Mass Business Podcast

Season 2, Episode 17 – Tracking And Understanding Your Referral Sources, with Mike Boothby

I met today’s guest, Mike Boothby, through networking in Massachusetts and I’m really excited to have him on the show. He’s the owner and operator of ADAC homes and he’s been an electrician for over 20 years dealing in all facets of the trade – residential, commercial, and industrial. And today we are going to dig into the journey of his electrical contracting business. We have a chat about networking and why touchpoints are so important. Then Mike tells us about how he tracks his leads and referral sources. Are you ready? Let’s go.

Resources mentioned in this episode – 

Where have all the leaders gone? – Lee Iacocca   Winning – Jack Welch   Quicken


Contact Mike –

(508) 341-2794  

If you or someone you know would like to be a guest on our show please visit us on Facebook or at our Website –   Visit Us On Facebook   Subscribe On YouTube

MORE Word Of Mouth Referrals: Lifelong Customers & Raving Fans

Matt Ward 00:02
Welcome back to the Mass Business Podcast. My name is Matt Ward and I am your esteemed host. I’m so excited for this episode of the Mass Business Podcast for two reasons. Number one, today, his book launch day, for the high five effect: how to do business with people that bring you joy. I hope that you check it out at high five effect dot com. And you can check the links in the show notes on the website page. It’s about building your business and getting more money, more time, and more freedom. And that is actually coming out today. But first, I’ve got a great guest for you. Mike Boothby, I met through networking in Massachusetts, and I’m really excited to have him on the show. He’s the owner and operator of ADAC homes and he’s been an electrician for over 20 years dealing in all facets of the trade, residential, commercial, and industrial. And today we are going to dig in to his journey, no pun intended, of his electrical contracting business. Are you ready? Let’s go.

Matt Ward 01:24
Welcome to the Mass Business Podcast where small business owners, also known as risk takers, share their stories about the growth of their business and themselves. Our interviews and our content is focused on growing a small business and understanding networking and referrals. I say it all the time. And I’ll say it again today. You never know where your next referral will come from.

Matt Ward 01:56
Hey, Mike, welcome to the show. Happy to have you on.

Mike Boothby 01:59
Hey, Matt, thanks a lot for having me on today. Well, yeah, quite a privilege.

Matt Ward 02:03
Absolutely. You know, we met through networking, and I’m excited I think I got introduced to you maybe from perhaps Ed Booth, I think yeah. Oh, yeah. That’s

Mike Boothby 02:15
Now TV star Ed booth.

Matt Ward 02:18
Oh, he’s on TV?

Mike Boothby 02:19
He was on the news.

Matt Ward 02:21
Oh, yes. That’s right. I didn’t see that. Yeah, yeah. Okay, cool. So in under 30 seconds. And so tell the listening audience who’s listening on their favorite podcast app, or watching on YouTube what it is you do.

Mike Boothby 02:35
All right. Hi, my name is Mike Boothby. I’m owner operator of ADAC homes, which is formerly Boothby electric, more commonly known as Boothby Electric. I’ve been a lifelong electrician since I was a kid. I do a lot of industrial work, commercial work in residential work as well. My business started, you know, on call service calls that other guys were too busy to do. And I just built my business from that.

Matt Ward 03:04
So when did you start your business?

Mike Boothby 03:07
Um, 1998. When I got licensed, I started doing stuff for people. And then I went out on my own for good in 2003.

Matt Ward 03:18
Okay. And so take me back to 2003. What was it like, then when you first went out on your own?

Mike Boothby 03:27
Oh, nerve wracking. Um, it was, you know, when you first start out in business, you want to make sure that you have enough work, like, two weeks out, Oh, okay. I’m good for two weeks. But then what you know, and you got, and you panic. And I did a few years of that, and then randomly met somebody at the local dump, who invited me to a BNI meeting. And my networking career took off from there. And ever since I’ve had enough work to keep me busy. Even through good times and bad.

Matt Ward 04:06
It’s so interesting, isn’t it? Where we meet people. At the local dump. was it another tradesperson? that was in the networking group?

Mike Boothby 04:17
Yes, he was. The handyman. He held the handyman seat in the group. Mm

Matt Ward 04:24
And so you got involved in tha,t you started networking, and what’s the biggest, I mean, you hadn’t been doing networking before. So I’m sure you were green at it. You didn’t really know what you were doing per se, you’re probably skeptical. When did things start to turn around for you around networking?

Mike Boothby 04:41
You’re right. I was very skeptical and nervous and, like I did not know what to expect. But I’d say for a tradesman in that particular networking group, it was very easy to get work. But to make sure sure that you told people, precisely your commercials, what you were looking for, for referrals that week, that type of thing, honing your skills, you know, you can talk to anybody, but you got to make sure you’re saying the right things, I guess.

Matt Ward 05:16
And that’s something I work with my clients a lot on, because I think they don’t often know what to say. Or they stand up, you know, and you get if this is a weekly networking group, whether it’s BNI, or Amspirit, or anything else, you get, basically 52 minutes a year to sit your commercial. And people waste them. They use them on the wrong things, and they don’t drill into other people’s heads that consistency of the message that needs to be out there. There’s a lot of challenges around that. And there’s a learning curve with it too that I think people miss.

Mike Boothby 05:53
Yeah, certainly and the key is to stay relevant because people’s memories are very short. You know, they may not remember that you’re a plumber or electrician or an HVAC guy. And then oh, yeah, I should have thought of you. So there’s a there’s a fine line between being persistent and being a pain in the butt. And in learning, I think my biggest, my biggest gratefulness to networking is learning how to walk that fine line, and stay relevant with clients. And I’ve been fortunate where I’ve got many referrals, all word of mouth, you know,

Matt Ward 06:34
yeah. Now you’re in the trades business, which typically is a problem in networking groups. And the reason it’s a problem is because trades come in, they get all this business, and then they leave because they say they’re too busy. How do you manage the workload? Because you are probably incredibly busy. Are you not? Is it lack of work? It’s more like lack of help, right?

Mike Boothby 06:57
Yeah, absolutely. Um, I did have guys working for me at one point. And through different means, you know, it’s just me by myself now, and I’ll be honest with you, I have plenty of work, where I can pick and choose what I want to do. And it took me 20 years in business to realize this, but not every referral is a good referral. And so my key is, I’m a workaholic. So I work as much as I can to keep, when I’m very client based,make sure that my client’s needs are met to their satisfaction.

Matt Ward 07:38
So, how do you as somebody who’s so busy, how do you find time for networking?

Mike Boothby 07:45
Um, you got to make it, it’s one of those things that you have to make time for, it’s as simple as brushing your teeth in the morning. it’s just something you have to do, because if you’re not constantly moving forward, you’re drumming up business, not necessarily for now, but from weeks, months, years down the road.

Matt Ward 08:13
Yeah I tell people might activity that you do now pays off in referrals in six months.

Mike Boothby 08:18
Agreed, Yep. I agree with that statement. 100%.

Matt Ward 08:22
So, what one thing Have you done in business, networking or not that has really paid off for you in droves to grow your business?

Mike Boothby 08:35
Oh, you know, I guess as far as networking, just being myself and being honest with people, you can’t get caught in a lie if you’re being honest with people right. And if I can’t make it to a job, or I can’t make it for three weeks or a month, be honest with them. Most people are okay.

Matt Ward 08:59
So, when you think about tactics, right to grow your business, honestly, is fine. That’s that’s a character trait. Right? What tactic have you done, marketing tactic or otherwise, that has produced great results for you? Something that maybe somebody listening can be like, I want to try that.

Mike Boothby 09:18
I use the old adage to the politicians, getting out there and shaking hands and kissing babies. Yeah, I mean, just getting out there, whether it’s networking and of course COVID has made it interesting in the last couple of years, as far as networking, you know, networking groups aren’t always meeting in person anymore. When they are it’s, it’s much more difficult to have that one to one person contact that is so important. Because once you know somebody and you get to know them, they use you like, That’s my guy, you want to be known as “their guy”. And once you can do that, and you have the trust, then from there, the word of mouth stuff just comes naturally.

Matt Ward 10:09
Yeah. And so interestingly enough, I always tell people that the majority of referrals don’t actually come from clients. They come from referral sources centers of influence. Other tradespeople in your business, for example. Here’s why I think that’s true in a lot of ways is that subconsciously, people don’t want to share you with other people because you are their guy. Just like you said, right. And so if I share you with two dozen people, you’re not going to be available when I have to call you for an electrical repair. You know, that’s true, right?

Mike Boothby 10:43
Yeah. Oh, yeah, absolutely. You know, I need them to come to my place first, so I’ll give them to you in a couple of weeks type of thing, and that’s, and that is so true. In a lot of aspects,

Matt Ward 10:58
And that’s why I always keep reminding people, that when we focus on what we want, which is referrals, right, we need to focus on the referral sources, not the clients. And so we want to find the people that are constantly referring and also have the ability to refer on a regular basis, which means they’re in a position to refer on a regular basis. Clients, you know, a homeowner isn’t in a position to refer electrical contracting on a regular basis, you know, right. But you know, who is? Realtors.

Matt Ward 10:58
Yes. And I was, I was going to say, your referral sources, I like to track. And one of my biggest referral sources, was a guy who went to school with my son, and has introduced me to a lot of people from my other business, and been a great source of me. And so I like to keep track of where it’s coming from. So I can not only groom them, but you know, be thankful to those resources as well.

Matt Ward 12:06
Yeah. And how do you track it? Are you are you tracking on on paper? Are you using software using spreadsheets? How are you tracking?

Mike Boothby 12:13
I’m running old school on paper.

Matt Ward 12:14
Okay, no, that’s cool. I mean, so one of the tricks that I’ve taught some of my clients is to use mind mapping software. So there’s a website called And it’s a free mind mapping software where you can just draw like a chart. And so you just put, say, like, you put like a networking group, like the chamber, let’s say, and you met Bob Jones from the chamber, and he introduced you to Jane Smith, and Jane Smith introduce you to John Doe, right. And so you can have them all be the same color until someone buys. And then you can change that color to light green. Now, when you zoom in out from afar, you can see all the tentacles and where they came from, and go back to the sources of where all these great referrals are coming from. And so if you’re a visual person,, is a great place to visualize your referral sources. The paperwork, it’s the first step in the right process.

Mike Boothby 13:15
Yeah, and that does sound interesting. I mean I have, you know, they talked about the tiers, you know, the different tiers of referrals. And I can tell you to this day, I still have clients from that original BNI in 2007, who were like, fifth and sixth tier referrals, and that’s important to know where that came from to continue workload and revenue stream.

Matt Ward 13:42
Yeah. And so, um, I think it’s important to track because then you consistently go back to people, you know, to your paperwork to see, because if you’re starting to struggle with referrals, then you go back to the tracking. Where’d I get that from? Okay, let me do a reach out to these people who are in this, who are showing up as referral sources, one of the first things I tell people to do is write down on a left hand piece of paper or left side of a piece of paper, all their clients last 10 clients, and then the right hand side write down who refer to and if it was another client, throw it out until you get 10 clients on the left, who are referred by 10 non clients on the right. And then you look at the right side and you say what is in common? Are they all in same industry? They live in the same area, they all go to the same little league field like my kid goes to? Do they all hang out at the same Dunkin Donuts I bought my coffee at? What’s the common thread? And there’s a common thread there. Right? And so at the end of the day, that’s where you want to focus on your referral sources at. That’s a powerful way to do it, you know, and too often I think we don’t do that work, Mike.

Mike Boothby 14:58
Yeah, and you know, I Come back to your big networking event I attended over the summer. And it was one thing that you said that really resonated with me is networking has the word work in it, you know, and you’ve got to do that work, it’s one thing to go get a bunch of business cards and shake hands with people. But that follow up, you know, in my other business, we call it touches, you know, touching those people, once a quarter, once every six months, to just say hi, because again, you may just never know. but oh, he does this. I know somebody who needs that, you know? Yeah. And it’s so important to make sure that you put in the work.

Matt Ward 15:45
Yeah, and I call it reach outs, same difference touches, whatever. But, you know, at the end of the day, you know, I have these things. Also, I call touch points, which is very, probably almost the same thing. Touch points are the ways in which you interact with others, as it pertains to relationship building, right? Those are touch points. Trigger points, are the things that actually happen in your daily processes or procedures that ultimately trigger you to create an activity in your business, perhaps that also is a touch point. So for instance, I met with somebody for the first time. We did a one to one, that’s the trigger for a touch point, which is I’m going to connect on LinkedIn. A LinkedIn connection’s, a touch point, that’s perfect. Right? So there’s little things like that, that work great. What other strategies do you think you’ve been successful at and growing your electrical contracting business that somebody else could possibly learn from? Even though they’re not an electrical contractor, but they might be able to learn from and try that on their side.

Mike Boothby 17:01
I would say the best business tip I could give is, you know, when things go, well, everybody looks like a rock star. What differentiates the good contractors, the good business people, the good real estate agents from the okay ones, is when something goes wrong, you know, how you fix that problem, how you help your client get through it, how you deal with it, um, I think is more important than, the job goes, right, great. But curveballs happen, you need to be able to deal with those curveballs and serve your clients to the best of your ability and show them that you’re there through thick and thin.

Matt Ward 17:47
Yeah, and I think that’s also a growing process, right. Because sometimes we have to get accustomed to recognizing the curveballs and the challenges. And I think we all, as business owners want to be as honest and ethical as we possibly can. But oftentimes, it stretches our ability sometimes to grow in a small business ownership role, a leadership role, to be able to do the things necessary to make things right all the time. Right, because sometimes we just think that doing this one thing is enough, and sometimes it’s just not enough.

Mike Boothby 18:22
It is certainly a juggling act, especially as a small business. You know, and I think more now than ever, small business owners are feeling the pain of bigger companies taking top help. Work force issues, supply chain issues, you know, there’s so many different adversities to deal with. And, you know, small companies, right, in the thick of it.

Matt Ward 18:51
Yeah, I mean, they’re caught in the crosshairs in a lot of ways, right, because it’s just like, this is the thing I often like to say is that it requires a lot of decision making. But you have to, as a small business owner, make decisions quickly. Because if you don’t make them quickly, you don’t leave yourself enough time to pivot. If you wait too long to make a decision, then ultimately, you won’t leave yourself that gap that you need to change directions. And I had this when I had the agency, I’ve had it when I had the speaking business. Look what happened with the pandemic, I had to pivot in that. There’s a lot that you need to pivot on. You might be create a product that you never sell a single unit of. That happened to me in the web design agency when I had that and these failure points, you know, you just have to make your decisions quickly. So that you leave yourself enough time to transition into the next area that you’re going to, you know, if you don’t do that, it could be detrimental to the business. I think that’s why so many small business owners die in the first five years.

Mike Boothby 19:58

Matt Ward 20:01
I shouldn’t say small business owners die. That’s why so many small businesses die in the first years.

Mike Boothby 20:07
And I think a lot of people go in into business for themselves thinking different things, and it’s doesn’t always pan out that way, like, Oh, I’m going to be able to just make my own hours and have the freedom and do this and do that. And that’s not the case at all, instead of having one boss, you have multiple bosses, because every one of your clients is a boss, essentially. And so I think a lot of small businesses fade off because they don’t realize the effort and the work that’s involved.

Matt Ward 20:44
You know, it’s interesting, you say that the clients and the boss, it’s funny, you say that, the terminology. Because for many years, I kind of thought the same way. And then I woke up. And I said, you know what, they shouldn’t be bosses. They should be partners. Right? That’s why I wrote that new book, selfish plug. This is the high five effect, how to do business with people who bring you joy. Like, if you’re a boss, to me, as a client, you’re not bringing me joy. And so it’s time to fire you. It’s just if I get those sinking feelings, it’s just not gonna work. It’s just not, I don’t want to then show up on calls and have conversations, you know?

Mike Boothby 21:30
And I absolutely agree with that. And that’s where I came back to the pick and choose, you know, instead of having 25 clients that I have to either haggle with over money, or just are incessantly pains in the butts, I can have 10 clients who I enjoy working with. And I would say, 99% of my clients that I have right now, I really enjoy working with, because they are partners. And it has changed my mindset in the last few years. Once I, as you say, woke up, decided to keep just the correct clients.

Matt Ward 22:15
I mean, I have to at the end of the day, if you can raise your prices 10%. And your clients aren’t balking at that, and it’s still a fair price, and they’re still getting great value. Right? Then you don’t need nearly as many clients to make the same amount of money. And at the end of the day, you won’t be running ragged, and they won’t be pulling on you. And this is the type of thing I tried to talk about in the book, and also with my clients all the time. That freedom, which is what the book talks about more money, more time, and more freedom, that those three things come because it’s a very specific choice. And that’s the tough thing that I think many small business owners have to think about is this concept of choice. Do I have to do that? Or do I get to do that? Right? Do I have to work today? Or do I get to work today? Right? Do I want to work this weekend? Or do I choose to work this weekend? Or more importantly, do I choose to work today, or tomorrow or tonight or however it works? For me, it’s all about building a lifestyle, a business around your lifestyle so that you can be much happier, much joyful, and still bring enough money in to pay for everything that you personally have to pay for. Because that’s why we chase the wrong clients. Right? We do it for the money. Alright, so I always like to ask my guests two questions before I end the podcast. The first one is around software, business software that you would use, not specifically to your industry, but just general business software that you use that you think other people listening should check out. Game-changing tool in software for business owners. What is your suggestion on that?

Mike Boothby 24:00
Ah, boy, um, I’m not a big software guy. I do use QuickBooks, and have had success with that. A good friend who’s a client who’s become a good friend has turned me on to quicken for some other things. And so I’m starting to do that.

Matt Ward 24:21
So billing and financial software, so QuickBooks, a couple other people, I’ve mentioned QuickBooks before. They seem to like it. And so for the small business user, if you have not checked out QuickBooks, you might want to do that. I don’t use it, but my accountant does. That’s how I do it. Yeah. All right. And then the next book, the next. The next question, I just gave it away. But the next question, What business book would you recommend that other small business owners read?

Mike Boothby 24:49
Oh, boy, so many great ones. I’m going way back. I like to read about CEOs you know, so um, when I was younger I read about Lee Iacocca his book, I thought he was one cool dude. Um, Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric. Another good one. Um, you know, that’s the stuff I like to read myself. It helps see the steps through beginning of career to top of the food chain is as they may say,

Matt Ward 25:29
yeah, yeah. You had to bring up food, didn’t you? I’m gonna have to, we’re gonna have to end this podcast with some bacon for sure. I think it’s too funny. Yeah, it’s been great having you on the show. Mike, I really enjoyed it. How can people, if they want to reach out and do a little bit of networking, they might even need some electrical help in the greater, you know, Massachusetts area? How would they reach out to you? How can they get in touch with you?

Mike Boothby 25:55
The two easiest ways is to call me. My number is 508-341-2794. Text is usually good. A lot of times if I’m doing work in an industrial environment, I can’t hear the phone or email me at So that’s my last name, the word Those are the two best ways to get a hold of me.

Matt Ward 26:21
All right, we’ll make sure we put those all in the show notes so that people can click on them with their mobile device, right on the mobile device, or the show notes will show up in the app and things like that. And certainly on the description on YouTube. So yeah, so get ready for the phone to ring. Probably just because people want to ask you questions about the book, the software or even networking, right, you know, because, we might have, you know, the third listener, there’s two of us here listening to the podcast right now, we might have a third listener listen to this. Good times. Yeah. So thanks for listening to us on your favorite podcast app. I really enjoyed having you on the show. Mike, thank you so much for coming on. If you’re watching on YouTube, make sure you subscribe and hit the notifications button so that you don’t miss a single episode that we put up on the channel. And if you’re listening in your podcast app, make sure that you subscribe in your favorite podcast app and rate the show we’d love a five star review. At least Mike says he would love a five star review for this episode.

Mike Boothby 27:23
Matt, thanks for having me.

Matt Ward 27:25
Absolutely. Yeah. Until next time, don’t forget to live happy, smile a lot, and high five. Everyone around you.

Matt Ward 27:51
Thank you for listening to the mass business podcast where we focus on growing a small business and understanding networking and referrals. Don’t forget to like on your favorite platform and share out this podcast. This show has been produced by Heather Grant. Music by Cailte Kelley. All rights reserved. I’m your host, professional speaker, author, and word of mouth referral consultant Matt ward. Don’t forget to live happy, smile a lot, and high five everyone around you.

Episode Transcript

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