Skip to content

The Story of The Big Bad Wolf And The Three Little Referrals

Everyone knows the story of the three little pigs. The three pigs each built a different type of house and the big bad wolf was out in search of dinner. The straw and wooden houses were blown away, but the brick house stood up to the test. When one of your past students refers you to someone else, do you know which type of referral they’re giving? Is it like the straw house, the wooden house, or the brick house? Let’s see how each type of referral looks like for your teaching business.

[go straight to the Comment Box]

People’s lives are really windblown

People are busy. Getting and keeping their attention is hard. They’ve got their employer, email, smart phone, computer, and family all needing attention. No matter how interested they are when one of your students mentions you, 30 seconds later their brains are pulled in some other direction. How is the story of the three pig’s houses going to help you understand the problem?

The straw house is blown away before you know it

straw house

Then he huffed, and then he puffed and blew the straw house down…

A referral built of straw is like the passing comment.  This is a situation when a referral tells your potential student he wants to learn … (your teaching field).

Your referral perks up and says, ‘Oh, you should call … (you). She/he was amazing.’ He then goes on to tell the potential student your name and how to contact you. They go their separate ways.

How long do you think it takes for someone or something to huff-and-puff-and-blow your name out of a potential student’s mind? What are the chances that they will remember your name (or even remember the conversation) once they’ve gotten home? Have you ever bumped into a past student who said, ‘Oh, hi. I gave your name to a friend of mine a few weeks ago. Did he ever call you?’ By this time, your potential student has already found another teacher or school.

Let’s now look at a wooden house referral type.

The house made of wood is a bit tougher

He huffed, and then he puffed and blew the wooden house down...

He huffed, and then he puffed and blew the wooden house down…

A wooden house type referral is when your student gives your business card or emails your contact information to a potential student.

Now the potential student has something to remind them about you besides a passing comment. But think just how easy is it to lose a card or delete an email. For you to get business from a business card takes multiple miracles. Why is that?

First, they have to hang on to the business card. Then, they have to remember why they have this card. Was this a card they got by chance, or was it one they picked up for a reason? Then, when they finally decide to call, they have to remember where they left your card. And if the card stays in the trousers and goes through the washing machine, you can kiss that referral goodbye. What you really want is a referral like the house made of bricks.

A house made of bricks can stand up to storms

The brick house stood stand...

The brick house stood stand…

The best referral is when your student tells the potential client how great you are and asks him or her if it’s okay to give his or her contact information to you. This can also work if the student copies you on the email to the potential student. This puts you directly in touch with a potential customer, and allows you to ask the referral what they need and when they want you to contact them again.  You then have the chance to follow up no matter how windy the potential student’s life becomes. How do you get your students to be this proactive? You have to train them.

Teach your students about the three levels of referrals

You may or may not want to tell them about the three little pig’s houses. However, be sure to remind your student that their referrals are probably just as busy as they were when he (or she) met you. Remind them how much they appreciated you following up. Reassure them you aren’t the sort of person who bugs people, so they don’t need to worry. You just want to ensure both you and the referral avoid the risk of losing contact with each other.

So, when you notice life is huffing-and-puffing-and-blowing your referrals down, make sure you train your satisfied students to send out brick house strength referrals. That way, your teaching business will be sturdy and huff-puff proof just like the third little pig’s brick house.


Thanks to David Greene of Seattle WA for permission to adapt his article


Can You Do Me A Favour?

Have you thought about the quality of your referrals?

  • Are your referrals made like the house of straw or wood?
  • What methods do you use to get your referrals?

Leave a comment in the Add Your Comment box below. 🙂

Be specific. The collective insight of the Entrepreneurial Freelance Teachers community will help us all to realize a better earning income. Smiley_Thanks

If you like this article, please spread the word? Use the “LIKE” button in Facebook or send a Tweet.


Thank you!



Add Your Comment (Get a Gravatar)

Get a Gravatar! Your Name

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.


  • Newsletter (it’s free)

    You’ll receive information, ideas and tips, as well as simple and practical methods (with step-by-step instructions) on becoming an entrepreneurial freelance teacher in a professionally ethical and legal manner.

    Subscribe for the newsletter and receive your first free eReport:
    How To Find Customers And Students”.

    Emails are once every month (1st of each month).

    Newsletter Subscription