Written By: Weslia S. Echols, AFC® and Willa J. Williams, AFC®
Generally all professionals should have a list of referral partners. It shows preparation and awareness for the needs of those who seek service from you. There will be times when you are not available to provide the service or when you are not the appropriate one to provide the service due to relationship or some other conflict. You want to be prepared, so the list is necessary.
Creating a referral list can be a challenging task. There are however some simple things to look at as you consider with whom you should entrust the care of someone that can make the process much easier. It’s important to make sure you consider these concepts when you refer a client, potential client, or just someone who respects you as a professional and asked for a recommendation, because your credibility is on the line. If the recommended professional does not perform as expected it may impact your reputation.
To avoid that from happening, look at the following:
- Core values – The values should parallel that of your business. Treatment of clients should be the same as if you were working with them.
- Character – The character of the professional should reflect that of you and your business. As a professional of integrity and respect for yourself and your business those on your list should have similar or even greater character traits.
- History – You should have knowledge of the professional’s work before they make the referral list. This is the only way to assure yourself that they may be a fit for those seeking service.
- Successful – The professional should have a successful and ongoing practice in their individual areas where they have been proven to be effective in helping clients seeking their services.
- Good Standing – They should be in good standing and respected among their peers within their respective fields. A smear on their credibility could become a smear on yours if you are seen as supporting them professionally.
- Approachable – The professional should be approachable so that those you refer will be able to make contact with reasonable effort.
- Responsive – Once you have referred someone to the professional they must be responsive to the individual. If not this could also come back on you as a smear on your name.
- Trustworthy – You must be able to trust the professional with your client and their information. This goes back to the core values and the character of their business.
- Confidentiality – Client confidentiality is crucial and must be considered as well.
- Availability – Availability can be a reason why the professional is not responsive or not timely in responding to a referral. This could be the result of a high volume season or some other reason. If you are aware of this you should advise before you refer someone.
Wanting the best for those you refer dictates that you investigate all who make your list before and periodically while they remain listed. Just because they make the cut once does not mean they should remain there. As you grow so must those to whom you refer. It is also recommended to have more than one professional of each type you list so that those referred can have a choice in whom they want to work with. Your referral partners may include:
- AFC and FFC (others who specialize in a target audience that differs from yours)
- Life Insurance Agents
- Real Estate or Mortgage Broker
- Home & Auto Insurance Agent
- Tax Preparer (CPA)
- Certified Financial Planner (for retirement and college investing)
- Elder Care Specialist
- Estate Planner
- Mental Health Professional
- Marriage Counselor
The list may also include some in your same profession in case you have to refer due to relationship, work load or any other reason.
Collaborations and working with others are perfect opportunities to identify and approach referral partners for your list. During these times you have access to each other and can often determine whether or not you will be a good fit to continue a working relationship or position yourselves are referral partners. The objective is to identify and establish relationships with those you believe will serve your referrals at the level of service they need and at the level of service you provide.