Referral Marketing is the best business development strategy there is for Service Providers.
That's, Accountants, Agents, Financial Advisers, Solicitors, Dentists, Designers, Architects, Plastic Surgeons, Builders, Vets, IT Services, Website Designers, Stylists, Trainers, Consultants, Printers, Landscape Gardeners, Brokers, etc.
Other service providers and professions other than your own have clients that may also need your services; your clients might also need their services. So it makes perfect sense to be proactive about it.
Working more holistically and referring your clients to other carefully selected providers and professionals will complement your own offering, bringing ‘added value services’ that your clients will appreciate and remember you for. In return the service providers and professionals are also more inclined to refer their clients to you, which is the main objective.
Whatever service you provide, the backbone of building your business is client acquisition and retention, one way to do this is to understand that there is a growing need to be more holistic. This requires knowledge of some other local service providers and professionals and their respective complementary expertise.
Building relationships and respectful trust with local firms and their individuals, getting to know how they operate and exactly what they can do - will help you spot opportunities for them. In the spirit of reciprocity they will want to refer back in order to keep you referring to them and to stay in ‘the reciprocal team of complementary services’, with all its benefits.
As an Accountant it makes perfect sense to build up good connections within Law, Financial Services and Risk Management, Banking, etc. And those fellow professionals should clearly seek out Accountants and Tax Advisers to complement their own services too.
When the relationship with your external complementary connections is managed properly it will bring new clients your way – either as direct referrals back again or via your clients recommending your more encompassing services. Joint effort projects bring added value services to each profession, building greater client satisfaction and thus greater loyalty, both of which need to be in place for your existing clients to recommend your services to others.
How you find other complementary service providers depends on where you are now, you may know them and work with them already but maybe you both need to be more proactive. You may wish to be more analytical about it and research all the relevant local firms and their services.
Using a service level agreement (SLA) shows professionalism as it will state how you promise to look after their clients and what they can expect in regard to duty of care, procedures and service, etc. This also builds trust.
Keeping a regularly updated database of referred clients and progress is a must. This is used to keep all parties informed and as a discussion document at regular review meetings. Approaching and building relationships with other service providers and professionals must be done carefully, with research, patience, determination and a Win/Win attitude. You have a lot to offer the right firms and in return you have a lot to gain from them, get it wrong and the doors will shut for a long time.