Referral Etiquette


When someone refers business to you what do you do?

Do you thank that someone? Do you give them a referral gift? Do you let them know how things are going with your new client?

I’m just wondering what the etiquette is around referrals. When someone refers a client to me I thank them and send them a referral gift if the client signs on.

Since my business has gotten busier I’ve been referring clients out a lot. Some people thank me, some send me me a gift, some send money and others just respond with a quick thanks and never report back to me whether they got the client or not.

I personally want a thank you and an update if I refer someone to you and you get the client. I’ve had to find out from my clients, friends and acquaintances that they are working with the person I referred them to.

What are your thoughts on referral etiquette?

7 thoughts on “Referral Etiquette

  1. Kate Kerans

    I agree with your thoughts surrounding referral etiquette. Any kind of referral, whether it garners me a client or not, warrants acknowledgment of some kind. Personally, I usually send a quick thank you gift and an accompanying note to let the referrer know the outcome. It is simple common courtesy, not to mention good business sense. If someone thinks highly enough of my services to recommend me to someone else then I am surely going to thank them!

  2. Sally Kuhlman, Virtual Simplicity

    Thanks Kate. I totally agree with you. It’s common courtesy to say thank you when someone refers you to another person.

  3. Teri Dempski

    I agree with you too. Makes for a sour taste in your mouth when this last step is forgotten. Something about burning bridges comes to mind. Be nice, send a thank you!

    P.S. I love your referral program! Well done!

  4. Julie Ensor - Panacea Concepts

    I agree 100% with the need for a thank you (and possibly a gift or money) if you know that someone referred a client to you.

    However, depending on the situation and the relationship between the service provider and the referrer, I do not think that an update on the client relationship should be expected.

    In most situations, once the initial referral and thank you have been done, it is no longer anyone’s business except the client and the service provider. If the client wants you to know that they used the service provider you recommended or that it’s going well (or not), they will let you know. Or you can ask them how it’s going. But I don’t think it’s the service provider’s place to offer this information.

    So, basically, I would say that a thank you is certainly to be expected, but an update on the relationship is not.

  5. Sally Kuhlman, Virtual Simplicity

    Thanks Teri and Julie for your comments.

    Julie thanks for bringing up the part about wanting an update. When I said that I didn’t mean an update on what they are working on. I was thinking more along the lines of letting me know if they got the client or not. I agree that once they start working together it is between the client and the service provider.

  6. Candy

    I usually send a gift card when someone refers someone to me – at least for the first time to say “thanks for thinking of me!”. I also pay 20% of the first 3 months billings to the referrer. Nothing talks like cash ๐Ÿ™‚ So yeah, they know when the referral comes through. I have referred people in the past and never heard… it does kind of bug me because I want to know. Having said THAT, I usually do the person’s books that I referred so I’ll know. LOL.

  7. Tracey D'Aviero

    Most definitely a thank you is in order!

    Referrals from clients: I offer a discount on the following month’s invoice. From non-clients or non-active clients: thank you note and gift.

    Once the referral becomes a client, it’s unecessary to update the other person on the business relationship (good or bad).

    All clients are then on equal ground … I don’t discuss current or former clients with other clients.

    But forgetting to thank someone is not cool.

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