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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   December 2007

Become a Referral Clearinghouse

Help your clients give business to other professionals, and you’ll likely reap the returns

As mortgage professionals, we can live or die by referrals. When the market is hot, referrals keep our pipelines bursting. When the market is cool, like now, referrals keep our pipelines from freezing.

Earning referral business is going to be paramount to making it through the winter. If you’re struggling to keep referral flames lit, however, there’s a good chance that you don’t know about the networking trick that will have your pipeline flowing long before the snow can thaw this spring.

The “trick” is really not that tricky at all. It is based on the well-researched premise that those who provide others with referrals earn referrals in return.

If you’ve found that your referral efforts are earning you only dismal results, it’s likely because you need to increase the number of quality referrals you’re sending to others. That is, you must take your efforts one step further and become a referral clearinghouse.

New referral role

A referral clearinghouse simply refers to someone who is known as the go-to person for a referral to anything in the professional world. As mortgage professionals, we can almost unanimously provide solid referrals to accountants, financial planners, credit counselors, real estate agents and appraisers. But to become a referral clearinghouse, you’ll have to do better.

Expand your scope to include, for example, attorneys, wealth strategists, stock brokers, contractors, interior designers, landscapers — the list goes on. The point is this that you want to have a referral ready for anyone for any service at any time.

Keep in mind that it is not necessary that you personally know each of the people in your referral list. The onus is on you to do a bit of research before giving names as referrals for your clients. If you refer a client to someone who turns out to be less than professional, remove that person from your referral list and try someone else.

Spread the word

Once you’ve cultivated your list of preferred referral partners, let your database know that you are now their new referral source.

Start with a simple letter. You may choose to e-mail your first letter or send a hard copy, but it’s best to send a hard copy at least once a year. After all, this letter is something your clients will want to keep on file.

The letter should be short and sweet. Explain your belief in the process of referrals and that you would like to offer your services as a referral-provider. Include a list of the industries for which you can provide referrals, but stop short of listing the service-providers’ names or contact information.

You’re not trying to be a shorthand version of the phonebook. Your goal is to get your contacts to call you. That way, you can provide a personal referral.

Referrals lead to business

Acting as a referral clearinghouse will help earn you business via several different means. First, mailing this letter gives your clients a reason to contact you. Naturally, any time you can touch base with your clients, you are reminding them of who you are and what you have done for them in the past.

The repetition of your voice and name will help keep you at the forefront of your clients’ minds. This will ensure that you are first on their list to refer to their friends, colleagues or family members who need mortgage advice.

Second, this service can increase your value to your clients, as you’re not blatantly trying to sell them your service or a new loan product. You’re simply letting them know that you can and should be thought of as more than just their mortgage professional.

This service also can help you earn additional referrals for your business from potential new referral partners. People enjoy when you help them attain what they want, particularly when you’re not first trying to sell them your services.

The sign of a true professional will be adamantly clear soon enough, as likeminded colleagues who appreciate the value of referral networking will reach out to thank you for the referral. This just opens the door for new referrals to fill your pipeline.

•  •  •

Becoming a referral clearinghouse is a smart step for any mortgage professional seeking to build new referral relationships by word of mouth. This strategy not only can prompt clients to contact you for a referral, but it will also provide you with a valid reason for contacting them without having to sell to them.

This also opens the door for fellow professionals to contact you, opening a dialogue about your business.

When done correctly, it all adds up to more business with existing clients and new business stemming from prospects. Most important, you’ll also find yourself bestowed with the highly coveted reputation as the go-to mortgage-professional who is invaluable to clients and referral partners alike. 


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