Learn how top Realtors build a real estate referral program that consists of a network or professional partnerships between various business owners.

Today we are going to talk about a real estate referral program that you can use to generate more business. Specifically, we’re going to talk about vendor relationships and business-to-business partnerships. It’s important to always come from contribution and add value. You must demonstrate why someone would want to be your referral partner!

In this blog, we’ll walk you through different ways to evidence the value of your real estate referral program. We’ll talk about how to add value and ask for business at the same time. And, you can download our Preferred Vendor List for free!

Sphere of influence (SOI) categories

When you grow your SOI, you can create different groups within your SOI. You can categorize your SOI members in many different ways. You may have your A, B, and C members. “A” might be past clients and those who have referred you business, “B” might be people you know pretty well, and “C” might be the weakest relationships, etc.) Or, you could have it grouped in a different way. For example, you could have it split into Past Clients, Geographic Farm, and Vendors.

This vendor category is your “business to business” database. I use the word “vendor” because this is the industry term that fits it best. However, I don’t want you to get it confused. When I say “vendor,” I’m not just speaking of your mortgage consultant, your title company, and your home warranty company. Those are vendors for Realtors. I’m talking about anyone that has a business in your community. This is anyone that you could possibly refer a client to. These are referral partnerships.

Top agents get referral business from the same sources over, and over, and over again. Think about it. Who do you give business to? For example, which mortgage officers are you always sending clients to? It’s the same way with this real estate referral program.

Benefits of a solid real estate referral program

The benefits are twofold.

  1. You will grow your SOI (because you’ll establish new relationships)
  2. You will be able to contact your SOI while adding value and asking for business at the same time

There are not many ways to add value and ask for business at the same time.

The key to doing this is to develop an organized referral network. It must be systematized. If you systematize our network of vendors, then you can actually have something to show prospective members of your network to justify why they should want to be a part of it. You need to create a system that enables you to visibly show people what we offer. You need to evidence your value.

If you merely tell someone that you’ll refer them business if they refer business to you — that pitch is pretty “meh.” There’s no real excitement or commitment because the vendor does not truly understand your value proposition. They don’t get why being your partner is going to benefit them. Likely, they will just see this as you asking for them to send you business. There is no evidence that proves your value or shows what they can expect from you. Anyone can say these things. What makes you different?

You must demonstrate the value of your real estate referral program.

Give to get

It’s uncomfortable to say, “Hey, I’ll send you business if you send me business,” because you are not really giving any value. You are really just asking for business. That is why it is so uncomfortable for you to have this conversation when you don’t have anything of value to back it up. It’s not a fair trade. You’re not giving anything away.

Here’s a way we can do it that feels good.

Offer to send referrals their way first. Instead of asking up front for referrals, start by talking about all the referrals you are hoping to send their way.

Realtors are the absolute center of the referral spider web. Everything comes through you. When someone moves to town, they need everything from a dentist to an accountant. As their Realtor, you are the only person they know in their new community. You can tell your client, “I can be your own personal Angie’s List. Come to me first — I have trusted vendors and I know the best professionals in this community.”

You hold the referral power in the community

Because you are in this position of power and knowledge, referring your clients to businesses throughout the community, everyone should want to be a vendor on your list. Everyone should want to be in your real estate referral program.

Remember, the top agents get repeat business from the same people. These people will refer you new business time and time again. But to get that kind of relationship, you must demonstrate what you can do for them in return.

Simple script:

I need a partner for (TYPE OF INDUSTRY.) If I refer you clients, will you refer clients to me as well?

Within the video on this blog, I also walk through the longer form of this script, but this is the basic point.

Then, you show them why being your partner is valuable.

How to evidence the value of your real estate referral program

These are great ways to show potential referral partners the value of being in your real estate referral program.

  • Create a directory page on your website. This business directory contains all of your referral partners and their corresponding industry and contact information. Showcase your preferred vendor list of everyone in your real estate referral program.
  • Create a directory as a printed packet. This is something that you can hand out during listing or buyer presentations. Show it to your potential vendor partner and tell then that their contact info will be handed out to each potential client. This is huge!
  • Create a directory on your mobile app. Almost everyone has a mobile app these days, and you can provide a list of your vendors here, too.
  • Promote your vendors on social media. Post about the businesses on your vendor list and tag them. This gives you instant street cred, and all vendors will want this (and they’ll reshare it, too!)
  • Create a business-to-business Facebook Group for your community. This is powerful. You create a group that is designed for local businesses where they can advertise, collaborate, network, etc. Since you created the group, you control the content. Interview members of the group, promote businesses, post local updates, etc. You become a community advocate. And, you get to sneak in some self-promotion, as well.

Through these methods, you are establishing value so you can effectively come from contribution.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Preferred Vendor List

If you have a hard time coming up with who should be in your real estate referral program, this list will help. Download this alphabetized list of professionals you need on your vendor list. Then, get to it! Reach out to these local professionals. Not only will you grow your SOI, but you’ll grow your trusted vendor list (and hopefully, get more referrals) as well.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

How to find new vendors to add

This is a great excuse to contact members of your SOI. As you know, you want to achieve 100 contacts to your SOI members throughout the year. And, it’s really nice to have a reason to reach out. This is a great reason!

Hey (NAME), I’m looking for recommendations for a professional that you’ve worked with recently that’s given you great service. I’m working on my Trusted Vendor List, so that all of my clients can have access to the best of the best in our local area.

Alternatively, you can simply use Google Local Services Ads to find the best local professionals to reach out to. “Best carpenters in (CITY NAME)” or “best plumbers in (COMMUNITY NAME).” You can use Yelp or Angie’s List, too, depending on your area.

Just because you don’t know someone in a certain profession doesn’t mean you can’t do some homework to find one to add to your list. Always look for the highest reviews. The vendors that have the most (and best) reviews will typically be the vendors who do provide the best service.

Remember, don’t add them to your real estate referral program until you’ve reached out to them! You need to establish this relationship so you’ll know they know you plan on sending them business. That way, they can plan to return the favor.

Pro tip: After a referral, follow up

When you refer a client, follow up with the vendor. This puts a little pressure on them and let’s them know that you expect them to return the favor. It reminds them of your relationship, and sets expectations. You can hold the vendors accountable if they are listed on your real estate referral program.

Want to learn more?

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Stay up to date on what’s happening in our industry and join our Facebook group, the Real Estate Agent Round Table for free, relevant content daily, including breaking news on the real estate market.

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