“Know anyone?”: A guide to professional service provider referrals
Referrals are how most of us find professional service providers: we use the orthodontist our child’s dentist recommends, we try out the hairstylist that gave a friend a great cut, or we call the contractor who built our neighbor a beautiful deck. But relying on a trusted friend’s or business associate’s referral might not guarantee that provider is the right fit for each individual situation. Here are a few things to keep in mind next time you ask “Know anyone?:
1. Evaluate what might be in it for the referrer.
Professional service providers sometimes engage in contracted referral agreements to refer customers to each other for a fee or other benefit. This is common in the financial services sector, where your trusted professional might only give you one name when referring you to a financial advisor, and vice versa. At ShindelRock, we never accept referral fees and always offer our clients two or three names when they need an outside professional, so the client knows we are referring based on the best fit for the client, not who has offered us a referral or commission fee.
2. Consider the source.
A referral source’s experience level and work approach likely guides their selection of other resources to recommend, so be sure you trust the individual or business who is offering the name and know their experience level. Reliable referral sources tend to refer clients to others with a similar approach to their work, clients and culture as they do. We at ShindelRock only feel comfortable referring professionals we know have a similar approach to the services they provide as our firm. We can ensure the professional being referred will be able to perform the services needed and our clients then just need to choose which professional fits their personality or company culture best.
3. All references are not created equal
References from trusted friends and business associates are usually a great place to start, but if you have a highly specific need, asking around for names might not always yield the right resource. In that case, try Chamber of Commerce membership lists, local business development offices, or online resource directories. But keep in mind, these names come without personal or professional recommendations and may have even paid for the right to be included on the resource list, so proceed with caution.
Asking for a professional service referral is something almost everyone needs to do eventually, so prepare yourself by asking the right person (a trusted friend or business associate) and evaluating the referral and its source carefully. And next time someone asks you “Know anyone?”, you might just have a brand new resource to recommend!
ShindelRock is a Novi-based accounting firm offering a broad array of services to individuals and business owners, including accounting, auditing, tax, litigation support, medical practice management and business consulting. For more than twenty years, its team of accounting professionals has been recognized for understanding the financial and management needs of growing businesses and a commitment to superior client service. www.shindelrock.com