Diversification is the new norm of mortgage broking. And if you don’t want to offer a certain ancillary service in-house, referral partnerships are a great way to deliver that more holistic client service offering. But how do you choose a good referral partner?

I’m often surprised to learn about how many referral partnerships come to fruition – and by surprised, I mean alarmed.

In an industry where reputation is everything and repeat business is worth its weight in gold, selecting referral partners requires careful consideration and strategy.

Moreover, it should be based on a lot more than just a beer at the pub, or the conclusion that so-and-so seems like a really good bloke, or an impressive operator. After all, looks can be deceiving, and an impressive front can sometimes be covering up a less than impressive business.

Imagine, going above and beyond for your client, to deliver an outstanding service, only to have the service provider you’ve referred them on to, deliver a terrible service.

Whether it’s bad customer service, incompetency, or underhand practices, a referral partner who leaves your client dissatisfied, is going to reflect badly on you.

Furthermore, having a connection with a referral partner who ends up in the news for fraudulent or deceptive conduct is not going to be conducive to good reputation building.

Think carefully about whom you partner up with. I’d suggest that several meetings are essential, in order to confirm you have the same business ideals, goals and objectives.

But don’t believe everything you’re told. Like consumers are constantly being instructed, we too, need to do our ‘homework’.

Ask your potential partner for some references and offer them the same in return. Perhaps you can even chat to a couple of their other partners. And if you feel weird about it, explain that your business’ reputation means everything, and that you’d happily extend the same opportunity to them.

Check your potential partner’s qualifications. Do they have the appropriate credentials? Have they been in trouble or blacklisted in the past? Check out disqualifications on ASIC and even have a perusal on Google to see if anything alarming pops up.

Another great way to determine if a potential partner is trustworthy is their industry affiliations. Are they a member of the MFAA – or relevant industry association? Have they been expelled?

Are they a member of the Property Investment Professionals of Australia? PIPA members sign up to a strict code of conduct and PIPA membership offers just one more layer of protection against a bad referral partnership.

Of course, there is never any guarantee that any service provider is a trustworthy professional, but all of these checks and balances can help you avoid partnering with unethical or incapable operators.

From my experience, I’d also urge brokers to consider ‘professional introductions’, based not on financial incentives, but on the belief that you’re partnering with an ethical practitioner who is going to deliver the best outcome for your client.

This kind of relationship is likely to have much more long-term benefits, as the introduction is based on getting the right professional to give the right advice, creating an even better outcome for your client, and hence more introductions are likely to flow organically between you and your partner over time, as the happy customer result works its magic.

Lastly, I’d recommend vehemently that you put your referral arrangements on paper, and set up regular partnership reviews, to ensure your arrangement is delivering what you want it to.

And once you’re up and running, I’d suggest following up with clients, to find out first-hand, if they’re happy with the referred service.

16 December 2014
The Adviser
http://www.theadviser.com.au/blog/29533-be-picky-with-your-partners?utm_source=The+Adviser&utm_campaign=The_Adviser_Bulletin16_12_2013&utm_medium=email