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Building referrer relationships for business growth
Barry Oxley from Lending Specialists

Barry Oxley from Lending Specialists, has seen the benefits of harnessing referrer relationships in growing his business. Barry provides an insight as to how he pursued this business relationship and methods in sustaining successful referrer partnerships.

1.   What do you look for in starting a referrer relationship and who do you approach?
I look for professionals or my own clients who are prepared to be advocates for my business services. In 1999, I was approached by Paul Askwith from Life Insurance Advocates Pty Ltd to form a business relationship, and he has been my business partner ever since. Paul specialises in financial planning, life risk insurance, income protection, business insurance and insurance to support buy/sell agreements. His expertise complements my lending services perfectly and we work hand in hand. I have also approached accountants, solicitors, lawyers and conveyancers, to which I have established strong referral relationships.

2.   How did you approach referrers to partner with you?
I often had past business dealings with referrers through my own clients. I found myself contacting them to clarify information about the client’s personal or financial circumstances and through that I was able to establish some rapport with them.

I would meet up for a coffee and speak to these referrers about their business, getting an understanding of the space they work in and the type of clients they deal with. I would then relate to them, how I had helped our mutual clients and what value-add I provided. I would speak about my business in regards to the types of lending I was experienced in; the various loans I had access to; and the support I could offer the referrer.

I would also advise the referrer that I would obtain the client’s permission to talk with them so I could keep the referrer informed throughout the process and also to obtain any necessary supporting information.

3.   Were there any obstacles that you encountered and how did you overcome them?
Often enough, referrers needed to be comfortable with how I would deal with their clients. They wanted to know what type of advice I would be providing, my credentials and to be kept in the picture throughout my dealing with the client. I had to win them over so I kept them informed at specific points throughout the process. When I couldn’t obtain finance for the client I would inform the referrer of the roadblocks. 

In my experience, I found the first referrals they provided were usually the most difficult – as if they were trying me out. I never overpromised but tried extremely hard to get every deal through. If I couldn’t find funding, I was honest and upfront with the referrer as to the reasons why.

The referrers can often loose their drive, so I try to keep in regular contact by phone, email or dropping in when I’m around their area. I also attend business lunches with my loyal and strongest referrers.

4.   How did you reassure your referrer that it would be beneficial and provide a win-win situation?
Proven client results – the placing of a loan or helping to structure a client’s finances correctly provides good feedback from the client to the referrer.

Providing sound advice – years of personal and commercial lending experience, as well as running a number of businesses has provided a sound base to provide personal and “hands on” advice to my clients. I would also check with the accountant that my recommendation didn’t have detrimental taxation or financial affects for the client. 

In creating a win-win situation, I would make sure the referrer advises me of any special requirements or issues of the client so that we are always on the same page. That way we work hand in hand for the benefit of the client.

5.   What were some of the positive outcomes with this partnership?
We have had many clients that have used both our services and those of my referral partners – cross referrals are quite common. I have confidence in the referrer’s abilities and have no problems referring my clients to them to use their expertise. My business has expanded because of this.

I find I can contact my referrers for personal or business advice for my own clients and for myself. We also discuss business activities and work together on joint marketing initiatives.

My referrers have participated in training days for my sub-aggregation company, Loans Actually, where they have provided specific training for our members. This has ranged from helping them understand specific forms and documents and completing them correctly, to participating in group panel sessions.

6.   How are you maintaining this business relationship?
I use phone, email, newsletter and more recently a “blog” to keep in contact. I also attend regular lunches with strong referrers throughout the year and we continue to cross refer between our businesses.

I have invited referrers to some of my events that I feel they would gain some value due to their personal or business interests. I have also supported my referrers own events through my personal attendance or sponsorship.