It is often difficult to refer a client to a third-party even when it is apparent that they need more than we can offer effectively. Sometimes though we simply refer to someone else, with no thought other than to ensure our client gets the advice they need.
If we analyse why our clients choose to use our services and can conclude that they do so because they have a level of trust in us, then by extension, they would expect that where appropriate we would introduce them to our network, and more specifically suggest they consult with them. (While we are ourselves assessing the worth of a particular consultant, we may need to be clear to our client that our suggestion is not necessarily a recommendation, but rather an introduction to a level of service or level of expertise that may benefit them).
Conversely, we should equally expect those to whom we refer our clients to act ethically and responsibly, and to ensure they work with us in the best interests of our client, and our relationship with our client.
There is additionally of course the issue of cost that also impinges on our preparedness to refer to others.
Many of us balk at referring on to third parties even when we know that our client will benefit from advice, because we suspect that the cost of obtaining that advice will outweigh any bottom line improvement. There are also times when we refer our clients to high cost and well qualified consultants when the solution may well be best served in the hands of an experienced business manager who has been through the grind and is happy to pass on his or her experience and expertise, and who will provide the necessary solutions at a much more attractive cost.
There are a multitude of checks that we need to apply before making a referral. Among them, we need to ensure all the statutory and other risks are managed. We should ensure that we are involved in the initial briefings where practicable, and that we are able to be kept informed.
Accross Business is one of the new wave of consultancies who offer an interesting alternative. They are happy to work with both the referrer and client across most aspects of business management and improvement, to determine the best way forward.
When we have initiated a referral that provides a positive outcome for our client, the kudos will inevitably come back to us. Sometimes too, will come an unexpected reciprocal referral. And that can only help our bottom line.