accountant referral

Growing your business can be an ongoing challenge for accounting firm owners. One excellent way of expanding your client base is through referrals. 

How exactly do you land referrals? This article will share a few ideas and best practices. We’ll also incorporate tips from Stacey Brown Randall, the multiple award-winning author of Generating Business Referrals and recent guest on Jetpack Workflow’s podcast, “Growing Your Firm.” 



Remember that referrals, whether from a current client or another professional, mean someone trusts your ability to handle a referral well. Anyone who gives you a referral is putting their own reputation on the line by vouching for your services, and you need to live up to that trust.

1. Ask for Referrals

Asking is the most straightforward referral method. 

Connecting with key contacts in your business is instrumental in acquiring new clients. Simply ask your current clients and associates, if they know anyone looking for accounting services. This referral could be someone they know personally or a colleague within the industry. 

With a simple request, you’re likely to tap into a potential client base who otherwise may not have known of your services. Additionally, if you create an atmosphere where each new referral feels welcome, the possibility of their referring even more people to you increases significantly. 

Action to take: Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Let your contacts know you’re building your firm and have the capacity to take on additional work. 

2. Send a Handwritten Thank-You Note for Every Referral Received

“Always send a hand-written note thanking your source for the referral by name.” — Stacey Brown Randall

Showing gratitude when referrals come your way is key to receiving more in the future. Sending personalized thank-you notes gives your referral source the same level of consideration they’ve shown you. 

Should you receive several referrals from one source, consider leveling up your gratitude. You could take your referral source out for a meal or send a gift, such as a gift basket or gift card. 

Action to take: If you haven’t already done so, reach out to anyone who sent you a referral this past year and mention the referral by name. For referral sources who sent you several potential clients, consider a year-end gift. Create a practice of thanking sources for referrals shortly after receiving them.  

3. Identify Clients Who Would Be Good Referral Sources

“Identify who is referring to you now. You have to data dive into your business.”  — Stacey Brown Randall

Who are the natural connectors in your network? Who are the people who have given you a testimonial or said they’ve talked about you?

Once you’ve identified strong potential referral sources, work on strengthening your relationship with those people and businesses. Think about how you can help them. 

Are there referrals you can send their way? Are they having a business problem you can offer guidance on and help them overcome? The key is doing this naturally and authentically. 

Action to take: Go back through your records to identify past referral sources. If you are not currently tracking the referral sources of your clients, start adding that information to your client database so you can monitor referrals going forward. 

4. Network with Professionals Who Serve Similar Clients

Networking with professionals in other industries is another effective way to expand your business and leverage the skills you already have. 

For example, you may exchange advice with a marketing professional and create a mutually collaborative business relationship. Tapping into and learning from another person’s experience and expertise allows you to grow professionally in ways you wouldn’t on your own. 

Making connections outside your industry could also lead to exciting opportunities and a better understanding of how that particular industry works. It’s worth taking the time to network with other professionals because it opens up a world of new possibilities, fresh insights, and greater success.

Action to take: There is no shortage of opportunities to network with other professionals. Entrepreneurial meetups and networking groups will have a variety of businesspeople in attendance. Go online and search for a few in your area. 

5. Create an Outreach Plan for Your Referral Sources

An outreach plan should include ways to increase the number of touchpoints with your referral sources throughout the year. 

Consider creating different categories and levels of outreach for your referral sources. Sources who send you double-digit referrals each year receive additional levels of outreach compared to those who send one or two. 

An outreach plan allows you to proactively look for ways to interact with your referral sources and add value to their lives or businesses. It could include sending them a book, passing along informative and relevant articles, or a quick check-in phone call. Each of these touchpoints increases your visibility with your referral source. 

Your outreach plan lets you plant referral seeds. The simple but meaningful act of thoughtfully touching base during the year keeps you top of mind anytime your referral source knows of someone who needs your services. 

Action to take: List your referral sources, and separate them into different categories. Create a plan for reaching out to your sources in each category. Make sure you keep your touchpoints relevant to each referral source.

6. Engage with Your Evangelists on Social Media

Who are your “evangelists?” They’re the people online who know you and support your work. Engaging with these friends, colleagues, and fans on social media is a great way to continue building those relationships. 

A helpful byproduct of strengthening these connections is your ability to tap into their networks, gain valuable insight into what resonates with them, and grow your own reach. 

If you need some pointers on using social media effectively, here are two resources:

  1. How to Craft an Amazing LinkedIn Profile
  2. 3 Examples of LinkedIn (and TikTok?!) Posts for Accounting Firm Owners

Action to take: Find your biggest fans and referral sources on social media channels, and engage with them regularly. Boost their visibility by liking and commenting on their posts. Tag them on posts relevant to them and their business. Without having to ask for it, they’ll hopefully do the same for you.

How to Stay Organized as Your Business Grows

As those referrals arrive, you need to be ready to handle your new clients and the larger workload, plus provide them with expert customer service.

Consider implementing a full workflow management system as your work and your team expand. Jetpack Workflow is accounting software created with accountants and bookkeepers in mind and contains predefined templates to let you hit the ground running.

Not only does Jetpack Workflow keep you on target with client deadlines, it can also help you keep track of your referrals and referral sources. Plan your networking events, outreach, and thank-you notes within the system. 

Jetpack Workflow helps you manage your business, so you can cultivate strong referral partnerships, build long-lasting client relationships, and continue growing a successful practice. Start a free 14-day trial here.

See Jetpack Worflow In Action

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