How to build a tribe of referral partners: Tara Bradbury

Referral partners can make your job as a BDM a whole lot easier, but where do you find them? Business development expert Tara Bradbury tackles the tricky subject of asking for referrals from local businesses.

The most common question I get asked is, “What is the fastest way to grow the rent roll?” To be honest, if I could wave a magic wand, I would. Trust me, becoming a successful BDM is not an overnight experience.

To achieve consistent and healthy growth in your property management department you need to build foundations and a pipeline of opportunity. A tribe, if you will. There are two key points in achieving this:

  1. Communicate and connect with people every day. Share who you are, what you do and what your agency offers.
  2. Be prepared to step out of your comfort zone and become a follow-up machine.

For those of you who know me personally, you probably think this is all very easy for me. But I have been through the same thought processes and fears as you when it comes to seeking referrals.

I know that sick feeling of butterflies taking over your stomach, wondering what you should say and why you put yourself through this stress daily. That fear of not knowing how they will respond and whether you will ever hit your KPIs at the end of the month.

“What if they say no? What if they are not interested?” you say to yourself.

“What if I find myself doing all the talking and they say that they need to go to the bathroom just to get away from me?”

If my message is coming through to you loud and clear, then you have what it takes to be an amazing BDM. Use this fear as energy to push you forward rather than hold you back.

No matter where you are based, city or regional, people love to do business with someone they know and trust. That’s what building a tribe is all about.

They also love to be able to give advice and point clients in the right direction for them to achieve the best possible result every time. As a BDM, you can help by providing advice, guidance and support to so many in your marketplace with an introduction from a referral partner.

Building a tribe of referral partners is easy after you secure the first one; it only takes one to encourage others to get on board.

In the beginning, it is important to do your research into prospective partners. While a business may say ‘yes’ very quickly, you need to make sure you are both on the same page and that they align with how you operate.

  1. Create a list of possible referral partner opportunities. If you are employed as a BDM and working for someone else, make sure you run this list past your director as they may already have a referral relationship in place, or may not want to do business with them.
  2. Research who would be the best person in the business to make an introduction.
  3. Know your agency vision, be comfortable and make sure you are up to date with market knowledge.
  4. Know your negotiation options and how you will reward them once a referral is passed and secured. This does not mean you have to offer money. It can be a surprise thank you gift, a coffee or lunch meeting, or a phone call to keep them updated with your progress.
  5. Target professional service businesses in your area, but don’t disregard anyone. Two of my strongest referrers were a florist and a local hairdresser.

Once you have these five points mastered, you can set up your first meeting. This is when the butterflies will start!

Given that I had amazing results as an active BDM many years ago, I know these scripts will help and challenge you to have a go.

Example 1:
“My name is (NAME) from (AGENCY). (PRINCIPAL’S NAME) has requested that I contact you as I believe we currently refer your business to our clients… My role is Business Development Manager in our agency and we are looking at increasing the profile of our property management department. I would like to organise a time with you (it only needs to be five minutes) to discuss how we can service your investor clients… I also work with many investors who will need your support in the future and would love to find out more about your product and service, so I can refer them to someone I know and trust. Would (TIME) on (DAY) be a suitable time to meet?”
Example 2
“My name is (NAME) from (AGENCY). I hope you are well. How has your week been? We offer a comprehensive management service for property investors and I believe that we could mutually benefit from the clients that we encounter… Are you aware of the services that our agency offers property investors?… It would be great to hear more about your company and what you offer as a product, so I can then potentially refer someone like yourself to my clients….”

Once you have completed your first meeting and you are confident that they are someone you would love to join your tribe of referral partners, you must add them to your CRM and follow up.

We can’t expect people to just remember us. Life is busy and we all know how easy it can be to forget someone. Find out if they attend networking groups in your area or book in a regular coffee catch-up.

While it can take time to build a tribe of referral partners, I can guarantee from personal experience that it can work, that it is very rewarding in the long term and that it is much more enjoyable than making a cold call.

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Tara Bradbury

Tara Bradbury is the Director of the BDM Academy sharing her business development ideas and strategies with property management BDM’s and Principals. For more information visit