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Added: July 27, 2010
Article rating: 3.67 (of 5) - 6 votes

The Three Qualities of a Referral Mindset

[ by Joe Stumpf ]
Has this ever happened to you? It's Sunday morning and I'm packing to fly to Chicago that afternoon for a three-day training event. I'm thinking about what socks and tie to wear with what suit, what I can't take on board the airplane, when I'm leaving for the airport, I hope my flight is on time, and...

Drip, drip, drip.

I look up and see a wet spot on my bedroom ceiling that extends down the wall and that wasn't there an hour ago - was it?

My home's - any home's - plumbing is pretty much a mystery to me, but I knew this wasn't good. I knew I needed a plumber, and I didn't have one. I knew it was Sunday and the chances of finding a plumber who would come to my house yes, on Sunday and right now because I'm going out of town in a few hours and I've got to do something about this...Well, the chances were slim. And Slim just left town on the stage.

So, do I grab the Yellow Pages, turn to "Plumbers" and start making panicked phone calls?

Or, do I call someone I know and trust and ask them to refer a plumber to me?

In other words, should I take my chances on a stranger who may or may not know what he's doing, or should I get a personal endorsement from a friend who has a good plumber?

I struck gold on my second call, to my friend Andy who said, "I've got a great plumber, a guy named John Roberts. What's the problem?" Ahhhhh. That sound you hear is the stress knots in my neck starting to loosen. I explained what was going on and Andy said, "Look, instead of my giving you John's number, I'll call and ask him if he can help you today, as a special favor to me. Let me call you right back."

About 10 minutes later Andy called and said John was on his way. John turned out to be a friendly guy who didn't seem terribly inconvenienced by my Sunday emergency. He fixed the pipe problem, made a recommendation for short- and long-term maintenance, and billed an amount I thought was more than fair.   So, instead of my flying off to Chicago and worrying about my house floating away - or trying to mange the whole business from Chicago when I want to be focused on the training event - I had the peace of mind that comes from "problem solved."

Andy referred John because John is a referable person. In fact, I checked later and John isn't even listed in the Yellow Pages. He knows his great service makes him referable. He knows Andy will continue to refer him, and now, so will I.

It's a referral world. If a friend highly recommends a restaurant, chances are you'll try it. If a colleague gives a new movie a rave review, you'll probably want to see it, too. If you're looking for a service provider - plumber, painter, doctor, accountant - a referral wins out over a stranger every time.

When you're a referable real estate agent, you work with high-quality clients referred to you by your other high-quality clients. Does that beat spending $4,000 on an ad that may - may - generate a listing or two? Every time.

So, what makes a person referable? I believe it starts with the right mindset, and that mindset has three critical components:


When I ask agents and lenders what's the single-word purpose for their business, the words I hear most frequently are "profit" and "service." I'd like to suggest that the word that better encompasses your purpose is referral. Building a business that's referral-based rather than marketing-based costs you literally nothing because your marketing is done by the people who know you, like you and trust you. They send their family members, friends and colleagues to you because they want them to experience the same high level of service that they experienced with you. So, your purpose is to create an experience that makes people so outrageously happy that they want to refer the people they care about to you.


Just like countries have borders, you have boundaries. Your boundaries are invisible lines you draw around yourself that shape your interactions with others. Boundaries encourage collaborative, respectful behavior when a person enters into your life, and define healthy, supportive roles that create great, supporting relationships. Boundaries help sustain your energy by tempering the interruptions that cause you to lose focus. When you have strong boundaries, you have rules around the way you manage your time and your life. And the healthiest boundary you can set is allowing only the highest quality of people into your life, starting with your clients.


Integrity is the third quality of a referral mindset. The dictionary defines integrity as the "adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty." I would add to that, "Doing the right thing, even when no one is looking." Your integrity defines how you stand up for your values, morals and ethics. Your integrity demonstrates how your boundaries translate into action. Your integrity permeates your business practices and behavior, and attracts the high-quality clients you want.

When your boundaries and your purpose and your integrity are in alignment, and you demonstrate them during your day-to-day consulting, you become highly referable. Instead of focusing your energy and spending your money on getting your name "out there," focus on "in there" - developing a referral mindset built around a good, deep purpose, strong, healthy boundaries, and a great sense of integrity.

If you are referable, they will refer.

Generate more real estate leads using By Referral Only's referral marketing techniques proven to produce more business for your real estate company.


About the Author:

For more than 20 years Joe Stumpf has trained and coached the most successful real estate and mortgage professionals in North America on the systems and strategies for building a highly profitable referral-based business. Joe Stump's By Referral Only provides you with expert coaching, turn-key business systems and revenue generating marketing strategies so you can absolutely dominate your market. Learn more at

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