17 best referral avenues to grow a design firm

by Tiina Wilen

There are many ways to grow an interior design business, but some of the best referral avenues to grow a design firm include networking with other business owners and reaching out to the media. It’s also important to focus on providing high-quality services and maintaining a positive clientele base.

Systemize your referral marketing

Don’t leave your referral marketing to some random inbound leads – rather take the lead and create systems for referral marketing. Let’s have a look at the best referral avenues to grow your interior design business.

17 best referral avenues for Interior Design companies

Realtors

Realtors are always looking for partners and vendors who can help them grow their sales pipeline, and make the buying or selling process as lucrative and positive as possible. Get in touch with some local realtors and offer a special package for them to offer to their customers.

Contractors

Contractors are obviously a great source of referrals for design professionals. They are looking for professionals such as interior designers who can help the client to make smart decisions, and run the whole project.

Builders

Do you have local builders and property developers? They are most likely looking for someone to cooperate with early in the concept stage, and then again when the property is going on the market.

Property & Facility Managers

Just like property developers also the property managers might need to have a go-to expert who can help them develop the facilities. It pays off to be their favorite vendor!

Financial Advisors or Accounting Firms

Let’s talk about the other businesses that you could cooperate with to get more clients. Financial advisors and accounting firms often have entrepreneurs and high-net-worth individuals as their clients, and these might be the same clients you are looking to serve. Approach a professional firm and figure out a mutually befitting deal.

Vendors and Manufacturing Reps

Product vendors and manufacturing companies are always looking for cooperation, and the cooperation might range from special product promotions, ambassadorship, education, joint media opportunities, or of course, joined deals. You can create affiliate and ambassador deals with the brands that you want to associate yourself with.

Architects

Architects who don’t have an in-house design team are looking to cooperate with other professionals on projects. Some architects do have design teams, and they focus on both architecture and interior design, but you might find some firms that want to cooperate with you.

Magazine Editors

Magazine editors are always looking to cooperate with industry professionals. You could become a resident expert and have your own column in the magazine, and in this way bring you a lot of publicity and clients. It’s most likely easiest to get started with a local newspaper, they are always looking for experts that increase the value of the publication!

Other Interior Designers

Working with other interior designers might feel like a weird thing to do, but let’s think about it for a moment: you might have a completely different style, or the projects are so large that you need to have extra resources to pull them through. Or, some of you might be fully booked and want to refer the client to someone else they trust. Yes, working with so-called competitors is a great way to get more clients and expand your network.

Decor Brands

Decor brands are often looking to work with professionals, and you can, just like with manufacturers, create special ambassador deals as long as you genuinely want to be associated with the brand.

Private Clinics

Do you have any private cliniques or spas nearby? Maybe you could cooperate with them? The clinics are most likely looking for someone to work with when they refresh their own interior, but you could also create joined events or materials to share to attract the clientele.

Garden Designers

Just like architects, garden designers need to cooperate with interior designers to create a full transformation in a residence. Get in touch with your local garden center or gardening company and discuss joint ventures.

Cleaning Companies

Many cleaning companies might benefit from your services, just like you benefit from their services. Put together a proposal and send it to a few cleaning companies in your city.

Photographers

Every interior design firm needs to have a photographer or a few in its crew. Photographers in turn work with magazines, and if you do interior or set styling, you could cooperate in those projects. Also, you could create an article or a book together and sell it to media and publishing houses, alternatively create your own media property or self-publish your book.

Showroom Owners

Showroom owners would love to cooperate with you and bring you in as a guest speaker at events, alternatively allowing you to host a lunch or cocktail gathering for your clients.

Paint / Wallpaper Shops

Wallpaper, paint, and any decor stores are great referral sources for your interior design business. They often have info boards where you can leave your advertisement, but also client gatherings where they’d love to invite you as a guest speaker. When you bring customers to them, they most likely want to give you a reward for the effort. Create a deal with your local shops!

Existing Customers

Of course, the best source of referrals is your existing customers! You should think about different ways you can incentify your past clients to recommend your services to their friends, colleagues, and family members!

Identify the best referral avenues to grow a design firm

There are many ways to grow an interior design business, and using referrals is a great way to do that. However, you should not leave it to luck – design a referral program that works for you!

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