IPA – Not just a way to quench your thirst, it’s a simple process to boost referrals

Executive summary:

  • Having a solid process to get referrals from existing clients is crucial to growing your business
  • Doing so can be as easy as three simple steps: Improve, Praise, Ask
  • The advantages include getting steady feedback, cost efficiencies and potential growth of your clientele

One of the reasons I enjoy living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is that we have some of the best microbreweries in the country. Shoutout to Hop & Sting in Grapevine. I am originally from Wisconsin, the land of cheese and beer, so I like to think my opinion has some weight.

With another Texas summer in its prime, it’s important for many of us to find a great spot that serves delicious, cold beer—almost as essential as having a solid referral process to grow your business.

If you are like most advisors, you know a steady stream of referrals can make all the difference. Whether you are looking to improve your current referral process or looking for a process to start earning referrals, you might find the three steps I have learned over the years might be helpful. Although I am more of an Amber or Hefeweizen guy, I use the acronym I.P.A. to make the process easy to remember.

I is for IMPROVE:

Start by asking your client for their opinion. This is a crucial step as it not only allows them to share their views and provide feedback but also makes them feel valued and integral to the process.

Here is what this might sound like:

“Mr. & Mrs. Client, we have worked together for the last three years. I know there are things we can control and some things we can't, such as the market, interest rates, and more. However, I always want to ensure you get an incredible client experience. So, looking at things my team and I can control, what can we do to improve your experience?”

You are going to get 1 of 2 responses.

One: They are happy with their experience, solidifying the value you and your team deliver.

Two: the client might provide helpful feedback, which is good to know. Take that feedback, evaluate it, and use it to improve the practice.

Thank the client for the response. Let them know you will continue to ask their opinion on a regular basis to ensure they are happy with the experience and customer service they are receiving.

P is for PRAISE:

Here is what it might sound like:

“Mr. & Mrs. Client, I am glad to hear you are happy with our services. Since we are on the topic, I want to let you know that we are extremely happy to be working with you, too. You are easy to work with, a business owner/physician/etc., and you understand the importance of planning for retirement, protecting your assets, and strategically planning for taxes. You truly are an ideal client to us.”

Make sure the praise is authentic and specific to them. At the same time, explain who your target client is and who you like to work with, hoping this will get them thinking about people similar to them.

A is for ASK:

Ask the question. This should be the easiest part because it is just an extension of a natural conversation with one of your favorite clients.

Here is what it might sound like:

“If I could find one or two more people like you to work with this year, my life would be so much easier. Does anyone come to mind who might be in a similar situation as you who might benefit from our services?”

You will probably be surprised by how willing people are to help. In contrast, if they say no, just respond with: “No worries. In our business, referrals are the greatest compliment we can receive, so please keep us top of mind. Just forwarding one of our emails or handing one of our cards to a friend is the best we could ask for. Thanks!”


IMPROVE, PRAISE, ASK. It's as simple as 1,2,3.

Is my process earth-shattering? No, but the real takeaway is having a process. It might take months before it works but you are making clients aware that you are open for business and that you are looking to work with people like them.

Referrals are an essential way to grow your business. There is an element of trust, they are cost-effective, and conversion rates are higher. Asking for referrals is a “win-win” scenario and can be just as enjoyable as grabbing a local cold beer on a hot summer day. So, what are you waiting for? Take a client out for a beer (or coffee if you prefer) and try out the I.P.A. process.