How to Build a Referral Partnership

Learn how to build a referral partnership for your wellness business. Read how to establish and create long-lasting nutrition referrals.

Establishing a referral partnership is a great way to grow your private practice, but it isn’t always easy. Here, we’re sharing expert tips about how to establish a referral partnership.

How to Build Referral Partnerships for Your Nutrition Practice

A referral partner can be any business that targets the same demographic of clients that you do. Some popular places we see nutrition and wellness providers look for referral partners are gyms or yoga studios, healthy coffee shops, physician offices, other allied health professionals, and more.

The best way to know if a business could be a good referral partner is to think about where your ideal client spends their free time. They should have something that interests your ideal client.

How to choose a referral partner that will benefit your nutrition business

Before we discuss how to establish a referral partnership, it’s important to know what to look for in a referral partner.

First, a partnership should benefit both parties involved. A 1-sided partnership simply won’t work for the long-term.

Then, look local. This is especially true if your practice mainly sees clients in-office instead of through telehealth. It is much easier to establish a relationship with a smaller, “mom and pop” type of business than a corporate chain. Check out businesses in your neighborhood and in neighboring towns.

It’s essential to make sure any potential partner is a good fit. Do your research even before reaching out. For instance, a nearby gym that doesn’t have a nutrition program in place has much more potential to be a good partner than a gym that already provides nutrition services. This works both ways. If your ideal client isn’t likely to want a membership at this gym due to  their age or interests, you may not be a good fit for this partner either.

Now that you know what to look for in a potential referral partner, you’re ready to take action!

Here’s how to establish a referral partnership with another business:

1. Establish a relationship with the owner of the business

You’re much more likely to appear (and be) genuine in your interests if you get to know the owner or manager on a personal level. For example, if it’s a boutique fitness studio, try out one of the classes and speak to the instructor after class to learn more. If you’re looking to partner with a physician’s office, start with an existing client’s physician. Of course, get permission from your client before reaching out.

Pro Tip: You never know who has the potential of turning into a referral partner, so always introduce yourself to new business owners or managers.

2. Set up a meeting with your prospective referral partner

It is best to set up a face-to-face meeting, if possible. If you’re nearby, this usually isn’t too difficult. Invite the owner or manager out for coffee to create a casual, yet professional, environment.

Here are some tips before your meeting:

  • Be prepared. Know what you want to discuss in your meeting. Put together a quick strategy for how you can go about referring clients to each other.
  • Be quick, cool, and casual. Tell them you’re interested in starting a referral partnership and keep the conversation brief, maybe 10-20 minutes. Short meetings keep conversation easy and help keep your relationship with your partner feeling effortless, while both of you can reap rewards.
  • Bring promotional materials. Along with your business cards, bring pamphlets about your business (if you have them), a referral pad for physicians, or some extra reading material about the care you provide.

3. Be a good referral partner in return

Once you establish your referral partnership, be a good partner. A partnership is about give and take, so don’t only take on new clients from your partner, but send your clients their way as well.

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