If a personal trainer has a network for referrals (massage therapist, physician, chiropractor etc.), should he or she avoid doing business with those same professionals? (ex. If the PT has a massage therapist they see for their own needs, is it wrong to refer a client to the same one, or to the give the MT business cards or flyers to advertise their personal training business?) I think I know the answer to this, but I just want to see what you all think. IF…………the answer is YES, then how can you know you’re referring the client to a good professional if you haven’t used their services? Would it be just based on the reputation of the other professional?
Actually I prefer to refer to people I either know well enough to be assured of their professionalism, or (and I prefer this) with whom I have actually worked. Using the example of massage therapists, I actually make it a habit to go try various massage therapists, as that is something I get asked about. I am pretty open with the people I visit for massage not to worry if I do not go back often as I do like to try new people for this reason. And if I like someone I will let them know that I will send them business. And then if I am asked for a referral I will let people know “this one is recommended by other students, but I have not had them, or the style is different that what I usually like, but they seem very experienced in that style, or this is someone I use regularly.
However, one major pitfall is if one is paid, or given discounts or other incentives to recommend someone AND one does not disclose this. I believe this is wrong. I have had massage therapists, or spas where I do other business who want me to try their practitioner offer me a comp., and I will generally accept with the understanding that I am accepting this one time to try the person out, that it in no way influences how I will recommend them, and that I will accept no further sessions for my own private use. And I let people know if they gave me a discount. And I really only do this so I can make personal recommendations for students who ask…. I also ask people for recommendations… I can’t get to everyone, but if someone I know moves across state I would like to be able to send them to someone good. (the up side is that I now have a superb massage therapist I like to use, and to whom I can send business).
I don’t teach enough to have large networks of referrals at this point, but I think the same ethical rules would hold.
Disclose paid endorsements, or try to avoid them altogether.
Be as knowledgeable as possible: research the people yourself, visit if possible, ask people you know and trust for referrals… and always remember that style is something that may not agree with you, but may for someone else, while substance is more helpful.
You will probably find that you will add referrals through different methods over time. Maybe you will hear someone speak and be impressed, maybe a family member will go to someone and you will be impressed, maybe you will read an article by someone, or meet them in a social setting. But it will always be important not to refer until you know something about their professional status, background, ethics, and training. And only to refer within scope of practice.
Massage therapy is a fairly easy category. It is harder with physicians, as you may not have used a cardiologist yourself for example, but may want to connect with one. But I think the same principles hold. It is the most basic rule, yes?, to take the same standard before you refer someone to a service or product that you would want them to take for you.
Actually ACE has something about referrals in their code of ethics, which I think is a really good guide to practice.