17 Best Referral Avenues To Grow A Design Firm

There are many ways to grow an interior design business, but some of the best referral avenues to grow a design firm include a 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.

Key takeaways

  • Systemize referral marketing: Create a structured approach to referral marketing instead of relying on random inbound leads.
  • Build relationships with key partners: Collaborate with realtors, contractors, builders, property and facility managers, financial advisors, vendors, architects, and other interior designers to tap into their networks and gain referrals.
  • Engage with media: Reach out to magazine editors and other media outlets to establish yourself as an industry expert, gain publicity, and attract clients.
  • Cooperate with complementary businesses: Seek partnerships with decor brands, private clinics, garden designers, cleaning companies, photographers, showroom owners, and paint/wallpaper shops to leverage each other’s client bases and create joint ventures.
  • Prioritize existing clients: Your current customers can be your best source of referrals, so incentivize them to recommend your services to others through a customer referral program.
17 Best Referral Avenues To Grow A Design Firm
17 Best Referral Avenues To Grow A Design Firm

What is Referral Marketing?

Referral marketing is a deliberate marketing strategy that involves incentivizing and rewarding customers in exchange for successful referrals. It is also known as word-of-mouth marketing, where customers share their experiences about a product or service with their friends and social circles.

Referral marketing software can automate various aspects of the program and make the entire process more streamlined and efficient.

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. To systemize your referral marketing, you can follow these steps:

  1. Make the product experience shareable – Ensure that your product or service is easy to share and recommend to others.
  2. Provide exceptional customer service – Offer great customer service to encourage customers to refer others.
  3. Create viral content – Develop content that is engaging and shareable to encourage customers to share it with others.
  4. Implement a referral program – Set up a referral program that incentivizes customers to refer others to your business.
  5. Offer referral incentives – Provide rewards or incentives to customers who successfully refer others to your business.
  6. Automate the referral process – Use referral marketing software to automate various aspects of the program and make the entire process more streamlined and efficient.

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 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 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.


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 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.


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!

Frequently Asked about Creating a Referral Program

How can I differentiate my interior design business from competitors?

To stand out from competitors, focus on developing a unique value proposition. Identify your target market and specialize in a specific niche or style. Offer personalized and tailored design solutions that reflect your clients’ individuality. Emphasize exceptional customer service, attention to detail, and a seamless design process to create a memorable experience for your clients.

How can I effectively market my interior design business?

Utilize a multi-channel marketing approach to reach your target audience. Develop a visually appealing and user-friendly website that showcases your portfolio and services. Leverage social media platforms to share design inspiration, engage with potential clients, and build an online presence. Network with industry professionals, attend trade shows, and consider advertising in local publications or home improvement websites.

What strategies can I use to expand my client base?

In addition to referrals, explore collaborations with complementary businesses such as realtors, contractors, and vendors. Offer mutually beneficial partnerships, joint marketing initiatives, or exclusive promotions to tap into their networks.

Consider hosting workshops or seminars to showcase your expertise and attract potential clients. Actively participate in local community events and engage in philanthropic initiatives to increase visibility and generate goodwill.

How important is maintaining a positive clientele base?

Maintaining a positive clientele base is crucial for the long-term success of your business. Happy clients become brand advocates and refer new clients to you. Focus on delivering high-quality services, meeting deadlines, and exceeding expectations.

Regularly communicate with your clients throughout the design process, actively listen to their needs, and address any concerns promptly. A satisfied clientele base will contribute to your reputation, credibility, and future growth.

What role does continuous learning play in growing an interior design business?

Continuous learning is essential in the interior design industry to stay updated with the latest trends, techniques, and technologies. Attend design conferences, workshops, and industry events to expand your knowledge and network with other professionals.

Pursue professional certifications or advanced training courses to enhance your skills and demonstrate your expertise. By staying current, you can offer innovative and relevant design solutions, attract discerning clients, and stay ahead of the competition.

How can I leverage online platforms to grow my interior design business?

Online platforms provide excellent opportunities for exposure and client acquisition. Utilize social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Houzz to showcase your portfolio, share design tips, and engage with potential clients. Maintain an active blog or create video content to demonstrate your expertise and provide valuable insights.

Encourage satisfied clients to leave positive reviews on platforms like Google Business, Yelp, or Houzz to enhance your online reputation. Additionally, consider investing in online advertising or collaborating with influencers to expand your reach and attract new clients.

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