It’s all about referrals for this successful group

Published 4:08 pm Friday, June 22, 2012

All About Referrals Calera meet Thursday mornings at Timberline Country Club to generate business through qualified referrals to each other. (contributed)

By MOLLIE BROWN / Business Columnist

It’s said, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.”

Social networking, a network of friends, colleagues and other personal contacts, is a way to know and find people. Email, texting, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are a few ways people connect anytime, anywhere, anyplace.

This instant connection seems to be the avenue to grow a business, but All About Referrals says something is missing. That something is lack of personal interaction.

AAR is an organization of business leaders who grow their business by growing others through qualified referrals. The organization has five chapters — Danberry at Inverness (parent chapter), Greystone, Chelsea, Summit and Calera.

AAR Calera meets weekly on Thursdays at 7 a.m. at Timberline Country Club. Andrew Locks, Locks Enterprises, serves as president. Locks said the best way to describe the group as different from a chamber of commerce is that it is category specific.

We only have one member of a particular industry one realtor, one banker — insurance agent. It allows us to have a more dedicated line of referral. I can refer one person in a particular industry, rather than say I know six plumbers, pick one. I would make the initial phone call to the plumber to connect them.

The advantage of referral over networking is a direct line of business partners with trust and credibility, rather than acquaintances. Locks said if the Calera chapter doesn’t have an industry to refer from within, he refers from sister chapters.

Members report revenue generated from referrals in each meeting. AAR Calera Treasurer Kelly Ellison, Alliance Accounting, reports members of the group have generated more than $1 million in closed business to each other.

Central State Bank lending officer Susie Waits said even if a specific industry is represented, like businesses are encouraged to visit.

“We invite businesses to our meetings to witness referrals are better than leads,” Waits said. “If they want to join and their industry is already represented in our group, we place their name on a waiting list or suggest one of our other chapters who need representation for that industry.”

Visit for more information. Contact Locks at 908-1271 or Waits at 668-7878 about AAR Calera.


Molly Brown is a business columnist for the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at