What is a finder's fee? (+How to choose the right one) (2023)

We all want a steady stream of customers and clients for our businesses, but that's easier said than done.

What is one of the most effective ways to consistently acquire new customers? Leverage word of mouth – in other words, create a consistent network of people referring others to your business.

A finder fee or commission can help build this referral network.

But what is a finder's fee and how do you choose the right finder's fee percentage for your business? Read on for the details.

What is a finder's fee?

A finder's fee is a type of cash commission paid to the coordinator or agent in a transaction between two other parties (a business and a potential client).

The fee rewards the "finder" for bringing the interested parties together and making the deal possible. After all, it is assumed that without the finder, the transaction would never have happened.

In some cases, a finder's fee is paid for a qualified business initiation. But usually it's directly tied to a sale.

(Video) Finder's Fees: What Real Estate Investors Need to Know | Daily Podcast 169

A finder's fee can come in two forms: a flat fee and a percentage commission.

This type of fee is also known as atransfer fee.

Who pays a finder's fee?

Usually, the person who initiates the procedure pays the finder's fee. This means that in most cases, the company that created the finder's fee agreement pays these costs to the intermediaries.

Aside from that, finder fees are sometimes factored into the purchase of a product or service. In this case, it would technically be the buyer who pays the finder's fee.

There is also third party software that you can use to track and automate finder reward funding.

How does a finder's reward work?

As your finders seek new business, you will have new connections that you may not have had access to before.Once your business confirms that a finder has brought in a qualified lead or verified sale, reward the person who referred you that lead or customer with the fee you promised.

Here's an example of how a finder's fee might work:

  • XYZ Software promises $100 in cash to anyone who refers a new client
  • Adam knows his friend's company could benefit from XYZ, so he encourages their company to set up a demo
  • Adam's friend is convinced by the software and ends up buying the software for her company
  • The purchase is traced back to Adam, so he receives the finder's fee of $100 from XYZ
  • If Adam successfully recruits another customer, he earns an additional $100

To make this process easier, most companies use some form of tracking software to confirm sales or qualified leads and identify who exactly referred a lead or customer to your company's website.

Before offering a referral commission, it's best to make sure it works well by offering quality products and services. It's also a good idea to make sure your business gets a lot of attention, especially in the form of positive reviews and online comments. It is even more successful to add the finder fee (incentive) on top.

(Video) How To Make Money With Finder's Fees Agreements - Getting Paid for Work You Don't Do

What is a finder's fee? (+How to choose the right one) (1)

An example of how a finder fee structure might work, byProducts for architectural windows.

Why use a finder's reward?

AFinderlohnencourages intermediaries to do whatever it takes to get the message across about a company, and then rewards them for a job well done.

These programs foster a sense of community and get customers excited about your business.

This type of fee also saves you time by getting others to track down new prospects and leverage their locations and the relationships already built.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of introducing finder fees is that you have nothing to lose.Usually you only pay the fee if the finder actually generates new customers.That's a far cry from the risky investment of an expensive ad that might go unnoticed for the duration of the campaign.

Tax and legal aspects of a finder's fee

Heavily regulated industries often have state or national laws or licensing regulations that do not allow finder fees. Legal, real estate, financial services and automotive industries are the ones to be most cautious about. Check with your own state and/or organization to ensure a finder's fee is legal for your location and industry.

You should also be aware of the tax implications of these fees. In the United States, if someone earns a total of $600 or more in finder's fees in a calendar year, they must pay finder's fee taxes.

As a company that pays finders' commissions, you are responsible for collecting aW-9Form out and issue a1099to anyone you pay more than $600 in a calendar year.

Another thing to note, however, is that if a previous customer refers others to your business (as in a refer-a-friend program or using referral software), the amount you pay to the referrer may be considered a refund or rebate. This is similar to the process behind manufacturer mail-in discounts.

What is the percentage of the finder's reward?

How much is a finder's fee usually? The answer is not as clear cut as you might expect.

(Video) How to Ask For a Finders Fee

There is no uniform finder reward percentage. Referral fee percentages vary by industry and even by company. When determining the best finder reward percentage for your business, there are several things to consider.

Factors to consider when determining finder reward percentages

Here are three factors to consider when working on this part of your finder reward plan:

1. Maintenance of business and cost of goods sold

  • Do I already reward my own salespeople on a commission basis?
  • If so, is the advertiser a surrogate for them or just sending the lead to the seller?
  • Is there a service/consultancy component of the sale?
  • Is this a white label deal where I am the service provider?

2. Duration of the sales process

  • Some sales processes take a long time to complete. How long after a purchase does the advertiser consider it a sale?
    • Say, within a month? six months?

3. When and how you will be paid

  • How are funds for the sale obtained?
  • Is it a recurring service?
  • What about refunds or money-back guarantees?

All of these factors will help you determine how much to compensate, when to compensate, and for how long. You want to be fair to all parties. Once a proper structure is in place, anyone can win!

Remember that a finder's reward does thisnotmust be a percentage. A flat fee often works just as well, especially when margins are tight and you have to pay both a seller and the finder.

What is a finder's wage agreement and what does it say?

What is a finder's fee? (+How to choose the right one) (2)


AFinder's reward agreement(or referral fee agreement) is a formal agreement binding the finder and the business owner and in which theInformation on the finder's rewardand conditions described. It's up to you whether you want to draft a formal agreement.

Most finder reward agreement templates include the following sections:

  • role of the finder
  • What is considered an accepted recommendation
    • Most are tied to a sale, but you can accept them retrospectively.
  • Compensation or finder's reward
    • Amount or percentage you will pay
    • There are many ways to calculate the fee; see our other sections above
  • fee regulations
    • When and how you pay.
    • Don't forget to consider the return and refund policies.

Remember that finder fees are your money and things can go wrong. It pays to have an agreement in advance to protect your business from lazy or unethical activities, especially since the costs involved can be high.

Are you ready to start using finder's fees and create a finder's fee agreement (finder's fee agreement)? Check out oursMediation fee agreement templateoutlining all the essential sections that need to be included in your agreement.

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Examples of finder's rewards

How do companies use finder's rewards in a fair way that benefits the finder but doesn't make it too expensive for you and the customer?

Here are some of the most common examples of referral fees by industry.

1. Automobile company

Automobile sales are a good example of the use of a finder's fee (often referred to as a finder's fee).bird watching salethrough car dealerships). First, you have a high purchase price and a lower frequency of sales. They also often have a salesman at the dealership. The margins are usually small and are often even compensated by the manufacturer.

Nonetheless, having people down the street at places like an auto repair shop or body shop is a great way to generate quality leads. With all the factors to consider, most finder commissions for automobile sales are tied to a sale and range between $100 and $300 flat.

2. Software company

In the world of software sales, you often hear about ACV, or annual contract value. This is the value assigned to the average revenue of each customer contract your company has, minus one-time fees.

In general, most software companies pay referral fees of around 35-40% for ACVs in the first year after they receive closed leads. While this may sound expensive, it will likely cost your business a lot more to acquire and close those leads yourself.

If the affiliate does the marketing and not the sales, most companies pay referral commissions of around 15-20% of the first year's ACV.

Partners bringing in leads without in-depth qualification processes should receive no more than about 10% of their first year ACV.

3. Project-Related Services

As another example of a finder's fee, if a project is worth $50,000 in sales, a reasonable percentage of the finder's fee should be 5-10% of the first project. If the finder reward percentages are too high, the customer will find someone cheaper.

4. Consulting Services

Flat rate fees with a combination of percentage fees are common in consultants and services. There is no typical finder's fee for consultants, as this varies greatly.

(Video) God Of War Finder's Fee Treasure Guide


A finder's fee doesn't work if people aren't excited about the products and services you offer. A traditional finder's fee provides an incentive for someone to share information with their network. But why would they share this information if they don't believe in it?

As noted by Carol Roth, an Entrepreneur contributor: “Not every lead is worth a finder's reward.” So if there isn't a good relationship with the lead, it may not be worth charging a fee.

Remember: you should not only provide quality products and services, but also adequately reward those who are willing to find customers on your behalf.


What percentage should a finder's fee be? ›

The terms of finder's fees can vary greatly, with some citing 5% to 35% of the total value of the deal being used as a benchmark. It's a staple of Fundera's business model. In many cases, the finder's fee may simply be a gift from one party to another, as no legal obligation to pay a commission exists.

What is the meaning of finders fee? ›

A finder's fee is a commission paid to a person who identified for, brought to the attention of, or facilitated a business transaction between interested parties.

What is Finder's fee example? ›

For example, if a friend refers you to a potential customer who ends up making a purchase, many people would find it reasonable to pay 10 percent of the transaction to the friend who connected you with the customer.

What is a fair referral fee percentage? ›

The short version? Agencies typically pay referral fees of 5% to 10% of the revenue they receive—but there's plenty of nuance on how you handle it, and many agencies pay 0% in referral fees.

What is a reasonable transaction fee? ›

The per-transaction fee can vary depending on the service provider but usually ranges between 0.5% and 5% plus certain fixed fees. Merchants partner with merchant acquiring banks to set up the electronic payment process and the deposit account for the funds.

What is the difference between a finders fee and a referral fee? ›

Payment type: While finder's fees can be money or gifts, referral fees are always monetary. Payment source: Brokers pay finders directly. For referral fees, the lead broker receives the payment first, then passes it on to the seller who pays the referrer.

Who will charge a finder's fee in finding an applicant? ›

When searching for the right individual to fill new positions, many firms will turn to a recruitment agency for assistance. Typically, the agency will charge a finders fee equal to 20%-25% of the position's annual salary.

How do I ask for a referral fee? ›

Be upfront about the fee.

Tell your client upfront that you're referring them to someone who pays you a referral fee. You can explain this helps cover your marketing and introduction costs, but you should also disclose the fee you're charging.

What is a finders fee for an employee? ›

Temporary staffing agencies typically allow you to hire your temporary employees after a specified amount of time for a finder's fee. The fee typically reimburses the temporary staffing agency for acting as an employment intermediary.

How would you explain a fee to your client? ›

Four ways to discuss fees with your clients
  1. Explain your value. Describe what you do for clients: from advice to portfolio construction, monitoring and, most important, looking out for their best interests by helping them achieve their financial goals. ...
  2. Go into detail. ...
  3. Provide context. ...
  4. Revisit the “fee” discussion.
May 29, 2014

Do you pay tax on finder's fee? ›

Collecting finder's fees could be lucrative. But this isn't always free money; individuals and businesses that receive finder's fees may have to report them as taxable income to the IRS. Finder's fees, referral fees, and referral bonuses can all be reported on Form 1099-MISC or 1099-NEC.

What is a finder fee agreement for sales leads? ›

A finder's fee agreement is a legal contract between a finder and a seller – the client -- in which the finder agrees to act in the best interest of or as an agent for the client in securing potential sales leads in exchange for a sum of money.

How much should a referral discount be? ›

There's no perfect amount, but we've observed that retailers that offer at least 10% off for Friend offers enjoy a higher referral rate. Many ecommerce stores today already offer a discount for your first purchase, either on their hello bar or for signing up for their newsletter.

What is a good amount for a referral bonus? ›

$200 - $300 for entry level. According to FMI's 2022 Benefits & Pay Practices survey, employers in the built environment with a referral bonus program pay employees $250 to $7,500 (median $3,000) for qualified employee referrals.

Should I share my referral fee? ›

Only if you want. But you can tell her if you wanted to share if she/ he did not know even after the person was accepted to the company that you will get a bonus as referred by you. You should have told the person about the bonus you will receive when you invited the person as your referral.

Is a 3% transaction fee a lot? ›

Foreign transaction fees generally range from 1 percent to 3 percent and tend to average around 3 percent of each transaction. Paying around $3 per $100 you spend may not sound that expensive, but these fees can add up if you're making a lot of purchases with your credit card.

What are the three types of fees? ›

Understanding the Three Fee Types and How They Are Applied
  • Amortizing Fees. Amortizing fees, also known as deferred fees, are applied when the loan is originally opened. ...
  • Miscellaneous Fees. Miscellaneous fees are applied after a loan is opened when certain actions take place on the account. ...
  • Maintenance Fees (P/I Fee)
Jan 23, 2020

What does a 3% transaction fee mean? ›

A foreign transaction (FX) fee is a surcharge on your credit card bill that appears when you make a purchase that either passes through a foreign bank or is in a currency other than the U.S. dollar (USD). This fee is charged by many credit card issuers, typically ranging from 1% to 3% of the transaction.

Do job recruiters take a percentage? ›

Most external recruiters make money based on a commission structure. The commission is usually a percentage of the total fees from a candidate's first-year base salary, or it can be a flat fee offered by the client (the company the candidate is placed in).

Can you pay someone to find you a job? ›

While there are free resources you can use to increase the odds of success, there's always the option to pay for job search help. Paid job search services can assist job seekers by helping them prep for interviews, rework their resumes, and become more attractive candidates.

How can I avoid recruitment agency fees? ›

Free Recruitment Software (ATS)

This helps you drive your recruitment process by managing the applicants. You would have also built a talent pool of candidates because of your endeavours and this is your talent pool, meaning you can recruit as many candidates from the campaign as you wish, for no extra cost.

How do you beg for referrals? ›

25 Ways to Ask for a Referral Without Looking Desperate
  1. Directly ask. ...
  2. Focus on your "best best" clients. ...
  3. Provide value. ...
  4. Recognize and thank your referral sources. ...
  5. Start asking before the project is over. ...
  6. Make it personal. ...
  7. Get your contact information on their phones. ...
  8. Don't always be direct.
Apr 11, 2017

What do you say when asking for a referral? ›

Rather, ask: "Do you feel you know my work well enough to refer me for a job at your company?" or "Do you feel you could give me a referral?" That way, your referrer has an out if they are not comfortable providing a referral for you, and you can be assured that those who say "yes" will be enthusiastic about your ...

How do you pay clients for referrals? ›

Sometimes, businesses pay referral fees in exchange for a client introduction. But more often, a referral fee is tied directly to a sale. Referral fees are usually in cash, although it's also common for a fee to come in sales credits or a gift card.

Are finders fees legally binding? ›

In general, state and federal securities laws prohibit the payment to non-broker-dealers in securities transactions. It doesn't matter if those payments are called finders fees, referral fees, consulting fees or success fees.

How do you say a fee is too high? ›

What to Say When Your Customer Says 'Your Price is Too High'
  1. “Gosh, I didn't think it cost this much.”
  2. “OK, is there any sort of discount if I pay cash?”
  3. “Well, guess I'll need to wait till next year.”
  4. “I'm still waiting on some other estimates.”
  5. “That's quite a bit higher than I thought it would be.”

How would you respond to client comment your fee is too high? ›

How to Respond Directly to a Price Objection. “This is a great deal, I can reassure you.” “Our offer is more than competitive. Let me give you an example.”

Are referral fees kickbacks? ›

Most bankers consider referral fees — even on commercial loans — to be kickbacks. A kickback is an illegal and immoral payment to a real estate broker to steer his trusting buyers to a particular lender.

Do you issue a 1099 for referral fees? ›

A partial list of payments that belong on a Form 1099-NEC includes the following: Professional service fees, such as fees to attorneys (including corporations), accountants, architects, contractors, engineers, etc. Fees paid by one professional to another, such as fee-splitting or referral fees.

What is a referral payment? ›

A referral bonus is a form of compensation offered to employees that recommend a suitable candidate for a business to hire. They are a way to leverage the networks of current employees to find additional employees for a business.

How much should you pay for leads? ›

Average Cost per Lead by Company Size
Company SizeCPL Ave
1,001+ employees$349
201-1000 employees$212
51-200 employees$180
2-50 employees$147
Jul 21, 2022

How do you charge clients for leads? ›

The simple calculation goes like this:
  1. Work out the Average Order Value (AOV) of the customer. E.g. a converted lead could be worth $3,000 in a particular industry.
  2. Divide the AOV by 3. ($3,000/3 = $1,000)
  3. Figure out the 5% conversion rate (5/100 x $1,000 = $50)

What percent is a finders fee in real estate? ›

Finders Fee Percentage in Real Estate

A common finder's fee in real estate is a percentage of the seller's commission. This can vary from as low as 5% to as high as 35% of the seller's commission. A real estate agent's percentage usually ranges between 5% and 7% of the selling price.

What does a good referral look like? ›

A good referral has an immediate need, and the prospect is willing to accept a phone call from your associate. Even if the individual does not have a direct or immediate need, securing permission for your colleague to call gives the individual an opportunity to develop a new relationship.

What is a fair referral bonus? ›

What is a typical referral bonus? The cash value of referral bonuses ranges from about $250 for entry-level positions to $25,000 for executive roles. The average employee referral bonus amount ranges from $1,000 to $5,000.

Do referrals get the job 100%? ›

Efficiency in employee referrals

Referrals has also proven to be more accurate than other sourcing alternatives. Employee referrals only make up for 7% of the overall job applicants but about 40% of them gets hired.

What happens if I don't use a referral? ›

What happens if you visit a specialist without a referral? Many specialists will still see you, although some might not. But Medicare will not cover any costs if you visit a specialist without a referral.

What is a consultant finders fee? ›

A finder's fee is a type of cash commission paid to the coordinator or intermediary in a transaction between two other parties (a business and a potential customer). The fee rewards the “finder” for bringing the interested parties together and facilitating the deal.

What is a finders fee for finding investors? ›

A finder's fee is compensation to someone who finds money for an investment. It provides an incentive to the finder to refer prospective investors to the investment sponsor. The legal issue finders' fees pose is whether or not the finder must be licensed as a broker under state and federal securities laws.

How are referral fees calculated? ›

Typically, there are three steps figure out your referral fee:
  1. Determine the receiving firms gross commission for representing the referred client.
  2. Multiply the gross commission by the negotiated referral fee.
  3. Multiply that result by your split with your referral brokerage.
Nov 3, 2021

Is it OK to ask for a referral fee? ›


You work hard to attract clients, and you succeed at it! You're so good in fact you can't handle everyone, so you refer the ones you don't really want to someone else who specializes in what you don't, or can't handle. After all, you want them to have the best provider you know.


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