How to write a business reference letter

Written by diana v. faustmann Google
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How to write a business reference letter
Write business reference letters honestly and tactfully. (shironosov/iStock/Getty Images)

You may be asked to provide a business reference letter for a company that you have worked with in the past. Your comments may be required to confirm the company's operational soundness and ability to perform satisfactorily. A basic letter template can help you plan and craft a thoughtful business reference letter. In it, you should truthfully and sensitively comment on the business entity's quality and capabilities and provide as much useful information as possible. Honesty is the best policy, but always offer considerate and professional comments in your letter.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Articulate specific details about your relationship with the subject business, such as the services you have used, when and for how long. Also clarify why you are writing the letter. For example, "It is my pleasure to recommend XYZ Catering Service. XYZ has exclusively catered all our lunch-and-learn and executive seminars for the past three-and-a-half years."

  2. 2

    Provide information about the company's performance and any other information that may be helpful for the reader. For example, you could write, "More than just a vendor, XYZ has been a reliable and creative partner to us. The company has helped us plan and implement more than a hundred reasonably-priced, high-quality menus for lunch functions that we host at least once a week for our executives, clients and employees. Other XYZ customers in our area, such as ABC and DEF, have thanked us repeatedly for recommending XYZ to them."

  3. 3

    Describe the company's strengths concretely. The more illustrative your comments, the better -- unsubstantiated praise can boomerang and suggest insincerity, bias or untruthfulness. Instead of simply saying that a business offers good quality products and services, write, "XYZ's menu options are consistently well-planned, well-prepared and tastefully complemented. They make it easy for us to make last-minute changes, such as adding special vegetarian lunch boxes for unexpected guests. In all these years, XYZ's staff has never let us down. They consistently arrive 15 minutes ahead of time to prepare a presentable spread before our group arrives, complete with special food warmers, drink chillers and even floral accents, when needed."

  4. 4

    Close with a summary of the company's strengths, followed by a clear recommendation. For example, you might write, "We have used many caterers in our 12-year history -- XYZ has definitely raised the bar. We would be hard-pressed to consider any other company for our catering needs, and recommend XYZ unreservedly."

Tips and warnings

  • Do not be too brief or but do not ramble either. Avoid using superlative, general or effusive language. Rather than describe a trait with a mere adjective, give an example of how the company demonstrated the trait.
  • Provide an email address or phone number in your closing remarks if you'd like to be available to give more information on the business.
  • Format your letter in block format. Then, proof and spell check your letter before sending it.
  • Occasionally you may be asked to recommend or refer a company that you cannot truthfully recommend. Decline the request as diplomatically as you can. If you cannot get out of it, then temper your comments with tact. Accentuate the positive by focusing your comments on what the company can do rather than what it cannot.

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