Brand Experience


10 September, 2019

If you are in the fitness business game, then you likely know that referrals promotions are just the done thing. They make smart business sense right? You use your existing fitness clients to help get you new fitness clients, thus growing your business….and for very little investment might we add.

However, most fitness businesses fail to understand how to properly build a reliable and worthy referral system that will continue to deliver quality leads on a regular basis. Many fitness businesses don’t have a plan in place for referrals, or if they do it’s centred on a promotion they run now and again i.e. ‘bring your friend’ campaign every quarter.

So what are some fundamental tools you can implement at your gym, fitness centre or personal training business to build yourself a quality referral based system? Here are some tried and tested tools.

Educate your members

Make sure your members know exactly how to make a referral. Educate them that referrals are expected when they join the community. You might do this in your gym welcome booklet, welcome emails or as a reminder in regular communications such as your newsletter. 

Then give your fitness clients the tools to make the referrals i.e. Referral cards, a dedicated referral desk or a webpage they can visit to input the details of their friend. This should be your bottom line approach – something that is in place all year long. A regular spot on your fitness member email is another great way to have that constant reminder in place.

Now that we’ve discussed always on, let’s talk about specific times of year when you bring the spotlight onto referrals. During promotional periods you can make a big song and dance about referrals, offer an incentive and push the message through all of your member channels i.e. social media, emails, SMS, phone calls, posters and handouts in gym. Don’t overdo your referral campaigns though, we would recommend a maximum of four per year, and keep them interesting and different so your members don’t get fatigued by it. A couple of ideas you might like to try – a charity event, an in-house trivia night, a movie night for friends and family, bring a friend who trains for free, a points challenge with a big tally board in the gym, or a nutrition seminar.

Make the incentive worthwhile

Here’s where lots of gym owners go wrong. Don’t skimp on the prize. Yes, from time to time you will get a lovely member who will actively tell their friends and family about the business and you successfully make a sale…but it’s not a regular occurrence. You need to incentivise your members to spread the news, and think about what is really going to motivate them to do so. Is it a  discount off their membership? dinner at a local restaurant? or even as big as a trip away for the person who brings the most referrals in across the year? Think about what you spend in marketing dollars to get a successful sale, and that should be the base for your prize value.

Take advantage of obvious opportunities

Think about the times a client is MOST likely to want to make a referral. The one time that is often neglected is during sign up.  Your client is excited and slightly nervous about joining, and what could make them feel more at ease then bringing a friend or family member along too. So actively encourage this ‘hey, if you know anyone else who might like to train with you, here’s some VIP vouchers you can give them’. What about when a client has just hit a goal. They are feeling excited about their progress and happy about your service, and that just reeks of a good ole fashioned referral. So ask them, and as per tip number 1 – give them the tools to make the referral.

Make rewards instant

If you promise your clients a reward for referrals, but then don’t deliver that reward for weeks or months, then the incentive loses its value. A referral is a big deal, and you should treat it that way. Get the systems and processes in place so that as soon as you get that referral you can reward your client who has given it to you. They will be more likely to do it again, and other members will see the instant gratification too.

Ask and you shall receive

Most people feel really awkward about this one. Sometimes the simplest way to get a referral is to simple ask your members to give you one. You could do this a couple of ways.

    • One is in person, and the questions naturally lends itself to when a client has just achieved something big with you ‘Excellent work Jenny. Super proud of what you have achieved here, you have really put in the hard work. Do you have any friends or family who have been asking about your progress? I’d be happy to give you some VIP vouchers to give them if they want to come along for a trial themselves?’
    • Second option is by SMS ‘Hey Ben. Really great work this week. Do you happen to know anyone else who might benefit from our service? If you do, shoot me back their name and number and I’ve got a special training shirt with your name on it.’.
    • The third option could be email, and similar to the SMS but you can flesh it out a bit more.

Network with local businesses

Working alongside other local businesses is a great way to give and receive when it comes to referrals. You could partner short-term on a specific promotion, or long-term if you want to set up a system for keeping referrals an ongoing thing. Businesses that provide a relatable partnerships include the local health store, supplement store, chiropractor, massage parlour, hairdresser, beauty therapist and don’t forget local sporting teams and clubs. Be creative, and make the referral program worthwhile for both businesses and it is sure to be a success.

Final note…don’t just rely on referrals

All of the tools mentioned above will be important if you want to use your members to drive new quality leads toward your business. However….don’t just rely on referrals. You need to be actively marketing your business to new audiences to generate leads and keep your business growing strongly. Imagine the strength of your business once existing members and new members are making referrals.

The above tools are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to tried and tested referral ideas. All new clients of More Gym Members receive a complimentary copy of our Client Profitability Playbook, where we cover the basics required to scale your business fast. If you’re ready to find out how More Gym Members can help your fitness business, book in for a 15 minute triage call here.