The best way to grow your personal training business is with referrals—current clients recommending you to their friends, coworkers, and family members. They’re too important to leave to chance. This systematic approach makes your clients want to refer you, and those new clients feel lucky to have you as their trainer.
Referred prospects, the kind who approach you ready to buy because they’ve heard about you from a trusted source, are better than cold leads in every way:
- They convert faster, since they’re presold on your skill as a personal trainer.
- They’re less likely to shop around for a lower price.
- They spend more and have higher lifetime value.
- Best of all, they’re preconditioned to refer their own friends and relatives because that’s how they found you.
So how do you get more referrals?
First, and most important, you must deliver exceptional service.
That alone will probably earn you some referrals. And that’s great. But given how crucial they are to your long-term success, you shouldn’t leave them to chance.
A thoughtful, systematic approach to generating referrals accounts for two things:
- The psychology of why people refer
- The natural flow of a client’s life
READ ALSO: Time Management Strategies for Personal Trainers
Three keys to getting personal training referrals
Some clients might be moved by a financial incentive. But action is more often driven by internal motivation. That’s especially important when it comes to generating referrals.
1. Make them feel important
In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie encourages readers to view others with a big tattoo on their head that says, “Please make me feel important.” That’s a pretty good guideline.
Empower people to take ownership of their success, and they’re more likely to share it with others.
2. Help them show off to their friends
If clients truly believe their friends and family members will love working with you, they’ll be eager to spread the word.
Part of their motivation is to help their friends get great results. But more important is what referrals do for your current clients: They look smart because they found you, and their friends are impressed by their inside knowledge.
3. Make referrals feel easy and natural
People are busy. If a task takes too much effort, they’re not going to do it. The easier it is, the more likely they are to follow through.
So let’s talk about how to make it easy for your clients to refer you to people they know.
A foolproof strategy for getting personal training referrals
The ask is the hardest part of any referral strategy. Most fitness pros hate asking their clients to do something for them.
So instead of asking a client for referrals, you’re going to ask for permission to write a letter. Or, more accurately, you’ll ask the client to sign off on a letter you write, and give you permission to include social proof in the form of before-and-after photos.
The letter will describe how the client’s life has been changed by your training, despite their initial skepticism. The better you paint a picture of the client’s beginning state, reservations, and transformation, the better the letter will perform.
At the end, you’ll add a special offer for friends of your clients, like a gift card or complimentary week of sessions.
Send the letter to local residents, prospects, stale leads, and anybody else you like. Include your client’s contact information in case the prospect has questions, and give your client a script for how to respond. Don’t leave anything to chance.
As an example, take a look at this actual letter written by one of my clients back in 2010, which I’ve annotated to explain key components. Trust me: One great letter like that is worth a thousand promotional flyers.
READ ALSO: How to Sell Personal Training in Five Steps
How to build a personal training referral culture
Maybe the letter thing isn’t for you. That’s fine. The point is to make referrals automatic in your business. There are plenty of referral strategies that can help make that happen. (This one, for example.)
Whichever one you choose, keep in mind this checklist from marketing legend Dan Kennedy. These are the 11 things your customers must understand if you want to establish a culture of referrals in your business.
- Our customers refer.
- Our good customers refer often.
- Our best customers refer often and a lot.
- Referrals are expected from you.
- Referrals are genuinely appreciated.
- The people you refer are well taken care of. You’ll only get happy reports and thanks from your referrals.
- Not referring is weird and inappropriate. You should feel bad about it.
- There are lots of reasons people do business with us—not just the reason that brought you in. Keep all these reasons in mind when you talk about us with your friends.
- Most people don’t really know how to find a good, trustworthy provider of what we do, so you’re doing others a great service by telling them about us.
- There are easy ways to introduce people to us and to get our information into the hands of people you think we can be of service to.
- So, here’s how to refer someone to us …
In that final point, you need to make sure it’s easy and straightforward to refer your business to friends, neighbors, coworkers, or family members. Give them the exact steps.
Most of all, remember the single most powerful motivation for your clients: feeling good about themselves. The better you are at making your clients feel smart and competent, the more referrals they’ll send your way.
Get More Personal Training Clients and Referrals!
Are you a personal trainer who’s struggling to fill your schedule with paying clients? Confused about how to market yourself without spending a lot of money?
The Wealthy Fit Pro’s Guide to Getting Clients and Referrals has the answers. Let Jonathan Goodman show you:
- Why people pay for fitness when they can get it for free (p. 1)
- How to get more people to buy from you (p. 28)
- How to succeed in fitness marketing without really trying (p. 59)
- 3 fitness marketing principles you must follow (ignore them at your peril) (p. 77)
- 7 components of compelling offers that leave clients begging to buy (p. 89)
- Savvy long-term client conversion strategies (p. 99)
- Fast one-off promotions for new clients (p. 137)
- Multimillion-dollar guerrilla marketing secrets revealed! (p. 181)
- Guaranteed systems, strategies, and scripts for generating referrals (p. 207)
- Includes: 50 proven ways to get more clients
Order this book in paperback today and get the audio and digital versions 100% FREE (a $40 value).
It all starts by clicking here: The Wealthy Fit Pro’s Guide to Getting Clients and Referrals