Getting flooded with referrals — wouldn't that be nice? Wouldn't it be wonderful to have tons of referrals coming into your personal training department every single month, month after month after month? Not only would it be exciting, it would be tremendously profitable for your club. I'm going to show you how to set up a simple and quick referral system that when used consistently can produce results just like that.

Before I spill the beans on this little system, I want to make sure that you really understand why referrals are so important to your personal training department. First, people who were a referral tend to refer more often themselves. Second, referrals tend to spend more money on personal training and spend it more often. And third, referrals are typically much more loyal and profitable, especially since there aren't any acquisition costs involved in getting them as a client. In a nutshell, the more referrals you can get into your personal training department, the faster and more revenue you will generate. Period.

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So, with that said, hopefully you are intrigued about what this referral system really is. It's simple, easy to implement, and works extremely well. The system is called E.A.R. It stands for: Earn, Ask, Reward.

  • Earn

    The first thing that needs to happen to create a flood of referrals into your personal training department is that you need to earn them. You have to deserve referrals in order to get referrals. The way you earn referrals is by making sure that your trainers are treating their clients as if they were valued friends.

    Always verbally acknowledge to your club's personal training clients how important they are to your club and how much you value them. Care about them. Anyone that is important to your clients must become important to your club. The trainers should offer to advise, talk to or meet with anyone who is important to their clients. The key is to have your trainers begin building relationships with their clients and then cultivate their referrals.

    On top of all this, your staff must deliver quality personal training sessions, exude professionalism, create a comfortable and fun environment, and have enthusiasm for what they do. Your personal training department will earn referrals like crazy if your staff can do all of that all of the time (which they can).

  • Ask

    Once you have earned referrals, the next step is to ask for them. This is where most personal trainers go terribly wrong. They just don't ask. I guarantee that if your trainers did nothing else but began asking their clients for referrals on a regular basis you would instantly see an increase in referrals coming into your personal training department. The best time for your trainers to ask for referrals is when a client gives them a compliment or expresses any kind of gratitude. Have your trainers express honestly to their clients that they are trying to build up the personal training program at the club. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, a client who really likes the club will feel honored that they have been asked to help out.

    Also, don't be afraid to have your trainers tell their clients whom they should be thinking of as referrals (i.e., people under a lot of stress, people who are health conscious, people in pain, people who want to lose weight).

  • Reward

    Once you're staff has earned and asked for referrals the next step is to reward and recognize that client with something of perceived value. A small gift, discount or information product works best. It's critical to the success of your referral program that every time a client gives you a referral you reward them. If you're concerned about the expense of rewarding for referrals, keep in mind the lifetime value of a client. Remind yourself how much the average personal training client is worth to your club, and that will give you an idea of how much you should be willing to spend on the reward. Publicly recognize the clients who refer in your club newsletter, club luncheon, or with a sign at the entrance. Just remember, the things that we reward and recognize most, are the things that will happen the most often. So, reward, reward, reward.

  • There you have it — a simple and effective way to drive referrals through the roof. If you focus your time and energy earning referrals with outstanding service, consistently asking for referrals in a systemized manner, and then rewarding and recognizing the clients who refer, you will see an explosion in your personal training revenue.

    Todd Brown is the director of personal training for the seven WOW! Work Out World facilities in New Jersey. Todd can be reached at tbrown@workoutworld.com.

    Monthly Phone Checks

    The first day of every month, membership reps should call their members they started up in the previous month. The conversation will sound like this:

    MR: Bob? Hi! This is Karen from the club. The reason for my call is that I wanted to make sure you are finding everything and that you are enjoying the club. How is the club working for you?

    Bob: Oh man, I love the club! It's the best thing I've done in a long time. Thanks for checking in on me.

    MR: My pleasure. I just wanted to make sure you're comfortable and being taken care of. We talked about a lot of things when you joined and I want to make sure we covered everything. I don't know if we talked about our member thank you program. Each month we have a gift for our members who refer their friends. This month the gift is a fleece vest — you may have seen it in the lobby display.

    Bob: Yeah, I did see that. It is pretty cool. How do I get one?

    MR: It's easy. All you do is refer a friend who joins this month and it's yours. The promo goes until the end of the month so I wanted to give you plenty of time in case you wanted to get involved. Is there anyone you'd like me to call for you and extend an invitation to the club courtesy of you?

    Bob: Yeah, I have a few buddies that would be interested. Their names are ________, ________________, ________________ and their phone numbers are….

    MR: Excellent Bob! I will give them a call and let you know what happens. And please, if there is anything I can do for you in the club or you have any questions, don't hesitate to let me know.