Increase Referral Sales by 50 Percent.

The way I see it,selling a membership actually consists of three sales:

  1. Selling for an appointment

  2. Selling the club membership itself

  3. Selling for buddy referrals

The latter sale is especially important because it can lead to other membership sales.

The following process will help you increase your number of referral sales — but only if you follow all of these steps consistently.

  1. You can ensure buddy referrals by broaching the subject as one of your trial closes. During the tour, say something like, “Mr. Prospect, as a member will you be working out by yourself or do you have someone in mind whom you will bring in to work out as your guest?”

    This question gets prospects to start thinking about whom they would bring to the club.

  2. When a member agrees to join, immediately handle the enrollment fee — but not the contract. Inform the new member that you are going to get him a receipt and a temporary card. It's important that you receive the down payment before going any further.

    Now, use your buddy referral script: “Mr. Prospect, as a new member with XYZ Gym we know you are excited about obtaining your fitness goals. We have found that some of our most successful members' credit their success to having their friends and family get involved in a fitness program.

    “Guest fees are normally $10 a day. Currently, we are allowing all new members to register up to 10 people with their membership whom they would like to give a gift of fitness at no cost.

    “While I am printing up your temporary membership card, I would like you to take a minute and write down any friends, co-workers or family members whose health is important to you. I will fill the passes out for you as soon as I get back with your card.”

  3. Next, write out the passes and give them to the member. Tell the member that you would appreciate it if he would call his guests to inform them that they have been registered for a week guest membership. Also ask the member to tell the guests that you will be calling to set up a time for them to come in for a tour. Be thorough and confident in asking the new member to do this. It is a critical step that is usually skipped.

  4. Call the referred guests within 72 hours of sign-up. Use your buddy referral script and be sure to say something to the effect of, “Bob asked me to call you to set up a time to take you through a workout. He is very excited about achieving his goals and wanted to share his new enthusiasm with you.”

    Then follow proper appointment-setting procedures. (See “Appointment Basics.”)

  5. Here is the most important part. After you set the appointment, call the member and tell him that his guest is coming in. Here's why. In almost all cases, as soon as you get off the phone with the member, he will call the guest. See if you can get the member to come with the guest. This will increase your chances even further of selling a membership to the guest. Plus, members who work out with partners are more likely to remain members.

I know it sounds simple, but it's only effective if you follow all the steps thoroughly. Remember, referrals are a consistent way of controlling your sales volume, without having to rely on the company's marketing plan to be successful.

Kurt Lehmann is co-owner of The Florida Consulting Firm, a club consulting firm with 20 years of experience in turnarounds, professional sales training and multiple profit center. He can be reached at (800) 436-2245 or consultingfirmfl@aol.com.


Appointment Basics

  1. Set effective call times
  2. Be energized on the phone
  3. Build value
  4. Offer a free workout
  5. Set appointment times that stand out (e.g., 3:15 p.m.)
  6. It takes 15 minutes or more to set a good appointment
  7. Find something in common with the prospect
  8. Ask him to bring a guest
  9. Ask for a confirmation phone number
  10. Confirm your appointment

Effective Points To Remember

  • Sell for referrals (don't just ask)
  • Ask for buddy referrals before you do the contract
  • Give out guest passes
  • Follow up after setting the appointment with the member
  • Focus on getting 10 names from every new member within 30 days