Pat Rigsby is the co-owner of several businesses in the fitness industry, including the Fitness Consulting Group. He also serves as an industry consultant focusing on the development of profitable personal training departments. To learn how you can improve your club's retention, referrals and profitability through personal training, take advantage of a special offer for all Step by Step readers and join www.PersonalTrainerU.com FREE for 30 days by signing up at www.ptdepartmentprofits.com. Pat Rigsby can be reached at pat@fitnessconsultingroup.com.

Do you want to increase your number of new personal training clients each month?

It's easy. Simply give each new client the opportunity to refer a friend or family member.

How is this done? Not through pressuring or hounding your clients until they refer. Instead, you generate referrals through gentle persuasion and social proof.

You have probably witnessed several occasions where a new client says during their first or second session, "I need to bring my wife here." This is great when it happens, but many times, clients are so concerned about their own program that they aren't thinking of referring someone else.

So here is how you get them to refer:

For every new client that starts training with your business, send them a special welcome letter or card in the mail. This letter should be worded so you are educating, congratulating, future pacing and setting them up to refer. Now, in the postscript of the letter, write a couple of sentences about how "many clients tell me that they wished they would have found our program sooner. Because of this, I've included with this letter two gift certificates for a complimentary training session. As you can see, they have an expiration of two weeks, so make sure a friend or family member gets them as soon as possible."

Include two gift certificates with your offer and an expiration dated two weeks from the day you expect the client to receive the letter.

Insert a few pages of client success stories with your letter to show social proof. You never know which testimonial will resonate with that particular client. Also, include a small gift to thank them for being a client.

Not everyone will take you up on this offer, but a percentage will. The return on investment for this is incredible. Depending on the gift you include, your total cost for this referral-generating mailer will probably be under $5. In addition, a note and small gift will create good will with your client.

Try it, and see if you notice a dramatic increase in your referral business.