Marketing, Sales

8 Ways to Drastically Increase Referrals to Your Gym or Fitness Studio

Sean Hughes

Sean Hughes

Referrals are hands down the BEST way to grow your fitness business. When you get referrals you “turn one into many” as Mike says in this training. So, how do you get referrals?

get referrals free script

This article is the full breakdown of Mike’s Referrals Training from Step #1 to Step #8.

#1: Want To Get Referrals? You Have To ASK
#2: The Refer and Receive Strategy
#3: Incentivize Your Trainers To Get Referrals
#4: Get Referrals With Themed Campaigns
#5: Run a Community Class to Get Referrals
#6: Get Referrals At The Point Of Sale
#7: Get Referrals With The Wall Of Fame Strategy
#8: Brag Boards To Get Referrals Into Your Gym Or Fitness Studio

Let’s get right into it…

Why It’s So Important To Get Referrals

To make more money. Yes, it’s that simple. But there’s more to it than that…

Referrals are the fastest, cheapest, most efficient way to make more money. That’s what makes them so powerful.

“How can we constantly increase margins? How can we make it so that your top-line revenue and your bottom-line revenue grow together?” Mike explains. 

“If anything, we want to see that bottom-line grow marginally faster than that top-line revenue because you’re able to do more with less.”

As Mike breaks down in this training, it’s key to know the value of your members so you know how much you’re willing to spend to acquire a new member.

#1 - Get Referrals Blog - Cost Per Member v2

So, let’s say it took $100 to acquire your new member Jane. Then, you follow this Referrals process and Jane refers John, Sally, and Alice and you sign them all. 

How are your margins looking now?

Great! You really only spent $25 per new member and each are paying around $150 per month for their membership. 

Those are great numbers and just a small sample of why it’s so important your fitness business puts this process in place to get referrals.

Which takes us into #1…

#1: Want To Get Referrals? You Have To ASK

Yes, it’s the simplest way to get referrals but often overlooked. The rest of the steps are going to be far more in-depth, but there’s a reason we’re starting with this.

You probably have members who love your studio but, will only refer friends and family if they’re asked. 

“This is a good strategy to use beyond Referrals,” Mike says, “it also works for Reviews, Testimonials, Upsells, Cross-Sells, but the best way to do this is to ask.”

Mike also recommends a great book for fitness studios to read called The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes.

The Ultimate Sales Machine - Get Referrals Book

“In that book,” Mike says, “it says that just by asking, the average business sees a 33% increase in sales.”

It’s important to prompt people to help your business grow.

A great way to ask your members to get referrals is to enter them into a raffle… 

#2: The Refer and Receive Strategy

This is essentially a raffle strategy that Loud Rumor Virtual Training (LRVT) Performance Consultant Corbyn May used with incredible success when he managed 20 Orangetheory Fitness locations.

loud rumor virtual training TEAM blog promo fitness business growth strategies revenue

How it works is, your members get raffle tickets for taking certain actions. Here’s how Mike breaks it down:

#1 Check-In
When your members check-in at your studio, they can take a picture of it and share it in the Facebook Group to get 1 Raffle Ticket.

#2 Referrals
When your member brings in a friend or family member for a workout, they get 3 Raffle Tickets per person they bring in.

“One thing that Corybn does that’s really powerful with this is when members go into his studio, there’s a desk with the prizes members can win with their raffle tickets,” Mike explains.

“So it’s a constant reminder. It’s not just this digital thing he posts or emails about. When members walk in, they see the 65-inch TV, the Yeti cooler, etc.”

Now, how do you promote this strategy WITHOUT spending any extra money?

Or as Mike puts it, “Who in your studio is the best at getting people pumped up and excited? Yep, it’s your Trainers! So, get them to really hype up your referrals raffle.”

On top of that, you should take advantage of text messaging, emails, and hype videos to PROmote your raffle.

Corbyn did this for 20 fitness studios and each had 500-700 paying members!

#3: Incentivize Your Trainers To Get Referrals

Hopefully you didn’t read #3 and think it’s going to cost you more money. 

As Mike says, “Sometimes incentivizing isn’t all about money. For a coach, it might just be having the biggest, most packed classes.”

So, what motivates your trainers? What gets your coaches excited to implement a process to get referrals?

Once you, as the Leader, know what motivates your trainers, you can incentivize them to follow a referral process. Then, “you will write referral scripts for them to follow,” Mike says.

“Now,” Mike continues, “you don’t want to overload them with scripts. Make it a simple paragraph they can memorize to ask members for referrals.”

Here’s where you get all of your trainers excited to participate…

#2 - Get Referrals Blog - Trainers

Every week, you present your trainers with a scoreboard for class capacity. You get your trainers together and motivate them. 

So, let’s say the scoreboard looks like this:

Mike is averaging 86% capacity
Chris is averaging 72% capacity
Jill is averaging 71% capacity

“Alright everyone. Mike, you’re doing a great job at 86% but I know you want to get that higher. Chris, great job and Jill, 71% is awesome, you’re up from 68% last week… 

…and of course, the best way to get your numbers up is to keep using that script and asking for referrals.”

(Mike does a much better job of explaining this in the video)

Now you’ve given your trainers motivation, congratulations, and competition. What do you think Jill wants to do seeing that she went up from 68% to 71% in a week?

She wants to be able to have a higher number than Chris… so she’ll ask to get referrals even more. You just motivated your trainers to grow your business.

Mike says it best: “Stats really do motivate people. Data is sexy.”

#4 is something that fitness studios like SPENGA Geneva do really well with… 

#4: Get Referrals With Themed Campaigns

Orangetheory Fitness is actually very well known for Themed Referral Campaigns. Especially what they call “Hell Week.”

What this is, if you haven’t heard of it, is members dress up for Halloween and if they hit a certain number of workouts, they get a t-shirt.

“It’s just a t-shirt,” Mike explains, “but people go crazy over getting this t-shirt. Why? Because it’s a tangible thing they get to take home knowing they earned it.”

Add to that the rarity of it based on the theme, and you’re going to motivate a lot of members to refer their friends and family to workout with them.orangetheory fitness hell week get referralsSPENGA Geneva does themed classes once a month or so where people get to dress up as their favorite Superhero, or dress like the 1980’s, etc.

It all started with a trainer who would show up to classes dressed up and members couldn’t wait to see what she’d dress as next.

It builds excitement and gives members a focused reason to get referrals for you.

Next, get your community involved… 

#5: Run a Community Class to Get Referrals

“I’m guessing,” Mike says, “you have your prime time classes. They’re always packed, right? Which means, you probably have the opposite problem where you can’t get a slot filled…”

This is a great way to get those slots filled AND incentivize members to bring in referrals.

Here’s how it works:

#6 is key and should be part of your process because it’s the best time to ask… 

#6: Get Referrals At The Point Of Sale

At the point of sale is the best time to ask for referrals. People who purchase and commit want confirmation that they made the right decision.

One of the best ways to do that is to get their friends and family involved.

We have the exact script our top fitness studios use HERE:

get referrals free script

LRVT Members actually get this and other scripts for free as part of their membership.

Here are the basics:

First, have them pull out their phone
Second, have them name all the people they want to join them

HINT: It helps to rattle off a list to help them: “Sister? Brother? Cousin? Spouse? Roommate?”

Third, have them list at least 5 people they’d love it if those 5 joined them for a free workout

The script above will teach you how to execute this to perfection and contact those referrals to have them sign up as well. 

So, at the point of sale, you just signed a member – let’s say they came in as a lead from Loud Rumor for $15 – then they referred you 5 new people. If only 3 of those 5 become members, how much money did your gym make off that $15 lead?


What we’ve seen, this referral strategy works every single time. You’ll always sign at least one referral by doing this. The average is much higher.

Ok, moving on to #7… where you’ll make your members famous.

#7: Get Referrals With The Wall Of Fame Strategy

“My picture is up at a Sushi restaurant,” Mike says, “not because I’m famous or anything, but because I’ve been in there so many times and I’ve brought a lot of new people with me.”

There’s just something cool about going to a place with friends and family and pointing out that your picture is on the wall. It means you’re kind of a big deal there, right?

That’s how your members will feel if they make it on your Wall Of Fame.

When members hit major milestones, they can make it onto your Wall Of Fame. But, they should know how to get on the Wall Of Fame and, more importantly, what they get out of it.

So, you want to incentivize them with shirts, branded water bottles, vouchers, and of course, “buddy passes” (aka Referral generators).

In other words, “we want you to bring at least 3 people in for a free workout and to see that you not only hit a huge personal goal, but that you made it on our Wall Of Fame.”

#8 is a really good one that fitness studios we work with love to implement… because it works!

#8: Brag Boards To Get Referrals Into Your Gym Or Fitness Studio

Brag Boards are great. 

Not only do they create organic love and traffic to your fitness studio, but they prove to people that results are possible at your fitness studio.

So here’s how it works. Sally takes a picture of herself at your gym holding a sign that says what she accomplished. Maybe it says, “I lost 15 pounds at Loud Rumor Gym!”

Then, you post that picture and tag Sally in it (so she can post it). 

Suddenly, tons of Sally’s friends see this and instead of it being a testimonial from a random person they don’t know, it’s Sally that got the results. Those are hot referrals.

#3 - Get Referrals Blog - Brag Board

After posting your brag boards, see which ones have the most engagement and put some advertising money behind it! More and more people will see results from a real person.

Loud Rumor Account Managers can actually turn brag boards into a dialed-in, targeted Ad campaign to generate quality leads

Organic proof is the best kind of proof that your gym helps people get results.

On top of that, when you turn posts with high engagement into Ads on Facebook, Facebook’s algorithm will see that it’s a popular post and serve it to even more people.

Now, you’re getting referrals and generating leads at an extremely low cost.

Finally, a BONUS…

BONUS: Get Referrals With Challenge Boards

Mike breaks challenge boards down in this video clip…

Hit the video at the top to get the entire 8 Ways To Drastically Increase Referrals video training and don’t forget to download the FREE Referrals Script!

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