Every fitness professional knows the importance of generating referrals as it relates to business growth, so why do so many struggle to implement referral programs in their businesses?

My guess is that they don’t set deadlines to implement what they know. So I’m going to set some deadlines for you. Here are 12 months worth of referral generating ideas. All you have to do is follow the formula and watch your referral business grow!


Week 4 – Set Up an Ongoing Referral Program.

If you don’t already have one set up, you should do so immediately. There is no excuse now not to have an ongoing referral program in place. Simply come up with a reward that you will provide to clients and members of your network that send new business to you. The optimal approach is to reward the act of referring prospects to you and also reward the referring party when their referrals become clients.


Week 8 – Run a Transformation Challenge.

Twelve weeks in length is a good starting point. This is a great referral generation machine because people will ask for help from friends and inevitably tell them what they are involved in. Don’t hesitate to give away supplements as a prize.


Week 12 – Begin Including a 21 Day Referral Offer With All New Client Purchases.

Include an offer that gives them a discount on dues for each new person they refer during their first 21 days.


Week 16 – Begin a campaign of integration marketing.

While this won’t boost referrals per se, it will get an influx of steady new prospects into your business. Integration marketing basically is trying to integrate your offerings into other businesses’ marketing and sales processes.


Week 20 – Begin Sending out Birthday Gifts to All Your Clients.

You can collect their birthday at the enrollment process in an unobtrusive way, letting them know that you need it to send them a birthday gift. However, this should always be optional. On their birthdays, send them a gift card or some free supplements for themselves and a friend.


Week 24 – Set Up a Campaign Associated with the Next Major Holiday.

Tell your clients that they and a friend will get a discount on a program or product during the holiday period.


Week 28 –Send Out an Email or Card to All Your Clients

Saying that you’re doing a new client drive this week and would like to know if they have any family or friends who would be interested in doing a free trial with you. Give them some kind of gift or incentive for every person they bring in. In addition, make sure that they have a gift card that they can give to their friends or family members to entice them to do business with you. In other words, you’re not just having the client tell the friend about you, the client is giving a free gift card away that will bring them back to your business.


Week 31 – Add a Bring a Friend Function to Your Business.

If you run group training, this is easy. Just have a day or even a week each month where your clients can bring friends to their sessions.


Week 36 – Run Another Transformation Challenge.

Use what you learned from your initial challenge to make this an even bigger success.


Week 40 – Begin Giving Plastic Gift Cards to Your Clients.

A plastic gift card with a magnetic strip on the back is a better tool than a coupon so it will set you apart from the competition. Your clients will then have the opportunity to provide these to their friends, and it will have a significant perceived value. Whenever a member of your network or a client provides someone with one of these cards this also gives them a chance to tell your story in a very unobtrusive and natural way.


Week 44 – Hold Another Referral Contest.

Incentivize your clients by giving them a cash reward or a big prize like a mini-vacation. Just think big and create a huge buzz. The possibilities are endless.


Week 48 – Conduct a One-Time-Only Tell-a-Friend Offer or Incentive.

For example: Tell two to three friends about us, and you can get this free weight management class. The important thing to remember here is that if you said that the one-time offer is one-time only, you must stick with that. This means that next time you conduct a special offer or opportunity, your existing clients will know that when you say one-time, they’d better jump on the bandwagon now, or they’ll miss out!


Week 52 –Run Another Transformation Challenge.

Use the before and afters from the first two and leverage the success of those events to pull in sponsors and publicity.


So there you have it – a full 12 month calendar to make sure you are maximizing your referral efforts. All you need to do is implement!


By Pat Rigsby

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