We all know that word of mouth is one of the most influential factors to gym growth. No other method is more personal, more effective, and builds community than referrals. But a lot of the time, referral programs come off as pressure sales to your clients that can make you uncomfortable. In today's blog post, I'll go over a few ways that you can grow a referral network without feeling like a high pressure salesman.
1. Free Community Class
If you have the staff and time in your schedule this is a no brainer. Make this class an intro level class separate from your regular beginner or on-ramp program. I've offered this class on a consistent weekly basis (Every day Saturday at 9AM), and have found tremendous success from it. First, I've eliminated all private consultations and combined them into one mass class.
As a result, all repetitive questions, and pressures from a private and seeing the gym regulars are nonexistent. Instead they are surrounded by a handful of people that are also brand new to CrossFit! In the same manner, your current members will always know what to expect, so they can accurately finesse their family and friends into trying your fitness classes. Just make sure the class is high energy, fun from start to finish!
2. Non-Fitness Related Events
What better way to get new clients than by marketing to your non-typical clients? Hosting non-fitness related events can really help motivate your clients to bring in someone they wouldn't ordinarily bring in. Here's some examples:
Boys Poker Night
Salsa Dance Classes (Imagine the couple or family rate opportunities)
Partnering with a local Church, Club, or Professional Organization
Hosting Auctions and Fundraisers for charity
3. Fitness Related Events
Of course you have to include Fitness Related Events. Workshops and Competitions are great ways to bring in people who wouldn't generally come to your gym. Imagine the new traffic you can get by hosting an expert PT, Nutritionist, Weightlifter, etc. These may cost a few hundred out of pocket to pay for the speaker, but you can always charge a small event fee to help offset the costs. But ultimately, you're getting leads!
Additionally, one of the best ways to get family and friend referrals is through hosting your own competitions. For many athletes, their first or even 10th competition requires a tremendous amount of courage. For that reason, those athletes will invite their friends and family to support them through this testing day. I've heard of so many stories of gyms hosting a competition, highlighting their athlete's progress, and seeing a tremendous amount of retention and leads from it. I encourage you to highlight their courage and make it a big deal. Create paper invitations that they can pass out to their friends to come watch, host a potluck, and raffles. Referrals are that much easier when you make it a celebration of membership achievement.
4. Membership Highlights
On the same note, you don't have to host events to have members invite friends. Post them on your social media and website. Everyone likes a great picture or story of their success. And who wouldn't share it? Picture this, Average Joe has been going to your gym for 3 months and made great progress. You create a quick 5 minute write up of his fitness journey, what he's accomplished, and what his goals are. You post your appreciation and support of Joe's progress on Facebook, Instagram and your website. Joe is now going to share that post with his friends on family on his social media. You've instantly increase your direct reach by his social media audience.
In conclusion, referrals are extremely valuable and don't always have to seem like a crazy sales pitch. Change up the norm, and you'll reap great results, have a ton of fun, and learn even more! Good luck!
About the Author
Coffee addict. Fitness aficionado. Advocate for all things fun. Joshua Baldovino is the Founder and Co-Owner of Shakas and Snatches. Joshua is passionate about fitness, business, but not as much as he is addicted to ice cream. You can find him on Instagram: @shakajosh_ss.