Sweat Equity: How to Create a Gym Referral Program | Exercise.com Learn: Your Fitness Business Resource

Sweat Equity: How to Create a Gym Referral Program

Creating an effective gym member referral program is one of the most important things you can do as a gym owner. Why? Referring members to your gym generates revenue and increases your overall membership numbers; as such, a gym referral program should be a big part of your overall marketing strategy.

Brittany Mancuso has been managing content since 2011 and has her BA from Florida State University in creative writing with a minor in communications. She holds certifications in web design and development through Florida State University; leading others in writing for health through Duke Integrative Medicine; social media and content marketing through HubSpot.    Additional Resources: ...

Full Bio →

Written by

UPDATED: Oct 16, 2020

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about your brand. Let us do the heavy lifting.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident fitness software decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. Our partners do not influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Editorial Guidelines: The Editorial Team at Exercise.com is dedicated to providing fair, unbiased information about the fitness industry. We update our site regularly and all content is reviewed by credentialed fitness experts.

Get the Basics...
  • 💡 How to create a gym referral program
  • Using Fitness Business Management Software to sell training programs
  • Maintaining a gym community during COVID-19
  • Interview with Rich Ruffing 💬

Welcome back to Sweat Equity Digital. We’re continuing to look into Fitness Business Management Software and how its various features can increase your bottom line in the midst of COVID-19. This week, we’re diving into the power of using Fitness Business Management Software to sell your training programs both in the gym and online.

New This Week: Drive training sales with fitness business software…Utilizing referral programs to stay competitive…The contact-less gym and maintaining community…Rich Ruffing on sleep and recovery

Still with us? Great. Let’s get started.

And if you’re ready to grow and manage your business better, book a demo with our team today.


Drive Training Sales With Fitness Business Software

Sell more training programs using FBM software

Your fitness business should have no limits, especially when it comes to selling your training services. Fitness Business Management Software is reliable, saves time, and integrates with social media for digital communication and marketing.  Need access quick access to your schedule and booking? Fitness Business Management Software also boosts retention.

And now that COVID has ushered in the era of contactless everything, you’ll want to get your gear into the hands of your members with minimal interaction, too.

It’s not just about what you’re selling, but how you’re selling it.

When your brand projects innovation, your clients won’t worry about seeking out the next new thing––give them confidence that your brand will make sure they benefit from whatever technology and conveniences are available.

1 – Versatility. Training versatility is a really big deal because it provides revenue stability. Versatility allows you to meet your clients where they are in their fitness journey. Does a client prefer to train in-person? No problem. A pandemic hits and that same person needs to transition to at-home workouts? You’ve got them covered.

As well as one-on-one in-person and digital training packages, an all-in-one software solution gives you the flexibility to include live streaming integrations, offering your clients a complete digital client experience. Fitness Business Management Software gives you the power to deliver personalized and engaging workouts: personalize your training content with exercise demos, logging features, and automated workout summaries.

2- Purchasing. A messy, confusing purchasing journey with too many clicks will kill the sale every time. Using payment integrations to streamline your sales process is critical. Every aspect of every payment situation must be frictionless. Give your clients access to automated membership payments or send automated reminders when their sessions are almost out. Make sure you have a payment solution that stores client payment info to make renewals a no-brainer.

3 – Marketing and upsells.  To maximize your fitness training sales, you’ve got to hit your target audience with compelling and relevant marketing content. That includes maximizing your social media presence, newsletters, blogs, and search engine discoverability with integrations like Mailchimp and Google Analytics.

Even if the bulk of your clients train in-person, it’s a good idea to advance your game with digital coaching. Keep your clients engaged with nutrition, wellness, and lifestyle coaching. With Fitness Business Management Software, you and your clients can use apps during in-person sessions to make notes and track progress.

As well, offer your in-person clients a hybrid experience by giving them access to your digital training resources. Along with tapping into the utility of management software, make sure your website is optimized with strategic and relevant CTAs (call to action).

[Related: Exercise.com’s How Do I Sell Personal Training and Workout Plans Online?]

Covid-19 News & Updates

Your bi-weekly snapshot of all things COVID-19 

A shock to none, COVID-19 is still very much a part of day-to-day life. Here’s what’s trending:



Utilizing Gym Referral Programs To Stay Competitive

Gym referral programs can help your business grow, even in a saturated market

Client engagement and customer retention are ever-evolving while becoming increasingly digital. Here are five key questions that fitness professionals need to continually be asking themselves about client engagement to improve capacity to keep up with the changes:

  1. Who are my customers?
  2. What are they trying to achieve?
  3. How can I engage, monetize, and retain them?
  4. Why am I the best solution to their problems?
  5. Where can I find and communicate with them?

Customer referral programs should land in your answer to question #3.

Creating a Referral Program That Works

Sustaining and acquiring clients is a challenge that most gyms and trainers face. For some clients, referring your fitness business to friends and family is intuitive. They do it without thinking because they love belonging to a healthy community and want others to benefit from the experience as well. But others sometimes need a little nudge to get the word out.

According to Referral Candy, consumers trust word-of-mouth referrals more than other sources:

Even in the fitness industry, attrition happens. Clients move and members lose jobs. On average, you’re going to lose 20% of your membership to turnover. Referral programs offer a low-risk high-reward approach to staying competitive in an uber-saturated industry.

Here are some considerations to process when designing a referral program that actually works:

1- Reward structure. Ask yourself, “Do I plan to reward both my member and their referral?” Then get creative with giveaways: invest in a hip, branded reward that will keep referring. Nothing piques more interest for on-lookers than a piece of branded fitness gear. It personifies satisfaction and belonging. Think gym bags and protein shakers.

For online trainers using digital referral programs, cash credits work best. And you definitely want to incorporate a social sharing widget to make referring effortless.

2-  Rules. Define the rules upfront. Keep them simple and make them clear to avoid any confusion that might lead to disinterest. Nothing’s a bigger turn-off than a complicated, time-consuming referral program. Take advantage of Zapier integrations like Coupon Carrier that allow you to forward links with digital coupons/passes.

3- Promote. Don’t just assume your members will know what’s going from random hit-or-miss social media posts. Not all of your members see themselves as a brand ambassador of sorts. And many may even feel unqualified to promote your brand via a referral program. Make sure all your clients and members are personally invited and encouraged to participate. Develop a marketing emphasis for each of the following channels:

  • Word-of-mouth (in-person and digital)
  • In-house communication: newsletter, email, SMS
  • Social media

4-  Measure. Track the results of your referral campaigns. Measure clicks, shares, and always ask a new client how they heard about you. You want to know which of your clients are churning out the most referrals and via which platform.

Another consideration includes frequency: will your referral program be seasonal or continuous? The answer to that question should align with your goal for the program. For instance, gym owners, maybe you’d benefit from using a referral program to grow a particular service with exclusive offers by using a seasonal referral program.

If you’d like to learn how Exercise.com all-in-one software and reporting tools can help you manage a successful referral program, click here to schedule a free 15-minute demo with one of our product specialists.



The Contact-Less Gym and Maintaining Community

Navigating planned versus unplanned communication

Clubs, gyms, and fitness training, in general, are taking a hit when it comes to the aspect of community, which has drawn participants through the doors for ages.

Human interaction is still vital––it’s not enough to rely on your contact-less measures alone to sustain your business in the COVID-era. Your staff should be exercising safety measures within, what some have coined as, a “new culture of kindness.” That means finding creative ways to be spontaneous and meaningful with the daily unplanned communication opportunities that spring up on the gym floor.

So how can you keep your gym’s atmosphere friendly while members are distancing? Here are a few tips:

  • Respecting distancing, with patience. Sometimes, people are unaware that they aren’t distancing as they should be. Offer a gentle reminder versus going on the offensive.
  • Eye contact still goes a long way (blank stares don’t).
  • Mind your body language. Instead of a blasé head-nod, how about a thumbs-up or whatever says I’m interested and engaged.
  • Cleaning measures. You’re not simply removing the plague, you’re taking pride in your workplace by keeping it clean, organized, and functional.
  • Keep COVID-related signs and floor decals cheerful.
  • Be in the know. Pay attention to what’s happening in your community in regard to infection.

And while you’re keeping your clients engaged in the gym, capitalize on the engagement with digital communication when they’re off-site. While emails and newsletters keep your members up to date, push notifications and SMS keep your brand up front and personal.

[Related: Social Distancing In Your Health Club, Health Clubs Are Not Spreading COVID-19, Study Finds, What Going Back To The Gym Is Actually Like Right Now]



Rich Ruffing on Sleep’s Role in Recovery

Our resident interviewer, Schimri Yoyo, sits down with Rich Ruffing, founder of Accelerated Fitness, to discuss the role of sleep in recovery.

rick ruffing

Notable Quotes:

  • “…we tend to want to look towards every other method, every other recovery method. Whether it’s cryotherapy, whether it’s an infrared sauna, whether it’s one of these massage tools. But sleep—I’m always trying to harp on people that sleep is our number one recovery method.”
  • “…sleep is free. Sleep is our number one recovery tool. Without sleep, we’re not recovering.”

Read the full interview here.


Interesting Internet Finds

Share these links on your social media platforms for increased reach and engagement

Taste: Need to take the edge off your sweet tooth cravings during the Halloween season? Enjoy a little guilty pleasure with some homemade Monster Munch Halloween Popcorn Mix.

Buy: Tired of that blender taking up precious counter space? Might want to opt for a portable smoothie blender to save space and keep your proteins fresh while on-the-go with the PROMiXX MiiXR PRO Rechargeable Shaker Bottle

Watch: Whether you love it or hate it, the inventor of autocorrect has an app: Up Spell challenges you to spell all the words you can in two minutes. But you’ll need iOS to enjoy the fun.

And that’s a wrap! We hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s digital issue of Sweat Equity: Insider Fitness Business Insights. We’ll see you in two weeks! Stay safe. Stay kind. And wash your hands.

If you’re ready to grow and manage your business better, book a demo with our team today.

This week’s newsletter was brought to you by Brittany, Mathew, and Jeff.

sweat equity author images

Want Sweat Equity delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for our email list now! 

Learn more about Exercise.com Fitness Business Management Software.

Schedule your demo today.