Strategies to Increase Referrals from Current Gym Members

 In Marketing

Leads. They are the engine that drives every sales organization.

Many of the health clubs we have worked with over the years expend a great deal of time and energy in developing leads. From old stand-bys, such as lead boxes and direct mail to new marketing ideas, like e-books and blog posts, filling the top of the sales funnel is always a main focus for owners, operators and sales people.


But, all too often, we find that many overlook what could be the best and most cost-effective source of developing leads: current members.

Sure, from time-to-time a club owner will run a promotion where for every member referral that joins the member may receive a water bottle, t-shirt or even a free month. But, while managers are busy buying referrals, they are ignoring the other members that might willingly refer friends and family if they are happy with the club.

The key to getting those more organic referrals, which tend to bring in a higher-quality lead that is more likely to join and more likely to refer, is to make sure the club is worth referring in the first place.

Often that focus on generating new leads tends to set up members for a bit of culture shock once they join. The quality of customer experience often drops significantly once a prospect signs on as member.

The promise of cleanliness, friendliness and effectiveness are often not lived up to and that can lead to very unhappy clients.

One of the main problems is that the sales structure is set up with little regard for building a referral pipeline. Sales representatives are mostly incentivized to bring in new members with the focus on those outside sources, and once they bring them in they often forget them rather than cultivate the relationship and turn every member into a lead generating machine.

These in-house lead machines carry more clout and can build trust with potential members far easier and cheaper than marketing to the masses on the hopes of acquiring a few new members.

In today’s digital environment, one of the main purposes of marketing in general is to build trust and credibility among consumers and input from current customers via sites such as Yelp!, CitySearch and other social sites. And even better still are recommendations from real people that are already trusted by prospects. Who better to fill that role for a health club than family and friends that are already members that have had a positive, referable experience at your club?

Here are some ways to ensure that your members have an experience after they join that is worth telling the world about.

Keep it Clean: Sure, prospects always check to see if a gym looks clean but members know if it is actually clean. Ensure that your staff is keeping up with cleaning, including vents, ledges, tops and inside of lockers and other “hidden” dirty spots.

Keep it Working: Nothing will lose a members trust and referral faster than waiting around for a treadmill, elliptical machine or bike during busy hours — except when they are waiting for one of the working ones, while two or three pieces of equipment are broken. This also goes for lights, showers, lockers, etc.

Keep it Fun: This goes beyond running an occasional contest or member appreciation day to keep members coming during the slow times. It means hiring people that are fun, love fitness and will help turn the members’ trips to the gym from a “have to” to a “want to.”

Keep it Effective: The number one reason people join a health club is to lose weight. It is vital that health club owners keep their promise to members to help them reach their goals. Offer a regular workshop series to educate members and help brand the fitness staff as experts –and have members invite their friends and family!

Keep it Consistent: Your club –and all your clubs– need to be consistent to keep members happy. Most people like things to be the same and are adverse to change. They also want to be treated as well once they are a member as they were while being wooed by the sales team.

Remember; the key to positive and valuable referrals is to impress and keep current members happy. For more tips and advice from industry experts, click the link below and subscribe to our blog!