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5 Ways to Increase Your Personal Training Client Referrals

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, 5 Ways to Increase Your Personal Training Client Referrals

Reading Time: 5 minutes 45 seconds

To keep a personal training business going long term, it needs to grow. This is where marketing comes into play. You search-optimize your website, take out social media ads, send out brochures, and more. 

All of this is a great way to increase your presence as a fitness professional. But if you’re not actively creating a referral network, you’re really missing out.

Why Personal Training Client Referrals are So Important

One Nielsen online survey found that 84 percent of consumers trust recommendations made by family and friends. Sixty-eight percent also report having a level of trust in online recommendations, even when they don’t know the person that posted them. 

When a prospective client trusts that you can help them hit their fitness goals, they are more likely to hire you. So, numbers like these reinforce how important a referral program is for your personal training business.

This is especially true in this day and age. Consumers are barraged by numerous fitness “experts” all shouting that they are the best. This makes it hard to determine who is telling the truth and who is more interested in selling services than being truthful with their marketing. Yet, when someone they know is willing to vouch for the professional, this concern is relieved. They know firsthand your reputation of being a successful personal trainer, so they’re willing to give you a chance. 

Plus, when you develop a referral program, your client does your marketing for you. They willingly tell others about their personal training session and the results it provides. They talk nonstop about their workout and how they feel stronger, thinner, or more fit. Before you know it, the listener wants the same results. They approach you as a potential client and, based on the recommendation of their peer, it makes it easier to transition them to a current client. 

5 Ways to Increase Your Client Referral Rate Starting Today

What can you do to increase the likelihood of obtaining a personal training referral? Here are five strategies to consider, all of which you can start implementing today.

1. Ask Existing Clients for a Referral

It may sound simple but, as a personal trainer, do you ever ask an existing client for a referral? If not, they may not be recommending you solely because they never thought about it. 

Talk to your current client base. Bluntly ask for a referral. Tell them that you’d like to add a personal training client or two to your roster and see if they have someone who’d be a good fit. If they do, ask for them to make the connection. 

If you’ve been in the fitness industry for years, you likely have a bunch of success stories. Reach out to some of them and ask for a referral. If you’re a new personal trainer, talk to those you currently train. Even if you’ve only provided small results thus far, the fact that they’re making progress can motivate them to want to share their success with others.

For this approach to work, you must tell them who your ideal client is. If you don’t, they may send you a referral and not understand if you turn it down. This would also reduce the likelihood that they’ll make a referral to you in the future. 

For instance, maybe you want to work primarily with new moms who are having trouble staying motivated. Or perhaps you want to provide functional fitness programs to seniors. Let them know this so they know who to reach out to. Being more descriptive also prompts their minds to think about the people they know who fall into this category.

2. Keep in Touch with Past Clients Too

In addition to making a referral request with current clients, don’t forget those you’ve trained previously. Make a past client list and send them an email or call them to remind them that you’re there for them. End the communication with a note requesting that they make a referral if there is anyone they know that you can help. Again, be specific so they know who your ideal client is.

If you don’t already have it, referral marketing software can help you keep track of this marketing effort. It automates the process, reaching out to your previous clients automatically. It also records who responds, which referral campaigns work best, and other data that is important to monitor when trying to grow your personal training business.

3. Offer Discounts When You Get a Referral for Personal Training Services

Even if your clients find great value in your training session, they don’t always make a referral. Not that they don’t think you’re great, it’s just that it doesn’t cross their mind. One way to change this is to create a referral reward. 

By offering a free gift or discounted service each time someone brings you a new client, you’re saying that you appreciate their recommendation. You’re also enticing them to help you grow your business by sweetening the deal.

To make this reward even better, give them the option of which “prize” they want. Budget-minded clients may find a free training session or discounted fitness program more appealing. Others will find more value in free swag, such as a new water bottle or sweat cloth. Put your logo on these items to promote your business even more.

4. Promote Referrals via Social Media

Sometimes creating an effective referral program is more about getting your name out. In this case, social media delivers

Post on your social media pages that you appreciate referrals. Encourage your connections and followers to share your posts. Sometimes this is enough to get the ball rolling. 

Using social media also exposes you to personal training clients you wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to. Online referral marketing is free too, which is helpful when you’re watching your budget.

5. Be a Referral Source for Other Health Professionals

Have you ever received a referral from a health professional? If so, then you know that a person who is an expert in their field already has a trust relationship established with their patient. What do you think it would do to your business if the person they referred their patient to is you?

Reach out to other health professionals in your area and let them know that you’d appreciate an exercise referral for any patient who would benefit. Talk to your local chiropractor, massage therapist, and others in similar roles. Be sure to return the favor by giving them referrals too.

You might even want to refer your clients to a different personal trainer. Not every client and fitness coach is a good fit. This could be due to personality differences, schedule differences, or them being outside the client demographic you like to work with. 

When this occurs, you’re not hurting your business by referring them out. Instead, you are showing them that you are a business owner who is more concerned with helping people than lining your pockets. This increases their respect for you. 

And when that trainer comes across someone they think you could help, they’ll be more inclined to send them your way. They’ll return the favor.

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, 5 Ways to Increase Your Personal Training Client Referrals, Group Fitness

The Key to Developing a Solid Client Referral System

The one thing to remember when developing your referral process is that no one will send people your way if you don’t deliver results. This is important in any marketing effort. Don’t make claims you can’t back up.

Of course, this requires creating workout programs that do what they say. It also involves keeping good records so you can quantify your results. It’s one thing to say, “I’ve helped a lot of people lose weight.” It’s another to say, “I have helped 20 people lose 100+ pounds.”

Also, don’t forget to keep your referral marketing going after you’ve grown your new personal training client database. Stay ahead of the ball and keep a constant number of leads in your sales funnel.

If you add new services, this a great time to talk to both past and current personal training clients about a referral. For instance, if you obtain your certification in senior fitness, you could ask if they know anyone 65 or older who would benefit from a personal trainer. Or maybe you’ve earned your nutrition certification and could help their family and friends create a more healthful diet. 

The ISSA offers a variety of certifications within the health and wellness field. This includes Group Exercise Instructor certification, Strength & Conditioning certification, DNA-Based Fitness Coach certification, and more. Check out our many certification options and grow your fitness business even more…starting today!


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