The Power of a Gym Referral Program
The health club industry continues to be extremely competitive, and generating new members continues to be one of the biggest challenges club owners face on a monthly basis.
Especially with the added difficulty of cutting through marketing clutter (the bombardment of advertisements people are exposed to each day via mobile apps, billboards, radio, TV, online, and more), getting new members signed up requires some creativity.
The good news is, each new member who signs up can also yield you another member or two with very little cost — we’re talking about referrals.
Getting a referral is almost like getting free money. A well-implemented gym membership referral program will boost your member base with minimal investment.
All of our clients are encouraged to implement a strong referral program for their members. This is an absolute must-have to keep up in today’s competitive landscape. In this post, we’ll go over some referral program ideas and how you can successfully implement them.
Putting up signage inside your club ensures that your members will learn about the referral program while working out, keeping your referral program top of mind. High traffic areas such as check-in, water fountains, and locker rooms are great places to hang this signage for easy visibility.
The single most important time to generate referrals is when a new member signs up. We all know how quickly some members burn out and stop going to the gym after joining. It’s imperative to strike while the iron is hot and get as many referrals as possible from your new members while they’re still feeling excited and energized about going to your facility. Offering sme referral passes during or immediately after signup can help you capitalize on that excitement.
Rewards and incentives
Even when people are satisfied with their memberships, they won’t necessarily feel inclined to refer someone to your gym. They’ll likely need a little push to do so, like a special reward, discount, or incentive.
Here are a few examples of things you can offer as part of your referral incentive program:
- Free swag and promotional products like branded T-shirts, water bottles, and tote bags
- Discounts on monthly membership fees
- Free samples of supplements or other nutritional products
- Free or discounted fitness classes
We recommend having a special incentive for both the current member and the new person they’ve referred — both people need to be rewarded to drive maximum action.
Word of mouth
Make sure that your staff is connecting with new members from the moment they sign up, and encouraging them to have workout buddies and accountability partners. Staff should ask members if they’re aware of your referral passes, discounts, and/or incentives, which will give new members more of a reason to actively recruit their friends and family.
Mailer and email campaigns
Two to four times a year, we recommend sending out a mailer to your members as an extra push to get referrals, with an accompanying email campaign.
Email alone is not enough, as normal open rates for members are usually around 25% (+/- 5%), which means about 75% of your members won’t even open your email. Nothing will get the results you want if only a quarter of people know about it.
That doesn’t mean you should abandon email campaigns — you still want to get the attention of that 25%! However, combining email with direct mail marketing generally produces better results.
Putting your referral program ideas into action
The bottom line: implementing a referral program at your health club is a must. It’s a cost-effective way to bypass all the marketing clutter and drive new membership. However, a referral program won’t produce the results you’re looking for unless you’re actively pushing it using methods that make sense for your gym.
UpSwell has helped over 2,500 clubs and studios successfully grow their member bases. Contact us today and we’ll help you get your referral program in shape!