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How to Increase Uptake of Your Gym Refer a Friend Program

Dru Hill
Dru Hill
Published on Sun, Oct 2, 2022

There aren’t many opportunities for you, as a business owner, to take advantage of free marketing.

In a world of low conversion rates and high Facebook ad prices, it’s important to be aware of every opportunity you have to acquire new members — especially those that require a minimum investment.

The stats on using referral programs boast several benefits, including a 37% higher retention rate and up to 16% higher profits than anyone who found you through a Google search.

In this article, we will share some popular referral program incentives and ways for you to market your program to maximize the number of people using it.

5 Ways to Get More Members Using Your Gym Referral Program

If you’re not using a referral program to target more members for your gym, you’re missing out on a big piece of free marketing and, more importantly, the opportunity to use the most trusted form of marketing; word of mouth.

Certain studies suggest that up to 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth referrals or recommendations from family and friends more than any other form of marketing.

Implementing a referral program that rewards your members for their recommendations is an easy way to increase your gym’s visibility and boost your membership sales.

Here are the 5 best ways to get more members taking advantage of your referral program.

Create more awareness

A big reason why people aren’t taking advantage of your referral program could be related to awareness and the visibility of your campaign.

People generally won’t seek out programs like these, so if you want your members to be taking advantage of them, you’ll have to make it obvious to them exactly how they can and the ways in which they’ll be rewarded for doing so.

Some ways for you to increase awareness around your referral program include:

  • Mentioning it on your social media
  • Creating signage to be posted in your gym, in the locker rooms, front desk, and exit/entrance of the building
  • Adding information about it in the sign-up form
  • Mentioning it on your website
  • Adding it to your newsletter

Sweeten the deal

Another reason you might be having issues getting people involved in your referral program could be related to a lack of incentive.

For people to want to invest the time and energy into advertising your business for free, in their spare time, you need to make the reward for doing so worth their time.

Some things that you can offer in exchange for people’s referrals include:

  • A discount on their membership
  • Free access to extra gym amenities
  • Free branded merchandise like water bottles, clothing, blender bottles, etc.
  • A surprise gift of your choosing

Another great option to get people using your referral program is to offer your member and a friend of their choice free access to your gym and its various amenities for a day.

Not only is this an offer that’s obvious in its value, but it also gives you the chance to recruit some new members that wouldn’t normally work out at a gym.

Promote your program in your gym app

Another feature that many companies — not just gym — use to advertise their special offers is adding a simple notification via their members' app. Unlike SMS or email communications, these are free and much more likely to be interacted with.

It doesn’t need to be flashy or overly informative to work. It just needs to state that the program exists, how your members can partake, and what they will receive should they decide to join.

Just remember, when putting promotions in an app, there is a fine line between being informative and being pushy. Crossing it can ruin your app’s user experience and have an overall more negative than positive outcome.

Find brand ambassadors

Brands that use ambassadors to market their product or service have been reported to see up to a 32% increase in the number of referrals.

Social proof is a broad term for marketing that uses word-of-mouth recommendations, reviews, and other similar marketing tactics that prove the popularity of a product or service.

Over time, people trust company-led marketing campaigns less and less and instead look to real people to validate their purchases.

Hiring brand ambassadors to participate in your referral program can give your facility a more human feel, which can lead to more members joining your gym based on their recommendation, even if they’re not technically a friend.

The key benefit of a brand ambassador is they will have a much louder voice than a typical member, instead of encouraging a few friends to join these guys can easily bring in dozens, potentially even hundreds of members over their time at your club.

Put your pride aside

The simplest and probably most effective way for you to recruit members to use your referral program is to start asking your members to join.

Remember that although your referral program benefits your business, it was created to serve your members' interests as well.

Things like discounts on memberships and products and the opportunity to bring their friends to your facility for free are a bonus that can positively affect their experience at your facility.

If you truely have committed members to your facility, they probably are already referring friends to your club or willing to do so. All they need is a little nudge in the right direction to put the idea in their mind.

Asking them in person will have a much higher success rate, however you can also send direct invitations to members via email, sms or social media. Another way is to include a link outlining your referral program in the email signature of yourself or trainers, this can be a simple way to keep it top of mind, while members are most likely to chat about your facility and refer friends – straight after a positive interaction with your facility / staff.

Bottom Line

In order to maximize the potential of a gym referral program, you must keep it up to date and continue offering incentives people value and are interested in receiving. However time-consuming this process can be, it’s necessary and undoubtedly worth every second.

It’s also important to remember, if you’ve got great customer service and satisfaction, there shouldn’t need to be too much encouragement as they’re likely to refer these people anyway.

Incentives that are too high can lead to less genuine referrals and encourage negative behaviour, such as members hyping up your club too much to gain referral commission, setting unrealistic expectations, which then result in a likely eventual cancellation – leaving you out of pocket and a lower public perception of your business.

Using a gym management software that offers a members app, customizable sign-up forms, email and SMS campaigns for segmented audiences, and more can help make this process more painless and let you run your refer a friend system on autopilot.

Click here to learn more about how a change to your software can benefit your business.