Fitness Club Guides: A Quick Guide to Member Referrals

Fitness Club Guides

A Quick Guide to Member Referrals

Your members are your club’s strongest asset, so put them to work for you! More than 90% of people trust suggestions from family and friends, so getting current club members to refer their friends, family, and colleagues to your gym is a simple, inexpensive way to boost referrals. But that’s not to say referrals will happen on their own because people like your gym; you have to start by setting up strong referral program and/or a member loyalty program.

The type of referral program you choose will depend on your club, budget, and goals. For example, refer a friend and get a one-time membership discount of $15 or a free smoothie or protein bar from the cafe.

You can also set up a referral program that rewards members based on the volume of their referrals who also become members. For example, once a member makes five referrals, they receive a 30-minute PT session or after 10 referrals they earn a one-hour massage. For the members that keep bringing more people in, consider offering a continued reduction in membership fees.

How to Market Your Referral Program

Once you’ve set up your referral program and settled on messaging around the program, you have to start marketing it to your members. Start by setting up a page on your website about the program. Share what the incentives are, how members can refer a contact, and any other relevant information.

Here are some ways to advertise the program to your existing members:


Send an email to your current members about your new program. The information should be simple, easy to understand, and – most of all – appealing.


Send short and sweet text messages to members with a URL to your website so they can get more information and refer friends on the go.


Create print collateral to place around the club. After all, some of your members would rather have a tangible piece of collateral that they can take away and think about.


Hang large, eye-catching posters around your club in all communal areas, including changing rooms and bathrooms. Leave no space un-postered!


Although it might seem counterintuitive in today’s digital age, if you have your members’ addresses, send them a snail-mail postcard about your new program.

Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of a low-tech approach to getting the word out by simply speaking in-person to your most loyal and long-term members about your new referral program and incentives.

Don’t Forget to Measure Your Program’s Success

It’s important to make your referral programs measurable, especially if you’re running different referral or loyalty programs at the same time. You need to keep track of what works best and, if you can, why it works so well.

If you’re not ready to introduce a permanent referral program or just want to see whether your members are interested in a program, here are two ideas:

1. Run a limited-time competition asking members to refer their friends and family. Then, the member who makes the most referrals wins a digital fitness tracker.

2. Pick one weekend and ask members to bring their friends to the club for free. This is a great opportunity to capture prospect details and hopefully get some referred sales.

Also, consider asking your members to “make an introduction” as opposed to “make a referral.” After all, that’s what you’re looking for: an introduction to potential members.

If you enjoyed this guide, you should check out our new e-book, Everything You Need to Know About Marketing Your Fitness Club. This
e-book will help you identify the most effective marketing strategies for blowing past your local competition, increasing revenue, and bringing in a steady stream of new members throughout the year. You can download it below.

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