As a personal trainer, you likely rely on word-of-mouth to gain new clients. There’s nothing quite like seeing real results to convince prospects to contact the person who helped make those results happen.

But what if you could digitize word-of-mouth referrals and broaden your reach even further among potential clients? With a personal trainer referral program, you can tap into the power of referral marketing to grow your personal training business to the next level.

Whether you’re an established pro or a newly certified personal trainer, this article will help you learn the basics of referral programs, their benefits for personal training businesses, key factors to consider when setting up a program, marketing strategies, and best practices for leveraging your program for growth. Let’s break down the specifics.

What are personal trainer referral programs? 

A personal trainer referral program is a streamlined, digital initiative that rewards current clients for recommending your personal training services to friends, family members, colleagues, and acquaintances. These programs can be a powerful tool for expanding your client base and fostering client loyalty. 

Unlike the manual approach of relying on word-of-mouth, a digital personal trainer referral program automates referrals from your existing clients. When one of your current clients refers a new client to your personal training business, the system records the referral. You can also set up referral incentives that reward clients for sending new business your way.

How to Run a Personal Trainer Referral Program [+ Tools] 1

Benefits of personal trainer referral programs 

The advantages of personal trainer referral programs are undeniable for fitness professionals. Here’s a closer look at the benefits of launching a referral program for your personal training business.

Brand advocacy

Happy clients are your best advertisers, as they can speak from experience about the transformative benefits of your services. They may also have visible results to show, making them walking billboards for your training programs. A referral program turns them into loyal advocates who will gladly spread the word about your services. 

Trustworthy recommendations

Friends and colleagues tend to trust the recommendations of individuals they know personally more than any advertising campaign. Indeed, roughly 84% of consumers trust recommendations from family and friends, according to Nielsen research

Your clients’ firsthand knowledge of the effectiveness of your training sessions makes their recommendations highly credible. The trust factor makes friends and acquaintances more likely to consider becoming personal training clients themselves when invited.

Precise tracking

Referral programs track the advocacy of your clients, down to every last referral. As clients promote your referral program, you’ll have real-time insights into how well your clients and their referrals are promoting your growth. With this data, you can make any necessary tweaks and continue honing your referral program process. 

Increased retention and lifetime value

The IHRSA Global Health & Fitness Association reports that increasing customer retention rates by just 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. With personal training referrals, you increase the chances of retaining happy, loyal clients and generating a higher lifetime value, because referrals trust the peers who referred them.

Cost-effective acquisition

Compared to other forms of advertising, referral programs are more economical. Traditional advertising methods can be expensive and may not always yield the desired results. Referral strategies leverage your existing client base to acquire new clients, offering an efficient and budget-friendly alternative.

Referral software for personal trainers [Free Tools]

These referral tools for personal trainers are a free and easy way to help you start your referral program.

Free Tools + Services:

Want a fully automated referral program for your personal training business? Run your referral program with us at Referral Rock. Find out how we can build your program with you (and tailor it to your unique needs)

Personal trainer referral program best practices 

Setting up your personal trainer referral system for success will help you maximize your results. Follow these best practices to get up and running quickly and efficiently while avoiding any missteps.

1. Choose the right rewards 

Ask yourself: What incentives will be most motivating to current and new clients? What are you willing to pay to acquire each new client? 

Rewards tied to training work best and are cost-effective; these incentives will motivate both existing and new clients to stay with you. Examples of training-based rewards include:

  • A discount on one or more personal training sessions or a free month of training
  • A free consultation with a nutrition coach
  • Waived or discounted sign-up fees
  • Upgraded training, if you have different service levels 
  • Free sessions, if clients pay by session 
  • Gift bundles of fitness apparel or fitness gear 
  • Branded swag, especially fitness-related swag like a gym bag or a water bottle
  • Cash back or gift certificates to another non-competing health-minded business

personal trainer referral program reward

2. Reward the referring client and the new client 

Rewarding both the existing and new client pays dividends now and in the long term. The advocate, or referring client, will be more likely to make additional high-quality referrals when incentivized to do so, and the new client will be more likely to stick with you. 

3. Find your best advocates first 

The most committed advocates are the clients who: 

  • Have been clients the longest. 
  • Have taken the most classes or who train with you the most frequently.
  • Already talk about your training services – in person, on social media, and in positive reviews. The more frequently they mention your name, the better for your referral program 
  • Have recently posted a positive comment, left a positive review, or given positive in-person feedback. 

Reach out to these clients first with a personalized note. Invite them to help recruit new clients through the program. Then, roll out the program to all clients. 

4. Make it easy to share 

Clients should be able to find your program and share it in as few clicks or taps as possible. Make it easy for them by following these tips:

  • On your program page, include an eye-catching headline that encourages sharing. 
  • Advertise the incentives and other benefits of your referral program. Social media advertising and posting, email marketing, and landing pages are a few of the ways to publicize your program.
  • Concisely explain how the program works and how to sign up in three or four easy steps. Make the reward rules clear – for example, do your clients earn rewards when new clients make their first payment?
  • Give multiple sharing options, including email, social media, SMS, and a referral link that customers can copy and share anywhere. 
  • Provide a link to a separate referral FAQ page to answer other questions. 

endeavour personal trainer refer a friend

5. Focus on friendship 

On your referral program page, get to the heart of why clients should refer new clients to you: to help a friend. Not only are they helping you by sending referrals, but they’re also helping their friends and family who might be interested in your services. 

Remind clients there’s no better proof of the personal trainer’s value than a client’s recommendation. Mention the benefits of your personal training – such as personalized, professional fitness training tailored to specific fitness goals – and how the client can share those benefits with friends. 

You might also mention how sharing helps a friend or colleague’s well-being by encouraging them to stay healthy, build their strength, or build their confidence. 

6. Promote your program 

Create a consistent and engaging presence across multiple channels – not only during the launch phase but also at a regular cadence throughout the life of your program. By promoting your personal trainer referral program through diverse channels and maintaining a regular cadence, you can maximize its visibility and participation, leading to more successful referrals and growth for your fitness business.

Whatever promotional methods you employ, be sure to explain referral incentives and include clear instructions about how to sign up for the program. Here are some promotional ideas to get you started.

  • Website: Feature your referral program prominently on your website. Create a dedicated page that outlines the program’s details and benefits and how clients can participate.
  • Email campaigns. Send dedicated emails about the referral program, including program details, sign-up links, and “forward to a friend” capabilities. Add reminders in newsletters, renewal emails, and other regular update emails to existing clients.
  • Email signature. Add a sign-up link to your email signature, so every communication you send includes a subtle mention of the program, creating ongoing awareness.
  • Social media. Post regularly about your referral network on your social platforms to keep it at the forefront of followers’ minds. Pro tip: Enhance your social media promotion by sharing real testimonials from clients who have either made successful referrals or become clients themselves due to a referral.

tonal referral example

  • Blog posts. If you maintain a blog, create content that touts the benefits of referrals, spotlights success stories, and highlights your training programs. Includes calls to action to sign up for your program.
  • Online client portal. If you have an online client portal, incorporate information about the referral program to ensure clients see it when accessing their accounts or relevant information.
  • Physical signage. If you have a physical location where you offer training, use signage within the facility to promote the referral program. Ensure it’s visible and eye-catching for in-person clients.
  • Flyers. Create physical or digital flyers that you can email or hand out to clients during in-person training sessions. 
  • Direct conversations. Don’t be shy about having direct conversations with your clients. Personally ask for referrals and explain the program’s benefits.

7. Use referral software 

Referral software is vital because it streamlines your program creation process and makes tracking and managing referrals easier.

 Referral program software:

  • Facilitates a customized referral experience for your personal training business. 
  • Tracks the source of every referral using unique referral links for each client. 
  • Issues rewards instantly for successful new referrals.
  • Collects program data, so you can easily measure success and refine your program. 

Set up your personal trainer referral program in days, not months, with Referral Rock software – no coding required! Plus, Referral Rock lets you promote your program automatically, for scalable, cost-effective growth. 

8. Track and measure your success 

Tracking your program metrics provides insights into your program’s performance, helping you determine whether to make any necessary adjustments. Essential metrics to gauge your program’s success include: 

  • How many referrals you get over certain periods. 
  • How long referred clients typically stick around versus how long all clients typically stick around, on average. 
  • What percentage of clients make referrals. 
  • What percentage of referred friends ultimately become new members. 

Harness the power of a personal trainer referral program

A well-designed personal training referral program is a powerful and cost-effective tool that leverages the advocacy of your current clients to expand your personal training business. By automating the referral process, you can track and reward your clients for bringing in new members. 

By implementing a personal trainer referral program and promoting it effectively, you can tap into the power of word-of-mouth marketing, expand your client base, and enhance client retention. These programs not only boost the growth of your personal training business but also foster a sense of community and loyalty among your clients. As the fitness industry becomes increasingly competitive, a well-executed referral program can set your business on a path to sustainable success.

To learn more about harnessing the power of a client referral program, schedule a demo today.