"How do I get new members?" This is a question that many gym owners ask themselves. The answer? A gym referral program. Referral programs cost effectively attract new customers, and they’re not hard to set up. Here’s what you should know to build a program that works.

What is a gym referral program?

A Gym referral program is a form of word-of-mouth marketing. You reward current members for bringing in new ones. Done right, loyal customers will become brand advocates for your health club.

Why should I start a gym referral program?

They …

  • Bring in more customers which means higher revenue
  • Help retain current members because their friends are members
  • Foster a sense of community among gym members

Why do gym referral programs work?

  • Members like to feel appreciated and rewarded for their efforts 
  • Prospects are more likely to trust the opinions of their friends and family
  • It's cheaper than paid advertising
Existing customer and their referred friend enjoying the gym.

How to build a gym referral program

Create a special offer that members can share with friends so their friends feel VIP

Customers are more likely to refer if there is a worthwhile promotion to offer their friend. For fitness businesses, we recommend enabling your customers to give their friend a much better offer than a regular prospect would get in an ad or if they walked in the door. This makes the offer valuable to the referring member and their friend.

Some examples that we’ve seen work well include:

  • 5 Free Group Classes
  • 2 Free Training Sessions
  • A Free Day Pass
  • 7 Day All Access Pass

You can read our blog post for more information on creating a successful referral offer.

Creating a VIP offer for referrals is a good marketing strategy.

Make it easy for your members to refer a friend via email, social media and text

Your members shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to refer their friends. The process should be simple, straightforward and fun. For these reasons, we recommend using a referral marketing software. 

Perkville, for instance, makes it easy to refer through social media, email and text. Gym members can track the status of their referrals online at any time. Clubs can host promotions and challenges to further motivate members. And run reports to see how well their referral campaigns are working.

You can learn more about Perkville’s referral features at https://info.perkville.com/reward-features.

Your gym referral program should make it easy for current members to refer their friends.

Make sure you reliably reward successful referrals

Gyms can reward their members in a few different ways. Some gyms use gift cards with a service like PromotionVault. Perkville’s platform rewards with points so that members can choose the reward they want. If you're looking for ideas on what kinds of rewards to offer, here are some suggestions:

  • Free smoothies or drinks
  • Discounts on retail items such as clothing, food and drink or amenities
  • Free or discounted personal training sessions
  • Free or discounted classes
  • Discounts on monthly membership fees
  • Free locker access
  • Merchandise or gift cards
  • Promotional products like branded T-shirts, water bottles and gym bags

Check out info.perkville.com/partners for a list of systems that Perkville integrates with.

You can automatically track and reward for referral using a referral marketing software.

Promote your gym referral program to current members

Finally, make sure you are actively promoting your referral program. Let your members know about it and include it in your marketing materials. The more people who know about your program, the more successful it will be. The following tactics can help you get started:

  • Send an email or a newsletter
  • Add an announcement page on your company's website
  • Post signage in easy-to-see locations like the front desk, community board, water fountains and lockers
  • Talk about your referral program on social media 

Example refer a friend programs

Perkville is a leading referral marketing program in the fitness industry

We see lots of fitness clubs grow their membership with referral marketing. We highlight one below:

Chuze Fitness Rewards

Launch a successful referral program

Schedule a demo with one of our teammates here and we can help you set up a referral program that’s easy to implement and cost-effective for your business.