This post was written by our guest blogger, Joe Hall. Joe has a wealth of experience in driving online engagement, and operates the social media strategy for the fast growing UK based gym chain XERCISE4LESS, one of Perkville's clients.

Some twenty years ago, when the modern day fitness industry was very much in its infancy, I'm sure all the top Fitness Sales Gurus would have been shouting from the rooftops about the NEED for leisure centers and fitness chains to adopt a “member referral program” in order to capitalize on their main marketeers (their customers)—and yes, right they were! What happened afterwards tells another story; it wasn't long before every man and his Personal Trainer caught wind of this and today it is perhaps viewed as more of a surprise if a Fitness Center or a PT does not have a generous Refer A Friend program in place.

Online referral programs: the key to success

However, just as when concepts began to progress from 1992 (the year Michael Grondahl founded Planet Fitness), over the last five or so years we've also seen monumental developments in member referral opportunities but this time it seems not everyone holds the key to this member-based marketing treasure chest—YET! For those of you who are already basking in the gemstones and jewels you'll recognize that the traditional fitness Sales Gurus have been dislodged by Digital Marketeers; old school pen and paper has been cast aside for top of the range CRM Software and cries of, “Get out your phone book and read a list of names to me,” are no more, as now our customers just have to visit a mobile friendly website and click on a timely Call to Action in order to invite a friend to their gym. I am, of course, alluding to the rise of “online referrals”. If just seeing the word “online” has left you feeling bemused, doubtful or apprehensive then it really is time you stopped clinging on to the traditional methods. You don't still see Apple churning out the Macintosh PC so why are you still adopting best practices from 1998?

Get started with Perkville

Online Referral programs are now the MUST-haves for all gyms, whether you are a small independent or a large nationwide gym chain it's time to respect the digital age. At Xercise4Less we believe we have found the key to our treasure. Perkville's online reward system not only enables us to foster higher levels of customer engagement, retention, adherence and spend, but Perkville also incentivizes members to refer their friends for points. We have seen over 250 direct sales per month as a result of this awesome platform and I would strongly advise anyone who is either browsing this blog post or considering signing up to the program to certainly give it a try. For those of you who aren't convinced, perhaps it's time to step down from your Generation X rooftops and to make a start in hunting for that millennial treasure!