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4 Tips For Creating A Referral-Based Fitness Business

by James Anderson
Posted: June 13, 2016

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Ready to grow your fitness business? Our resident Personal Trainer, James Anderson, enlightens us with tips to gain high quality prospects/leads and turn them into your own clients.

There are only three ways to grow a business.
1.    Increase the number of clients.
2.    Increase the average transaction.
3.    Increase the frequency that the average client buys from you
Yep, that’s it. To explain each of the above a little more in terms of the personal training and fitness industry, option 1 requires that you turn more potential clients (aka “prospects”) into paying customers. Option 2 requires that clients pay you more for each session. Option 3 requires that clients buy more from you or train more frequently.
Now, when you’re first starting out as a personal trainer, you can’t really focus your time or attention too much on option 2 or 3 as you don’t have the client base yet. So you’ll most likely be focusing on option 1 initially, to grow your business. Which is perfectly fine by the way. Read advice for growing your business, from Australia's top business experts here.

Fitness niche

So now you know the focus, all you need to do it find prospects/leads and turn them into clients, right? But the only downside to this is that it takes time, effort and generally provides you lower quality, inconsistent leads.

But there’s another way! A way that (if done right) can grow your business faster and with less effort – whilst providing you the highest quality leads you can imagine. And it’s called a “referral-based business”.
To explain what this means a little further - a referral-based business is one where leads/prospects are simply “lead” to you by people and/or businesses that you have built a referral relationship with. If you can set this up right, you’ll never have to hunt for prospects or leads again as they’ll be coming to find you!
First things first, though - developing a referral-based business isn’t a build-it-and-it’s-done thing. It requires creating the right partnerships with the right people, then ensuring that your product and service offering is of the highest quality.
So here are a few tips to help you grow and develop a high-quality referral based fitness business.  

1.    Know your niche

Referral based fitness business

You need to know what area you’re going to specialise in. It’s so important that you’re crystal clear on what you do better than anyone else, because if you want to build referral partnerships with other businesses, they’re going to want to know that you can deliver the goods.
If you’re not clear on what you’re offering, then they simply won’t see the value in the proposition and will be far less likely to refer their clients to you.
At the end of the day, they’re risking their reputation on your product or service. A referral should be seen as a mark of respect for what you do, so act accordingly.

2.    Provide value

Provide value to customers - Yoga meditation class

This one is pretty much business in a nutshell. Provide enough value to your customers (and potential customers) and in turn, you’re rewarded with the investment of their hard earned money. Simple.
Now, think along those same lines when it comes to building a relationship with referral partners. You need to provide value to their business by supporting, promoting and potentially paying commissions to them to ensure they feel like it’s a win-win.
The more value you provide, the more people will promote your business.

3.    Ask

Fitness referral partnerships - rock climbing gym

Most people and businesses won’t come to you to develop these partnerships, especially when you’re first starting out. Take responsibility for this and get out and amongst your local community to find these opportunities for yourself.
Then, once you’ve found these people and businesses which fit within your brand’s values and beliefs – start up a conversation. It could be cafes, hairdressers, mechanics, restaurants, real estate agents, chemists and petrol stations to name just a few.
Then you’ve got other types of health and fitness businesses that have complimentary services like Pilates, yoga, massage, chiropractic, osteopathy, pole dancing, rockclimbing… again, the list goes on. Just get out there and think outside the box for how you can offer value to their business and then ask them about forging a referral partnership.
When it comes to asking your clients for referrals, this should be your bread and butter. I promise that if you’re providing value in terms of results then they’ll be your best advertisement.
But again, sometimes you have to ask. “Hey Annie, I’m so proud of you for losing that 5kg’s – do you think any of your friends or family members may also need some help losing some weight, too?”
It’s as simple as that.

4.    Develop a profile - a trusted profile

Develop a trusted profile in fitness

Be known. Be liked. Be trusted. Again, this one comes down to offering value, not only to your current clients and referral partners but also with anyone that you come into contact with.
You never know what a random conversation, a helpful blog, a social media post, or simply offering advice without trying to make a sale can do over the long term for your business.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you want a long-term and lucrative career in this industry then you need to see it as a marathon, not a sprint. Give great content/advice for free as often as possible - most other trainers won’t.
When you continually offer advice, help,  and content and do things that other trainers don’t do then you’ll be the first person people think about if someone asks about a trainer. This is called “top of mind awareness”.
Hopefully, these tips have helped open your eyes to the possibilities of the power that referral partnerships can have and what it takes to achieve them.
Work hard and good luck!

Enjoying reading James' fitness career advice? Get more tips on unlocking your potential from 18 of Australia's top fitness experts here.


James Anderson

James is the owner of a women’s only tribe based at Bondi Beach that focuses on strength and conditioning team training for optimal outcomes and long-lasting solutions.

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