referral program

The More the Merrier: PushPress Hacks for the Ultimate Referral Program

A referral program can be powerful and effective for driving revenue and retention in your gym. Here are five steps to launch one in your gym today!

Emily Beers
June 25, 2024
The More the Merrier: PushPress Hacks for the Ultimate Referral Program
A referral program can be powerful and effective for driving revenue and retention in your gym. Here are five steps to launch one in your gym today!

One of the easiest - and most overlooked - ideas for gym growth is an effective referral program. It’s tried-and-true because a personal recommendation is the best form of marketing.

Here’s an example. Let’s say a new pizza place opens up in town with a giant billboard that proclaims, “Best pizza in the country!” You may or may not believe the advertising, and maybe you’ll get around to trying a slice soon. But then your best friend texts you, “Just tried the new pizza place. It’s the best pizza I’ve ever had.”

Boom. You’re going.

The same concept rings true for your gym referral program. A word-of-mouth recommendation from someone who’s already a member is gold. And oftentimes, the biggest reason you’re not getting referrals is that you’re not asking for them.

Word of mouth marketing
Referrals are king when it comes to gym marketing, so ask members to invite friends.

It’s not complicated. Today, we’re talking about the simple ways that PushPress can help you set up a powerful referral program at your gym.

Five Ways to Step Up Your Referral Game.

1. Craft an Offer for Your Referral Program.

The goal with creating an offer for your referral program is simply to make it enticing enough to get people to act. First, there has to be something in it for your members. Second, you want prospective members to want to act immediately.

In some ways, the process can look similar to crafting an offer for paid ads. The difference is in the delivery. With paid ads, the message pops up randomly in someone’s social feed. But with a referral program, it’s coming from a friend or family member who already belongs to your gym.

Start with ideas that provide value and motivate people to take action. It can be as simple as giving away some free gym merchandise, but creativity is always key. For example, Robert Schwartz, owner of All Fit Orlando, did a referral contest for an all-expenses-paid vacation!

Remember, the offer you come up with doesn’t have to be detrimental to your gym’s bottom line. In fact, using high-ticket gym services as an incentive could potentially lead to upselling members in their fitness journey. For example, referring a friend could get members a free nutrition consultation, InBody scan or discount on their first month of individual design programming.

2. Create a Landing Page for the Offer.

Simplicity is key for your gym’s referral program. And that means not only designing a clear offer but making it easy for people to act when they’re ready. Too many steps or ambiguous directions can lead people to feel like it’s more trouble than it’s worth.

Making it simple for customers to take action is one of the reasons the PushPress team created Landing Pages in PushPress Core. Landing Pages can be created for everything from membership plans to new programs. Each one has a unique URL so a referral can simply enter their info and get rolling. Plus, you can create QR codes so it’s even easier for your members to share the info with their friends.

Pro Tip: Want to learn more about the PushPress tools that can save you time and help you manage operations more efficiently? Book a demo with our team today!

3. Include the Referral Offer in Your New Member Workflow.

Once you’ve created the offer and a Landing Page for it to live online, it’s time to spread the word. The best time to let members know about your referral program is right after they’ve joined your gym. After all, they’re likely excited about their new fitness program and would love to share the journey with others.

Tell new members about referral program
Spread the word about your referral program to new members via email and text.

The automated workflows in PushPress Grow are a perfect way to introduce the program and remind members along the way. While you’re giving them all the details about your gym, policies, events, etc., be sure to mention the referral program. Here’s an example:

“Welcome to the [your gym name] family! We know that fitness can be even more fun when we share it with the most important people in our lives. So you have the privilege of offering your friends and family an introductory session with one of our coaches. Referrals are immensely valuable to us so we want to give you a token of our appreciation for helping us grow our community. In return for inviting family and friends, you’ll receive a free nutrition coaching session for yourself!”

Remember, your members won’t always take action the first time they hear about the offer. So set up an automated workflow to give them an occasional nudge. This could be once every couple of months, with a quick text asking them to extend an invite to the important people in their life.

4. Host a Bring-a-Friend Event.

Before you shake your head and think, ‘I’ve tried that old school bring-a-friend thing and it didn’t work,’ we invite you to give it another try. Because the key to results with these events is in the planning and marketing. And good news: It’s doesn’t have to be complicated!

Here’s a quick checklist to make bring-a-friend an integral part of your referral program.

  • Six weeks before the event: Confirm the date with your team of coaches. Create a social post to share the details with members and leads. Send an automated text and email asking members to save the date, and invite friends.
  • Three weeks before the event: Schedule multiple social posts with varying messages. Use testimonials from current members or movement demonstrations that include a CTA about the event at the end. Design QR code signage that links to the event signup and put them up around the gym. And don’t forget to share the invite in the Social Feed of the PushPress Members App.
  • One week out from the event: Repurpose the social posts you made from two weeks ago. Remind coaches to mention the bring-a-friend day during class announcements. Send one final email and text reminder in PushPress Grow asking members to invite friends. And most importantly, be ready with an incentive for guests to become a member at your event!
Pro Tip: Use the Social Planner in PushPress Grow to save time and automate your social media posts!

5. Take Your Referral Program Follow-Up to the Next Level.

Hosting a bring-a-friend event or launching a referral program are only stepping stones along the path to creating the ultimate member experience. And the final step is a strong follow-up game.

Nurture leads with automated workflows
PushPress Grow helps you nurture leads properly with automated workflows.

First, it’s important to recognize any members that have invited friends or family. A text is great to say thank you to the guests that came to check out your gym. But to really wow your members, take the time to send a hand-written thank you card. The gesture speaks volumes, as it requires more time and effort, and truly shows your level of appreciation.

Second, create a plan for anyone who has visited your gym but hasn’t yet signed up as a member. Just because they didn’t take action immediately doesn’t mean they aren’t interested. Enter them into an automated workflow in PushPress Grow and let the system nurture them along.

Finally, include images and offers about the referral program or bring-a-friend event in your gym newsletter and social media. The more your members and leads see the referral messaging, the greater the chance of them inviting a friend to check out your gym.

In Summary: A Strong Referral Program Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated.

Oftentimes, we tend to think about gym referrals as being organic or occurring naturally. But a powerful referral program takes a few more steps than just hoping and waiting.

Start by crafting an offer that entices members to act. Then create a Landing Page to make the process quick and simple. Next, spread the word by including details for new and long-term members. Consider hosting a bring-a-friend event as well. And no matter how new leads come into your gym, step up your follow-up game. This will help you increase gym revenue and retention for the long term.

Emily Beers

Emily Beers is a health, fitness and nutrition writer. She has also been coaching fitness at MadLab School of Fitness in Vancouver, B.C. since 2009.

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