How to Receive Automatic Referrals from Your Personal Training Clients

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If you don’t have a referral system in place, you’re losing dozens of potential new clients. Check out this system and learn the right way to ask for referrals. (If you do this wrong, you will lose clients!)

If your referrals have been lagging lately, consider whether you’ve developed a systematic approach to asking for them. Are you afraid that asking for referrals will make you sound desperate? Or do you feel guilty about impinging on clients because you believe you should be building your business “on your own” through marketing efforts? If so, you’re not alone.

Many fitness professionals let these kinds of irrational feelings stand between them and the referral business they deserve. But in reality, cultivating referrals is a basic business building tool for all professionals—doctors, lawyers, landscapers, and everyone else who’s running a client-based business.

In fact, referrals will become a natural extension of good client relationships if you make it part of your daily business to consistently cultivate them. In other words, all you have to do to get the referrals you want is to get over yourself and start asking for them on a regular basis.

When to ask

Although you’ve always got to decide based on the relationship and situation, these are a couple of the obvious moments when you should systematically consider asking for a referral:

·        When you’ve just demonstrated your value—a great time to ask is right after a client just met a goal or was pleased with the results of an assessment.

·        When someone first becomes a client—if someone is contracting for your services, they must believe in your ability to deliver results. This is a great time to ask who else she thinks would benefit from the experience.

How to ask

Each fitness professional develops his or her own style for asking for referrals or “introductions,” as some prefer to call them. Work the following conversation starters into your routine interactions with clients, and you will find that the subject of referrals naturally arises.

Ask for feedback: Asking your clients about your performance as well as the qualities that they look for in a fitness professional is a great way to segue into suggesting introductions to their friends and colleagues. You can ask specific questions about your performance, such as those above, or more general questions like, “What do you think is the most valuable thing a fitness professional can offer?”

Ask for insights: If you have a client in a particular niche that you’re cultivating, don’t hesitate to ask her for advice on targeting others in the niche. Let clients know specifically who you are looking for, whether it’s athletes, post-pregnancy women, busy executives, or another group. Mention what services you provide, and ask what those particular people are looking for. This lets your client know that you’re targeting folks specifically like her and leads naturally to talking about friends and colleagues who could use your expertise.

Position referrals as helping friends: Some fitness professionals inform clients that they get paid in two ways—dollars and referrals. Offer yourself as an alternative for friends and colleagues who are adrift without fitness guidance or who have an unsatisfactory relationship with their current fitness professional.

Act quickly

Whether you prefer phone calls, emails, or snail mail, it is important to make contact with referrals right away so that you demonstrate respect for your client’s willingness to share information with you. Inviting the referral to participate in a session free of charge or in a semi-private session with their friend is a low risk barrier to entry that will likely get you an opportunity to build value in what you have to offer.

Take an attitude of gratitude

When clients give you referrals, they show you that they appreciate and benefit from your services. The best thing you can do is show your appreciation in return by thanking them with a gift. Choose an appropriate gift for your clients that shows you know them and their interests.

Referrals should be the lifeblood of your business, but if you don’t have a systematic approach to generating them, you’re likely missing out on most of your referral opportunities.

Pat Rigsby has helped thousands of fitness pros build their businesses through his products and coaching programs. You can instantly download his free Fitness Profit Package by visiting

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