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Refer a friend schemes… Fortune or failure?

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Many health and fitness clubs, gyms, and leisure centres operate ‘refer a friend’ schemes, but do they really work? Well, the simple answer is yes. However, there is a proviso: A ‘refer a friend’ scheme will work brilliantly only if it’s implemented, managed and marketed correctly.

Countless health and fitness clubs, gyms, and leisure centres seem to operate a ‘refer a friend’ scheme with lethargy, when in all truthfulness it could be a profitable and successful way to generate interest and boost membership sales.

‘Refer a friend’ schemes appear to be add-ons at many health and fitness clubs, gyms, and leisure centres. Competitors are doing it. But rather than really thinking about a unique and enticing way in which to run a ‘refer a friend’ scheme, health and fitness clubs, gyms, and leisure centres’ sales teams just jump on the bandwagon and offer the same hook.

However, times are changing. The health and fitness industry is becoming increasingly competitive. And, as a result, it’s noticeably more difficult for health and fitness clubs, gyms, and leisure centres to attract and retain new members. So that’s why I thought it was a good opportunity to address the reasons why you won’t be getting enough referrals – and the concerns and issues you need to overcome in order to transform your ‘refer a friend’ scheme into a profitable method by which to increase membership sales.

Let’s take a closer look at how to rejuvenate your ‘refer a friend’ scheme:

Fear factor. First and foremost, it’s human nature to be concerned about recommending products or services to friends and relatives if there’s any possible fear of blame or disapproval. For example, your members may fear their friends won’t receive an excellent level of customer service. Perhaps your members fear their friends won’t like their workout experience or the advice provided to them, or there’s a lack of trust and little rapport. Or maybe your members fear their friend could misinterpret their recommendation to join, and perhaps they are seen as wanting to achieve personal gain.

Address your members’ fears with reassurance and confidence. Your ‘refer a friend’ scheme has everyone’s best interests at heart, and it’s a fantastic way for members – and friends – to enjoy working out together. Why not promote your ‘refer a friend’ scheme as a gym buddy scheme instead. It’s proven that working out with a gym buddy can help to increase efficiency and boost results, so here’s your opportunity to explore alternative marketing methods.

Comfort factor. How comfortable do your members feel with your membership sales team and your health and fitness club, gym, or leisure centre as a whole? There’s no denying that health and fitness clubs, gyms, and leisure centres can be daunting places, so it’s important that you and your teams establish a friendly, customer-focused environment. Furthermore, it’s crucial that your ‘refer a friend’ scheme is well marketed and very clear. Members don’t have the time or the inclination to read long-winded spiel. So make sure your ‘refer a friend’ scheme is quick and easy to both explain – and for members to follow.

Enthusiasm factor. Sometimes there’s no denying that membership sales teams simply can’t be bothered to encourage members to refer a friend, or that it’s too much effort for them to sit and explain how it works to members. Address this by incentivising your membership sales team, and providing them with clear, concise and simple instructions on what should be an easy-to-follow process.

To find out more about how your health and fitness club, gym or leisure centre can benefit from an effective ‘refer a friend’ scheme, or for further information on the importance of leadership and sales coaching, training and mentoring, please call +44 (0) 7815 800 939 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today.



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Guest Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Your knowledge, passion and expertise in helping us to find the right front of house staff has been invaluable. You have trained, inspired and developed our front of house staff to deliver exceptional service. How do we know this? Feedback about customer service from our tenants have improved and we will continue to work with you in the future. Thank you Nurturing Skills.

Rob Court, Training development for Guardian News and Media

Since the training has been delivered by Nurturing Skills we are monitoring sales and the process more closely. For example sales targets, enquiries to appointments, appointments to sales, and sales to referral are all monitored daily and as a result of the process we have increased.

  • Sales by 30%
  • Enquires to appointment by 70%
  • Appointment to sale by 55%
  • Point of sale referral by 45%

Barnsley Premier Leisure

For anyone looking to improve the sales performance, customer retention or customer service within their organisation, then there is no place better than to start with Lesley Aitken. Not only is she a charismatic trainer who is commercially astute but she quickly understands the needs of your business and puts them first before considering any monetary gain for her own organisation.

Trafford Community Leisure

Lesley Aitken is a very professional influential and highly passionate speaker. Highly interesting and motivational group coaching skills. Lesley has the ability to improve all major aspects of selling and the latest techniques to dramatically improve your business in just one day. An expert in her field and will get you and your colleagues the vital KPI's to improve your business.

General Manager at The Gym Group