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How to Set Up Referral Systems

Getting Started
March 28, 2023
tim saye

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Every personal trainer should make a dedicated effort to generate as many referrals as possible.

There can be some awkwardness when trying to get client referrals after a session. You know they're eager to return to work or go home, so the last thing you want to do is bother them with a request.

So, with that in mind, we've created a guide to help you set up a foolproof referral system for your personal trainer business. This will ensure you get as many personal training referrals as possible, which will help you grow your brand!

What are referral systems for personal trainers?

Referral systems for personal trainers are programs or systems you create to generate client referrals. You can implement many different systems, but they all share the same goal.

The idea is that one client refers you to someone else, and that person could then become a new client. If you get this new client to refer you, they bring another new client. Now, imagine each client refers you to five other people - many new clients are coming your way.

Now, it's not 100% guaranteed that every referral will result in a client. You still need to sell yourself to the person your client referred you to. The good news is that you're in the perfect position to do this, and there is a high likelihood that a person will pay for your training services.

Why do personal trainers need referrals?

All businesses will benefit from referrals, but personal trainers need them more than most.


Your fitness business relies on your reputation. People pick personal trainers based on the results they provide - and how good of a trainer they are. The only way to know this is by asking around. If your clients are making referrals for you, it's their way of saying, "look, you can trust this person, they're an awesome trainer, and I like working with them."

Immediately, you're in a great position to convert leads to clients because people trust you more. With a sound referral system, you create your own little network. More and more referrals come in as you train more clients, allowing your business to grow.

Referrals are one of the top ways personal trainers can get new clients and make more money. The 2016 Harris Poll survey conducted online on behalf of Ambassador revealed surprising but essential information about how Americans behave before deciding on a purchase. 82% of the responders said they seek recommendations from friends and family when considering a purchase.

How do you set up a referral system?

Firstly, you don't want to set up one referral system - you want multiple referral systems for personal trainers. Taking a multi-pronged approach will help you generate more referrals over time. Here are some of the best ideas that have the highest success rates:

#1 The Free Taster System

Most personal trainers will offer a free taster to show prospective clients what working with them is like. More often than not, these sessions have exceedingly high conversion rates.

This referral method involves capitalizing on your free sessions. When you've completed a taster session, tell the client you can offer free tasters to friends or family. Hand them some business cards/vouchers to give to people they know.

The benefit of this system is that you hand people something physical. In addition, it provides a mental jog in their brains, making them more inclined to refer you to others. All you need to do is take them through a killer taster session that wows the client. They'll be in a fantastic mood, and your business cards may make them think of a friend who'd love your services.

When new prospects come for a free taster, repeat the process for more referrals!

#2 The Rewards System

Rewards systems are perfect for personal trainers trying to get more clients.

This type of referral system follows a straightforward concept:

You encourage clients to refer your services to other people

Each referral they generate counts towards an overall goal

When they reach the goal, they're rewarded

For example, you coach a client and tell them about your referral system. If they refer you to three people - and these three people become paying clients - they get a discount on their next session or plan. Every five referrals could be a more significant discount.

It's up to you how you want to run this system, but the premise is simple. Your clients bring in referrals, and they get rewarded with discounts or free sessions. It benefits them, so they're more likely to refer you.

#3 The Competition System

Every good personal trainer should create a community. This helps your clients feel part of something and also aids with accountability. They can all talk to each other on social media, WhatsApp, or through a group coaching feature like the one PT Distinction has.

Communities don't just bring clients together and enhance their experience - they also present referral opportunities through competitions.

You can run competitions on your social channels for clients to partake in. For example, you could offer things like free sessions, free gym gear, free protein shakes, etc. Ensure the entry requirements include referrals - get each entrant to refer you to two other people.

It's a genius way of getting many referrals as people want to win the prizes. You only hand out one award but could gain dozens of new referrals.

#4 The Progress System

Now, this isn't technically a referral system. Instead, we're talking about using your client's progress to generate referrals.

If you are an excellent trainer who helps clients achieve their goals effectively, there's a bigger chance they'll refer you themselves. They'll be so overjoyed with the progress that they can't wait to show it to everyone. Cue a social media post thanking you and recommending you to everyone.

Alternatively, you can take advantage of their high spirits when they hit big progress points. As they happily look at the new progress pictures and see how far they've come, ask if they'd be happy to refer you to others. After all you've done for them, they'll think it's the least they can do.


All in all, referral systems for personal trainers are brilliant at attracting new clients. Most of your business comes from word-of-mouth marketing, which is the best way to solidify your reputation as a trustworthy and effective trainer. Try the above ideas to create personal training referral systems and expand your client base.

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