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How To Build A Referral Machine That Produces High-Ticket, Long-Term Clients Every Single Month

Are you generating new clients fast enough for your business to succeed?

If you’re like too many fitness professionals, probably not.

You know your biggest and most cost-effective source of great new clients (high-ticket clients who stay long term) should be referrals. But you probably struggle with not knowing when, where, and how to ask for referrals in a way that produces effective results.

Plus, you may worry your network isn't big enough and maybe “I'm not good enough to be worthy of referrals.”

That’s a normal worry, but until you resolve this, you’ll doubt whether your fitness career will be sustainable long-term and if you’ll ever make a professional income.

Fortunately, there are proven systems that will grow your network (whether it’s “too small” now or not), get your current clients and network referring, and consistently bring in great, long-term clients that fit your ideal client profile.

Here’s a quick overview of these systems:

1. Commit to making referrals the leading source of great new clients for your fitness business

Every fitness business needs efficient strategies and systems to acquire clients. New businesses need new clients to get going. Mid-sized businesses need clients to continue growing. And established businesses need clients to replace those that are leaving each month.

And that continuous “need” leads you and every other fitness professional and business owner right into a moment of truth: the COST of acquiring a new client.

How much does it cost you to find and sign up a new client? That means not just the money (such as advertising), but your time, energy and effort.

When you add it all up, you’ll see that bringing new clients in the door requires a significant investment!

Every dollar you save here in new client acquisition will make your business more profitable going forward. You want the most cost-efficient way to get new clients, and that’s through referrals, for everybody – whether you’re starting out or have multiple locations.

And when it comes to high-ticket clients, the more TRUST-based marketing (referrals and reviews) matter. That’s why referrals are one of the most effective ways to acquire new semi-private and private personal training clients.

Bottom line: Whatever the size of your fitness business is today, you’ve got to invest the time, effort, and energy required to build and grow a network that drives NEW clients in the door each month to succeed.

2. Learn simple strategies for building your network and partnerships

Most fitness professionals struggle with referrals in three areas:

These all take time to learn and master, but to get you on the right track, here’s a quick overview of five essential systems for personal trainers:

System #1: Professional Networking. Identify a professional referral network of at least three organizations (Chambers of Commerce, BNI, Meetup Groups) that will consistently refer high quality potential clients each and every month.

System #2: Strategic Alliances. Build a partner referral network of at least three businesses (such as doctors and physical therapists) that consistently refer high-quality potential clients every month.

System #3: Client Referral Contest. Host regular opportunities that incentivizes and inspires your existing clients to bring in and encourage their friends, family, and co-workers to join your program.

System #4: Bring a Buddy Week. Launch promotional campaigns that give current clients a good reason why they should refer, using a structured system that becomes part of your culture as a friendly place that feels like a second home.

System #5: Client Postcard Campaign. Provide current clients with special postcards they can hand sign and “gift” their friends and family with exclusive offers (not available anywhere else) that encourage their friends, family, and co-workers to join your program.

3. Discover the most effective ways to ask for referrals

Too many fitness professionals are reluctant to ask for referrals because of the simplest of reasons ... they’re just not sure how to ask for referrals, when, where ... even who.

The answer is to have a plan. Here’s four elements of an effective referral plan.

First, pay attention to timing. Be systematic about asking. The best timing is after someone signs up ... or makes a purchase ... or meets a goal. That’s when their engagement and enthusiasm is high.

Second, focus on the right clients ... the people you can help. Your clients care a lot about their friends and family. Tapping into what they care about is far more effective than making it about you. If you are still afraid of asking, remember to focus on the people you will be helping, and your referrer will be helping.

Third, be specific about who you are trying to reach. Are you looking for people who fell off the wagon who are making resolutions for the new year, or trying to get in shape for summer? Ask your clients if they have friends that meet that description. In addition to being clear on who you want, make sure to be clear on how you can help them and how they will benefit.

Fourth, reward referrals and you’ll get more. Many coaches don’t ever thank the people who send referrals their way. Expressing appreciation is not only the right thing to do, but it’ll encourage additional referrals.

Send a handwritten thank you note or a thoughtful, personalized gift. Thank them publicly (a shout-out on social media, your newsletter, and fitness facility bulletin boards all reinforces your gratitude). This creates a referral culture and encourages others to follow suit. And don’t forget referral bonuses and discounts, when it makes sense.


The most cost-effective new client acquisition strategy is referrals, but you have to invest the time, effort, and energy into building and growing a network that drives NEW clients in the door each month. Don’t leave this to chance. Instead, create and use systems to build and grow your referral network.

Finally, adjust those systems as needed to make them as efficient and effective as you can. Make sure members of your referral network can easily refer the right people, at the right time, so you can bring in new clients each and every month.

Learn how to earn a professional income in the fitness industry while making an impact working with clients you love. Take your passion for fitness and turn it into a successful business

Wake up every day with a plan on how to move forward toward your goals as a fitness professional. And earn a professional income while doing the work you love helping more people transform their lives at