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By taking care of  your clients after the initial sale developing a relationship with them and creating an irresistible experience for them you will never have to ask for referrals again Photo by Thinkstock
<p>By taking care of your clients after the initial sale, developing a relationship with them and creating an irresistible experience for them, you will never have to ask for referrals again. <em>Photo by Thinkstock.</em></p>

Health Clubs Can Redefine Referral Process to Keep Clients Coming Back

Health clubs can redefine the referral cycle if they create positive member experiences. This means building relationships and taking care of their clients after the initial sale, and creating a training experience that leads people to want to come back and take the next step. &nbsp;

Typically, three types of people sit down for a sales consultation to join our gyms:

  1. Seekers who are curious about health, fitness and living better;
  2. Starters who are new to a journey of living fit and healthy; and
  3. Returners who have some training experience but have been away for a while.

At the close of the first sale, most new clients are excited about what the future will hold. They are filled with hope that this time it will be different than the last four. This time they will stick with a routine and promise to wake up early four days a week. This time they will burn the excess baby weight, even though their youngest child is five years old. This time they will regain their youth and stop eating all the processed fake food.

We are taught to ask for referrals at this point in the initial sale. We are taught to offer new members a gift, such as a coupon, gym bag or free training session, in return for a few names. We are taught to catch them in the moment of impulse, when they are excited about the quest they are about to embark on before they have even trained with us one time.

We're also taught slick scripts, such as:

  • The simple one: "Why don't we add your spouse for only X dollars per month?"
  • Bait and hook: "You'll get great results, especially if you have a partner to work out with."
  • Buddy workout: "Who have you discussed getting fit with lately?"

Has anyone stopped to ask: Does this new client really know, like and trust us yet? Have they had enough time to develop a relationship with us to know which one of their friends would truly enjoy training at our facility? Are we trying to get referrals now because we don't actually take care of them well after the initial trial period is over?

Redefining the Referral Cycle

The primary win, vision, mission or whatever we want to call it for new clients is simply this: To create a training experience that leads people to want to come back and take a next step.

A good measure for this is:

  • Clients come back. 
  • Clients take the next step to eating and sleeping better. 
  • Clients invite others to come and experience our facility. 

People talk about experiences. They become raving fans of the experience. They invite others to join in for the experience, not because we cold call them or hand out a free week's pass.

Think about it this way: Does your favorite new restaurant bribe you to bring your friends and experience a meal? Does the fancy hotel give you a free night's stay because you referred a friend that stayed with them? Does a local coffee shop give you free coffee for telling your friends to meet there on Saturday morning? Our drive to get referrals should come from taking care of our clients long after the initial sale has closed. It should come from creating irresistible experiences that cater not only to the fit and healthy but also create comfort for the unfit and unhealthy seeking to join a community. It should come from coming to blows with the status quo in how we continuously date and pursue our clients months and years into their membership with us.

When people are convinced you want something for them rather than something from them, they are more likely to encourage their friends and family to come and experience a facility that's anything but average. Create experiences. Build relationships. Repeat daily. Never ask for referrals again.

Let me know if you agree with this concept or if think asking for referrals right after the sale is a better approach. Share in the comments section below. 

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