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How to Create an Expansive Referral Network

Starting and expanding a business can be hard, but you can make this process much easier if you use referrals as a way to reach out to new customers. However, before you can do all that, there are a few important things to keep in mind. Your business must be somewhat “up to par” before you start attempting to reach out to new clients through referrals. Think about it. No one would refer a “crappy” business or service to a friend or family member. You want to make sure your customer LOVE you or at least quite like you before going down this route. But before I discourage you any further, take a look at some pointers I have below to get a better idea of where exactly you are and how you can get started!

1. Give people the results that they want.

You should know your customers pretty well by now. What they like, what they don’t like, and most importantly why they’ve chosen your business for their fitness or recreation needs. Hopefully, they’ll have seen the results they’re looking for and if they were satisfied they’ll come back OR refer a friend. By guaranteeing your clients and potential future clients the results that they want, you will definitely be on the fast track to establishing a large referral network!

2. Don’t forget why you are doing this.

While some of you may be in business in order to make a living, others of you may have very different goals such as wanting to help others achieve their best state and be their best self. Hey, both goals are great. To each their own, right? However, I tell you not to forget why you are in this business because that “initial spark” that prompted you to enter into your field of choice should work to motivate you to manage the best business you can. Plainly put, if you are driven by success, do what you think (friendlier customer service, better equipment, or cleaner facilities) will lead you to that success. On the other hand, if you are driven by helping others become better versions of themselves, I encourage you to keep that in mind and proceed from there.

3. Set up a realistic, but attractive referral program.

The very first step is to come up with a consistent referral system, which can include various benefit packages for referring clients and bringing in potential new clients. Another attractive deal to include in your referral program may actually be free merchandise such as free t-shirts and water bottles. You can even offer free sessions when your clients’ friends enroll in classes or sign up for membership. Although small, these incentives will appeal to some customers, and ultimately bring in larger numbers of referrals to your business.

Another even more effective method may be by offering exclusivity to the clients who end up bringing in new clients. You can create a tier consisting of different VIP statuses (bronze, silver, and gold) where each status offers different benefits that are not accessible to regular clients. For example, in order to get to a “bronze” status with opportunities for early registration, you must get at least 10 referrals. To get to a “silver” status with added benefits of equipment rental fees waivers and free locker access you must get at least 25 referrals. And last, but definitely not least, to get a “gold” status with discounted membership and all of the previous benefits, you must get at least 50 referrals.

Admittedly, starting a referral program can be hard. It’s kind of like taking that first step to go to the gym on a regular basis. I get it. I’ve been there. But I promise you that once you take that first, second, and third step, each step following will come much much more easily than it had previously. And ending with this in mind, I encourage you to take that first step towards a lasting referral program and ultimately, to a very successful business!

One thought on “How to Create an Expansive Referral Network

  1. Jess Stranger says:

    Useful tips. It’s also important to remember that a referral program takes time to build. When I lived in Albuquerque, I was the new gal in town. It took me a lot of networking, volunteering, rubbing elbows and doing favors to finally get to a point where I was being referred out to folks for paid gigs. You quickly learn, too, who is exploiting your position, which is a blessing in disguise, because you really only want to invest in those who invest in you. Great read.

    Jess ||


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