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Tips for Trainers: 6 Steps to Up Your Client Referral Game

September 25, 2017

You landed a client. They see results and love you, and will definitely keep you on their schedule forever and tell all their friends and family members about how much success you helped them achieve…


That really depends on your follow-up activity and relationship with the client. Building trust with your current and past clients is an essential part of getting client referrals. You can step up your client referral game by following these six steps:

Step 1: Commit to the Process

The process of getting client referrals takes a lot of time and energy, so it’s important that you stick to it.

Focus less attention on trolling the gym for new clients or other methods of marketing, and instead use your resources to cultivate trust and referrals from current or past clients.

Step 2: Create Your Client List

If you are a newer trainer, you can build your client referral list without having had past clients. Think of family, friends, and friends of friends that you can reach out to. When doing so, be a little picky so you know you’re asking the right person to refer you. Ask yourself these questions, and if you say yes to them, by all means reach out:

  • Have you met this person face-to-face?
  • Do they know you?
  • If you asked this person out to lunch, would they accept?

Step 3: Make a Plan & Stick To It

Now that you know who you will follow up with, determine how you will follow up with them and how often. Mix it up! Constant phone calls can become a nuisance, so if possible, email or text them.

A general rule of thumb is three “touches” per month. Plan that calendar! Are you planning on hosting free trials or a Bring A Friend For Free Week? If so, great! These are excellent ways to offer incentives to try you out and help boost client referrals by renewing interest in past clients and letting potential new clients learn about your services.

Step 4: Track Your Results

Now that you are committed and have a plan, start reaching out to your referral list! Track results to benchmark your progress. You can easily track client referrals by asking clients simple questions like how they found you and documenting the results in programs like Microsoft Excel.

Knowing how clients find you – be it by word of mouth, online searches, or even another trainer – will help determine your next steps and take advantage of those resources.

Step 5: Request Reviews

In this day and age, reviews are a main factor when determining the quality of a service. So when clients research personal trainers in your area, reviews are often the very first thing they look at before calling or visiting a gym.

Requesting reviews from clients is a good step in building up your reputation online and off. If you get a negative review, don’t stress it and handle it with grace and dignity. In fact, negative reviews can be useful since they help you learn where you can improve. Also, don’t leave reviews for yourself in order to boost your ratings—this violates the terms of service for review sites like Yelp and you could get penalized.

Before using a client’s reviews in your own marketing, it is good practice to make sure you ask their permission first, as some may not be comfortable with being publicized.

If a client isn’t comfortable leaving a review online, encourage them to remember you when a friend or family member is looking for a trainer. Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool – if they choose not to leave a review, respect that choice.

Step 6: Keep Up With Past & Current Clients

Close that circle. Don’t let any past or current clients fall off your radar. Regular check-ins with current clients are what help you be a great trainer, but following up with past clients can be key as well. The next time a past client wants to jump back on the wagon, you want their first call to be to you.

Many trainers may feel awkward about reaching out to past clients, especially the ones that stopped showing up unexpectedly; but reaching out every now and then to touch base or just ask how they are or how their day is going may put you back at the forefront of their mind.

Don’t think about coming across as pushy or sales-y; think about coming across as thoughtful – some people may be glad you reached out (even if it is just a text message!)

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