Your Guide to Starting a Fitness Business Referral Program

Referral programs are one of the most effective ways to increase sign ups in your arsenal. Experience shows that word of mouth is one of the most important factors in your business’s success, and referral programs provide both a great way to start a dialogue in the community, as well as a means of generating leads using your most important resource – your customers.

Whether you’re starting a new referral program, or looking to improve an existing one, the following pointers are guaranteed to make your life easier, and your program more effective.


Get people talking

The cornerstone of any referral program is conversation. People aren’t going to try and talk their friends into coming to their gym if they don’t feel passionate about it! Create a sense of community, keep the facilities spic and span, and offer a service that people can be proud of. One of the most important tools that you have in generating word of mouth is in front of the screen right now. The best thing about being a gym owner is being able to interact with all sorts of interesting, passionate and motivated people every day. Use this to your advantage by offering world class, personalised service. Importantly, take the time to seek out and listen to customer feedback whenever possible. Learn what your member’s needs are, and provide them with the best experience you can – they’ll be sure to tell their friends!


Decide on a format

Most referral programs at gyms consist of a target and an incentive. The target needs to be based on a concrete metric – generally number of people referred. The incentive is more open ended. While a lot of gyms offer membership discounts or other incentives along these lines, strategies can also involve an element of cross-selling, for example, offering free PT or nutrition services. Make sure that the incentive is strong enough to be enticing.

Another thing to consider is whether or not you want to incentivise based on number of referrals. This is generally a good idea, as most people will have a few potential leads within their friendship circles. Offering bonus incentives for people who refer more than three customers is a surefire way to draw out those social butterflies!

Get your staff involved

As mentioned before, good client relationships are key to maximising the effectiveness of your referral program. A fun way to keep competition up in the workplace is to create a double referral program! Assign each staff member their own unique referral code, and offer incentives for staff members who advertise the referral program (a referral program within a referral program – what is this, Inception?)

Even if you don’t get this complex, it is important that your staff understand how the referral program works, so that they can explain it to customers and prospective clients. It is a good idea to keep a breakdown of the program readily available, both for staff, and for any customers who might have questions.



Referral programs can take many forms, but even the best program will fall flat if people don’t know about it. Advertising materials should focus on the benefits which referral can bring to the member. Emphasise cost savings, value, and companionship (who doesn’t love working out with their friends!). Given that the referral program is only open to existing members, advertising should be limited to the gym location, as well as any mailing lists which you might have going. A proven method for encouraging customers to use the program is to offer a leader-board, showing a tally of the rewards which customers have earned through your referral program. This serves both to advertise the potential benefits of the program, and to encourage healthy competition amongst gym members – always a benefit!


Focus on the long term

As with any marketing strategy, referral programs cost money to run, and don’t necessarily have immediate benefits. In order to get the most out of your referral program, it is important to set both long term goals (i.e. attract 10 new customers in May) and long term goals (generate $10,000 in revenue from the referral plan in 2019). These will help you decide if your strategy is working, and allow you to tweak things to meet your business’s needs.

Are you passionate about fitness? Do you dream of owning your own gym? Fitstop are one of Australia’s fastest growing fitness franchises, and we want you on board! To get started on your path to gym ownership, contact us at today!


Your Guide to Selling Merchandise at Your Fitness Business

The secret to making the most out of any fitness business is maximising profitability through up-selling and cross-selling. While the most obvious revenue streams come through the traditional services which gyms have always offered such as personal training, classes and workshops, there are a number of other avenues for generating income which are definitely worth a look in.

Of these avenues, one of the most lucrative – and often overlooked – is merchandise and equipment sales. The fitness industry is one of the fastest growing industries in Australia, and there is a massive range of supplements, foods and equipment available. From the everyday necessities to niche items, there are so many opportunities for gym owners to keep their customers happy and improve sales.

Here are a few points to get you started selling merchandise at your gym – before you know it, you’ll have products flying off the shelves!


Start with the basics

There are some products that gym-goers are always going to need. Towels, water bottles and basic workout clothing are the obvious examples here. Having branded merchandise from your gym is a great idea with this sort of product, as it helps to remind customers about your gym, as well as providing free advertising! Additionally, branded merch is great for including in welcome packs as well as for giveaways and prizes.

In addition to these basic items, it is a good idea to have a range of essential nutritional supplements and foods. Protein bars and shakes are always a welcome addition to the front counter, and supplements like whey protein and creatine are always in demand.

These core essentials should form the basis of your merchandise range. A lot of successful gym owners never feel the need to expand beyond the ‘basics’ – there is a lot of revenue to be had here.


Keep up the up-selling

Up-selling is absolutely critical in creating a profitable gym business. As you start to develop a range of merchandise, keep your sales people and trainers informed about the items available, and consider offering bonuses and other incentives to keep sales strong. Offering information on how to use products, or choosing the right product, is a great way to encourage people to spend a little extra cash.


Target your efforts

The incredible breadth of the fitness industry, and the merchandise that comes along with it, can be both exciting and daunting. While it might feel like you absolutely must cater to everybody in the market with the latest technology and supplements, often it is more profitable to target a smaller section within the market. Do your research prior to investing in any new lines or products. Is this a product you can sell to your clients? Is this a product that they need? Thinking about these factors will make your life a lot easier in the long run (and will prevent you from ending up with a storeroom full of fidget spinners!)


Automate your sales

Vending machines are really easy to set up, and allow members to have access to your products without having to wait around. As long as you keep the machine stocked, well lit and positioned in an obvious place (right next to the entrance is ideal), you can guarantee yourself consistent sales year round. Vending machines save a heap of time, and can prove to be very profitable, particularly in high traffic locations.


Product visibility

Once you’ve developed your carefully curated range of merchandise, think about where you’re going to display. Somewhere close to the entrance, well lit and at eye level is ideal. Too many gym owners complain about poor merchandise sales without considering this simple factor! A little bit of extra thought here pays off massively in the long run – who is going to buy your products if they don’t know you have them?



Even if merchandise is only a relatively small revenue stream, it always pays to advertise your products, and keep members aware of your offerings. While you probably don’t want to allocate too much of your advertising budget to your merchandise sales, a few signs and email campaigns can really pay off in the long run.

At Fitstop, creating highly profitable and streamlined businesses is our business. We’ve got years of industry experiencing delivering world class fitness solutions to members and gym owners. If you’re embarking on the first steps to creating your ideal gym, head over to  and have a chat with the experts!



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