Essential Gym Marketing Funnels: The Referral Funnel

An illustration of a person using a large red wrench to fix a pipe connected to a large funnel.

Your gym needs more than one way to get clients.

Most gyms ride a roller coaster because they aren’t consistent in their marketing. They see something, try it, get a few clients and then drop it to try the next thing.

Successful gyms have up to four marketing funnels working for them all the time. In this series, I’m going to lay out each one: from getting attention at the top of the funnel to collecting information to nurturing leads to book a free consultation. Two-Brain clients have these funnels broken down step by step, including all tools and scripts, in our Growth Toolkit.

Every funnel we built leads to a free consultation we call a No Sweat Intro (NSI).

Each funnel also makes the other three funnels work better. If your referral funnel is working well, then every client you bring in from the ads funnel will become two clients, which improves your return on ad spend.

Let’s start with referrals.

The Referral Funnel

Most gyms treat referrals as a passive process. But no gym has time to wait. To make this funnel effective, gym owners simply have to ask for referrals.

Top of funnel: Your current clients book a Goal Review Session in which they meet with a coach to review progress.

If the client is satisfied with progress, you can ask them to bring their spouse in for a two-on-one private session with you to try out the service.

Alternately, you can just say, “Is there anyone else in your life who would like to see the same progress you’ve made?”

Mid-funnel: You call the potential referral.

While your client is still with you in the office, you call their friend or spouse and say, “Hey, Jane, it’s Chris from Catalyst Gym. I’m sitting here with Mary. She’d like to invite you in to work out with her! What do you say?”

You could also text the referral while the client is still with you, or email them and copy the client. You want to have the client “in the room” with you so the referral feels a pull to say “OK!”

Bottom of funnel: You do a two-on-one session, then ask the referral and the client to do an NSI with you right after the session.

Don’t ask “how did you like it?” but instead follow a script and sell the benefits of your service (fitness, self-love, weight loss, etc.), not the features (hard workouts).

Referred Clients Are the Best Clients

We all know that referred clients are the best kind of new members to get. They’re pre-filtered for personality and price. They have a friend in the gym, so their retention is usually better. And when one client adds a spouse, the whole is more than the sum of the parts. You can really change the lives of an entire family!

Because referrals are so important, I like to get even more directive.

Going into a goal review, I make sure I know the name of at least one important person in the client’s life. I ask specifically about that person in the session. This way, the client doesn’t have to brainstorm names or assume that none of their friends would want to join.

Take the lead and you’ll see far greater results. We call this Affinity Marketing, and we teach it in the Growth Toolkit to Two-Brain clients.

The most important aspect of the referral funnel is this: You never stop using it. If you try it once and don’t get a new client, don’t give up. The process requires practice until it feels natural.

Remember, it’s worth trying again and again to save the life of a client’s spouse or best friend.

Other Media in This Series

“The Content Funnel”
“The Organic Social Media Funnel”
“The Paid Ads Funnel”


One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.