How to Sell With Bonuses

A closeup of a gym owner's hands holding a gift wrapped in green paper.

The main reason gym owners give discounts?


There are a dozen reasons why discounting your price is bad marketing. I’ve covered them in the previous posts in this series.

There’s no denying that a limited-time offer can push a teetering lead into signing up when they’re in your office. The problem is that if you offer them a percentage off the membership price, you’ll give them a discount worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars when a free water bottle might be enough.

For example, if you charge $150 per month, you offer 20 percent off to firefighters, and your average client stays for 1.5 years, that’s a gift worth $540 to every firefighter in your gym.

Could you afford to pay $540 to recruit every new client?

Could you afford to donate $540 to a local firefighter right now? How about every firefighter who walks into your gym?

Most of us don’t do the math. We try to solve a short-term problem (how to get them to sign up) but create a long-term problem in the process (not enough cash, unequal pricing).

So how can we push potential clients across that line? With bonuses.

Bonuses That Don’t Break the Bank

A little added value beats a lower price.

Think about these options:

1. “If you register for our on-ramp before Christmas, I’ll give you our Holiday Meal Planner guide for free. It’s usually $79, but I think it would really help you.”

2. “I think that nutrition coaching is your ideal starting point, but I’d like to help you build an exercise routine while we’re dialing in your nutrition habits. So if you’re up for it, I’ll give you a 30-day walking plan if you’re ready to start today. How does that sound?”

3. “Tell you what: I was going to say, ‘Let’s start after the holidays,’ but that story you told me really hits home. Why don’t we bring your husband in for a 2:1 personal-training session next week? It’s usually $105, but this time it’s on me. I think that will help keep you on track. How’s that sound?”

Remember, the bonus you give must be valuable to the client. That doesn’t mean it’s expensive to produce or takes a lot of effort on your part.

Real-World Example

My favorite “bonus” ever: I was sitting in a No Sweat Intro session with an undercover cop. We were talking about his job and the long hours he spent sitting in trucks, waiting for something to happen.

I made him a prescription and promised homework that he could do to keep from seizing up on stakeouts. But then I asked, “How do you keep from getting bored all the time?”

He said, “It’s a challenge. I listen to audiobooks.”

I pulled up my audiobook catalogue and showed him some of my favourites. He’d read some of them, but we spotted three others that I thought he’d love.

I said, “OK, I’m going to send you these three audiobooks. On me.”

He was taken aback. “Um … what?”

“I’m going to ask you what you think about them at our PT sessions. OK?” I said.

“You’re giving me homework?” he laughed.

I said, “I’m serious!”

“OK, sign me up,” he said. “This was great. Before I came in, I was worried this was going to be some kind of sales pitch or something!”

He signed up for our $400-per-month premium service—and then signed up his wife and son, too.

Consider Value

Bonuses can help you sign up a client who’s not sure. But there’s no need to injure your business long term by giving a lifetime discount.

What is an asset that has value to the client but can be given away by the gym for free? Think about a free guide, a template, a planner, even a course.

Don’t think about a free month of classes—that’s too valuable.

Other Media in This Series

“The Discount Death Spiral: A String of Huge Mistakes”
“How to Say ‘No’ to Discounts”


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.