Tactical Referrals: Go Where Your Members Go

A determined woman running through electrified wires in an obstacle-course race.

“Where do my best clients congregate when they’re not in my gym?”

Whatever your answer is, you should go there.

My first three clients were teen athletes, and my next 30 clients were their teammates or parents.

That’s because I used to show up at track meets carrying a tent and a banner. The Catalyst colors are black, silver and chartreuse because that shade of green is visible from a greater distance than any other color, so my tent stood out.

My clients would show up to stretch with me before their races or games. Their friends would see them, and I’d often say, “It’s OK to bring your friends with you!”

Did I ask permission? Never. But I was never told to go away, either. Parents would point me out to other parents. I used to come home from these events with two or three new clients to call the following day.

I’ve joined local Facebook groups, business groups and sports training groups. I’ve volunteered to coach teams. I’ve set up tables at various events to connect with attendees. I’ve done free seminars at businesses and clubs. I’ve made it my personal goal to shake 365 new hands in a year.

This approach works because you are the ultimate lead magnet.
Stop burying yourself behind a keyboard or a smartphone and go meet some people!

Here, I’ll give you three ways to “go where your clients are” and come away with more leads.

1. Events and Competitions

You run a gym, and your clients use their fitness outside your building. So what do they do?

Do they participate in fun runs? Fitness competitions? Spartan Races? Golf tournaments?

When you have your answer, offer a prep program six to 12 weeks out from the event. Promote it internally first, then externally. Ensure the price per session is higher than that for your normal classes. Choose one coach to run the program and pay 44 percent of the revenue collected. (Two-Brain clients get a full playbook for several types of events—including promotional materials and programming for events such as a Spartan Race.)

Next, contact the event organizers and let them know you plan to get them more registrations. Sometimes they’ll promote your program for you (this is rare but awesome when it happens).

In the best-case scenario:

  • Your clients sign up for your prep course, which increases your average revenue per member.
  • Non-members who plan to do the event sign up for your prep course. Be sure you get to know them and tell them how you can help them reach their fitness goals after the course ends.
  • You train a large crew of people who will represent a significant presence at the event.

When the event rolls around, show up in force. Bring banners, sidewalk chalk and noisemakers. Wear gym T-shirts or gym colors. Be supportive and be seen!

Hand out high-fives, get to know other participants and crank out social media during and after the event. People are going to notice you, and some will even approach you.

When you are asked a question, that’s your opportunity to help.

Example: “How did your crew recover so fast between events?”

“We did a seminar on competition nutrition and helped them get their food together ahead of time. Want me to send you a PDF with some info?”

Collect the email address and add it to your mailing list. You just acquired a new lead. After you send the PDF, check in with the person: “What did you think of the info?” Get the conversation going, and when the time is right, book a No Sweat Intro.

In some cases, you can even book No Sweat Intros right on the spot: “I’d be happy to talk to you about a personalized training plan. Let’s meet at my gym Tuesday at 10 a.m.!”

This is such a great tactic because you generate revenue right away, you connect with people in person, and you raise the profile of your business in the community, which has a downstream effect.

In my case: “I see that green Catalyst Gym banner everywhere.”

When that person is ready to join a gym, who will they call?

Tactic 2: Lunch and Learn

Think about where your clients work: How can you help a member’s co-workers? These people generally have the same incomes, schedules and problems as your member—which means they’re a perfect fit for your gym.

And they’ve probably heard of you because your member no doubt mentions your business from time to time.

When a client mentions a stressful period at work, jump in to help them.

“Hey, Steve—I know you’re weathering year end like a boss. You’re still training four times per week and eating well. Way to go!

“How can I help your coworkers? How about a short seminar on how to eat well during stressful times? I can come in for a half hour at lunch to give them some tips and an eating guide. Would that help?”

Then show up with five clear bullet points and a call to action.

Get the email addresses and phone numbers of all attendees so you can follow up.

Your call to action: “I really enjoy working out with Steve. You guys know how much fun he is. I told him I’d help all of you if I can. Here’s my offer: If you want to ask your questions in private, you can book a 15-minute coaching call with me. My card is on your desks. And tomorrow I’ll send you the link to my calendar through your email address.”

These people don’t know you well, so they might require a bit more nurturing before they book a consultation. However, Steve is your ace in the hole, and his recommendation will carry weight with his peers.

Tactic 3: Booths and Magnets

All communities have events—fairs, expos, festivals and so on.

Whenever you see an opportunity to set up a booth or table, do it!

All you have to do is create some hook to get people to stop and talk. You can do this by giving away some schwag—perhaps through a draw. People sign up for your newsletter and provide contact info in exchange for a chance to win a free PT session.

A different approach: Offer a free InBody scan in exchange for contact info. This costs you nothing if you have a portable scanning machine.

You can also create a “lead magnet”—say, “Top 5 Healthy Dinners for Busy Parents.” You’ll have to create that document, but keep it simple and then use it forever (Two-Brain clients have access to our Content Vault, complete with done-for you magnets). Once you have your lead magnet, give it away in exchange for contact info.

Your goal at an event is to start conversations, collect contact info and maybe even book some No Sweat Intros on the spot. After the event, nurture your leads—personally or with automations. You will get clients if you do that.

Go Where They Go!

When my gym needs five new clients, I don’t turn to Instagram. I go where my clients are.

Do this right now: Ask yourself where your very best clients spend their time when they aren’t at your gym. Then use one of the tactics above to connect with the people who are close to them.


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.