Many health clubs find that much of their new membership sales may be credited to member referrals. With this in mind, the prospect pool for referrals is significant. In addition to the number of prospects that this pool represents, the quality of these referrals will likely be the same caliber as the referring members.
There are essentially three ways to effectively tap this source.
1. Point-of-sale referral
The point-of-sale referral is by far the most effective method of member referral sales. However, most clubs either shy completely away from pursuing this source, or have weak and ineffective systems in place. At the point-of-sale, the new member is truly happy and probably even excited about the new club that they have just joined. They will probably tell their friends, family and business associates about their new venture. If the club staff does a great job in making the new member feel welcome, then the member will likely tell others of their positive experience. An excited new member is one of the best marketing tools for health clubs.
There are different approaches to capitalize on new members, yet it is essential that members be comfortable with non-threatening prospecting techniques. Disingenuous point-of-sale prospecting will be deemed negative by new members, and should be avoided at all costs. Never appear aggressive or overbearing. The purpose of point-of-sale prospecting is not to turn the new member into “shark bait.” It is designed to establish a “win-win” situation for the club and the new member.
The best technique involves explaining a point-of-sale program to the new member once the sale has been completed and before the new member leaves the club. This system involves asking new members to refer their friends, family or acquaintances to the club. Seeking one name is less overbearing and will usually result in a successful effort if done properly.
Technique to get referrals from new members:
“Welcome to the club, Diane! I know that you’re looking forward to making the most of your new membership, and we’re looking forward to helping you accomplish your goals. One of the great things about our club is that many of our members have referred people they know into the club, creating a sense of belonging. This allows our members to stay committed to their workouts with the support and company of friends. Why don’t you think of someone for me to contact who may be interested in improving their health and fitness level. It could be a friend, family member or business associate. Then, I’ll let them know that you have joined and that you would like to have them at the club working out with you.”
The new member is greeted with a strong handshake, friendly smile and good eye contact, then asked in a very friendly manner for referrals. Once the new member responds, the next step is to find out the phone numbers of referrals and best time to call. Contact referrals as soon as possible.
Technique to contact referrals:
“Hello, may I please speak to Bill?”
“Hi, Bill, my name is Geoff Hampton, and I’m calling from the XYZ club. I just spent some time with Diane Bryant, and she liked the club so much that she joined. I asked Diane for a name of someone that she thought might be interested in getting into great shape with her and guess whose name she gave me?”
“That’s right! She gave me your name. What I’d like to do is spend a few minutes with you right now to find a good time for you to come down here and look around the club. Which day of the week would work best for you?”
The membership representative tactfully presses for a specific appointment at the earliest time convenient for the potential member.
2. Membership referral campaign
This type of promotional campaign is most effective when run over a 60-day period. It is designed to have special benefits for both the referring members and the referrals. A special pricing offer is very effective. This campaign is best run during prime membership sales months.
3. Proactive referral process by staff
This type of program is ongoing.
The membership and fitness staff are the two prime staff components for referrals. The concept is natural to some staff, but other staff members will need education, both in the process and the reasoning for doing it.
Take the time to train your staff effectively and member referral revenues will really help your club “pump up” the bottom-line!