All-in-one fitness club software to boost business growth and streamline operations

Get a quote

3 steps to building a successful referral program for the holidays

Corey Loehr
December 7, 2019
iStock 1084046838 6

While referral programs can be one of the most effective and budget-friendly weapons in your studio’s marketing arsenal, the holiday season presents a compelling opportunity to earn new clients. The holidays introduce people to new products, services, and brands that can distract them from remaining loyal to your business.It’s important to keep in mind your competitors in the area are probably beefing up their own holiday offerings to bring in new business and reinforce loyalty with current members. Holiday promotions, events and special care to customer service can encourage loyalty even with new and existing clients. Offering a referral program can give your studio just the edge it needs to engage your loyal customers and draw in prospective clients during this busy time of year. All you need is for each member to bring one of their friends to your business, and you’ve effectively doubled your client base.As mentioned above, the holidays are usually accompanied by a bump in offerings and customer care. Your new members will see you at your best, incentivizing them to visit more and continue giving you their business even after the holidays end. Here are three steps to building a successful referral program for the holidays:

1) Determine the promotion for the new referral program

First, you need to figure out an enticing promotion to offer the referral. A referral program only works as well as the promotion you offer the new member and the benefit for the referrer. You may consider offering your referral a 50% discount on their first month of membership or a six-month membership for the price of three. There’s nothing more anticlimactic than winning a contest and receiving a crummy prize. The same mentality should apply to your studio’s referral bonus. If you’re not willing to reward your members with a lucrative prize, why should they care about referring friends to your business?

2) Figure out the reward for the referring member

There are several schools of thought on what constitutes an attractive referral deal. Some businesses take the cash-per-referral approach. People like cash and they’ll work hard to earn it. If you’re offering free or significantly discounted membership, you may attract folks to your referral program, but you could end up earning more leads if you offer cash incentives. You can sweeten the free membership deal by giving away one free month for every referral that becomes a paying member. By this logic, your new member will be fronting the membership fee the referring member would have paid, and then when the next month rolls around, both clients will pay for membership. It’s a win-win.

3) Promote promote promote

Ask yourself one question: how do you normally communicate with your members? Is it via email, mobile app push notifications, phone calls or in-person? Whatever the answer is, they’re probably the same channels you’ll want to use to inform your members about your referral program.


You can use SMS messaging to promote your referral program to existing members by texting a unique discount code or landing page your members can forward to their contacts they can then redeem when they visit your studio. One Fit Stop’s messaging feature allows you to automate key messages to keep your clients informed and in the loop of all promotions including your referral program.


Another way to bring your members into the loop about your referral program is through email. Send out a gym newsletter with a unique link attached to the form. Then have your members forward the link to whomever they’d like to invite. You can also create discount codes for members to pass along to their contacts to redeem at the gym. By providing your members with the tools for their friends or family to easily redeem free passes or club discounts, you’ll increase the likelihood of converting members to brand advocates.


Hanging up posters around your facility is also a good way to spread the word about your referral program. You’ll need to ensure your staff are properly briefed and ready to answer any questions about the program.

Referral program cards

You can also issue a number of referral cards to your members to hand out to family or friends. Keep in mind cards are less cost-effective. They’re also easy for your members to seamlessly slip into their wallets and give to potential leads.Word-of-mouth marketing is still one of the most powerful promotional tools around. A referral program helps you to find new members and also rewards your existing customers. Gaining new members while retaining current members helps to reduce fitness franchise churn during the holidays. We built OneFitStop with you in mind as a fitness studio owner and want to help you automate operations, increase revenue, nurture client relationships, and cultivate a successful referral program. Book a demo with us today!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.