It’s awesome that you’re doing what you love: helping people to become fitter, healthier versions of themselves! Designing training programs is a challenging reward. Working out alongside your clients is fun and invigorating. Asking them to refer you to their friends and family… now that can be a different story. For some people, it may come easy, but for others, it’s just plain awkward and intimidating.


In our previous post, we discussed tips for turning your clients into your sales team and included a full guide in our ebook The Ultimate Guide to Referral Marketing for Personal Trainers.

Below you’ll find some practical tips for making those referral conversations easy and comfortable for everyone involved.

Create a comfortable conversation space

If you’ve already established a relaxed, familiar atmosphere with your clients, the referral conversation will be far more natural and comfortable. Half the battle of asking for referrals is summoning your own confidence, so having a great existing relationship will help to overcome this hurdle.

Pro tip: To build great relationships with your clients, frequently check in with them on their fitness journey and ask how they are feeling. Be sure to regularly express your appreciation for their support and loyalty and keep the lines of communication open.

Make it about them

Part of the discomfort that accompanies asking for referrals is that it can make the asker feel a bit greedy or business-hungry. Like they’re exploiting their clients for their own gain (which is not the case at all!) One way to remove this discomfort is to remind clients of how their referral could benefit others.

Pro tip: When your clients have achieved milestones and are feeling great, take the opportunity to discuss how their referral could help their friends and family experience the same success. You know that being fit and healthy feels makes you feel amazing, so explain to clients that by referring your services they can have a positive impact on the health and fitness of others.

Prepare and rehearse

Some people have the gift of the gab and can pitch on the fly, while the rest of us often stumble through, hesitate, and lose our train of thought – especially if we’re feeling nervous. 

Take the time to write short scripts of the conversations you want to have. It may sound a bit formal, but by doing this you will have a much clearer idea in your own mind about the structure of the referral request. It’s also important to practice what you want to say. Practice as often as you can so that it sticks in your mind and becomes second nature to say.

Pro tip: Keep in mind any clients you would like to approach for referrals and personalize the script for their situation and relationship. Create simple conversation starters to get things moving. Examples might include:

  • Your progress has been incredible. Has anyone commented on your newfound energy?
  • I’m so pleased you love my fitness workshops. Some people have told me they find them even more enjoyable with a friend…
  • Thanks for the feedback about your personalized program. Can you think of anyone you know who might benefit from it too?

Make it simple for everyone

If something is too complicated or takes too long, there’s a slim chance that someone will bother with it. You need to make the referral process as quick and easy as possible so that it doesn’t inconvenience your clients. Make it so simple they’ll be delighted to do it.

Pro tip: You may need to customize your referral material based on the type of client you’re dealing with. Someone less internet-savvy may love a cute referral card that they can physically hand out (which will of course contain all of your pertinent online info). Perhaps the card could also double as a discount voucher for the potential client to redeem.

You could also create shareable emails or social media posts. If you are offering incentives, ensure that they are clear and easy for your clients to communicate.

Refer, reward, repeat!

It’s time to thank and reward your clients to encourage this amazing referral behavior. By showing them your genuine gratitude and happiness you will strengthen the relationship and they’ll be eager to do it again in the future.

Pro tip: If they initially agree to give a referral, you could provide a small reward as thanks (such as a small discount on sessions or a bit of cool merch). Provide further incentive by letting them know that if someone they refer does sign up, they’ll receive something even better.

Success! One of their referrals has joined you. Promptly contact your client to thank them for referring the new person. A personalized card is a sincere way to show you’ve taken the time to appreciate them. If you’ve decided to reward successful referrals, now’s the time to reveal their gift, which could be a free session, access to exclusive merchandise, or a discount on a different service you offer.

Confidently requesting referrals will get easier with practice, and don’t let any refusals set you back. Keep it simple and ask for feedback and suggestions on your referral process itself. You never know who will have a great idea!

For more on creating an effective referral process, download our ebook The Ultimate Guide to Referral Marketing for Personal Trainers.

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Article by TrueCoach

First published: July 21 2023

Last updated: January 11 2024