What do you think of when you think of a “resilient person?”
There are likely a few attributes that immediately come to mind. Things like being strong (mentally and physically), able to adapt to changing circumstances, someone who takes action; you get the idea.
What do you think of when you think of a resilient gym business?
If you have a resilient business, first and foremost, it has to be profitable, right?
But what else?
In the fitness industry, this is where things get foggy. In other industries, you might look at things like supply chains or B2B partnerships; we don’t have that luxury, and in some ways, that’s a good thing.
It’s a good thing because it allows us to focus on the things that matter the most. After all, we have less to worry about and less to distract us.
So what is it that creates the most resilient gym businesses?
Referability, and it’s not even close.
Referability is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the ease with which your clients and others who know what you do can refer others to your business.
If it’s high friction for those people to send referrals your way, you’re not referrable.
So let's talk about how you to remove that friction.
Referability friction happens on two fronts; there’s internal friction, and there’s external friction.
Internal friction refers to resistance that comes from you. External friction comes from other people. The beauty of this scenario, though, is that removing the internal friction also takes care of the external friction.
Frame it as a favor
Asking for referrals can feel gross. Often it feels like you’re trying to extract something from someone that they don’t want to give you, and if that’s how you feel, there's a good chance your clients will pick up on that when you speak to them.
That’s why you need to frame it as a favor FOR YOURSELF. You’re not setting it up as a favor in your client's mind to manipulate them into sharing referrals. You’re allowing yourself to see reality as it truly is.
If your clients have friends and family who need your help, you’re not extracting anything; you’re offering to solve a significant problem for someone they love.
You’re doing something good; there’s no reason to feel ashamed.
Show genuine interest
Asking for referrals is infinitely harder if you know nothing about your clients’ lives. If the only time you ask about the people they care about is when you want a referral, they’ll smell your lack of authenticity a mile away.
The alternative requires more effort, but it should be an important aspect of coaching that’s already baked into your interactions. It’s to demonstrate intent, which means you prove time and time again that you’re invested in their best interests above all else.
Ask them how their family is doing.
Ask about their kid’s baseball game.
Ask how they’re dealing with the stress of work.
Be interested in them as people with stories and struggles.
If they trust you, they’ll want to talk, and they’ll see you for who you are; an advocate for both them and the people they care about.
Keep your promises
When someone gives you a referral, they’re not just giving you a name and their contact information.
They’re leasing you a piece of their credibility and expect you to take care of it.
They won’t be willing to do that if you don’t keep every promise you make to them.
Underpromise, overdeliver, and exceed expectations. Do these things, and you’ll make asking for referrals infinitely easier.
In summary, the best way to build a resilient gym business is to make it as referrable as possible by removing referral friction.
Frame it as a favor- Setting this frame helps you overcome the awkwardness of asking for referrals since you know you’re doing a good thing for the right reasons.
Show genuine interest- Your clients need to know your actions are in their best interests and that you genuinely care about their loved ones.
Keep your promises- If you don’t deliver for your current clients, they have no reason to expect you’ll deliver for their friends and family.