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Entries in Charles DeFrancesco (1)


Find the best reward for those who refer new members

Rewards can come in many forms, shapes and sizes. That certainly holds true for what health and fitness clubs give to existing members who refer a new member.

Some facilities encourage word of mouth by members by tacking on an extra month free of charge or giving the last month of the yearly membership for free. Others subscribe to the "money talks" mantra with cash, credit to the club's store or juice bar, or club shwag.

What works depends on many factors. Tom Hoel, Charles DeFrancesco and Albino Fortuna divulge what they offer, in today's Best Practices.

 Q: How do you reward members for referring new members to your club?

A: Members know that if a friend joins, they will receive a small discount on their monthly dues. This discount is in effect for as long as the new member stays a member. This way, we have each member working on the retention of others. In the past, we rewarded referring members with Lux merchandise. We haven’t noticed a big increase in referrals when rewards are offered. We think the best reward for our clients is a “thanks” from the new member and the knowledge that their friend will receive high quality service and great value for their money.

Albino Fortuna
Lux Health Club

Giving members two free months at the end of their contract for each referral seemed to work at every gym I managed, but never produced drastic results. We just started a program where members get $50 for referring a friend, so long as the friend stays a member for at least two months. This system is easier to track and makes people happier because it’s unlimited, and getting a check is just more fun. The way we see it, we would have to pay at least that amount as a bonus to a sales person for bringing in a cold prospect. Sales people do not mind getting paid less for these leads because it is a simple 20-minute sign-up process with almost a 100% closing rate.

Charles DeFrancesco
Fit and Functional
White Plains, N.Y.

Our referral rewards vary by season. During the high season, we allow members to bring guests for a few weeks or a month. The reward is the possibility to help loved ones who do not exercise, but could benefit from it. During the summer, we do a long competitive campaign with nice first, second and third place prizes. Everyone who brings guests is entered to win. In the autumn and winter, the reward for a referral is a free personal training session and a free month for each new member brought in. The most important thing, of course, is that the guest receives excellent, personal service.

Tom Hoel


Club Operators: To be profiled in this column, please contact Kristen Walsh, IHRSA associate publisher, at

IHRSA has answered hundreds of questions and inquiries in the weekly column, Best Practices. Check them out here.