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Rounding Up Referrals

Training for Growth
By Sherri McMillan, MSc, and Alex McMillan

Rounding Up Referrals
Discover strategies for keeping training schedules full.


Maintaining a near-capacity training schedule requires an entrepreneurial mentality. The personal training director needs to provide leadership and give trainers a reason for taking complete ownership of their individual schedules. Here’s what works with our business, plus some methods your own trainers can use to increase their occupied training hours by asking for referrals.

Incentive Plan for Our Trainers
What’s our system? Our trainers’ revenue goals are based on an 80% capacity schedule–that is, 80% of the trainers’ shifts should be spent with paying clients. Team members who hit this goal receive a $50per-month bonus. If, as a team, we hit our company revenue goal, our department revenue goal and our company retention goal, trainers receive an additional $25 per month per goal reached, for a total of $125 per month in available bonuses. In addition to these revenue goals, trainers have a further incentive to hit 87% productivity per payroll period: We reward them with an additional $100 per 2 weeks if they achieve this 87% mark.

Since adding this last “carrot,” we’ve found that trainers who used to hover around 80% productivity now regularly hit 87% and receive the $100-per2-week productivity bonus merely by owning their schedules and putting forth a small amount of effort. That’s an extra $2,600 per year just for watching their schedules closely. Keep in mind that an 87% goal will not work in every situation. Because we have a centralized, automated system and a full team of customer service reps to support our trainers, their only primary responsibility is to focus on filling their schedules with paying clients. So, for example, if trainers work an 8-hour day, 7 of those hours will be filled with paid private or group sessions, leaving the trainers an hour to perform administrative duties. In your situation, if your trainers are required to perform more of their own administrative duties–such as scheduling, pulling files, phone calls, point of sale, etc.–then you will need to adjust the goal accordingly, so these activities can be completed in a timely fashion.

Asking for Referrals
One of the best ways to fill a schedule quickly is to ask for referrals from current clients. However, we’ve found that most fitness professionals are uncomfortable with this. Trainers often feel that they should be happy enough that their present clients are training with them–that

Supplement to November

Sherri McMillan, MS

Sherri McMillan, MSc, has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for 30 years, and has received numerous industry awards, including the 2010 canfitpro International Fitness Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year and 1998 canfitpro Fitness Presenter of the Year. She is an international fitness presenter, personal trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals, including Go For Fit: The Winning Way to Fat Loss, Fit Over Forty, and The Successful Trainers Guide to Marketing, and a featured presenter in various fitness DVDs.

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