Unleash the Power of ‘Gym Super Referrers’

May 27, 2023

If you work in the fitness industry, you’ll know that there’s a rare breed of clients and members who possess the priceless ability of driving a regular influx of clients to your fitness business.

We call them, ‘Super Referers’.

And they’re worth their weight in gold.

What if we could identify Super Referrers, and attract them to our fitness business? This is the ultimate ‘upstream’ marketing strategy. Leveraging and compounding our marketing efforts by targeting to those who can help us build our business in the long term.

There’s a ‘Pareto’ relationship between clients and referrals. The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80:20 principle, tells us that a small number of customers will be responsible for the majority of the referrals. These are our Super Referers.

We noticed this relationship time and time again with the business owners we mentor. And over the years, we began to notice some common themes. We wondered what we’d find if we dug a little deeper.

Is there something special about Super Referers? What is it that makes Super Referers… Super Referrers? And can we tap into their potential to catapult our fitness businesses to new heights?

So we went straight to the source, and spoke with nine leading Fitness Businesses to unpack this most valuable of all clients.

We asked these business owners a battery of detailed questions about Super Referrers, questions related to demographics, psychographics, behaviour patterns and personality.

We’re looking for patterns, correlations, and relationships that can shape our understanding of these raving fans. We wondered, if we find these patterns, can we use them to build our business?

Demographic Insights: Unveiling the Super Referrers’ Profile

Gender plays a crucial role in the realm of super referrers. In fact, this was the most strongly correlated variable with ‘Super Referral’ status. Surprisingly, the statistics reveal that 84.6% of super referrers are female, while only 15.4% are male. Thanks ladies! This gender imbalance suggests a strong tendency for women to serve as catalysts for referral-driven growth in the fitness industry.

If gender was the most important, age was the least important – where we found no patterns at all, with Super Referers spanning multiple generations.

The occupation of our Super Referers however was extremely important. At first, the imbalance of results here was surprising, but in hindsight, it makes a lot of sense. An astounding 62% of super referrers belonging to professions centred around serving and caring for others. Whether they are police officers, doctors, nurses, counsellors, teachers, or healthcare workers, these individuals possess a natural inclination to promote the well-being of those around them. Their empathetic nature, combined with their commitment to others’ welfare, aligns seamlessly with the principles of fitness and wellness. They have the perfect combination of believing in the product they’re recommending, and being generally caring in nature.

We dug into economics, which revealed that Super Referrers predominantly belong to households with above-average incomes, comprising 61.5% of the survey sample. This finding suggests that they have the financial means to invest in their own well-being, making them ideal candidates to advocate for health facilities that align with their values.

Level of education also provides valuable insights. While a minority have achieved a high school diploma (7.7%), a significant portion has pursued higher education. TAFE or equivalent education represents 38.5% of super referrers, followed by university undergraduate (30.8%), and university post-graduate (23.1%).

Understanding Super Referrers: The Big Five Personality Inventory

To gain a deeper understanding of super referrers, we explored their personality traits using ‘The Big Five Personality Inventory’, a battery of questions that look for patterns in extroversion, agreeableness, Conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness to experience.

While many traits showed inconclusive findings, one characteristic stood out consistently among super referrers—extroversion. Their high levels of sociability and outgoing nature allow them to effortlessly engage with others, spreading the word about the fitness businesses they endorse.

Reasons Behind Super Referrers’ Remarkable Influence

We also asked business owners what they thought the reasons were behind Super Referral status. These are a few of the things they told us.

  • “Extremely outgoing, open, and conscientious”: Super Referrers possess a combination of extroversion, openness, and conscientiousness. This combination fuels their unwavering dedication to sharing their positive experiences with others.
  • “They can’t stop talking, if they do it’s to breathe to then talk more. Give them an opportunity to get on a microphone, and they’ll talk about your business to anyone who listens”: Super Referrers have an insatiable desire to communicate and connect with others. They are natural storytellers, and their enthusiasm knows no bounds. They’ll passionately share their experiences, becoming powerful ambassadors for your fitness business.”
  • “Dedicated to the plan, asks good questions, and understands the process”: Super referrers demonstrate a remarkable commitment to their own fitness journey. They actively seek knowledge, ask insightful questions, and possess a deep understanding of the process. This dedication translates into an authentic and informed advocacy for the fitness businesses they endorse.
  • “Leader of their friends group”: Super referrers often find themselves in influential positions within their social circles. Whether it’s their charisma, leadership qualities, or simply their ability to bring people together, they hold sway over the opinions and decisions of those around them. Leveraging their social influence becomes instrumental in fueling business growth.
  • “Like to help their friends and family—feel they’re making a difference where they can”: Super referrers possess a genuine desire to make a positive impact in the lives of their loved ones. By recommending a fitness business that aligns with their values and principles, they feel empowered to contribute to the well-being of those closest to them. Their altruistic nature serves as a powerful motivator for referring others.
  • “They are very social/likeable people. Their work is usually also social”: Super referrers thrive in social environments and possess an innate likability. They effortlessly connect with others and enjoy being part of a community. Their social nature extends beyond their personal lives and often permeates into their professional endeavours, making them ideal advocates for businesses that foster a sense of belonging.

Crafting the Avatar of a Super Referrer

Ok, so with these findings in mind, let’s create an avatar that possesses the qualities of our Super Referrer.

Meet Sarah, a 35-year-old female healthcare worker with an above-average household income. Sarah holds a university post-graduate degree and is passionate about personal growth and continuous learning. Her extroverted nature, combined with her empathetic and caring disposition, has positioned her as a leader within her social circles.

Sarah’s commitment to her own fitness journey is unwavering. She constantly seeks knowledge, asks thoughtful questions, and understands the intricacies of the process. Her dedication extends beyond herself; she actively looks for opportunities to make a positive difference in the lives of her friends and family.

Sarah’s magnetic personality and ability to connect with others make her a natural communicator. Whether it’s a casual conversation or a public speaking opportunity, she seizes every chance to share her positive experiences with the fitness businesses she endorses. Her words carry weight, influencing the decisions of those who respect and trust her.

If you want the biggest return on your marketing buck, Sarah is your girl. If you can target and attract Sarahs at the front end of your marketing pipeline, provide them a remarkable experience (literally an experience that is remark-able) and craft a well designed referral process, you’ll develop an army of brand ambassadors who will shout about you from the rooftops and market your fitness business for you.

Dan Williams

Dan Williams


Dan Williams is the Director of Range of Motion and leads a team of Exercise Physiologists, Sports Scientists, Physiotherapists and Coaches. He has a Bachelor of Science (Exercise and Health Science) and a Postgraduate Bachelor of Exercise Rehabilitation Science from The University of Western Australia, with minors in Biomechanics and Sport Psychology.

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