It’s very important to have a network of professionals that you can refer your people to. All of those things that they need that you do not do. This could be a chiropractor, a massage therapist, a registered dietician, or even a good car mechanic.
Being able to help your members/clients solve a problem that they have is a great way to build social currency (being held in higher esteem). Which equals greater loyalty. So, yea! However, be careful who you refer people to. Every referral that you make is a reflection on you and your brand. As said, a successful referral increases the positive feelings that people have for you, but, a negative experience can have the opposite effect. You lose respect and loyalty.
Build your referral network by getting to know the people you intend on referring people to. Chiropractor? Go talk with them and get an adjustment. Massage therapist? Get a massage. Don’t refer unless you know what they can do. Sure, it will take longer to build that network, but your clients, the people you referring your clients to, and your brand will thank you.
Note: What got me going on this was that I was talked into joining this online referral group. As I made connections to other businesses, I kept getting asked to refer them when I really didn’t know anything about them. Referrals are precious. Use them only when you know that they will serve your people well.
One of the first steps of building your business is to get known and one of the traditional ways of doing that is placing ads in newspapers, magazines, on the radio and even tv. While this does work in creating greater brand awareness, it can be costly and doesn’t go much deeper than awareness. Potential clients/members don’t really get a sense of what you and your business are all about.
Another way to get known is to get out into your community and work with local charities. There are opportunities all around, from homeless shelters to educational organizations, that can give people a sense of who you are and what you are all about.
Start by looking for not-for-profit organizations that align with your beliefs. Next, look to see how you can support them. Of course, most will certainly take financial donations, but, for many new businesses, finances might be tight. These charities will often also need:
Volunteers to help on a daily basis (people in the community get to know you and like that you are helping out with this charity)
Volunteers to help with specific charitable events (like the previous, people will get to know you and, if you have less time, these events don’t require a daily commitment)
Donations for various raffles, auctions, etc. (this is a perfect way to showcase what you offer. i.e. donate a starter package of personal training sessions that is “valued at $X” or a week of unlimited group fitness “valued at $X”)
Locations to hold a charitable event (here’s a chance to get people into your space that you might not get there otherwise)
Local businesses to hold their own charitable event with the not-for-profit as the beneficiary (here’s a combo value, get people into your space, showcase what you do, and show support for the not-for-profit. i.e. hold a bootcamp where all of the proceeds go to the charity)
Now, some will say that if you are doing this for your benefit, it’s not really charitable. Of course the same can be said for charging for personal training. If you are personal training to help people, why are you charging? The answer? We do what we believe is good. Our “why” is to help. At the same time, we also know that we must make a living which includes charging for personal training and gaining a little social currency for ourselves and our business. This does not diminish the good that you do. It is a win/win for everyone.
So get out there and lend a hand. As the saying goes, you can “do well, by doing good”.