Getting clients is a lot like bird-hunting. Any bird hunter will tell you that even if you know how to get the birds, you still need a "bird-dog" to bring them to you.

A "bird-dog" is also a way to describe anyone that brings fresh clients into your personal training business. That makes bird-dogs essential for personal trainers as well.

When thinking of good potential bird-dogs, other health professionals, such as chiropractors, nutritionists, physical therapists and masseuses come to mind.

However, if you've tried to form cross-referral arrangements with such professionals in the past, I'm sure one thing has become abundantly clear to you: It doesn't work well! Nearly all of these cross-referral arrangements rarely ever bear fruit for personal trainers.

EarIy in my training career, I put in my time knocking on doors trying to set these deals set up. I always ended up disappointed by how little came out of them, until I found out why.

Why do most cross-referral arrangements fail for personal trainers? It's because there isn't enough in it for the other person in these types of deals. As personal trainers, by definition, we train a small group of clients. Even if you train them out of a gym, the number of new customers you have access to is relatively small as compared to a successful chiropractor's, physical therapist's or masseuse's office. Those health professionals need dozens of regular clients to maintain a viable practice, while a personal trainer needs only 15 or less.

As you can see, just from those numbers, this deal is entirely one-sided in favor of the personal trainer. If you want to get more out of it, you'll need to put the other person's needs first.

You just have to put stronger bait on the line. By that, we're talking cash. If the other party knows there's a big cash reward in it for them to bring you clients, they'll search far and wide for them.

And don't be stingy. Just think about what a new client is worth to you, and give a generous finder's fee to anyone that brings you one. I've given between $200 and $300 dollars as referral fees to my bird-dogs and have been amazed by how aggressively they promote my services (especially after they've gotten that first check!). This will happen to you, too.

On a side note, if you think it's "unethical" to trade money for leads with other health professionals, don't kid yourself. People have had incentive-ized referral arrangements all the way to the highest levels of the medical profession, forever. For us as trainers, I think this is the first time they're actually being used in a way to benefit the client!

So don't be shy. Tell your bird-dogs what's in it for them, and tell them to "go get 'em!"