$100 ARM Increase: How Trista Eason Did It

$100 ARM Increase: How Trista Eason Did It

Trista Eason: (00:01)
Hey, it’s Trista Eason, and I own Flex Appeal in Wichita Falls, Texas. And we increased our average revenue per member by over $100.

Mike Warkentin: (00:11)
Whoa. Trista, that’s a huge number. Would you mind pulling back the curtains and telling everyone about exactly how you did it today?

Trista Eason: (00:18)
Yeah, I am happy to share because I know a lot of gym owners are in the situation we were in when we signed up with Two-Brain. We actually officially joined right after the pandemic, right when we were about to be able to reopen. And we took advantage of every ounce of free material that Two-Brain put out. And then when we had to go through the shutdown, Chris Cooper told us exactly how to do it and it worked. And so when we came back, we knew, okay, we have to get on with Two-Brain and pay, you know? If this material was free and it worked for us, what more could we get when we actually sign up and have a mentor working with us, kind of holding our hand through the whole situation? So before the pandemic, before anything, I opened a gym on my own after the one I worked at just closed, and I had literally no idea what I was doing.

Trista Eason: (01:17)
I just knew what not to do based on what they did, and charged the lowest price in town.

Mike Warkentin: (01:23)
Ooh, I did that too. .

Trista Eason: (01:25)
I thought I needed to have every member that I could get. And the whole reason I got into training was because I really wanted to serve women. That’s who our demographic is. And I just got really overwhelmed realizing, I’m barely able to make a living, and to serve these women to the extent that I want to at this low rate because I’ve gotta take so many clients just to make ends meet and then pay the bills. But I’m not able to serve them in the way that I really imagined when I first opened. And I felt very outside of my core values and my original mission. It just didn’t feel right, but I didn’t know how to charge more and do something completely different than everyone else in town.

Mike Warkentin: (02:13)
I bet you were stressed. Were you just losing your mind at that point?

Trista Eason: (02:16)
So stressed, so burnt out. I never saw my family. The whole point of owning your own business, you think when you begin is, I’m gonna have so much free time . And when you figure out how much you’re making per hour, realistically, when you track your real hours, not your hours just in the gym, you realize you’re not making any money. And, you know, we all say it. I talked to many gym owners from the group and no, none of us originally went into it to make money, but I also don’t wanna just pour money back into it and get nothing. So the things we did to really increase our revenue. First thing I did was to hire someone when I could afford it. Then I was able to more evenly distribute my time with the clients and I realized, okay, not everyone just wants this base package.

Trista Eason: (03:06)
They do want to add nutrition, or want a little more nutrition. They do want just a mobility session with our mobility specialist coach. So we kind of took a note from Two-Brain’s book and instead of one person trying to be everything for every member, we each began to specialize in different areas of health, wellness, fitness, and kind of niche down what we do and how we do it so that we are now offering a premium service. And no, not everyone takes it, but most members, they want a little bit more coaching. And I mean, I know that sounds super simple the way I made it sound, and it’s not when you don’t have that as part of your offerings, but when you just start looking at what do the clients really need and want? And realize they will pay more for what you do and when you recognize your value, that’s how you can increase your revenue for sure.

Mike Warkentin: (04:08)
Well, I’m gonna dig in and ask you a couple of specific questions because yeah, it seems simple, but I will tell you from my experience: in some ways it is because what I did originally, I just sold group coaching, that’s it. And I set my rates, I pulled them out of the air and set my rates. And that was that. I did that for, I don’t know, eight years, something like that. Six years maybe. When I offered other stuff, guess what happened? People signed up for it. And it was as simple in many cases as just saying, Hey, we offer personal training sections in addition to group classes. And our clients said, really? Can I buy one? Huh? Pretty easy. So it was as simple as just knowing that I don’t just have to sell group classes. I could expand and offer other stuff. And that came with nutrition, personal training. And then of course there are all the other things where you can do habits, coaching, life, you know, stress management, all the other stuff that a good coach can do. But I’m gonna ask you a question before we get into that. You said that to get out of the ditch, you had to hire someone, and you said you weren’t making a ton of money at the time and you were stressed. So how did you hire someone and how did you know that you could do it and not go under?

Trista Eason: (05:08)
What everyone has pointed out, I am extremely optimistic. I just don’t see that something bad could happen. And one of my clients actually had a girl that her son was dating, they’re married now, and she was looking to get into the fitness business and I took a chance on her. Did more of a mentor-type thing just to see, what can I do with this girl? She was 19, I was 30, we had such an age difference. So I got to know her a little better. She shadowed me for a while and I just finally was like, okay, you’re on your own. And we just went through the growing pains of, you know, there’s gonna be some clients who struggle with change and some clients who love change. So just kind of developing that relationship with her, really showing her what the vision of the gym was so that she could go do it on her own without needing me there all the time.

Trista Eason: (06:07)
That helped. And I know a lot of gym owners struggle with hiring someone because they think, where am I gonna get the money to do that? But if you do a really good job bringing them on board, the money they make is the money that will pay them. So it’s not coming out of your bank that you already,that’s your money and hopefully you can afford to pay yourself. But that was one of the things I had to really get through my head. She will bring in money and that money will pay her.

Mike Warkentin: (06:41)
So were you working with a Two-Brain mentor at the time when you did this?

Trista Eason: (06:44)
No, that was just luck. I had a lot of luck, had a lot of really good fortune, and no, I actually wasn’t. But after we went through Rampup and everything, it did help bring on more hires and realize, okay, that was a good move. That was fine. There were still some things that we did that we shouldn’t do because I did not know how to pay staff. I had no idea.

Mike Warkentin: (07:08)
The reason I ask is because I was curious to see what you would answer, like how you brought this person on. ‘Cause we have a process and you know now from Two-Brain, there is an actual process. So gym owners out there saying right now, I haven’t a clue how to hire someone and then find the revenue for that. There actually is a process that’s called climbing the value ladder. A mentor will lead you through it, you’ll take a look at all the stuff you do, and then you’re gonna offload the lowest value rules. And they’re not unimportant, they’re just not as important as say, sales or CEO rules. So you’d start probably with cleaning and then you might do coaching and other things like that. There is an exact process as you go through it. You will find ways with your mentor to make the revenue to pay for that hire.

Mike Warkentin: (07:44)
So you managed to do it and you did a great job doing it on your own. But there actually is a process too. So gym owners, if you are struggling and don’t have a clue, I know that a mentor can get you through that. So that’s step one is getting yourself a little bit of space so you can stop looking “down and in” at the business and you can start looking “up and out”. And when you have that free time, Trista, as you said, you can start thinking, what else can I do to serve my clients? So I know your mission. I’ve got this from your website, I’m just gonna pull this up here. the Flex Appeal mission: positively impact the lives of women and their families. We know that a strong woman equals strong children.

Mike Warkentin: (08:18)
A healthy woman equals a healthy family. An empowered woman equals more opportunity. If you let it, this place will change your life. So you’ve got your avatar dialed in, you know who you want to serve, and then without the stress of, I’m working a million hours, you can stop and start thinking, how can I serve that person better? So you talked a little bit about it. Talk to me about some specific things that you did there that you saw right away. Wow, this increased my ARM. I’m seeing this number move as a direct result of what I just did.

Trista Eason: (08:46)
So one of our favorite things that we learned to implement from Two-Brain is the No-Sweat Intro. We used to just take any and everyone, let ’em come in the gym, let ’em try out a free class, a free week, three weeks sometimes. Yep. And then we would realize, these people we’re giving free classes to don’t really understand what we do. They just got to experience us here for this hour. And we’re assuming that they just want group classes or we’re assuming they just want one-on-one training. So that No-Sweat Intro really gave us an opportunity to really show them what we offer and not limit them to what they might purchase with us based on our assumptions.

Mike Warkentin: (09:29)
So I made this mistake. I assumed everyone wanted group coaching ’cause that’s all that I offered when I started sitting down with clients. And that’s what a No-Sweat is. That’s Two-Brain lingo for just a free consultation where you sit down and talk to a person about goals rather than just throw ’em into a class and have no idea, Hey, would you like to work out? You actually sit down, ask them what they wanna accomplish, and you give them a plan to accomplish that. And then you show them the price for the ideal plan. And they probably sign up. Two-Brain data shows that the No-Sweat Intro works really, really well and it does increase ARM dramatically. So if you do that, you start talking to people and they sign up for other services, and you said you had built some other services because you sat down and think, what does my avatar need to succeed as a woman? And you offered additional stuff. Tell me about some of the other stuff that started to show up as services at your gym that you were able to bring up in a No-Sweat Intro.

Trista Eason: (10:20)
One of the big ones, that was one of the first things we introduced that we realized, wow, we could make extra money just offering something like this. It’s a class we call Peach. It’s all about training the glutes, growing the glutes. It was a specialty course we offered , it was when butts were really being popularized again. Oh yeah. And so we offered a class all about the peach. It was a huge hit. And when you look at the metrics and you’re kind of surprised about how much you made on it and who signed up that you may not have expected to, you realize really the sky’s the limit when it comes to specialty courses. And then we realize, a lot of women struggle with body image issues or disordered eating, diet culture. So we kind of ventured into learning more about specifically training women, getting our Girls Gone Strong certifications and our Precision Nutrition certifications just so that we could offer more than just, here’s a meal plan, here’s a workout, it should work for you. Because we recognize that that’s what they’ve been told in the past. And we wanted to offer more of a comradery, more of a relationship than a coach to client, us just over them. We wanted a partnership with our clients.

Mike Warkentin: (11:41)
So you’ve hit on a couple of big things here and I’m just gonna point them out for listeners. The first one we’ve gone over a little bit, No-Sweat Intro. Every gym that starts doing No-Sweat Intros increases average revenue per member. We have data on it, it is a thing. Okay? The second thing is specialty programs. They don’t run all the time. They can if you have a schedule for them and so forth, but specialty programs that you bring up. So Peach was one that Trista talked about. You could do Olympic weightlifting, you could do anything like a diet challenge if that was in your culture, whatever works for your client avatar. You could do specialty programs. The cool part about that is if you pay a staff member properly and we call it the four-ninths model, you’re gonna pay that staff member 44% of program revenue. So this isn’t a staff cost and it’s tied to the revenue that’s brought into the program. The staff member makes more if more people come, so does the gym. Everyone is happy. So that’s a huge way to increase ARM because some existing clients are gonna buy that specialty program. Some clients from outside your gym. Did you get any Peach people who came from outside the gym?

Trista Eason: (12:38)
Oh yeah, we had many members. New members and then, absolutely. Yeah.

Mike Warkentin: (12:44)
Yeah, there you go. So that’s another way you can acquire people from outside the gym. That’s just a fantastic way. So you’ve got these specialty programs, then we’ve got additional services. So you went out and got some credentials that allowed you to offer something that would help your avatar nutrition. You could do other things. You could say, I wanna teach people how to specialize in marathon training or mindset coaching or whatever else, your avatar would need. Those three things, if I would put say a specialty program, a group membership and a nutrition coaching package, that might equal something like $350. I don’t know, is that kind of at least, I’m in the ballpark there, Trista, of what you would charge?

Trista Eason: (13:18)
Oh yeah. Because when you realize I as a mentee of Two-Brain- before Two-Brain, no, I probably wouldn’t have spent the money I do monthly because again, I was in that scarcity mindset. I can’t afford to do that. And once I got a mentor and actually put the tools to use that he was giving me, my mentor by the way is Sean Ryder. He would be, I think, disappointed if I didn’t mention it. 

Mike Warkentin: (13:46)
No, he is a good guy.

Trista Eason: (13:47)
He’s a great guy. But having somebody that’s giving you kind of step-by-step and you take their cues and they actually work, kind of reinforces the value. And it’s the same thing with our clients. We’re realizing, we’re going to give you very high value coaching and if you take our advice, you’ll see the value in the coaching. And then the cost isn’t so much because how many people are signing up for something over here, something over there. When you add up all the prices, their 40 different gym memberships, their calorie counting apps, they’re spending that anyway. But if you could have them dial it in and trust you and just get that coaching information from one source and trust one source, they’ll see that they’re actually not spending any more money. And they’re not wasting any money because you’re-

Mike Warkentin: (14:40)
They’re getting results.

Trista Eason: (14:40)
It’s valuable. Yeah.

Mike Warkentin: (14:42)
Yeah. Yeah. Any other programs that you added in addition to that, that contribute to your ARM? Anything we’re missing?

Trista Eason: (14:49)
We actually have a specialist in mobility and that’s come in very handy because you’ll have those clients who don’t wanna come in because something’s achy. Let’s put you with Jennifer, our mobility specialist, instead of just skipping a session. So still getting value, just kind of paying attention to what would get someone out of the gym and giving them more reason to be in the gym.

Mike Warkentin: (15:16)
I’m gonna ask you about a couple of specific things that I don’t know if you do or not, but I’ll just ask because they are things that often contribute to ARM. Do you sell t-shirts, retail supplements, anything like that?

Trista Eason: (15:26)
We do. It’s really not one of our big things that we push because we are such a small gym. At most we have about 89, 90 members, but we don’t need a ton of people. And I feel like they can only buy so many of our t-shirts. But we do, we’ll do a monthly order every now and then for one design, right? But it’s not something we really depend on because our ARM is so good through other things.

Mike Warkentin: (15:56)
So consider the gravy. And a lot of gyms don’t rely on that kind of stuff. But some gyms do, they do okay with supplemented retail sales, specifically often ones in gyms in tourist locations, whatever. Get tons of people, like Las Vegas gyms for example, often sell a lot of t-shirts. Hawaii, same thing. That’s something at your gym, if you’re looking to raise ARM you might do that. I would encourage you to do pre-orders rather than stocking a ton of inventory. But that’s something you could definitely look at doing. How about PT? Do you do PT?

Trista Eason: (16:22)
Like physical therapy?

Mike Warkentin: (16:23)
Sorry, personal training.

Trista Eason: (16:25)
Oh, personal training is really our biggest revenue because it used to be small groups, but once we kind of realized small groups are fine, but really people want more of an intimate setting or a closer relationship with this person they’re trusting. And we do find they’ll open up more and kind of tell you more about what’s going on in their life. Rather than in a group, they’re not gonna say, yeah, I binged last night after work. So it gives a lot more opportunity to build that relationship further. And it didn’t used to be our largest revenue, but it absolutely is now.

Mike Warkentin: (17:05)
Okay. So that’s another thing that I’ve heard, gym owners out there. I’ve heard this from many, many gym owners who are having success. The giant groups, you know, 20, 30 people running one giant class, maybe not the way to drive up your ARM. Better smaller groups. I’ve heard semi-private training. Brian Bott has an episode, we’ll put it in the show notes for you. Small groups or personal training delivered in small groups can drive up ARM a huge degree. So Trista, you looked at your client avatar and said, these people will succeed more with a smaller relationship. So small groups and PT, that’s a higher value service than a giant group where you might get a little bit of coaching for two or three minutes during the hour. Nothing wrong with those groups if that’s what people want, but you can sell more. You can also, with a group model, sell PT in addition in a hybrid model. So it’s like, I have my group membership, but I also wanna work at Olympic weightlifting, tack that on. That is an ARM builder. How about kids? Do you have kids programs?

Trista Eason: (17:58)
Yep, we have kids programs. They’re largely built out by just clients’ kids. And it’s not just random children that we had to go find.

Mike Warkentin: (18:07)
So I’m guessing that the marketing problem solves itself right there.

Trista Eason: (18:12)
Yeah, and that’s actually one of our values. We wanna create generational change. And so, if mom maybe has an unhealthy relationship with food and her body and her daughter’s seeing this, it’s a great way for us to help intervene and kind of redirect and they can see mom work out. They can come work out. We’re very family friendly. We will allow men to come work out with us. They don’t typically, but moms will bring daughters and they don’t always work out in the same class. We do have kids specific classes, but that’s really important. That’s part of our core values. So making sure the kids have a place to come, learn to move their body. And then it’s fun and the kids tell their parents how fun it is. So they keep paying for it.

Mike Warkentin: (19:00)
Kids programs, again, if you serve parents, and most people do, obviously kids programs are a no brainer, right? You don’t have to go looking for these kids. All you have to do is say, I’ve got a kids’ program. And your members are going to say, how do I sign up my kids? Because they’re always looking for activities. They already know, like, and trust you. There’s almost no marketing attached to this. You can just put up a poster and you will get kids in that program. And that increases the value and even better, generational fitness and it serves your target market. So again, that’s saying, so I was almost certain you had a kids program because when I see you talking about who you want to serve, kids would be a natural extension of that. Is there anything that we’ve missed in this ARM? Any ones that I’m not thinking about?

Trista Eason: (19:45)
I think that the number one thing that I haven’t touched on, I think I’ve said a lot of number one things, but, having a really good staff that you can share responsibilities with and that you trust, I think that’s really important. And making sure you’ve got a good hiring process where they fully understand what your vision is, what the mission is, and then you just kind of set ’em free to work as much as they want and to earn the money they wanna earn. That they’re gonna have that same investment in your business as you are because it does benefit them as well.

Mike Warkentin: (20:23)
Listeners are here for average revenue per member, but we have another thing called effective hourly rate. And that is all the time you put in the business divided by what you take out of the business in terms of salary, dividends, whatever else you pay yourself, higher numbers are better. You can only drive that number up so high as an individual in a gym. However, if you start to hire people on these four-ninths models, they’re growing specialty programs, they’re making money, your business is making more money, all of a sudden, you can make a huge hourly rate because you are now a business person and a CEO. You’re not just a personal trainer in a gym slaving away for $50 an hour. So there is an entire plan that goes into that as well. So ARM, four-ninths model, hiring specialty programs, all this stuff does contribute to an overall stable business where you’re a CEO in a high effective hourly rate. So you’ve got a ton of interesting stuff going on there. I’m gonna ask you one final thing, and I bet I know the answer. Do you have a bunch of roles and tasks in place that govern your staff and hiring to make sure that people are always operating according to your vision?

Trista Eason: (21:20)
Oh yeah, absolutely. We have a staff playbook. We have a group for our staff to kind of always talk in. We have our SOPs, standard operating procedures clearly written out with everything we do in the facility. And we’re constantly updating them too to make sure they’re up to date, that there’s no question about what you should do. You don’t have to get ahold of me first. You can check the SOPs, you can check the playbook. The answers are there. And that gives these people, they’re adults and that gives them this sense of ownership with the business too. They know exactly what to do. They’re confident in their jobs and knowing that they’ve got a good place to work. I haven’t personally had a hard time hiring people because we pay well, we treat our staff well, and we give them kind of the entrepreneurial idea that Two-Brain recommends and they love it.

Mike Warkentin: (22:16)
There is a ton of stuff in here, listeners, for you to take a look at. Everything from dialing in your avatar roles and tasks that are the foundation of every successful business. And then tons of other things. But I’m gonna give you one thing. If you were lost at sea and Trista, you tell me after I say it, if you agree with me, if you were gonna do one thing today at the end of this, what I would do is I would start doing a No-Sweat Intro when you get people into your gym. And I will tell you that’s gonna increase your ARM. Trista, do you disagree or agree with me?

Trista Eason: (22:45)
Totally agree. And when you go into it, don’t go into it thinking this gross salesperson mentality. Think about how am I actually gonna help this person in front of me? And if I can truly help them, I don’t feel weird making these suggestions and worried about what they’re gonna say about the prices. If I truly think I’m helping them, it’s worth it.

Mike Warkentin: (23:05)
Thank you so much for sharing all that, Trista. Gym owners are going to increase their ARM because of you. Thank you so much. That was Trista Eason and this is Run a Profitable Gym, I’m your host, Mike Warkentin. I’m telling the stories of amazing gym owners all the time, so please subscribe for more episodes and if you’re on YouTube, please hammer that like button too. Now here’s Chris Cooper with a final word.

Chris Cooper: (23:25)
Hey, it’s Two-Brain founder Chris Cooper with a quick note. The Gym Owners United Facebook group has more than 5,600 members and it’s growing daily. If you aren’t benefiting from the free tips and tactics and resources that I post daily in that group, what are you waiting for? Get in there and grow your business. That’s Gym Owners United on Facebook or Join today.

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