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Building Your Gym: Your 2024 Annual Plan for Growth

A graphic with the year 2024 and the words "building your gym: your annual plan for growth."

Chris Cooper (00:02):
If you are going to grow your gym next year, you need a plan. I’m Chris Cooper, this is “Run a Profitable Gym,” and today, I’m going to walk you through the steps to building a 12-month plan. I’m going to tell you the things that you need to repeat over and over, and I’m going to give you some things that you can plan to help get more clients, increase your ARM, improve retention, and even pay yourself more. Look, every coach knows that their client needs a goal, a plan, and somebody to hold them to that plan if they’re going to be successful. And the truth is that it’s the exact same for a gym owner. Two-Brain Business is the largest membership practice in the world for gym owners.

Chris Cooper (00:38):
And at this time of the year, every single gym owner in Two-Brain—there’s about 930 of them right now—work one-on-one with a mentor to start with: What’s your goal for next year? Do you want to make more profit? Do you want to put all your coaches through the L3? Do you want to invest in a bigger facility? Do you want to buy a building? And then they set that goal, and they work backward to build a plan to achieve it so that every single client has their own unique step-by-step, month-by-month, week-by-week, day-by-day plan to get there and a mentor to hold them to the plan. Today, what I’m going to show you is how to build a plan for your gym. I’m going to give you a sample, and I’m going to give you a guide that you can use to work alongside with me. To get this guide that I’m going to be showing you, just go to gymownersunited.com, and you’ll see it right there, and you can just ask me for the guide.

Chris Cooper (01:26):
Okay? So, with no further ado, let’s talk about why you need a plan. Now, I just said that if you want to grow your gym, you have to be proactive. I know this has happened to you before. You show up at your gym before 6 a.m., and you stay there until nine o’clock at night, and you’re just busy all day, but then lying in bed later at night, you think, “Man, I worked hard all day, but I can’t name one thing that I did to actually grow my business or make it better for tomorrow.” And then for me anyway, I would always follow that with the thought: “Tomorrow’s probably going to be the same.” Many gym owners are always scrambling, and they feel overwhelmed because they keep remembering the most important stuff at the very last minute. Like, “Oh, Christmas is coming, and I forgot to set up my gift certificates or set up my retail, and now it’s too late.”

Chris Cooper (02:14):
Or, “Oh, I forgot I’m supposed to run the intramural open next month, and I haven’t planned anything yet.” So, their business just kind of happens to them, and they’re along for the ride. They’re not in control; they’re not driving it; they’re in the back seat. Well, I want you to take control of your business this year, and we’re done waiting and hoping for the best to just magically happen to us, right? So. I’m going to give you a 12-month plan full of things that you can do to grow your business. You can get this free guide at gymownersunited.com. You can print it out, you can stick it up on your door, and you can just follow it. You can see “Here’s what I need to have ready for next month, two months, three months. Here’s what I should be doing right now. Oh yeah, staff evaluations. Right, I can’t forget things.”

Chris Cooper (02:54):
So, you can start with the very sample—simple and sample—annual calendar on the first to second page of the guide. Just print it out. And on the first of every month, just look two months ahead and schedule the work that has to be done. Now, I’m going to brief you on each element of the plan as we go through this, but put this calendar on your wall, so you can stick to it. And in this free guide is just a basic sample. We teach hundreds and hundreds of different tactics in the Two-Brain mentorship program, and we build custom annual plans with gym owners. But this template will get you results; it’ll help you focus on the basics and do the things that will grow your business. My mission here is to make gym owners successful so that we have more gyms saving more lives around the world for more years.

Chris Cooper (03:39):
And I want you to grow in 2024 and help more people. So, if you need additional assistance doing that, let’s talk about mentorship. And there’s a link right below this video. So, here’s a broad overview of the annual plan that we’re going to build together. Now, keep in mind this is not customized to you, but I’ve got a lot of the elements in here that are important cornerstones that a lot of gym owners actually forget about. And so, we’re going to have them; you can add things if you want to. My suggestion is that you focus on two—maximum three—things a month and that you do the most important things over and over and over instead of trying to add new things. One area where a lot of gym owners really get overwhelmed is they’re trying to keep up with all the novelty that they see other gyms doing.

Chris Cooper (04:22):
Like, “Oh, if I don’t jump on that Instagram sell-by-chat strategy right now, it’s going to be gone, and I’ll have missed it, and everybody else will have done it.” You know, you’re getting FOMO; you’re getting overwhelmed; you’re getting stressed. It’s more important, I promise, to do the basic things really well over and over than it is to try and do everything or try and do the new things. You know, my gym—the sole marketing strategy of my gym was the blog in the email for the first 15 years it was around. We didn’t run a Facebook ad because we just didn’t need to. And so today, what I’ve got in this annual plan that I’m going to show you here are a lot of the basics that you should be repeating over and over if you want to make your business great. Okay?

Chris Cooper (05:03):
So, if you want to build something that’s specific to your gym, starting with your numbers and the numbers that you want to hit, book a call with my mentoring team, and we can get this going before the New Year even hits us. Okay? Here’s the sample annual plan that I want to give you. If you have no other plan, this plan is the best plan in the world for you. Okay? So first off, in January, we’re going to audit your funnels. We’re going to take a look through your four different marketing funnels, and we’re going to say, “Here’s what’s working, and here’s what needs to be fixed.” Because the reality is, at that point, there’s no sense starting anything new in January, and there’s no sense starting anything new until you’ve audited your funnels. Then I’m going to tell you how to do a Nutrition Kickstart to get things going.

Chris Cooper (05:46):
In February, you’re going to do coach evaluations, and you’re going to set up a Bring-a-Friend event. In March, you’re going to run the intramural open, and I’ve left the rest of the month wide open for that: It’s a lot of work. In April, you’re going to do goal reviews. In May, you’re going to do an offsite seminar and some career roadmaps. In June, you’re going to come to the Two-Brain Summit, I hope, and also link up through a local event with some other gym owners or even some other entrepreneurs. In July, you’re going to be worried about your Google Business profile and setting that up. You’re also going to be setting up your Google ads—might as well do those two at the same time. In August, you’re going to be setting up some specific ads for the “Surge,” and you’re going to be doing coach evaluations again.

Chris Cooper (06:31):
In September, you’re going to be doing goal reviews with your clients again. In October, you’re going to start your end-of-year promos, and you’re going to do another Nutrition Kickstart. In November, you’re going to do career roadmaps with your staff and build your annual plan for 2025. And in December, you’re going to run an in-house competition. Now, I’m going to break those things down. Don’t worry about pulling over to the side of the road if you’re listening or like scribbling them all down. We’re going to go through this step by step, but it’s all in the guide too. All you have to do is go to gymownersunited.com, raise your hand, say, “Hey, I really like that annual planning guide, Coop,” and we’ll give it to you” I’ll DM it right to you. It wouldn’t be Two-Brain if I didn’t give you the step by step on exactly how to do this stuff, instead of just giving you the idea or telling you you should do it.

Chris Cooper (07:13):
So, let’s go through this step by step. January, we want you to do two things. I want you to audit your four marketing funnels and do a Nutrition Kickstart. Your four marketing funnels that you should be running all the time are: referrals. You need a referral pipeline. You have to be active about referrals. You should have a strategy for content marketing. You should have a strategy for organic social media marketing, and you should have a strategy for paid advertising. Now that might be Facebook ads or Instagram ads or whatever, but you should be investing in something that’s going to bring you clients every month that you can measure. So, what you have to do is take a look at each of these four funnels first. And so, you could say, “Let’s talk about our referral funnel.” The top of the funnel is obviously your current clients.

Chris Cooper (08:05):
Are you meeting often with your current clients and asking for referrals? The next step down that funnel is bringing that client and their referral in for a two-on-one workout. Do you have that set up? After they’re there for the two-on-one workout, are you doing a No Sweat Intro with the new client or with the referral? And then are you selling them on your program? That’s how you set up a referral funnel. Now, if you’re not sitting down with your clients, then the first thing you have to do is book some goal review sessions or book appointments to sit down with your clients and ask for referrals. We call this affinity marketing in Two-Brain; there’s a step-by-step guide our program. You need to get good at this funnel before you get good at all the other ones. Look, ad costs—no matter where you live—are going up.

Chris Cooper (08:50):
If you are in Europe, the EU, right now, Facebook is testing an option where people can opt out of ads for 10 bucks a month. You need to get good at getting referrals. Even if you’re in Canada like I am, and Facebook ads are still working extremely well here, having a good referral network doubles your return on every dollar you spend on ads because every new client who comes in through an ad becomes two clients through referrals. So, you need to do that. The next thing you need to do is go through your other three funnels and say, “What is at the top of the funnel? What is getting me attention?” And then: “Am I converting those leads into my website?” And then from there: “Are they booking appointments?” and “Are they showing up and buying?” You need to audit that for all four funnels.

Chris Cooper (09:34):
And again, those four funnels are referrals, organic social media, content marketing, and paid ads. Okay? If you have a mentor in Two-Brain, you can go through this step by step with them. Don’t worry if it feels overwhelming. The next thing that you have to do is you need to make sure that you’ve got some kind of Nutrition Kickstart going for January. Look, in a perfect world, all of our clients would be making nutrition appointments with you every month, and they’d be paying 300 or 400 bucks to do that. The reality after doing this and collecting data on it for the last seven years is that your clients either don’t do it or they don’t do it for long enough to make meaningful changes. You’re better off to start with a Nutrition Kickstart in January. Have like a 28-day challenge of some sort: “Off the Couch, Off the Carbs Challenge.” You can call it whatever you want.

Chris Cooper (10:23):
You can have a habits-based challenge of drinking water, getting protein at every meal. Whatever that challenge is, start them with that challenge, and then you can convert people into ongoing nutrition coaching or habit coaching after that challenge ends. So, whether you’ve got a nutrition program or you’re just starting one from scratch or you have no plans to ever run one, a nutrition challenge in January is great to get your clients focused, back on track, build some hype and excitement, and get them back in the gym. For me in January, it’s cold outside. At 5 a.m., we can’t run a class because cars don’t start when it’s that cold. But everybody needs excitement in the gym in January, and you want to get people in. In fact, you can even tell them to invite their friends to participate in this and use it as part of your referral strategy too.


Chris Cooper (11:10):
Alright? Now, if you’re in Two-Brain and you’ve got this book, you can click straight through the book and go bam, straight to the actual exercise, the tools, the templates, everything that you need; you just click right through here. If you’re not in Two-Brain and you want to start in Two-Brain, by all means, just book a call with my team. In February, I want you to do two things: I want you to evaluate your coaches and run a Bring-a-Friend event. So, why evaluate your coaches? The only way that you really make your staff better is by doing constant evaluations. Now, you’re not here to say, “Are you good, or are you bad?” You’re here to say, “Did you start the class on time? Was there a fair amount of energy and enthusiasm in the class? Did you look happy, or did you look tired and burned out?” et cetera.

Chris Cooper (11:55):
Basically, you pull up the staff contract that you’ve got on that coach, you look at all the bullets in that contract, like all of the instructions, and you rate those things on a scale of one to 10. Or you take out your class SOP, your standard operating procedure—your class checklist, whatever you call it—and you rate the coach on each one of those items. One to 10. “Did this happen?” Then you sit with the coach, and you say, “Okay, here’s where you’re best. Here is where I’m going to help you. I’m going to mentor you and give you some help. And here’s one other thing that you can do to improve.” Okay? And that’s it. That’s how coaches get better. They don’t get better by learning or taking courses or attending seminars very much. They get better through feedback. And I’ll give you a tip from my own experience:

Chris Cooper (12:39):
If you wait to give this feedback until you’re mad or until there’s something wrong that needs to be corrected, it’s too late. You’re going to go into these evaluations emotional. You’re better to schedule these for February and tell the coaches they’re happening in February so that you can enter that conversation with guards down, nobody feeling defensive, or nobody feeling judgmental. If something bad happens, like if I walk next door into my gym right now, and I see it’s filthy, the class is boring, or there’s no music playing or something, and I say, “Hey, after class, let’s sit down and talk about it.” You know what’s going to happen? They’re going to get defensive; I’m going to be mad; et cetera. You’re better to schedule these events in advance. Also in February, I want you to run a Bring-a-Friend event. So, you’ve got people in your gym probably in January, or people are all hyped up because you’ve run that Nutrition Kickstart, or there’s a lot of reasons that February is a great month to start with referrals.

Chris Cooper (13:36):
And so what you do is you run a Bring-a-Friend event. This is a one-time event, like a Bring-a-Friend Friday. You can bring a friend to any class or personal training session on Friday, and this only works if you do it every quarter. I can remember in like 2010, we were trying to do this every week, and it just completely backfired. Number one: There was no sense of specialness or urgency to it. So, people would just say, “I’ll come next week,” or you would get these people returning and coming in every single week just to do the free class and crushing themselves and getting nowhere but never joining. Or you know, something else would happen, right? And, um, it didn’t work. So, what we found in Two-Brain is that a Bring-a-Friend event works best if you do it every three or every four months.

Chris Cooper (14:18):
So, three or four times a year, and that’s it. You want to hype it a month in advance. So, if you’re working on your plan, you want to be talking about this in January. There’s no sense running a Bring-a-Friend Week; there’s no value in running a week instead of just a day. A day is definitely enough. People will like it, or they won’t. The reason that people tend to run a Bring-a-Friend Week is because they think, “Okay, now the client will get a deeper understanding of the product, and the product will sell itself.” Look, when you run a Bring-a-Friend event, you can’t just run a great class and then stand by the desk and say, “Okay, I’ll take your credit cards here.” That doesn’t happen. You have to run a great class definitely, or run a great session, and then say, “Now let’s talk about your goals.”

Chris Cooper (15:00):
Sit down and do an NSI with the client, or they won’t convert. And the whole point here is not to expose people or give a free sample. The whole point is to convert people into going to your gym and saving their life. So, again, if you’re in Two-Brain, you’ve got your staff evaluation instructions, videos on how to do it, templates to follow, and the Bring-a-Friend Event Kit; you can download the entire kit, set it up step by step. “Here’s how to promote it. Here’s how to do fun little add-ons, like protein tasting challenges,” stuff like that. And you can just click the link right in this guide. So, if you’re tuning in late, you can get this guide just by going to gymownersunited.com. And what you’re looking for is our “Build an Annual Plan” guide. Just raise your hand if you’re in that group and you can’t find it, and I’ll make sure you get it.

Chris Cooper (15:43):
Okay, let’s move on to March. Okay? In March, I want you to run a fun in-house competition that lasts three to four weeks. We call that the Intramural Open. And in my gym, we’re a CrossFit gym, so we align with the CrossFit Open; we try to schedule our intramural open the same time that CrossFit has their CrossFit Open. Not as important as it used to be, but what you’ll see is that thousands of gyms worldwide combine the two things: the CrossFit Open with the Intramural Open. The Intramural Open came from basically my high school, which was a lot like Hogwarts in that we were divided into these four houses—Kings, Knights, Aces, and Panthers—and you competed every day at one or two things to get your house points. And at the end of the year, the Panthers would always win because that was my house.

Chris Cooper (16:29):
I’m just kidding, but that’s what happened. And so, around 2011, we started doing the same thing—I guess it was 2012—at Catalyst. As soon as the CrossFit Open was released for the first time, I said, “Oh, I know how to do this.” And broke everybody into four teams. And we give you step-by-step instructions every year in February. So, you can just follow that guide. So, look for that guide when it comes out. That’ll be in Gym Owners United. And again, if you’re in Two-Brain, you’ve already got all this stuff, and you can start setting it up now. You’ve also got a lot more detailed and in-depth instructions and help from other people who have done this far better than I ever have.

Chris Cooper (17:07):
And that’s really the point of Two-Brain is—you know, at first it was: I would have an idea and share it with other people, then other people would build on it, make it better, and we’d bring in their ideas, and we would test everything—but over time, the evolution is such that the material that we give in Two-Brain now is a hundred times better than I ever made or ever used at my own gym. Okay? In April, I want you to do 30 client goal review sessions. Now, these are hard for a couple reasons: They’re hard, number one, because you have to schedule them, and you have to sit down. They’re hard, number two, because there’s no clear path to how this is going to grow your business. And they’re hard—let’s face it; let’s be honest—number three, because you might not know if your clients are actually getting results, and you might not welcome their feedback. But the reality here is that if you want to keep clients long-term, you need to sit down with them every three to four months. You need to have an appointment; you need to measure their progress.

Chris Cooper (18:01):
And then you need to say, “If there’s a way that I can speed up your progress, this is it.” It’s up to you, the coach, to tell them how to speed it up. When somebody buys coaching, just like when they buy business mentorship, what they’re actually buying is speed. They’re not buying information; they’re not buying the programming, the workouts, the community. They’re buying speed. They want to get to their goals faster, and they’re willing to pay a coach to get them there faster. But if you don’t measure their starting point and measure their progress, then you can never really make sure that they’re getting to their goals as fast as possible. Now, what can happen in these goal reviews is you sit down, and you say, “Hey, since our last meeting you’ve lost six pounds. High five! I’m so proud of you. Is that in line with your expectation?”

Chris Cooper (18:45):
Or you know, “Are you happy with those results? Are you perfectly satisfied?” And if they say, “Yeah, I’m fired up. I love this gym so much.” Well great. You pull out your camera and say, “I’d love to share your story.” And you have them record their story, and you share that with everybody else. If they say, “I wish it was going a little bit faster,” then you say, “Okay, well as your coach, if I wanted to speed up your results, here’s what I would recommend: a nutrition plan, a personal training session once a week, or you come more often.” Whatever that is, right? Now, what will happen there is the client will either invest more money into your recommendation, or they say, “I don’t want to pay more. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing.” And either is fine, but we are not diligently doing our job as a coach if we don’t ask them and present the options to speed up.

Chris Cooper (19:32):
And so that’s something that a lot of coaches miss. They think like, “I’m just going to run programming. I’m just going to run classes every single day. Classes are going to be fun; they’re going to be hard; they’re going to be intense, and people will just gradually make progress.” But the reality is real coaching means: “I’m going to get you from here to the goal that you want to achieve as quickly as possible with a goal, a plan, and somebody to hold you to that plan. But the first plan is not going to be perfect. And so, every quarter or every four months, we’re going to review your progress and alter the plan and just keep sighting in that rifle until it gets better and better and better.” At Two-Brain, we call that the prescriptive model, and now you know why goal reviews are such a big part of that.

Chris Cooper (20:12):
Okay, so that’s April. And Two-Brain clients, there’s—of course—there’s a process for this. You can follow it; you can get some roleplay instructions; you can get some videos, templates, things to ask your clients—all of that right in the Two-Brain modules. Now in May, what I want you to do is host one offsite at a client’s workplace and do one career roadmap session with your coaches. So, an offsite seminar is: You look at your best clients and you say, “What do they do for a living? Who works with other people who would do really, really well here?” And I often give the example of an accountant, but you could use the example of a salesperson at a car dealership. Any service professional really who works in an office or who works with other people who would make good clients. Nurses: very popular option. Whatever it is, that has to be an audience that you’re passionate about helping.

Chris Cooper (21:04):
So, let’s use a nurse example because I’ve done this with nurses a few times. So, you might notice like you’ve got a group of three nurses at your 6 a.m. class every single day, and they’re very, very stressed out. They’ve been burned out since COVID lockdowns, and they’re still burned out. And you say, “Man, I just, I love you guys so much, and I want to help you more. What can I do that will help all the other nurses on your shift? Because I know the stress is bananas right now. What if I came in at shift change, and I just showed them how to relieve stress? Or 10 stretches that they can do three times during their shift? Or how to pack and eat a healthy lunch? Something like that: healthy habits. Would that help?” In my case, the nurses have always just said, “Yeah, awesome.”

Chris Cooper (21:49):
Even cops said, “Yeah,” for a while. And so, I would just find a time to go in with them, check with the head nurse or the supervisor of that shift, and I would go in for about 10 minutes, I’d give them some briefing, show them some stretches, whatever they needed. And then I would just plop down a business card. Or these days we would just show a QR code: “Here you go. Take a picture, and I’m going to give you something for free.” All right? One time—I’ll tell you this story really quickly; this was amazing: I was in an office for insurance brokers doing this, and we did a little talk; it’s about nutrition in the workplace, stress reduction, and “Any questions?” And this woman puts up her hand, and she says, “Hey, I saw you coaching hockey. You were on the other team’s bench, and by the third period your kids still had tons of energy, and our kids were dead. What was that?”

Chris Cooper (22:35):
You know, and of course there’s some laughter through the room because there’s so many hockey parents here. And I was like, “Oh, I give our kids a one-page eating guide called ‘How to Feed a Hockey Animal,’ and their parents can take it. And it’s very basic. It’s like: ‘Don’t get your kids donuts and Red Bull on the way to the game,’ you know?” And she’s like, “Well, how do I get that?” So, this is the insurance broker. And I said, “Oh, I’ll send it to you.” And then five more hands go up, right? Like, “How do I, we all get that?” And soon that became like a really powerful lead magnet for us. But you find these things by going and talking, and you expand your influence in your network and your client caseload by meeting the friends, the families, the coworkers of your current best clients.

Chris Cooper (23:15):
So, I want you to set that up in May. Two-Brain clients, I’ve got step-by-step instructions on how to figure out where to go, what to say, presentations that you can just copy and paste and use if you want to, and then how to get people to book an NSI with you later. The other thing I want you to do in May is hold a career roadmap session. So, what you’re going to do is sit down with each one of your coaches and say—it’s like a goal review—you say, “Are you completely happy with your progress here at the gym? Catalyst?” And they might say, “Yes.” They might say, “No.” And you’d say, “Hey, perfect world: If you had nothing else to do, how much would you want to coach? Are you coaching as much as you’d want to?” “Yes, I am.”

Chris Cooper (23:52):
And for the full-timers, I’m like, “Are you completely happy with the living you’re making here?” And if they say, “I want to make more money,” then that’s what we do. We spend the next 30 minutes breaking down, “Here’s how to make more money.” And I’ll tell you, this annual plan is a real help because you can say, “Well, here’s some opportunities. We’re running an Intramural Open in March. We could run an open prep class in February and get people ready, and you would collect a percentage of that,” et cetera. If they say something like, “Oh man, I just love working here, but the evenings are killing me.” “Great, well, let’s talk about different options for you.” If they’re a personal trainer and they’re like, “My book is full; I’m so swamped. I can’t work anymore, but I don’t know how to make more money”: “Let’s start converting some of your PT clients to semi-private.”

Chris Cooper (24:34):
Remember, you as the owner can serve as a mentor to those coaches. You’ve been where they are. And unless you want them to go out and start their own gym like you did and become maybe a competitor, you need to mentor them to make a career in your gym, on your platform, using the knowledge that you know now that you didn’t have before. And you can do that if you set up these career roadmaps at least twice a year. And again, if you’re in Two-Brain, we’ve got samples for you to just follow. Now in June, I kind of tongue-in-cheek wrote, “Come to the Two-Brain Summit,” but I really think it’s important, and that’s why it’s in this guide. I want to see you in Chicago. I want you to feel the power of being connected with a thousand other gym owners in one room.

Chris Cooper (25:18):
It’s really like an epiphany. It’s like, “Okay, yes, we are changing the world here. Yes, it’s a good time to be a gym owner. No, I’m not alone. I’ve got connection; I’ve got support. I’ve got a goal, I’ve got a plan, and all these people are going to hold me to the plan.” It’s so valuable. Come the first time. If you’ve never been, come on your own, bring your spouse; that’s great. The second time, bring your team because if they are fired up, man, so much more is possible. You’ll move so much faster. Alright, the other thing I want you to do in June is partner with a local event. So, let’s say that there’s a local 5K race or something else, like maybe there’s a triathlon or a swimming event or an obstacle course race like Spartan. What you want to do is set up a training group for that event.

Chris Cooper (26:05):
Now you can have an official partnership where you’re the sponsor—maybe it’s a throwdown, right? Maybe it’s a CrossFit event or something like that. Or you can have an unofficial partnership where you’re just getting people ready for the big day. And so, what you’re going to do in a perfect world is partner with that event and say, “Hey, we want to help get more people to your event. We are running a prep course, like Couch to 5K, and it’s going to be eight weeks long. Here’s what we’re charging for it. But the deal is that they all sign up for your event. Will you promote it?” And in some cases, they will. In some cases, they might ask for a cut, but whatever; it’s still a great partnership, and they will push people toward you. If they say no, or if the event is too big, like it’s an official Ironman or something, that’s okay.

Chris Cooper (26:49):
You still run the event, and you just promote it through your own media and your own marketing, and it’s a 12-week prep course to run your first duathlon, triathlon, whatever that is. And you just set that up 12 weeks, eight weeks leading out from the event and train people for it. We do this all the time, and you can set up your own events and then set up the training for those events and charge for both. Or you can partner with local organizations, which is what we prefer to do. So actually, I’ll give you two examples: So, in the spring we have a local cross country 5K that we work with, and we run a Couch to 5K to get people ready for it. We encourage beginners to join. And they promote it for us because they know that we pump runners into their event year after year.

Chris Cooper (27:31):
At the end of the year, there’s nothing happening in December, and so we run our own event, which is like a powerlifting, weightlifting meet, called the Super Meet, and then we run a training group to get ready for that—to optimize people’s potential to perform well in our own event. So, you can do both. Now July: We’re going to get a little bit technical. The reason we want to be focused on optimizing Google and stuff in July is that August is typically the worst month in the fitness business. Now obviously if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere and you’re listening to this—Australia, New Zealand, South America, Africa—the inverse is probably going to be true, right? Like January, February might be your worst months. So, take this with a grain of salt, but ahead of that worst month, you want to be getting things in motion to create some revenue to help you ride the wave through that month.

Chris Cooper (28:22):
On the other hand, if all your clients are taking holidays, vacations, that’s probably a good time for you to do it too. And so, what we try to do is make extra money in July—boost revenue up—and then schedule staff vacation time through August, which is one of the most beautiful months of the year here. So, what you can do in July is set up your Google Business profile and start doing Google lead ads. And the goal here is just set up a safety net to catch people who are looking for a gym. You want to be the top of the Google rankings. If you’re pretty rural, this is really, really easy, but you have to stay on top of it, so you want to update Google My Business; you want to put a new post up on there about once a month.

Chris Cooper (29:05):
It can be a blog post if you want to. You want to keep your pictures updated, your opening hours updated, your contact info updated. You want to make your Google My Business the top of a funnel. Then you’re going to set up paid ads just to drive people toward Google My Business. And then they work through the funnel from there. So, if you’re not sure how to do it and you’re in Two-Brain, there’s a step-by-step course on this. You just go into the toolkit, and you can get it. If you do know how—if you’re not in Two-Brain and you’re trying to figure this out, you can literally Google it. You won’t get the clear directions, you won’t get the video demos or the “Click here, copy this, paste it here” or the best practices, but you will be told how to do it.

Chris Cooper (29:44):
You just have to click a lot of different things. But you should do it in July. Now in August—August is, I said, the slowest time of the year—we would usually try to generate revenue in August by having a competition set up for September. So, I’ll get into that in one moment. But while August is happening, you can set up your paid ads for your September “Surge.” So, September is usually the second busiest month of the year, at least if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, because September is when people’s calendars and their schedules get filled out again. The kids are back in school; the kids are back in sport; the parents have done their holidays—they’re back to quote-unquote “normal.” September is the month of normalcy. And so, you want them to include the gym in their normal behavior. And September is really when you want to get that started.

Chris Cooper (30:33):
So you want to—August: Set up paid ads for the September “Surge.” You could use your Google My Business profile like you just set up the month before. You could use Facebook ads if you want to. They’re still working really well, just maybe not as well as they used to, but they’re still working better than a lot of other things. And then you want to do another coach evaluation. So, in August you’re going to do your second coach evaluation of the year, and you’re going to set up your paid ads. Now look, if you’ve tried Facebook ads and said, “Oh, they didn’t work,” you probably didn’t set them up properly. If you don’t want to do paid ads, that’s fine. Find another way to do it or stick with Google Ads or whatever. But the point is that you need to be dropping more and more leads into that advertising funnel during August because once September hits, you’re not going to have a lot of time to focus on your ads.

Chris Cooper (31:20):
And so this—August—is the perfect time to set all this stuff up and get it rolling, and then you can just maintain it for the rest of the year when you’re busier. So, use that downtime to reinvest in getting clients for the rest of the year. Then in August, I want you to do 30 more goal review sessions. It might seem like you just did it, but the last time you did it was several months ago. And look, I told you, I think every group coaching client should get a goal review three or four times a year. If it’s a personal training client or a semi-private client, they probably don’t need those goal reviews. But the group training clients definitely do if you want to keep them. And so, I’m putting down “perform 30,” but I’m just trying to get you in the habit.

Chris Cooper (32:00):
Really, you need to be doing these all the time, and it is a very high value use of your time, but it takes some practice to get it going, and it takes some reps to see like, “Oh, this is enormously valuable. I get referrals out of this, I get upgrades, I get better client retention out of this. This is really, really important and core to my business.” People usually have to try it a few times to get in the flow of it. So, I’m asking you to do it again in September. Then in October, it’s time to start setting up your year-end promotions. So, what you’re looking at here are packages, like pre-sales; you’re looking for retail, and you’re looking for gift giving. So, this is the time in October when you set up gift certificates on your website that people can prepay and give to a friend.

Chris Cooper (32:45):
This is the time when you put your packages together. So, “Hey, you can buy your package of 10 personal training sessions and give that as a gift.” This might even be the time when you audit your sales binder and say, “Here’s what we want to offer next year.” You know, this is what we do at Two-Brain: What are we going to update in our curriculum? What are we going to change in our On-Ramp program? Et cetera. This is a good time for you to do that, and it’s a great time for you to offer these things to your clients. Another one that you might want to do is a retail presale. So, “Hey, we’ve got this amazing long-sleeve tee, and it’s on pre-order.” So, you’re not putting out money in advance. People can click through the link, they can pay you, you hold the money, you order through Forever Fierce or whoever your retail provider is, they bring the stuff in, and then you pay, and people have it in time for Christmas.

Chris Cooper (33:30):
You need to do that in October. In November, you’re going to hold career roadmap sessions with your coaches again, okay? So, twice a year, you’re going to sit down with them. “How are things going?” If you want to roll this into an evaluation period, you can. “You said this was your goal. Here’s where we’re starting from; here’s what you can do to get closer to that goal.” And that could be revenue-based; it could be time-based; it could even just be performance-based. Maybe the coach’s goal is like, “I want to get my black belt, or I want to get my CrossFit level three,” or whatever that is. You can help them map out how they’re going to get there, how they’re going to pay for it, how they’re going to make more money, how they’re going to get more time off, how they’re going to ascend in their career without becoming your competitor.

Chris Cooper (34:12):
Maybe one day they become your partner, and you can plan that out too. Alright? And then you’re going to make your plan for the following year. Hopefully, by this point in the year you have started working with a mentor that’s going to look at your actual metrics and break this plan down even more to say, “Specifically, our goal is five new clients next month with a loss of only two driving this much revenue. We’re also going to be doing x, y, z to get you to your exact goal, get you a better living, keep your clients around longer, make a bigger difference in their lives, and create a more meaningful career for your coaches.” Okay? That’s what a mentor does. And a mentor, their job is to help you get there faster. Just like your job is to help your clients get there faster. And then finally, next December, I want you to host a really fun in-house competition party.

Chris Cooper (35:00):
We do Super Meet. So, Super Meet is a combination powerlifting meet with a weightlifting meet and weighted pull up. So, six max lifts; they have a two-hour window, they can do them in any order, and their best lift wins. So, if they want to just keep attempting deadlift, deadlift, deadlift, deadlift for six maxes or something, fine. They can eat up their time that way. If they want to do the pull up first, that’s fine. If they want to do the press first, that’s fine. I don’t care. If they want to do the weightlifting stuff first, cool, no problem. But their goal is just beat their record from the previous year. Then we have a potluck, and we adopt foster families. That’s really kind of near and dear to me. And so, every year we adopt about 70 foster families with two or three kids each.

Chris Cooper (35:44):
We buy them all presents. And the night of our Super Meet, the caseworkers come with vans, and they pick up hundreds of presents, and you can actually see a video if you click the link in the guide here. So, again, if you want to get this guide to get the step by step, you just go to gymownersunited.com; you’re going to see it right in there. But if you don’t just put your hand up: “Hey Coop, can you send me that guide?” I’m happy to send you the “Annual Planning Guide.” So, that’s your 2024 year. If you do nothing else but these basics, you’re going to have a better year than probably you’ve had this year. You know, any plan is better than no plan. And if you really want to grow your gym, you need three things:

Chris Cooper (36:21):
You need a goal, you need a plan, and you need somebody to hold you to that plan so that you’re not swerving all over the place. Because what gets you speed is focus. It’s simplicity. It’s knowing exactly what you need to do and doing that and not getting distracted by all the other million options that are bombarding you every day. I know because they’re bombarding me too. That’s why I have a business coach. That’s why we’re a business mentorship practice because I know that as a gym owner, you also need a goal, a plan, and somebody to hold you to that plan. I’m Chris Cooper; this is “Run a Profitable Gym.” Thanks for walking through this book with me, and I want you to have an amazing 2024.

Thanks for listening!

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