34 Free Consultations in One Month: The December Leaderboard

34 Free Consultations in One Month: The December Leaderboard

Mike Warkentin: (00:01)
This is Run a Profitable Gym. I’m your host, Mike Warkentin, and please hit subscribe wherever you’re watching or listening with my thanks. Yo Derek, how many free consultations did you book at your gym in December?

Derek Batman: (00:12)
We booked 34.

Mike Warkentin: (00:14)
I’ve done that in a year. What tips you got? Have you got any?

Derek Batman: (00:19)
Oh, I’ve got a bunch of stuff.

Mike Warkentin: (00:20)
Oh, dude. Will you share with our listeners?

Derek Batman: (00:23)

Mike Warkentin: (00:24)
All right. We’re gonna get into that in just a second. Now, Two-Brain has data. Mountains of it. Free consultations are the best way to get high value clients into your gym. We know this. They’re also key to retention. So how do you get people to book these appointments? Well, we track sales metrics across hundreds of gyms, and we ask the top owners questions about how they got their numbers. We get ’em to share their secrets right here on this show. On the sales side, we’ve got set rate, the number of people who book consultations at your gym. Show rate, the number of people who show up for those appointments. Close rate, the number of people who show up and buy. Derek Batman of Hardbat Athletics in Delaware earned a spot on our set rate leaderboard for December with 34 appointments. He’s averaging more than one a day. He’s gonna tell you how he did it. Derek, welcome. I’m so excited to talk to you about this.

Derek Batman: (01:08)
Mike. I’m pumped. I’m happy to be here.

Mike Warkentin: (01:10)
Let’s do it. You got a great mic. You’re gonna sound good for the podcast audience. We’re gonna roll right off the bat here. What’s the number one thing you did to get 34 appointments in December?

Derek Batman: (01:19)
So, the irony is that we’re actually going in a direction with our sales systems and lead nurture and marketing to avoid a lot of self booking. And I think that while this may have been the way a couple years ago, and some gyms do in fact find success this way, we have not. So while we found that we could get a lot of people booked through having people self-book through the website, and then every one of our lead forms and all of our marketing plays, at large, we felt that the quality of those bookings was severely reduced by leaving that door wide open. So we have actually taken the approach here of trying to reach out to our clients as fast as possible and self-book them ourselves. So for instance, when a new client signs up at the gym, let’s say they’re coming in from a Facebook ad that we had posted. My general manager, who is probably 95% responsible for all of our lead nurture, is trying to reach out to that person within five minutes.

Mike Warkentin: (02:23)
Okay. So you see a lead come in and your GM is responsible for contacting that person as soon as possible and trying to book an appointment. Have I got that right?

Derek Batman: (02:31)
Correct. And those are during on hours. So we run that kind of like 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, that’s the role for her. Now, are there times where that will be impossible because she has another consult or something going on? Sure. And I think that in the future we’ll look at ways to be able to fill those gaps, but for the time being, her ability to get ahold of these potential customers has increased significantly. And during the off hours, they are still contacted within five minutes. It’s just via the way of automation.

Mike Warkentin: (03:02)
Every single marketing expert that I’ve spoken to on this show says that speed of contacting is one of the keys to make sales, and the first thing you have to do is get that person in for a free consultation. So you’ve got it down to five minutes. How do you do that? Does your GM sit an office doing office work? Does she coach? How does it work? How is she able to respond in five minutes?

Derek Batman: (03:22)
Well, first I’ll speak to the importance of it and then I’ll speak to the how. So I think for us, what we began to recognize was that while having a booking link available for people as part of all of our advertising was getting people, to book appointments, they felt as though they were going through a system rather than talking to a real human being. Whereas getting a hold of somebody on the phone, be it text or a video message or on the telephone through a call, we were able to establish rapport immediately and develop this kind of, Hey, you’re gonna be going through a human-provided experience to where your coach is already listening to your goals and your wants. And that’s a bit more comforting for somebody, especially when that comes from cold traffic. So that’s kind of why we started to focus more on this area. The how was just in realizing that it was so important based on the data that Two-Brain provides, plus what we’re able to extract from everything we’ve learned throughout the years. And just realizing that her role was best fulfilled in this very moment, in putting her time and attention into the sales process.

Mike Warkentin: (04:31)
Wow. And are you getting these leads, did you say from Facebook? Or where do you get most of your leads coming from?

Derek Batman: (04:37)
Well, I would say that we run, everyone knows that right now lead forms are gonna be the best in terms of just being able to capture the largest audience. You’re kind of throwing out a wide net and it seems as though that people are responding the best coming off of lead forms. But I would say that we’ve also ramped up our effort at doing things like creating lead magnets to get people into our email list, but also putting a massive focus on retargeting and being able to get consistent exposure to the types of people that we want coming to our facility. So yeah, I mean, I don’t know how deep you want me to go on this, but yeah, we’ve done a lot of research on our end to figure out who we want to target and how we’re gonna target them and how we’re gonna continue to get repeated exposure in front of these people.

Mike Warkentin: (05:20)
So let’s dig into that a little bit. So tell me, is it a Facebook system or what do you use exactly there to, you’re using paid stuff or more organic things like lead magnets, bringing stuff in, like what are you using there to generate just the initial volume that then your GM can then use to book those appointments?

Derek Batman: (05:37)
I would say there’s a couple things going on here. So, we did an audit of our top 20% of clients to really get hyper focused on the type of types of people that were not only, they were not only valuing their own health significantly and enough to warrant onboarding into the system, but they were also sticking around. So the average revenue per member was high, the length of engagement was high, and that lifetime client value was high. So we said, okay, if we were to look at the commonalities or common denominators amongst these people, how do we break it down into a couple different characteristics and then try to target those people on social media? And one of the things that we know is that once you can get your ads in front of these people, it’s not just that initial exposure, it is the repeated exposure that is likely to have them come your way.

Derek Batman: (06:24)
So what happens oftentimes is that it can be difficult to say exactly where someone came from because they may have seen your ad nine times on Facebook and then eventually worked up the courage to seek you out on Google. So while it may come through as a Google lead, or they might write it in as a Google search, it might just have been by the product of the amount of times you’ve exposed your content to them. So it can get a little bit difficult, but we feel as though this is also helping us get warmer leads by this consistent exposure rather than relying exclusively on just lead forms that are attracting a very cold traffic.

Mike Warkentin: (07:01)
So what I’m hearing there is you’re targeting a very specific thing, you’ve got your avatar probably dialed in, you know exactly who you want and you know that type of person based on your current clients. A lot of gyms don’t do that. They’ll just kind of carpet bomb everything, try and get as many leads as possible. eads are great. But sometimes if you get really poor ones, like you said, it eats up a lot of time for salespeople and they’re just not people who are actually interested, right? If you’ve targeted those people and kind of pre-screened them a little bit, you are gonna get much better people and you can spend more time on fewer people who turn into great clients. Does that sound like an accurate summary?

Derek Batman: (07:34)
Yeah, absolutely, Mike. And one of the things that’s really nice also with the way that we go through our booking process is that because of the fact that you need to be in touch with a coach in order to establish that appointment time, it also allows my GM to then go through the pre-qualification process with a person, find out if they’re going to have objections that she might be able to work out over the phone, or even let them know that we may not be the best facility for them, and even potentially in some cases recommend other facilities. But this again, allows us to attract the right clients to us and deter the ones that we don’t feel are a good fit.

Mike Warkentin: (08:06)
And I’ve heard that before from other gym owners. When they speak to people ahead of time, they’ll often get a lot of critical information that then they can use in sales meetings. And it’s harder to skip out on a sales meeting or a No-Sweat Intro, or whatever you wanna call them. But it’s harder to skip on that when you’ve spoken to a person who’s taken the booking and said, I will see you here at 1:00 PM. Right. You can certainly do it, and people do, but it’s harder to do that than when you just self-book something, you click into a slot, you don’t have a name and a face or anything like that, and you just, eh, I don’t feel like it anymore. You click or you just miss. Right. So there’s some interesting stuff going on there. Did you see your show rates improve when you changed this system to talking to the people and booking them yourself?

Derek Batman: (08:45)
We did. Yeah. So this is one of the main reasons that we had changed this was, it wasn’t just the quality of the people coming in, but the number of the people coming in when they actually spoke to a real person had had changed as well. So yeah, that was a big part of it.

Mike Warkentin: (08:59)
Was it dramatic? Was it like a big spike where all of a sudden, whoa, we hit a speed bump there?

Derek Batman: (09:03)
You mean in terms of when we made the shifts, the show rate?

Mike Warkentin: (09:05)
Yeah. Like, did you notice right away your metrics are like, whoa, 50% more people are showing up now?

Derek Batman: (09:11)
I would say it had less to do with the absolute volume of people showing up and more to do with the quality of those that were. Yeah. Yeah. Which ultimately I’m saying that’s

Derek Batman: (09:20)
Just important. At the end of the day, every facility operates differently. For us, one of the beautiful things is that we do consider ourselves more of a high ticket type of facility. So it behooves us to be a little bit more rigorous in that process of vetting people before they come in. Whereas if we had a lower barrier to entry and we were allowing people in at let’s say, you know, $150 as part of an onboarding process, we would be much more comfortable with just kind of allowing them to come in and then they would naturally kind of vet themselves over an amount of time. Whereas for us, we don’t wanna inflate or pressure test our systems unnecessarily because we’ve been in the business now for 11 and a half years, so we have a really good idea of the types of people. Not only that we can serve best, but the types of people we want to serve.

Derek Batman: (10:04)
And that allows us to be a little bit more picky as part of the onboarding. One of the things I always remind our coaches is that I had it wrong for the longest time as the owner. I thought that the hard part was getting members, but in actuality, the hard part is getting the right members. I thought I could put an ad out there tomorrow for some sort of a free onboarding or very cheap onboarding, or discounted offer, and open the flood gates. But that affects my culture. That affects our ability to serve those people. And the hard part is attracting the right people and keeping them.

Mike Warkentin: (10:37)
Your experience mirrors my own. I have run some challenges. Back in the past we got a lot of people in the door. We had a lot of people sign up and it destroyed our staff because we just weren’t equipped for it, and then we didn’t retain very many of them. The retention on that was very poor. So acquiring them for a short-term challenge went just fine, but ultimately they weren’t the clients we wanted to serve because we hoped that they were gonna stay long-term and they didn’t. So what we would’ve done better, I think there, was screen out the people who were just there to try it out and then move on to the next thing and find the people who really wanted to form a long-term relationship with us, where we can really help them over a period of years. And so Chris Cooper’s talked about this: the right people are really the foundation of the retention period, because it’s hard to retain the bad people, right?

Derek Batman: (11:17)
For sure. Yeah. And I think, this is why we’ve dug into our data. And I would bet that most gyms would find a similar result, which is that the people that value their own health and their fitness are the ones that are paying you more. And they’re also the ones that are sticking around longer. So you’re almost doing yourself this major disservice by catering to the people that just wanna get into the door, compared to the people that you have to do a little bit more work for and really prove to them your value in order to gain theirs. But if they value their health, then you can prove that you’re the vehicle to be able to get them over some of these more complex issues or hurdles that they’re facing. You can bring someone into your building that’s gonna stay around for the long haul.

Mike Warkentin: (12:02)
So we have tons of tactics at Two-Brain to help people get more appointments. What are some other things that your mentors helped you do?

Derek Batman: (12:09)
So we had Shawn Rider through Growth, and I’m now with Kenny as part of Tinker. And I would say, for Shawn, he was really good about helping us become unemotional about creating the systems and unemotional about making decisions around how to optimize our sales systems. Because it can be difficult in the beginning, because anytime you turn these dials that affects others. And for instance, when you’re aiming for a higher quality lead, you’re probably gonna get less of them, right? And when you’re going through a pre-qualification process, you’re probably gonna talk to less people in the building. But then you see the close rates going up and you see that front end revenue and you’re like, okay, this makes sense. So having somebody there to kind of help you through that process, to hold you accountable to the things that you’re doing so you actually see them through for an extended period of time, to where the data actually means something to you. Because if you do this for 15 days, it’s just not enough time to see it through. And then also kind of keeping you focused on the task at hand because it becomes really easy to allow yourself to become distracted.

Mike Warkentin: (13:13)
One of the things you mentioned here, and that I’ve heard is key from every sales expert on the show, data. Tracking your data, right? So when you make these changes, if you don’t track the data, you don’t know if it actually worked, or if you’re spending too much money, too little money. You need to track things, guys. And we have sales metrics that we teach our clients exactly how to, like Derek mentioned, front end revenue, how much are you selling? And then you start looking at how many of those people are retaining, what’s the long tail on this thing? And you start to realize cost per lead numbers balanced against really great long-term clients don’t matter so much. If you don’t have any of those metrics, it becomes a just, you don’t know what you’re doing. You’re flying blind essentially. So it’s great that you mentioned that because you can’t make decisions without data.

Derek Batman: (13:51)
Absolutely. Well, and there’s the flip side of this too, which is, we talked about it from a negative implication perspective of when you make these adjustments and you don’t see as much money coming in right away. But there’s also the opposite problem, which is that this is where the six week challenge came about, where people were running a lot of six week challenges where they would see this huge, massive influx in that front end revenue, but it ended up destroying their culture and it ended up doing more damage than good over the course of the next three months. And this is why it’s important to track these things. ‘Cause if you’re not tracking that, you can constantly get into this slot machine type of mindset where you’re like, okay, another six week challenge, another six week challenge. But little by little you’re just like eating away at the culture inside of your facility

Mike Warkentin: (14:34)
And wearing down your staff because honestly some of these challenges, there’s so many people that show up, which is great, but if your business isn’t stress tested, kinda like you said, you can have a real car wreck and it becomes a great challenge for staff. And we ran into that for sure at our gym. Now, even though though you’re screening out people and you’re looking for a very specific person, you still book 34 of them in. That’s pretty great. Has that number increased when you first made these switches to try and find very specific people? Were your set rates a lot lower than they are now with 34?

Derek Batman: (15:06)
The set rate has fluctuated over time. I would say that part of what’s allowing those 34 appointments is that I have just fully taken over our marketing and have made a large effort at getting focused and good at that. And I think in absolute terms, our just total amount of leads that we’re able to get is far greater than it was at this time last year, even six months ago. It has made a drastic climb. So what you’re seeing in the way of 34 booked appointments is coming off the back of 200 plus leads coming in on a monthly basis.

Mike Warkentin: (15:43)
Aha. So there’s the link. Okay. Now talk to me about a few things that you’ve tried that didn’t increase leads. Was there anything out there or set rate, pardon me? Was anything else there that you’ve done that was like, ah, that was a mistake and I wouldn’t do that again?

Derek Batman: (15:55)
I would have to say that it would just be relying too heavily on automated systems. So everyone has become much more sensitive to marketing these days because of the fact that it’s so easy to have your information auto-populate on, let’s say a Facebook lead form. So for instance, if I’m on Facebook and a lead form comes up for something that I’m potentially interested in, within three seconds, there’s no friction. I can just click, auto-populate my name and information, and then click submit. But because of the lack of the friction there, sure, you’re gonna get that person coming through, but you’re also gonna get a lot of people forgetting the fact that they even submitted information. So what was happening was these automated texts would go out and as much as you tried to make them feel personalized, people would get this feeling of okay, great, now I’m just stuck into this labyrinth where I’m gonna keep getting perpetual texts. And they would wanna opt out even though they just gave us their information, which was puzzling to me. But now having a better understanding of the fact that that’s just the nature of cold traffic and people that are able to submit, so frictionless, all of their information to you, they’re used to opting out of systems on a frequent basis. So by getting them in contact with a real human early, we kind of change their perspective of who they were talking to. Now all of a sudden, it’s a small gym feel rather than a big system automation.

Mike Warkentin: (17:20)
And that’s really something to think about, gym owners. As AI becomes a larger and larger thing, we’ve talked about this on the Two-Brain blog. You can check that out if you want. There’s a whole series on AI and gyms, marketing systems and AI and all those things. However, you are not looking for in the microgym industry, 4,000 clients, right? You’re looking for about 150. Maybe more, but you’re looking for these perfect high value people who wanna stay for years and you wanna build personal relationships with them. You’re going to stand out from the crowd by starting that right on the first second that they’re a lead. Within the first five minutes rather than bombarding them with automations. Now, it’s not to say you can’t use automations in your systems, they totally work and they can streamline things, but I think Derek, correct me if I’m wrong here, when you started having a real person make these connections, you probably saw a better result, right?

Derek Batman: (18:04)
Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, at the end of the day, I would say that you measure your results as part of your lead nurture process by the amount. So how efficient your systems are, right? But also the amount of front end revenue that you’re generating, and then how long those people are sticking around because all those things can be different bottlenecks and different problems. And you have to diagnose them in different ways. But nonetheless, all those things can be problems, and you have a bunch of different things you may have to diagnose as part of the sales process or the lead nurture. But at the end of the day, your goal is ultimately to be able to waste less time with the wrong types of people and being able to provide as much value as possible to the people that are coming in, so that you can keep them longer and they ultimately influence your community in the ways that you want to maintain in your culture.

Mike Warkentin: (18:56)
I’ll ask you this question, feel free to not give me an exact answer if you don’t want to, but do you have a lot of members or female members? What are you looking at here for members, large numbers, small numbers, what do you want?

Derek Batman: (19:05)
What do I want or what do we have?

Mike Warkentin: (19:07)
What do you have? Yeah, and then essentially, I’m guessing that’s probably close to what you’re looking for, but give me an approximation here.

Derek Batman: (19:13)
So we’re floating around 160 members right now. This is probably a high point for us, but the climb has come by the way of a lot of little bit up, a little bit down, little bit more up a little bit down. I am not looking for any sort of a massive influx of members, not because our systems couldn’t handle it, but because I feel like it would be difficult for me to believe that those would be the types of people that would wanna stay around. And I may be proven wrong in that regard, but I have found that the best way to do it the way we’re doing it, which is offering a higher value service, is to be much more careful as part of the onboarding process and making sure we’re able to deliver as much value as possible and vet out the right people for the building.

Derek Batman: (20:00)
We have a large facility, we have about 9,500 square feet, so that allows us to have multiple different offerings. This high ticket offering comes by the way of sports performance. People that want personal training for a variety of different reasons. Maybe it’s some sort of rehabilitation or kind of getting back to the sport that they want. Maybe it’s more aesthetics based. So we do offer quite a variety of services, but in all of them, the goal at the end of the day is value. I want to over deliver on everything that we do.

Mike Warkentin: (20:31)
And you can do that with 150, 160 members. Chris has written about this a bunch of times, 150, 160. You can maintain personal relationships with that group pretty well. When you start getting to the 200 range, things start to get frazzled. You start to forget people’s occupations and things. If your gym systems aren’t right up to snuff, you’re gonna have some issues. That’s not to say you can’t go further, but you could also make a really great living serving 150 to 160 high value clients. And Derek is proof of that. Derek, are you satisfied with that number of booked deployments or do you wanna see that again next month or more? And then I’ll ask you, what are you doing now to improve set and close rates? Or show and close rates, pardon me.

Derek Batman: (21:09)
I mean, I always wanna see an increase in those numbers at the end of the day. I think that that’s indicative of the staff’s ability to be able to take the lead nurture from start to finish, and be able to complete in a way that makes those people want to then have their friends come on board. The referrals are really, really good in that regard. And then obviously my GM’s ability to take in the leads that I’m able to get her and be able to effectively get them in the door. And then on my end, it comes by the way of continuing to refine the marketing messaging in a way that attracts the right people. So I think it’s not one person in this equation, it’s the whole team. So we meet about this regularly and we have these conversations so that everyone understands what the mission is and why we’re going after the people we are. I would say we’re happy with where we are, but we’re always looking to get better. But we’re not looking to get better at the expense of the goal.

Mike Warkentin: (22:08)
Right, right. Who does the sales? Is that you or is it someone else?

Derek Batman: (22:11)
So my GM does about 90% or so of the sales. Okay. If there’s any that are additional, I take them. And our youth coach will occasionally take some of the kids, or at least their parents because of the fact that we allow them to come in for a free class. So a lot of times the consult just naturally takes place after the, the class.

Mike Warkentin: (22:32)
And do you train your staff on how to sell and make sure that they know exactly how to do it? Like using a sales binder or any of the other things that would really help?

Derek Batman: (22:39)
Yeah, so we’ve gone through a number of iterations with a sales binder, and now we actually do it through a presentation on an iPad. Very cool.

Mike Warkentin: (22:48)
That works well.

Derek Batman: (22:49)
For sure. Yeah. We found that it’s clean, it’s organized. It allows everything to take place on one screen. And then I personally in sales, like to have a clipboard with a piece of paper so I can draw. I feel like visuals really help throughout that process. We have gone through the painstaking process of doing sales roleplay, and I can tell everyone that while it is incredibly awkward in the very beginning, it does help. It does help. So if you’re on the fence about doing it, set time with your staff and it’s awkward at first and then it gets kind of funny and then eventually everyone kind of catches on. And then when people are able to take those lessons outside of the role play that you’re doing and utilize them in a sales setting, and they work and you start to see the validity in them, then all of a sudden the light bulb goes off and you’re like, okay, cool. We need to do this more often.

Mike Warkentin: (23:40)
Sales skills are not, you’re not born with them. They can be trained and if you don’t know how to sell at your gym, find someone to teach you or hire a salesperson who’s very good at it. Two-Brain has systems that will teach you how to close sales. So if you’re interested in that, a mentor can help you. Derek, sending people out the door here, I’ll say it, you tell me if I’m right or not. If people can go out of this podcast and do one thing today to increase their set rate, I’m guessing based on our conversation, that it would be to respond to leads faster. Would you agree or do you have a different tip for them?

Derek Batman: (24:11)
I would agree. I would say respond faster and be a real person.

Mike Warkentin: (24:16)
Yeah, I like that too. Because in the age of automated marketing, now you can start to sniff when it’s not a real person, a real person is gonna stand out from the crowd and I think you’re gonna probably get more appointments and ultimately more close sales. Derek, thanks so much for sharing your time with us. I appreciate it. I can’t wait to see you back on the leaderboard next month.

Derek Batman: (24:31)
Absolutely, Mike, it’s been fun.

Mike Warkentin: (24:33)
That was Derek Batman. This is Run a Profitable Gym. Please hit subscribe on the way out, wherever you are watching or listening. Now, here’s Chris Cooper with a final message.

Chris Cooper: (24:42)
Hey, it’s Two-Brain founder Chris Cooper with a quick note. We created the Gym Owners United Facebook group to help you run a profitable gym. Thousands of gym owners just like you have already joined in the group. We share sound advice about the business of fitness every day. I answer questions, I run free webinars and I give away all kinds of great resources to help you grow your gym. I’d love to have you in that group. It’s Gym Owners United on Facebook, or go to to join. Do it today.

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