Mike Warkentin (00:02):
You’re probably doing the wrong tasks at your gym. How do I know? I did the wrong tasks at my gym for years. But today I’m gonna chat with a gym owner who succeeded in offloading some tasks and removing himself from many roles so he can build a better business. I’m Mike Warkentin. This is Two-Brain Radio. Quick reminder: if you’re lost at sea, you can interact with Two-Brain mentors and Chris Cooper himself in the private Facebook group Gym Owners United. To join, head to gymownersunited.com. Do that today. Now, we track everything at Two-Brain, and in August our leaderboard for owners’ effective hourly rate went from $180 to over 800 bucks—if you can believe that. The people on the leaderboard make money from their businesses, and they do it without working millions and millions of hours. To calculate your effective hourly, hourly rate or EHR, as we call it, divide your total pay, including all benefits from the business, by the number of hours you worked on or in the business. You gotta count ’em all, not just the ones that you spend coaching. Now, you can drive your EHR up by working fewer hours or by making more money. Working less and making more sounds like a pretty sweet combo to me. So today we’re gonna dig into offloading tasks, so that you have more time as an owner. With me is Shane Rider of Kiowa Fitness in Independence, Oregon. He made our EHR leaderboard in August. Shane, welcome to Two-Brain Radio.
Shane Rider (01:16):
Thanks for having me. Really appreciate it, Mike.
Mike Warkentin (01:18):
I’m fired up. You’re gonna help a lot of people because, just like me, they’re stuck in spots where they’re not offloading tasks and having trouble developing staff. So I wanna know how you do it. So I understand that you let most of your team handle the day-to-day tasks. Now was it hard to release control and delegate that? Or how did you learn to do it?
Shane Rider (01:35):
I would say in the beginning it was really tough. I didn’t have a clear vision in how to do that. It was something that probably, like most gym owners, it’s burning yourself out, and you’re, you know, having a really hard time, you know, burning the candle on both ends. And it’s like trying to figure out a way to get yourself out of doing everything. And once you kind of offload those first couple things, like the gym cleaning and maybe hiring your first coach or something like that, it tends to get a little bit easier. But there’s definitely some little bits of issues personally, like you’re letting your child go on their first bicycle ride. Like you’re really nervous and, and “are they gonna be able to do that task?” But yeah, in the beginning it was tough, but now that I’ve done it a few times, I have all of my tasks laid out that I was doing previously, and I knew which ones I wanted to let go of first, and then I kind of worked down the list of things that I wasn’t really getting joy out of essentially. And then there’s some things that it’s like, I really enjoy still doing that, but I know for the better of the business I need to hand it off to somebody else.
Mike Warkentin (02:59):
So what was the first thing you offloaded?
Shane Rider (03:02):
Cleaning the gym was the first thing. Yeah, that was more of my wife. Like, “Hey, you know, you’re there from sun up to sundown, you know, now we’re coming in on the weekends or staying later—you know, 9, 10 o’clock at night to clean.” Cause it was something that we made a very specific priority that “we are going to keep this place as spotless as we possibly can,” which is very difficult for a gym. So you have to spend a lot of time doing it. You know, we bought that floor cleaner, and that was one of our first big purchases. But then our weekends got filled up with cleaning and stuff, and so she said, “You need some time off, you know. You’ve gotta take a break, so let’s find somebody to help do that.” And that was one of the first things for sure. And then we hired one of my first coaches. That was the next thing.
Mike Warkentin (04:01):
So you did the classic thing where you were kinda the one-person show right off the bat?
Shane Rider (04:06):
Yep. Right off the bat it was all me. Yep. For probably a solid 10 months I believe.
Mike Warkentin (04:13):
And when, when did you open the business?
Shane Rider (04:15):
We opened in November of 2015. So knocking on the door of seven years.
Mike Warkentin (04:21):
Wow. That’s awesome. And when did you offload the cleaning? Was this shortly after? Did you do the thing I did for five or seven years: clean the gym yourself by doing warm-up lunges with a vacuum cleaner? Did you do that?
Shane Rider (04:36):
It was probably three or four months in. We’re close to a college town, Western Oregon University, and we had a couple college kids wanna come in. And typically in our style of gym—the “boutique fitness,” if you will—college kids can’t really afford those kind of memberships. And their high school had CrossFit previously. So they come in and they’re like, “Hey, we really want to, to work out here. We just can’t afford it. Is there anything we can do?” And I’m like, “Yes, there is. You can clean our gym.”
Mike Warkentin (05:15):
I’ve made mistakes with that one. So I wanna ask if you did the same thing as me or if you were much more clever. I had a deal like that, but we didn’t formalize it. So like the holiday would come around or whatever and it just wouldn’t happen. And then everyone ended up mad at each other. Did you do that same thing or were you smarter than me and put contracts in?
Shane Rider (05:32):
Oh, no, no. I’m still learning that process. Like I’m still getting bitten by not having the contractual agreements with some of our staff. But no, that was more of a kind of handshake deal. Like, “Hey, you do this and then you get this service from us.” And I mean, it worked out really well till it didn’t. And then just like anything else, we found the next person, who was a member of the gym probably like right after we opened. So he’s been with us almost all seven years, and him and his son picked up the cleaning, and it’s been immaculate ever since. So it was definitely a great transition to our newer cleaning personnel for sure.
Mike Warkentin (06:24):
Yeah. And gym owners, if you’re listening, cleaning is one of the first roles you can offload because it’s not a role that you need to do. And there’s cleaners who are gonna do a better job than you. I know that you care about your gym, but the reality is that you’re not a cleaner. You’re a coach and an entrepreneur. Offload that cleaning role for 15 or so dollars. Two-Brain has an exact process that teaches you how to do this in order. And the idea is that you’re gonna pay a cleaner, I don’t know, $12 to $20 an hour or whatever it is in your area, you’re going to use the time that’s saved, say four hours a week, to make back the money that you’re spending on the cleaner and more. That’s the key. You have to make more. And you’re replacing yourself in what we call “low-value roles.” That doesn’t mean they’re unimportant; it just means they’re not as valuable as CEO work. Replace yourself, level up, do more important work, and good things will happen. And what I’ll recommend, something I didn’t do, when you start with this stuff, formalize it. Put the stuff in place and say, “Just so there’s no hard feelings or vagueness, here’s how you do it. Here’s exactly the job. Here’s what it needs to be done, Here are the standards. Sign it, and away we go.” And that’s gonna save you a ton of problems because I did not do this, and it was done whenever to certain standards and so forth and whatnot. So you can save yourself a lot of heartache by putting that stuff in place. Now, cleaning might be considered an easy role to replace yourself in, because most gym owners don’t really have a passion for it. It’s not why we opened gyms. It’s relatively inexpensive to replace yourself in that role. But how, Shane, did you manage to start offloading higher-value roles and stepping back maybe from coaching and other things like that?
Shane Rider (07:50):
Well, I think the first the first way that I started handing that off was probably like most people: you really start feeling the burnout and you start trying to find somebody who, just almost anybody, who can do that role. Like who do I think can coach? Like, “Who’s awake at 6 a.m.?” Like who can come in here and just kind of even fake the funk, you know, to get you to fill that position? And I mean fortunately for me, we had our first coach who came in and filled a role for us. She was leaving another gym, and she was looking for another gym to coach at. And we wanted the right fit. She was very knowledgeable and had been doing the high-intensity functional fitness, CrossFit stuff, Olympic lifting, all the things. She was almost like that unicorn. Like, “Oh my gosh, this person’s coming into my gym and they want to coach here. Yay! Like, whatever you wanna wanna do.” Like, bend over backwards to get that person to come. And then, you know, I was pretty fortunate at that. As the years went on, we’ve done some different things. We built up our staff pretty well internally through people who had been doing CrossFit for a few years—someone who’s really eager to kind of take that next step into being a part of the gym and the community and take more of an active role with the business. And then bringing them on, slowly onboarding them. And the processes have changed over the years as well. 2020 really hurt us as far as, you know, shutdowns and whatnot, like a lot of people. And we did end up losing quite a few of our staff members. And so this is where my policies and procedures for our coaching role really took effect. And we decided to start interning and we started to fill in the procedures of onboarding new coaches. It was there, but the practicality of it was not quite as good. Like it was very impractical trying for months and months and months of onboarding and interning and shadowing classes. And it just wasn’t realistic for someone to kind of just follow this process for such a long period of time. So we kind of downsized that. And then we started what’s called the “advanced theory course,” which I got from Two-Brain as well, and just refined that for what we were looking for. And when we were fully back up and running again post COVID, I put out a message to our members: “Hey, we’re doing this advanced theory course. We’re we looking for new, fresh faces, and who really wants to do this and be part of the gym in a bigger role?” And we had 12 people who signed up.
Mike Warkentin (10:53):
Wow. So every time I talk to a gym owner like you who has a high hourly rate, the word that always comes up, and you just said it, is “policies.” And the other word is “procedures.” So this stuff, it’s boring, it’s tedious, it’s not sexy writing out these things, but it is literally the backbone of every business from the giant franchise like McDonald’s, which is a global success story, to the local gym where the owner is making a great wage and not driving him- or herself or herself into the ground working a million hours. It always comes back to policies and procedures, and you really hit on it there where you had that stuff. COVID sets you back, but you can then just plug people back into your systems and so forth. How did you get all this stuff set up? Like how did you formalize everything and get these things in place so that you had them as a backbone of your business?
Shane Rider (11:40):
Well, fortunately, I stayed in contact with one of my former gym owners where I first started, you know, going CrossFit back in 2013. He was really helpful when I decided to open my own, and anything I needed, whatever advice I needed. So pretty much he had his handbook, you know, the employee handbook, and a lot of his policies and procedures obviously aligned with what we were looking for and what we were wanting to do here. So, he forwarded it along: “Hey, change what you need, update, you know, headers and footers and keep it as a living document.” And fortunately my wife has a human-resources background as well, so she’s very in tune to the things that we need to have to run a successful business as well. So we kind of just put all that together, and over time it’s just kind of growing and adjusting and making it to what it is today.
Mike Warkentin (12:48):
Shane had someone who was able to give him that book. You may not have that as a gym owner. I’ll tell you Two-Brain can be that friend for you because we have these policies and procedures, we have roles, we have all this stuff for you as part of the mentorship package. So if you’re struggling and you don’t know where to start, we have playbook templates and all the things that can lead you down this path. Because when I started, I didn’t have a friend like that either. And I really struggled. It took me forever to create this stuff. I never did it very successfully. So I’m always inspired by gym owners who were able to do it quickly. When did you start with Two-Brain, Shane?
Shane Rider (13:19):
I think October 2019, if I’m not mistaken. Like perfect timing actually.
Mike Warkentin (13:25):
Yeah. Isn’t that the truth? When you started, you already had some of the stuff in place. Cause I’m hearing that you had some original playbook stuff and you had offloaded some things. What changed working with a mentor? Did you have to upgrade anything or change anything, or was it a system review?
Shane Rider (13:43):
Oh yeah. We took what Two-Brain had offered for support and help and just kind of just bounced it off each other. Because with the Two-Brain, you have this knowledge of all these different gyms and all the knowledge that Two-Brain has picked up over the years. And you could see the things where I had to fill some holes, like, “Oh, hey, I didn’t think about that. I didn’t think about this.” I’m still, you know, obviously still working on it, like doing contractual agreements with coaches and stuff like that. So, you know, putting that stuff in there that you just don’t think about, like having a head coach, having a social media person, which wasn’t something that the employee handbook had, or having roles and responsibilities for social media, because it really wasn’t quite a thing yet when he started his gym. So having an admin wasn’t something that I even thought I was gonna ever need. And then, you know, digging in there and seeing that they have the roles and responsibilities for an admin. And when in my business did I need to start bringing someone in for admin, which was actually this last role that I just had filled. I think that’s why it kind of tied in with being on the leaderboard for the month of August: I brought her on in June and July and I took some time off. So it allowed me to make sure that what I had said was her roles and responsibilities, that she was able to take that and run with it and be successful from right from the gate. Right from the start.
Mike Warkentin (15:21):
As you’ve been offloading this stuff, have you been successful in leveling up to those other roles? Like going up from not cleaning anymore to spending time on this higher value role and then eventually working up into that CEO role. Has that been an easy transition for you?
Shane Rider (15:35):
Definitely not at first. Because I think the passion that most people get from wanting to open this business is working with clients, working as a coach and educating and just being in with the classes and the groups of people and the personal touches. You get to talk to everybody and see everybody. And as you slowly start pulling yourself away, like there’s definitely some feelings of like, maybe remorse, like, “Oh, am I doing the right thing?” Maybe some impostor syndrome going on. Like, “Oh, I shouldn’t be doing this. You know, I’m letting people down because I’m not part of the classes anymore. I’m not as involved in all the day-to-day stuff and people aren’t seeing me as much.” But, you know, stepping back and realizing that the biggest thing for me that I had to come to terms with is that if anything ever happened to me, I was doing so much that if I’m in the hospital for weeks or months on end for whatever reason, is the gym gonna survive? And I needed to get it to a point, to a place where I knew it would, and now I know for a fact I’m there. Like, I can go on vacations just fine. I can be away from the gym for a few days just doing other things and not have to worry about anything being missed.
Mike Warkentin (17:07):
And that’s a heavy one, right? Because if you think about it, as gym owners, we set up to help people. We can’t help anyone if the gym goes outta business because we’re burned out and cranky and not getting any sleep and getting divorced because we can’t spend any time with our families. That’s a reality. And I know people that have gone through that. I definitely had my own struggles with working way too much. So to be able to get that gym on autopilot is a great thing, but it’s also challenging. And you laid out the exact same thing. And it’s funny because I had a member tell me one time when I had replaced myself with some coaches, the member said, “I think it’s a mistake. I think, you know, you need to be coaching more.” And I was like, “I can’t. I can’t give you what I did before because I’m exhausted. And that coach, honestly, was doing a better job than I was anyways. And so for me, you know, I had to then eventually sell that to the members and let them know that I am not the face and the soul of this business. And luckily my wife became that, and then she had coaches who did that. But as an owner, it’s very hard. There is that guilt, right? You feel like, “Wow, I’m just not pulling my weight. But then the interesting thing—and I’ve talked to other gym owners about this—is once you start delegating and seeing what it does for the business, what it does for the clients, it gets addictive, right? Because you realize “I can do more for more and better for more people.” Did that happen to you?
Shane Rider (18:21):
Oh yeah, absolutely. We were able to just offer, you know, different services. I think having the personal training or even the one-on-one intro classes, I was able to start working on those. And on onboarding, on-ramping our members more effectively instead of trying to rush them through. Like actually sitting down with them, doing assessments, mobility and exercise assessments with our new members. And I could actually say, “Hey, we need to spend some more time on this before we send you on to group class.” And I was able to do that, and then I was able to hire some personal trainers who are now doing that. I can offload that to them. Same thing with our youth classes. I was coaching all the youth classes, you know, and I found somebody who was very interested in coaching youth classes through our advanced theory course. I brought her on. At the local university that I had mentioned earlier, they have an exercise science program. So finding interns who wanna come in, bringing them on. And so it’s just like, “Yes, let me keep on bringing on new members and onboarding them and making sure they’re following the proper policies and procedures and how we do things, and setting expectations that there’s a level of service that we provide. And the level of care that we provide, we need to maintain that standard.” And so we also started the weightlifting program that, like the individual that I mentioned earlier who’s cleaning the gym, he caught the weightlifting bug, went and has USAW Level 1 and 2, and started the weightlifting program. We now have, you know, 30 so members in our WEIGHTLIFT program. So it’s just all those things that, as you free up your time … . Last year when they had Jocko Willink on for the Two-Brain Summit, he talked about if your head is always down and in, you can’t look up and out. And now that I was able to kind of look up and out and see down the road: “Hey, I wanna start this kids program. I wanna start this weightlifting program. I need to get our nutrition on track. I need to get our personal training on track.” And now we just started the legends class of 55 and over, and once again found the right coach. We sat down, she onboarded through the Two-Brain Legends course, and now it’s off and running. And that’s just the beauty of it once you get past that nervousness of handing off tasks. It just becomes easier.
Mike Warkentin (21:03):
You can’t look up and out when you’re looking down at a floor scrubber.
Shane Rider (21:07):
Exactly. Yep. Exactly.
Mike Warkentin (21:09):
It’s just impossible to do. And I remember scraping gum off rowing machines, however the hell it got there, and that was not gonna do anything to build my business. Right. And so the obvious question, and I think I know the answer, but I’ll ask you anyways, is how did the business change financially as you started to get yourself outta these roles and look up and out?
Shane Rider (21:31):
I mean, you probably know just like most people at Two-Brain that once you start to pull yourself away, you actually start to run your business more effectively. Financially, 50, 60% improvement in revenue and profit. One of the hard lessons is, you know, getting your finances correct and making sure that your cash flow is correct. And I just started with Incite Tax a few months ago.
Mike Warkentin (22:04):
Yeah, John Briggs, pump for him.
Shane Rider (22:06):
And I got on the Profit First mentality and opened up the different accounts. And it’s one of those things that’s like, “Why didn’t I do this? You know?” But it’s one of the things that you put kind of on the back burner, like, “Oh, I’ll get to it when I get to it. Like, I have all these other fires to put out.” But once you have time to sit down and say, “Okay, now I’m the accountant of the gym, like, do I want to be the accountant of the gym? No, I don’t. I wanna remove myself from that role.” And so it was easy enough to hop on a call with them, understand what their vision is for you and your gym, and get the finances straight. And so now I can see how much profit we’re taking, how much owner pay, and then knowing that, hey, there’s some things that we need to do on our end to pay our coaches and pay our monthly electric bill and rent and that kind of stuff. But now I feel like there’s a little more ease that I don’t feel so stressed about it. I know it’s all there. I see it coming in. If I have some erroneous payment go out, like, “What is that? Why is it going out?” I can spend time researching that and making sure that is this a one-time thing or is this something that someone’s trying to take money from me? I can get in there and nip it in the bud and not have to worry about missing a class.
Mike Warkentin (23:31):
Gym owners out there, if you are nervous about offloading stuff and like, “how do I pay for this?” Again, there is an exact, step-by-step plan. It involves math. It is not hard. And you’re gonna look at your hours, you’re gonna look at your tasks, you’re gonna break them down by replacement value, meaning “what is it gonna cost me to fill this role?” Then you’re gonna figure it out. And there is an exact process. So it’s not just “hire everyone and walk.” There is a process in place, and we can lead you through it. Shane, how many hours do you think you were working at your peak when you started out? What was your max do you think? Weekly? Three figures?
Shane Rider (24:06):
Oh, absolutely. Yeah. See, when I started out I didn’t really have any sort of idea about schedules. Like I always think about it, “Man, if I would’ve done something different… .” Obviously, we can always go back and use hindsight and all that. But I was working, you know, we had 5 a.m., 6 a.m., 9 a.m. noon, 5 p.m., 6 p.m., 7 p.m., so seven classes a day, six days a week, or five days a week. Because I even had it through Fridays. Like, “Hey, everybody’s gonna wanna come to the gym and I gotta be able to have availability all the time.” So I mean that’s 35 hours just in coaching classes. Then I had two on Saturdays, so that’s 37. Then I had two on Sunday.
Mike Warkentin (24:52):
That’s just coaching,
Shane Rider (24:53):
Just, yeah, this is just coaching. So I was a programming our workouts—everything else that’s involved. You know, cleaning the gym, attempting to do some sort of social media posts, trying to show people I’m relevant in the area. And so I mean, we’re, we’re probably talking 70, probably 70 hours a week.
Mike Warkentin (25:19):
That’s not sustainable. I mean, that’s a recipe for burnout. As a hard-grinding gym owner, and I’ve been there, you can sustain that for a bit, but eventually no one can do it forever. And then the quality of service goes down and then eventually businesses go under because it’s not worth it anymore. How many hours a week are you working now? How does this work out? Like what are your roles in the gym now?
Shane Rider (25:42):
You know, I was just looking at it. I think I’m a right around 12 hours a week right now.
Mike Warkentin (25:48):
Life is beautiful.
Shane Rider (25:49):
Yeah. Yeah. 70 to 12. I mean, that’s a huge improvement, right? Wow. Quality of life is great. So pretty much what I’m doing now is what I want to do. It’s nothing that I need to. Like, if I wanted to pass things off, I could. But right now I have a couple personal-training clients who I really enjoy working with, and if they move on or if I need to pass ’em off to somebody else, I pretty much keep my cap at five clients because I really still wanna coach and I really wanna have that personal connection with some of our members in the gym for sure. So I do that. I do our weekly meetings with two of my staff: our customer success manager and our admin. We have staff meetings every Monday, and then I have weekly or monthly meetings with my head coach and our other coaches. We meet monthly. So mostly it’s just running the business and deciding what direction we need to go and “when are we gonna do an apparel order, when are we gonna do FitAids and Kill Cliffs” and all those kind of things. Just running the gym, and setting the vision of the gym and moving it forward. And fortunately the day-to-day stuff that I’ve passed off is running successfully, and I do just a little bit of checking in with our coaches and stuff like that, just making sure people are mentally well and getting their workouts in just like everybody else is. And that’s about it.
Mike Warkentin (27:38):
Well it sounds like you’ve gone from cleaner to CEO.
Shane Rider (27:40):
I believe I have, yes.
Mike Warkentin (27:43):
Congratulations. Because not everyone does that. A lot of gym owners get stuck in the muck and never get out of it. So the last thing I’ll ask is we have gym owners out there who are where you were and where I was 7, 10 years ago, doing way too much and trying to figure this out. So the question is what advice would you give a gym owner who’s working that 70-hour week and wants to get where you are? What do you do?
Shane Rider (28:07):
Yeah, I was just talking to a gym owner just a few weeks ago. He’s in our area, and he looked like he’d been run down, and he’s talked to me about working a ton and I said, “You need to get on a call with Two-Brain. Like, I’m not trying to plug it because this is the podcast that I’m on, but I feel that all the information, the direction, the mentorship, all the help, just all the help and resources, are priceless. You know, they put you in the right spot. They show you how to get there. They don’t just say, “Hey, you need to go hire a social-media person. You need to go hire a cleaner. You need to go hire a new coach.” And then you’re just sitting back like, “How do you do that?” You know? And Two-Brain shows you how they have multiple people who’ve done it. They have everything in place to help you. They have scripts for me to put employment ads out to try to hire somebody. I mean, all that stuff is essentially done for you. Like, there’s maybe some stuff you need to go in and change, but otherwise there’s somebody there essentially almost 24 hours a day. Like you could text or get in the group and say, “Hey, you know, I’m really having difficulty with this. How do you do it?” And someone’s responding like almost immediately, which I think is, like I said, priceless. Like it’s really hard to wrap your head around that you have somebody available to you to help you through this process. But you just have to have help, especially if you’re at your wits end like I was. I had no idea how to get to where I needed to go. To have somebody there to kind of nudge you along and keep you accountable—just like, you know, us coaches in the gym, being accountable to our members. To be accountable to somebody else, and for you to get homework and tasks to do before your next time you meet them, it’s like that dragging force to get you to a better spot. And that’s the biggest thing that’s ever helped me. Like, if I could once again go back, you know, in 2015 and get on a call with Two-Brain and get mentorship from the beginning, who knows where I’d be now? But I’m definitely grateful for when I found them and how the business has grown since then.
Mike Warkentin (30:45):
Mentorship is about saving time. That’s really what it is. You would’ve figured it out eventually, but by doing it with help and support, you can get through it so much faster because you don’t have to lay the tracks yourselves. You just have to tailor things to your specific business. That’s why Chris Cooper is passionate about one-on-one mentorship. One mentor works with one business owner. We take the existing systems and we tailor them to that business to save you time so that you can get out of the 70-hour week scraping gum off the rowers and you can hang out with Shane at the whiskey bar after work and enjoy your favorite pastimes. Shane, thank you so much. I’m not gonna add another hour to your work week here. I’m gonna let you go, but I really appreciate you sharing an extra of your time with our community to let them know how you did this. And congratulations again for making a leaderboard for August.
Shane Rider (31:30):
Thanks, Mike, I really appreciate it. Thanks for having me on.
Mike Warkentin (31:33):
You’re very welcome. That was EHR leader Shane Rider on Two-Brain Radio. Thanks for listening to the show. Please hit subscribe on the way out, wherever you’re watching or listening. Now, here’s Chris Cooper with a final message.
Chris Cooper (31:48):
Hey, it’s Two-Brain founder Chris Cooper with a quick note. The Gym Owners United Facebook group has more than 6,200 members, and its 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 ww.gymownersunited.com. Join today!