Imagine you’re out for a run and you see a steep hill ahead.
“Challenge accepted!” you think—you’re that type—and you speed up. You attack the hill. Hell, yeah!
When you summit, you see a broad, flat plane in every direction. You’re in the desert, and it’s endless.
At first, you’re excited by the novelty of the desert: “Look, a cactus!”
But eventually, you get tired of running around and around on the desert.
If you aren’t careful, that’s how your clients will feel in your business. To stay engaged, they need somewhere to go.
So What Happens Now?
Cyclists love to say that there are “no flat roads.” But cyclists and runners hate to run the same route over and over and over without getting anywhere.
Now let’s look at how your clients experience your business:
Step 1: A warm welcome, then a steep ascent (your gym’s on-ramp program).
Step 2: “Welcome to the desert! Look—a cactus!”
Step 3: Still in the desert. Neither ascending nor descending.
Step 4: Uh … the Games?
CrossFit brought more than novelty to fitness. It brought ascension. For the first time, there was a way to compete at fitness. (I’m not counting bodybuilding shows, which weren’t really a measure of fitness).
Early adopters loved it. I loved doing throwdowns and then Sectionals and then the Open. For a few years, anyway. But then I started to ask, “What’s the goal here?”
And, “Where am I going?”
Like many of my clients, I eventually started to look for something else. After 10 years of CrossFit, I descended the steps and got on my bike.
Clients Need a Destination
We teach gym owners how to map their Client Journey in the Incubator. Here’s an example of what I mean:
The Client Journey is an important tool for sales and retention. But long-term retention requires ascension.
No one wants to say “I’m just maintaining” for long. Maintenance is boring.
No matter how good your WOD times, no matter how big your deadlift, no matter how fast your 5K or how they all add up at once—if you don’t have goals, you’ll get bored. It’s literally how our brains work.
Client retention means proper goal setting and accountability. For a goal to be a good goal, it must be easy to identify and imminently achievable. In fact, the closer the goal, the better. “You’re almost there!” creates irresistible urgency. That’s called Lowenstein’s Gap Theory, and it’s so important that I wrote about it in my first book.
This is a reason we use The Level Method at Catalyst: Clients see their progress and the next closest goal. They know what’s next. They can ascend.
Of course, there are other ways to ascend your clients.
They can become peer leaders and guide newcomers to your gym.
They can become coaches and share their gifts with new clients.
They can lead specialty programs that draw on their personal experiences.
They can compete.
They can become ambassadors and speak at your seminars.
They can be leaders in the workouts or nutrition plans.
They can form teams for local events.
They can be captains in your Intramural Open.
They can be part of your advisory board.
They can earn their “black belt” in your ascension program (whatever you make it).
The key is that your clients have to see their past, their progress and their future.
If you’re not painting the picture for them, no one is.
Do they know what’s next or are they just trying to avoid boredom?