Chris Cooper (00:00):
Hey, I’m Chris Cooper. This is “Run a Profitable Gym,” and this is our ask-me-anything AMA episode. Every week in Two-Brain, we host office hours where we bring in experts to help people work through specific problems. This is on top of one-on-one mentorship that we give to every single gym owner in our program, where they have specific scheduled calls, one-on-one, with a gym owner who’s already achieved what they want to achieve. These office hours are weekly bonuses where we bring in subject-matter experts to talk about their specialty. And that could be high ticket, it could be sales, or it could be Facebook marketing. We rotate experts through the group, and usually about 50 people attend.
Chris Cooper (00:43):
One of these episodes was an ask-me-anything as we prepared to get ready for our 2023 summit and the team was packing up and traveling to Chicago. And I got some really amazing questions, and I thought maybe I should share them with you. If you want to be in our free public group, you can go to gymownersunited.com. We sometimes bring in experts into that group, but our regular expert rotation happens in our private Two-Brain Business group in our membership practice. And you can click the link below this video if you wanna book a call and talk about having an actual gym mentor. All right, so I’ve got five great questions that came up in our AMA episode, and first I’m gonna answer the question “when should you switch mentors?”” Second, I’m gonna answer the question “how can you be more coachable?” I know that sounds like a planted question, like I asked somebody to ask that question, but it wasn’t.
Chris Cooper (01:35):
It’s awesome. Third: “Why we do one-on-one and not group coaching in Two-Brain?” Fourth: “How do you get the money to buy a building?” And fifth: “What does ‘certified millionaire’ mean?” These are all questions that were asked by people just like you, gym owners who are really curious. And I thought, “OK, I’ll try and give you the best possible answer that I can.” So here we go. Let’s start with when to switch mentors. What’s really amazing about this question is not that people are asking “should I have a mentor anymore?” And five years ago when I was mentoring gym owners, nobody else was even using the term mentor, like Two-Brain Business introduced the gym community to mentorship, and we started doing that when I was writing about having a mentor way back in 2009. In 2016, we started offering one-on-one mentorship to gym owners.
Chris Cooper (02:28):
And a lot of business-coaching companies don’t do that because it is hard to grow a business and maintain quality and scale when you’re doing one-on-one mentorship. We still do it because I think that’s what gets gym owners the best results. So the question though is that when you have a one-on-one relationship with somebody, how often should you switch that? What are some signs you know, that you should switch mentors? This actually happens in Two-Brain about 5 percent of the time every single month. There are currently about 870 gyms in Two-Brain. Every single one has a one-on-one mentor. I’ll get to why I like one-on-one more in a moment, but eventually your conversation with the mentor becomes less objective. So you’re no longer like strangers to one another; you become friends and you start having these conversations about family or the weather or whatever, right?
Chris Cooper (03:23):
And sometimes you get on a call, and you’re not really sure what you should talk about. And the mentor who knows your metrics inside and out is waiting for you to say that you’ve got this problem—and you don’t. However, when you’re talking to a new mentor, you never have that problem because they are looking at things with fresh eyes. They’ve got a new layer of objectivity. So for me, working one on one with business coaches and mentors, I tend to switch about every two years. Now, I’ll qualify that a little bit. I always have a one-on-one mentor. This person sees the long tail for me. They see the giant overall picture. I talk with my current mentor, Carrie Wilkerson, once every two weeks. We talk for about 40 minutes max. I also have business coaches. Business coaches are specialists. And so you usually have a short-term engagement with a business coach and a long-term engagement with a business mentor.
Chris Cooper (04:21):
So a business coach might be really, really good at improving your podcast. So I have a business coach for podcasting. I have a business coach for public speaking, so I had a six-week engagement with her. I have a business coach for YouTube. So with him I might work for like 12 weeks. It’s a short-term engagement. They’re a specialist. They’re gonna help me get better at one thing. A mentor is somebody that you’re gonna have a longer-standing relationship with. For me, that relationship is usually best when it lasts about two years, and then I switch to somebody else because at the two-year mark there’s a lot of friendship happening, right? And that means that I don’t get the objectivity that I need. So I’ll give you an example. I worked with Dan Martell from 2016 to 2018. At the 2018 mark, I was no longer the smallest business in his group anymore, but Dan and I had found a lot of things in common. We both loved to do CrossFit, and we both loved to ride bikes, and we both had two kids and et cetera. We were both in Canada. And so we would get on the calls and it would be hard not to talk about what the government was doing, hard not to talk about what your kids are doing. And at that point you don’t have that objectivity, right? So when I switched mentors and I started working with Todd Herman in 2018, Todd had us down to Manhattan. I sat on his couch, and he immediately pointed out that my ascension model was bad. It’s actually kind of a funny story that I’ve talked about on other episodes because he was objective. It doesn’t mean he is smarter than Dan; it means that he brings a different perspective into the conversation.
Chris Cooper (05:59):
So for me, about two years is it. The beautiful part, though, is that with 60 mentors in Two-Brain, you don’t have to start over from scratch. This is the downside of switching mentors. Like when I went from working with Dan to working to Todd, I had to start from a blank slate. Todd knew nothing about my business, and I had to fill him in from scratch. And so it took, you know, a couple of months to really ramp up to the point where we got into that mentorship sweet spot. Within Two-Brain, though, you can switch from one mentor to an another, and you don’t lose all that momentum because the new mentor has your backstory. They have a record of every conversation that you’ve ever had. They have all your metrics, they know what you’ve done, they’ve seen your task list, and they know what you’ve completed.
Chris Cooper (06:43):
They’re really running at your pace. And it is really easy to just move from one mentor to the other in Two-Brain. So you gain that objectivity, you gain that fresh perspective, you gain the new excitement of having a new mentor, which is awesome, but you don’t lose that track record of success, and you don’t have to explain your business from scratch all over again. So for me, two years is great. If you’re within Two-Brain and you’re listening to this, all you have to do is send a message, email@example.com, and say, “I need a mentor refresh.” That’s it. Second question that was brought up is “how can I be more coachable?” Now this is a really interesting question, and to be honest, I didn’t seed this question in the audience or anything, but I have been talking about coachability a lot in our groups, first, to help the gym owners help their clients be more coachable, but also to help them improve their ROI on mentorship. I get an amazing ROI on mentorship. That’s why I’m always so eager to spend money, like a quarter million a year, on mentorship because I know that I’m coachable, and I know that I’m gonna get a lot out of it. In fact, I finished a call this morning with Carrie Wilkerson, and I told her at the end of the call that that call was worth $15,000 to me. It doesn’t mean I paid $15,000 for the call, not even close, but I could measurably see that three things that she gave me in 35 minutes were going to be worth at least $15,000 to me in the next year. That’s not because she’s telling me something different than she’s telling somebody else. It’s because I’m coachable and I know how to get value out of a call.
Chris Cooper (08:20):
So here is how you be coachable. Number 1, get over your skepticism and then sign up. So, for example, let’s say that you’re skeptical about a business coach or a process, right? Like, “Oh man, I don’t wanna use TikTok,” or, “Oh, I don’t wanna learn from this dude.” That’s fine. Don’t sign up until you’re over that skepticism. So do whatever it takes to get over it. Look for proof, talk to their current clients, read their content, and if that takes you a year or two, then so be it. Like, do whatever it takes so that the skepticism is behind you because then when you sign up, you can go all in right from the start and you don’t have to second-guess everything. What many people do is they are skeptical, they sign up anyway, and they carry that skepticism with them into the program, and it hurts them because ultimately mentorship is an investment in yourself.
Chris Cooper (09:17):
And if you’re, you know, entering the race with concrete blocks tied around your ankles, you’re not gonna win. And then what happens is you get three, four, five weeks into the program, you’re learning, learning, learning, you’re investing, and you’re not seeing like a massive compounding return on that investment yet. And so you quit, and you quit at the bottom of the ROI curve before you actually start to get results, which is like the worst time to quit. But that’s what you do because you’re skeptical. And so what I would say is do whatever it takes to get over your skepticism before you sign up. That’s the first thing. I’m skeptical of a lot of business coaches. I’ll be honest with you, there’s a lot of stuff out there on social media that’s just not true. But the way that I get over my skepticism is I have a conversation with them.
Chris Cooper (10:09):
I consume their content. I look for where they’re admitting their mistakes. That is so key for me. If a business coach does not admit their mistakes, they’re hiding something from you. And if they’re hiding that, then what else are they hiding? Or they actually have no experience in the thing that they’re teaching, so they haven’t made any mistakes. We all make mistakes. You get that? That’s my biggest skepticism filter. But get over that before you sign up. ‘Cause once you’re signed up, the best way to get an ROI is just to be all in. The second thing that I try to do is adapt the specific instructions of the mentor. So, for example, I could buy Dan Martell’s book “Buy Back Your Time”—amazing book. I could read the book, and I could like implement some of it. And then I get on a call with him and he starts telling me how to buy back my time.
Chris Cooper (10:59):
And I’m like, “Dan, I have this knowledge.” I can skip this part. But what you actually wanna do is pay attention to the little, tiny specific details on implementation. You’re not hiring a mentor to gain knowledge; you’re hiring a mentor to gain speed. The mentor will filter out the stuff you don’t have to do. But when they tell you to specifically do one thing, do that thing and know how to measure the ROI. If you’re not sure how to measure the ROI, ask them. Look, one more how-to-be-coachable tip. And I could do an entire episode on this. If you aren’t sure if you’re getting an ROI on mentorship or if you’re not sure you’re getting results, the best thing that you can do is say that to the mentor, “Hey, I’m not sure I’m getting results here.” Or, “How can I improve the ROI that I’m getting on your service?”
Chris Cooper (11:49):
These are great ways to be coachable. I’ll give you one more tip—after you have your call with the mentor. So first off, you’re doing a call. We schedule usually like one-hour blocks. As soon as you learn one thing that you can take action on or you get clarity on one thing or you know exactly what to do—you make a decision on one thing—you should end the call and just go do that thing. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got an hour blocked off for the call and the call is at like the 22-minute mark. You know exactly what you gotta do. The best thing you can do is get off that call and use the next 38 minutes to action it. If you don’t, what typically happens is you go the full 60 minutes, you get off the call, you eat your lunch, and you’re starting to forget what you’re supposed to do already.
Chris Cooper (12:36):
The reason that all of this exists, that Two-Brain happened, was because in 2009 I already knew this trick. I knew that if I left the call and didn’t start taking action, I would forget what I was supposed to do or I would lose the sense of urgency that would make me do it. And so I would finish my meeting with my mentor, I would sit down, and I would write every single thing that he told me as if I was teaching it to somebody else. That was the blog don’tbuyads.com. That’s what that was. It was me teaching it to myself by pretending to teach it to others so that I made sure that I would do it. It was a love letter to myself. It was accountability more than anything else. It was just like a log book of everything that I was learning and doing.
Chris Cooper (13:19):
So when you finish your call, you should sit down and log what you’ve done. Just like in a gym. You finish your workout, you sit down, you log what you’ve done, right? That compounds over time. So you should be recording this stuff, and these are some great ways to be more coachable. You know, definitely like reach out to your mentor for help if you’re not sure. Another great one—this one might seem obvious—is show up to the call with your full attention. There is no point in getting on a call with your mentor while you’re driving. There is no point scrambling to finish your workout, showing up on the call with your mentor, still sweating, still distracted, five minutes late. That is not you being coachable. That is you trying to be judged on attendance. You will not fix your gym simply by showing up and having your name checked off on the attendance list.
Chris Cooper (14:10):
You will not fix your gym simply by reading the book three times. You will fix your gym by doing the action. And doing the action means you need to show up and actually do the stuff. You need to be present. You need to be focused, you need to be not distracted, and you’re being held accountable for it. The best way to maximize the outcome from mentorship is to be coachable. So hopefully those tips help. The third question that I got in our AMA was “why do we do one-on-one and not group coaching?” Recently, I’ve been talking more about the value of ascension. So in our episode where I talked about why we’re capping Two-Brain mentorship at a thousand people, I talked about how people are now starting with other programs and then ascending to us, and how that happens in your gym, too, right?
Chris Cooper (14:58):
If you are the best, the best from all of the other gyms will find you. “Best finds best”—it’s not just our hashtag. It’s our business model. And this is happening more and more. Every time another business-coaching company enters the scene in the gym space, I don’t stress about it because I know they’re going to expose a lot of gym owners to coaching or mentorship. They might give them a couple of tips that are going to help them, and then the best clients will realize like they want to ascend up to Two-Brain because when you’re at the top of the mountain, the mountain climbers will reach you. The best ones will anyway. So this is happening quite a bit now, and one of the things that they say is they’re coming outta these group-coaching programs and they’re attracted to one on one in Two-Brain.
Chris Cooper (15:46):
And so I sometimes get the question “why do you do one-on-one?” The short answer is that’s what always worked for me. The long answer is like, there’s a lot of reasons why we do one-on-one. The first one is that your mentor needs to be familiar with you. And if your mentor is only used to meeting you in a group, they’re not gonna know the specific details of your business. They’re not gonna know your metrics, they’re not gonna know what you’ve tried before or why something doesn’t work for you, or they’re not gonna know your market very well. What’s gonna actually happen in a group-coaching program is that you’re going to hear from the squeaky wheels the most. You’ll gain knowledge at the level of the lowest common denominator at your group, and you’ll move at the speed of the slowest person in that group.
Chris Cooper (16:34):
Group coaching businesses are amazing businesses for the owner of that business, right? The reason that people set up group-coaching business is to create a lifestyle for themselves. So group-coaching businesses, it’s very high margin ‘cause you don’t need a lot of staff. You don’t have to train your staff on your systems or your delivery. You don’t have to train your staff on how to read data or how to get clients results. None of that. The clients coach each other. Yeah, your retention kind of sucks, but like the margins are incredible, and you only have to do it for three years and you can retire. So when people are building group-coaching programs, they are building a lifestyle business for themselves. I’ve been in a lot of programs where they’ve really preached this, by the way—high-level business masterminds where they tell you build a group-coaching program. “You’re wasting your time with one on one.”
Chris Cooper (17:28):
The problem is that one on one actually gets better results. So if you want to build a mentorship program around your client’s lifestyle, the gym owners that are in Two-Brain, you do that one-on-one. If you wanna build a company that supports your lifestyle as the owner, you do group coaching. Me, I’m really about getting gym owners results. That’s our mission, and that’s why we do one on one. I’ll give you a couple of examples here. So a lot of accounting companies now, they have like a “pool approach” to bookkeeping. So you sign up with this accounting company, let’s call it 1-2-3 Numbers, and they assign you a bookkeeper in the first month, and the bookkeeper does your data entry. Great. The second month you get this automated email from 1-2-3 Numbers and it says “put in your metrics.” So you put in your metrics, and they have a question, and you hear from a different bookkeeper. “Oh, I guess that’s okay.”
Chris Cooper (18:26):
The third month, you know, you have a question and you say “can I get on a call with somebody?” And you get on a call with somebody if that’s even available to you. And now it’s like, Billy Bob from 1-2-3 Numbers is on this call, and they’re like, “Well, you know, let me open up your books and go back through.” And now they’re trying to understand why your two previous bookkeepers made certain decisions at tax time. When stuff really hits the fan, whoever the overriding accountant is is trying to figure out “why did we make these decisions?’ This exact scenario created like a $80,000 mistake in Two-Brain’s books this year because they had this rotating pool of bookkeepers coaches instead of having like a one-on-one assignment with an actual accountant, right? A mentor. So this kind of stuff can happen all the time.
Chris Cooper (19:18):
I’ll give you another example. I was in a business-coaching mastermind. So this is like a business-coaching program for business coaches, and there were some really high-level people in there. You know, Two-Brain was close to the top. Two-Brain is huge, a very successful mentorship practice, but we were the only ones doing things one on one with our clients. And so our client results were better than anybody else. Our client retention was better than anybody else. You could point to, you know, any one of our 860-odd clients, and I would probably know something about them, but it didn’t matter if I knew because their mentor knew everything about them, you know? And meanwhile I’m in this program, and they’re telling me “you gotta do group coaching.” They’re doing group coaching. I’m getting very little value from the calls. They’re sending me automated texts and I’m asking why are you asking me for my metrics?
Chris Cooper (20:09):
Nobody ever asked me for the metrics or what I’m doing with them. Nobody looks at these metrics. Why are you sending me automated texts asking about my metrics if we’re not gonna use ’em to make decisions? So in a group-coaching environment, many people like me feel like a number, where having a one-on-one mentor means you’ve got somebody who’s familiar with you. They’re objective enough—‘cause they don’t work in your business—that they can help you make logical decisions. They know your arc, they know what you’ve done in the past, and they know why you’re doing things a certain way. They’re not just coming at it fresh every single time without context. That one-on-one relationship, yeah, it is harder to scale when you’ve got 60 mentors on a team, getting everybody trained really, really, really well, getting everybody to understand data and how to get clients results and action and tracking and doing QA.
Chris Cooper (21:00):
All that is way harder, but it’s worth it because we wanna maximize the results of our clients. All right, fourth question, unrelated to mentorship and coaching: “How do I get the money to buy a building?” So I had to learn this. I’ve done it a few times. Now I own the building that I’m standing in. I own another building that my gym is in a third building that’s like retail. And then I have some residential stuff too. I have a fourth one also. I forgot that I have a fourth building—it’s like a self-storage business, and it has some tenants. There’s a nursing clinic, hairdresser, et cetera, in there, too. So how do you get the money to buy a building? When I was starting with this journey myself, I said, “I don’t know where I’m gonna get the money, but also there’s no buildings to buy.”
Chris Cooper (21:43):
So I said, “I’m gonna start putting money aside. I’m gonna pay double my rent every month. So my rent was 3,200 bucks or something. I’m gonna pay $3,200 to my landlord and $3,200 to a savings account. Take it outta my checking account, put it somewhere else. And then when I find a building, I’ll have that money for the down payment.” Now, if you’re gonna buy a building that’s half a million dollars or whatever, it doesn’t mean you have to have half a million dollars. You can borrow most of that money from the bank. The key, though, is that the bank is only going to lend you 70 to 80 percent of the purchase price of the building. Even though they’ve got an asset, they could turn around and just sell the building if you can’t pay your loan. They’re not gonna lend you the full amount.
Chris Cooper (22:26):
You’ve gotta find a way to have that first 20 to 30 percent. You can save it up, you know. Luckily, I managed to save up that money because it took me two and a half years to actually find my first commercial building anyway. Or you can get that from a private lender. So here it is: You’ve gotta come up with the first 20 to 30 percent usually on your own. And then you take that to the bank with valuation on the building. The bank might look at your P&L. They’re gonna look at the cash that you have and say, “Yeah, somebody else is taking the biggest risk here. You know, I’ll fund the last 80 percent.” Where does that first 20 percent come from? I already said it could come from you. That’s not what happens the majority of the time. You might find a third-party lender, like in the States, Wells Fargo does this and Canada BDC does this. There are other organizations in your town or in your state that that might actually jump in and be that lender. Or you can look at private lending. So for a lot of people right now, you could talk to the most successful person in your gym and ask them if they will lend you the money. You’re not asking ’em to partner in the business or asking ’em to partner in the building. You’re just asking for a loan to buy the building. It’s attractive to them. They’re not doing you a favor. They’re going to charge you interest. But let’s say that, you know, right now as I record this, I can’t make more than about four and a half percent on my money. If I took $500,000 and I put that into a bond, I could get about four and a half percent annual interest, right?
Chris Cooper (23:57):
Meanwhile, you, the buyer, can’t get a better rate than about eight percent. So you can borrow at eight and I can lend my money to the bank in the form of a bond at about four and a half, maximum five percent. That delta between five and eight percent is where it’s beneficial for everybody. So if you can borrow money from a private lender, like me, at six percent—you are saving two percent interest. They’re making a point and a half more than they could have made by putting their money in bonds or whatever. It’s a pretty secure investment. Honestly, there’s gonna be some lawyering to make sure—you’re probably gonna have to put up some kind of security, and it might be your house, but if you wanna do this, the private-lending option is not a bad one. And it’s a win for everybody. It’s a win for you because you can leverage the other 80 percent.
Chris Cooper (24:43):
It’s a win for the lender because they’re gonna make more interest on their loan to you than they could just buying a bond or investing somewhere else. And it’s a win for the bank, honestly, because they’re not the one taking the big risk. So that’s really like where you can get the money to buy a building. You know, in the past in the States especially, people were figuring out ways to use like borrowed SBA money or whatever. There’s more creative ways to do this, and we talk about this in our Tinker group all the time, but if I was doing it today and didn’t own assets, didn’t have the money, I would just start saving a little bit, 500 bucks a month or whatever while I was looking at buildings, knowing that it’s gonna take you a while to buy a building anyway. One thing I would not do is buy land and build a building because those cost overruns are always like 50 percent.
Chris Cooper (25:31):
And that can really mess with your calculation of whether it’s worth it or not. That’s a different topic. Last question today is “What does a certified millionaire mean?” So if you were at our summit this year, you saw 13 people I think come up on the stage and get recognized for reaching millionaire status for the first time. That means they have a million dollars in net worth. What that means is if they sold everything that they own, collected cash on all of it, paid off all their debts, they would still have a million dollars in cash left over sitting in their hands. That’s what a million dollars in net worth means. We use that metric because we can prove it. Other gurus use different metrics and I honestly hate this. So first of all, one metric might be that your gym does a million dollars a month in revenue.
Chris Cooper (26:23):
That sounds amazing. But the reality is there are a lot of gyms out there that are doing a million dollars a month in revenue and the owner is taking home less than $50,000 of that. They are not millionaires. They just have like an OK income, and it’s because, you know, maybe they’ve got a big globo gym and they’ve got a ton of debt to service. Maybe it’s because their expenses are super-duper high because of their location, or they’re overstaffed, or they’re undercharging—whatever. But doing a million dollars a year in revenue does not make you a millionaire. Even worse than that, some programs that I’ve seen in the past will use MRR as a predictor of revenue. So let’s say that you are selling like this short-term six-week challenge, and you sell a bunch of them, and you do $80,000 in revenue for the month.
Chris Cooper (27:11):
You’ve never done $80,000 in revenue before. You might never do that again, but you did it this month. Some gym marketing programs will say that you’re a million-dollar gym because they’ll take that, you know, $83,000 a month, multiply it by 12 months, refer to your MRR—your monthly recurring revenue—and say, “Well, you know, that extrapolates out to a million. All you gotta do is do this every month.” You and I both know that never happens. And this is like what causes the downfall of a lot of these gym marketing companies. You know, you see 30 new gym marketing companies in your Facebook feed every month, but you never hear from the same ones two years from now because they’re always this like flash in the pan, “I’ll get you 30 leads.” They’re not gonna do that forever. It’s not a sustainable strategy. It’s not worth the investment.
Chris Cooper (28:01):
But what really drives me bananas is when people say that they’re producing like million-dollar gyms or, you know, million-dollar years or even millionaire gym owners and they’re actually not. The gym might produce a million dollars, but the gym owner doesn’t make a million. Or the gym might just have like one really good month and the program counts that as like, “Well, they’re gonna do that forever.” The reason that we do it this way and we actually audit is because I wanna know “are we actually producing millionaires?” The title of my next book is actually “Millionaire Gym Owner.” Now we’ve figured out how to do this, how to build people. So first we build their systems, then we build their income, then we build their wealth. Now that we’ve gotten over 30 people to the millionaire status, I’m asking myself how do we do it faster?
Chris Cooper (28:47):
And my writer Robert and I are interviewing every single one of these people and saying like, “How did you do it? What can people not do that will get them there faster? And what would you do if you could do it all over again?” Et cetera. And we’ll be publishing that toward the end of the year. But the reality is like when we say somebody is a certified millionaire, it means we’ve actually audited their assets. We know for sure that they are a real millionaire. That’s what makes me so proud of them, proud of the achievement and proud of what we’re doing in Two-Brain for gym owners—it’s that everything is for real, you know? So this is our AMA episode. If you have questions, you can email me—Chris@twobrainbusiness.com—anytime. 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 the group. It’s Gym Owners United on Facebook, or go to gymownersunited.com to join. Do it today!