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Staff Gone Bad

One of my favorite stories from Dale Carnegie is about Dale Hoover, a famous test pilot and frequent performer at air shows.   After an air show in San Diego, Hoover was flying home to Los Angeles when both engines quit in the plane he was flying. His extreme skill allowed him to perform an emergency landing and survive with his two passengers, but the plane was badly damaged.   Hoover’s first act on the ground was to check the fuel tanks. His suspicion was confirmed: the WWII propellor plane had been filled with jet fuel, not gasoline, by the mechanic. Hoover went straight back to the airport and demanded to see the mechanic who had fueled the plane.   The mechanic came out of the bay, sick with the thought of losing an expensive plane, and almost causing three deaths by his careless mistake. Getting fired, he figured, would be the least of his worries. Hoover stared at the man for long moments, and then asked him to oversee the fueling of his plane the next day.   Everyone was shocked–Hoover wasn’t really known for temperance. One of his passengers asked, “Why would you want THIS guy, who almost killed us, to have another chance tomorrow?”   And Hoover responded: “Because there’s no one else in the world who will be more careful with my plane tomorrow.”   People screw up. I do it. So do you.   We know that our own mistakes are valuable. But we’re quick to condemn the mistakes of others, instead of realizing that THEIR mistakes are also valuable.   The first time a staff member breaks a rule, forgets to lock the door, or wears their hat backward when coaching, assume it’s YOUR fault. Ask: Have I told them NOT to do that? Was I clear enough? Have I written the rule down in our Staff Playbook? Have I evaluated this staff person ...
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Episode 100: State of the Industry, and the Future

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The Idea Machine

I’ve never met a gym owner who didn’t have a great idea. Before January 1, I’ll have done over 1500 free calls with gym owners. And almost every time, I hear this: “I really want to get my X started, but I’m too busy.” or “I listen to your podcast and I’m intrigued by your Z, but I don’t have the staff to help me run it.” or “I can’t afford to pay my coaches to start a Y program. I can barely get them to clean the floor at night after their classes!”   Next Monday on the 100th episode of our podcast, I’m afraid I’m going to make it worse. I’ll share my vision for what the next three years holds for the microgym owner: the threats, opportunities and tactics for reaching the next level of success.   If you’re still coaching most of the classes at your gym, that episode will make you angry. Good. More ideas isn’t the problem. Lack of action is the problem. And it’s a solvable one.   Here’s how to get yourself the time to build your “big idea”, add new programs to your gym–or just go home to see your kids in the Christmas pageant.   First, break down the roles and tasks in your business. We cover this in the second week of the Incubator, and it’s also spelled out in Two-Brain Business 2.0 if you’re running at DIY speed.   Second, assign a value to each role. This is the cost to replace you in that role (for example, I can hire a cleaner for around $13 per hour in my city.)   Third, do a time valuation: wear a watch for a week, and record every role in which you spend more than five minutes. This is tedious, and there are apps that can help. But if you spend more than five minutes on email, write that down. ...
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My father-in-law is 75. He spent his life in a steel mill, raising 5 kids on a tiny salary and running a small farm in the Valley. When he retired, he started working on old cars. Restoration is his vocation. If you’ve ever heard Johnny Cash’s “One Piece at a Time”–that’s Russ. Russ doesn’t build “kit cars”. His Model A has been chopped down, souped up, and customized from head to toe. Most of the pieces don’t match the original design. He dropped a larger engine inside. He changed the original seat configuration. When he was younger (age 70) he used to spin the tires at the end of my driveway on his way to car shows. He liked the shows because he liked to see the work of others. But he stayed away from the “polishers”–the guys who bought their cars premade, and just run them out of the garage for show. These are the guys who (like me) can barely change their own oil. He doesn’t dislike their cars. He doesn’t think “the polishers” are bad people. He just knows there’s a difference between what he’s done–built a car–and what they did–bought a hobby. Russ’ cars are awesome because he builds them with imperfect but continuous action. He works a little bit every day. Usually less than hour. Russ’ cars aren’t perfect. They don’t completely match the original specifications. But they run. They go fast. They look cool. His grandkids play in them. Neighbors complain about the noise–in short, all the reasons you really want to own a classic car. Consistent, imperfect action is the recipe for success: in relationships, in business and in fast old cars. Last week, I published and shared TwoBrain 2017 – a 308-page book I wrote almost by accident. I write these “love letters” to you almost every day, and well–they stack up. So we put them together in a book, because it ...
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Episode 99: Building, Teaching and Protecting Your Culture

Announcer: 00:01 – You’re listening to Two-Brain Radio. We make gyms profitable. Getting you on track to making every day your Perfect Day. Every week we’ll deliver top-shelf business tactics to help improve your gym, advance your fitness career and move you closer to wealth. Get ready to start building your bigger and better business with your coach, best-selling fitness author of “Two-Brain Business: Grow Your Gym” and “Help First,” Chris Cooper. Chris: 00:30 – This episode is brought to you by Zen Planner. If you’ve read my books, you know that I’ve been a Mindbody guy since about 2007, but this year something happened that made a massive difference. I met Zen Planner. And talking to these guys, I realized how responsive they are and how much they actually care about CrossFit affiliates and the gym industry in general. These guys are willing to listen. They’ll make changes based on what gyms actually need instead of the window-dressing stuff that gym owners just kinda like, they think it makes them look cool. Things that will actually change the client experience. Metrics that your coaches can use to gauge how well your clients are reacting to your programming. Check-in tools, attendance tools, WOD tracking and scoreboards, the ability to plan and have people book appointments online and pay online. True automation of your business. Chris: 01:26 – I love working with these guys. We’re gonna have a great relationship. They’re building a customized Two-Brain dashboard and they’ve got so many amazing upgrades in the pipeline that will cancel out the need for other software. You should check them out.; they’ve been around forever but they keep getting better. Chris: 01:43 – Hey guys, it’s Chris. The end of the year is coming up and it has been amazing for me and my family and the Two-Brain family, too. I want to thank all of you out there listening for ...
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Who Sells?

The next time you’re in a staff meeting, look at the faces around you and ask, “Which of these people is in charge of sales?”   If you can’t name the person responsible for selling, bad news: it’s you.   There are between 12 and 15 roles in every gym. But there are three “META” roles that really make the business run: Finance Operations Sales.   Finance is your accountant and whoever sets your goals and targets. Operations is how you coach your clients and clean your bathrooms. Sales is how you keep your business alive.   Gino Wickman writes about these “three chairs” (which I call meta roles) in his books “Traction” and “Get a Grip“. Other authors have said the same.   Sales includes offering your services to past clients, current clients, and future clients. When you’re selling to strangers, that’s called marketing.   Most business owners don’t hire salespeople.   Gym owners hire coaches. Butchers hire assistant butchers. Chefs hire prep cooks. Instead of hiring to fill the holes in their business, they try to duplicate themselves. And that’s okay–IF they plan to take the sales role themselves. But most never do.   If selling is “everyone’s job”, it’s no one’s job.   Someone has to get good at this. Now, that doesn’t mean they have to be dishonest, or slimy, or greedy. It means they have to do their client the ultimate service: they must discover how they can help FIRST, then help MOST, and then help FOREVER.   I certainly want someone to tell ME what to do most of the time. I don’t want to figure out how to change the oil on my new truck. I don’t want to repair the roof on my cottage, or change the chain on my chainsaw. I want someone to say “I’ve got this. What’s your credit card number?”   If you own a gym, your clients ...
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