You might not be worried about coronavirus (COVID-19), but your clients are.
Whether you believe that it’s just another flu or even that the tail is wagging the dog—it doesn’t matter. Two-Brain gyms in Italy have already been forced by the government to shut down for at least a month. Stock markets are plunging. Your audience is worried.
And when people are worried, they stay home. You need to get in front of this.
What You Need to Know about COVID-19
From our friends at AGuard:
1. It is not an insurable risk. Most admitted insurance companies exclude communicable diseases on the general liability.
2. Business income is a property coverage and is only triggered by a property loss caused by something such as fire, etc. Therefore, it does not cover lost income as a result of this outbreak.
3. At this time, the risk is low. However, there is a strong likelihood that it will impact gym owners and members at some point in the near future.
What You Need to Do About Coronavirus
1. Demonstrate that you’re taking precautions. Stock up on hand sanitizer with alcohol content greater than 60 percent. Make a big deal about using it on every piece of equipment after every class, and make sure people see you doing it.
2. Tell members to stay home if they are not feeling well or if someone at home is not well.
3. Send out an email to your members list. Download a sample from AGuard here (change the “Florida Department of Health” link to the appropriate one from your state or jurisdiction):
COVID-19 info 2.27.2020
4. Put posters up around your gym. Again, the demonstration that you’re taking action is what’s really important to member retention. Here are two examples:
5. Coach people in their homes. I spent a summer doing “house calls” to personal training clients. While I don’t recommend visiting clients’ homes, you can allow them to remain under your coaching umbrella without coming to the gym.
Publishing a daily “at-home” option for your group classes is a good idea. We’ve already seen it working in many Two-Brain gyms. It’s not a solution that will last forever; but COVID-19 won’t, either.
The key to the at-home option for your group training clients is to ramp up the social engagement. Have clients share pictures of their workout, pre- and post. Share a ton of stuff in your Facebook group. Create discussion.
Get 31 Free At-Home Workouts (and some other resources) from the Two-Brain Coaching site here.
6. Take advantage of the opportunity to think outside the box.
– This could be a good time to do your goal reviews online. Set up a link for a 15-minute session with you over Skype or Zoom.
– Why not test out some No-Sweat Intro meetings over video, too? You never know—this could actually lower the barrier to entry for new clients. Some Two-Brain gyms are testing conversion rates between in-person meetings and video meetings already; this is your excuse to do the same.
– You can also ramp up your online training practice. If you’ve ever wanted to try online coaching or online nutrition coaching, this is an amazing time to test it. Listen to our podcast on the topic here. If you’re in the Two-Brain Family, visit the Roadmap for step-by-step instructions (Revenue Diversity, Milestone 10).
– Produce content to educate your clients. Establish your knowledge and expertise by teaching about COVID-19 or just about exercise and how to maintain a healthy immune system.
– Take the opportunity to start working with a mentor 1:1. The magic of mentorship is that every step you take with a mentor belongs to you, even after the chaos subsides.
Build Trust During Trials and Tribulations
In the middle of adversity, there’s always a way to move forward. Even when people are afraid.
Here’s the surprising truth about fear: It opens you up to new possibilities. When you’re in a crisis, you think about things you wouldn’t consider before. Use that fear to build a bigger business instead of just waiting and hoping.
This blog has always really been about human behavior. Perception is reality. If one client is worried, he or she could kick off a real outbreak of membership cancellations in your gym. You need to get ahead of this.
Fortunately, the coronavirus is an opportunity to demonstrate your leadership and care. If you show them they can trust you in a crisis, they’ll trust you even more when it’s over.
The number one reason gym owners don’t hire more staff members?
“I can’t afford them.”
But if you upgrade your staff the right way, it isn’t actually an expense. Here’s the rule you must follow:
Every staff person generates at least 2.25 times the revenue he or she is paid.
Front-line staff (like coaches) must create the revenue that pays them—that covers your bills and leaves the gym profitable.
Back-line staff (like cleaners) must create time for you to upgrade your own sales and marketing skills so you can generate the revenue that pays them.
There are two ways to do this:
1. Hire people. Take the risk. Hope they work out. Micromanage them because you can’t afford mistakes. Pay them even when you’re not being paid. Ruin your relationship while they run you out of business. Get mad that they don’t appreciate the opportunity you’ve given them, and then fire them and say, “I’ll just do this myself!”
2. Follow the 4/9ths Model. Make every staff person an asset instead of an expense. Mentor them, lead them and help them build the careers they want (coaching!) while you do the stuff they don’t (marketing, sales, and accounting).
This is a huge topic that takes up a large area on the Two-Brain Roadmap.
A mentor will guide you through this huge topic step by step. But if you want to try and figure it all out for yourself, here are the resources you’ll need:
Free Hiring Plans and Job Descriptions—download the guide from our Free Tools page at no charge.
Intrapreneurialism 101 Guide—you can download it from our Free Tools page, too.
Those guides will tell you how to pay coaches and ascend them to great careers. But here’s how to train and find coaches.
How to Train New Coaches
Often, the best coaches come from within your community.
These people understand your vision and align with your values. It’s easier to hire for attitude and train for skill than vice versa. And now doing so is easier than ever.
In my first books, I wrote about the Advanced Theory Course. This was a program I ran once or twice every year for eight weeks. Coaching prospects would attend classroom sessions on Saturdays, do book reports and presentations for the group, and coach each other. Then I’d “graduate” all of them and cherrypick the best leaders in each class. I’d ask if they wanted to coach and then send them for certification somewhere.
If this sounds appealing to you, it’s all in “Two-Brain Business 2.0″—which you can download from our Free Tools page, too (or buy it on Amazon).
But there’s now a much easier way to develop coaches. And it’s less expensive by far!
Josh Martin and I have built the Two-Brain Coaching Degree programs to teach the Two-Brain approach to coaching: both the technical components and the human care. Instead of sending a potential coach away for a weekend seminar for $500-$1,000 and hoping the person will retain as much as possible, you can now train coaches in stages, starting for $149. And, best of all, they’re insurable through AffiliateGuard!
I don’t believe in the “learning through memorization/pass the exam/get a job” approach to career education. Instead, I believe the education should be a balance of practical application and knowledge with feedback. That’s what Two-Brain Coaching is for.
How to Find New Coaches
All right: You don’t have any happy people with extra time at your gym. No problem!
You can still find caring experts in your community who want to work on your amazing platform.
1. Find coaches who are underemployed at other gyms.
Many gym owners started as personal trainers at globo gyms. They want to build a living with no ceiling, but they don’t want to start their own gym and deal with all the pains. So go to their gyms and talk to them.
Some Two-Brain gyms even share coaches between them! Each gym invests in the coaches’ ongoing education, and each provides the coaches with a different audience for their services.
2. Find future coaches at local schools.
You know how I got my first coaching job back in 1996?
A program in Illinois called my college and asked, “Got any good seniors who want a job?”
My department said, “No, but I have a junior who’s great with kids.”
They said, “We’re desperate! We’ll take him.” (Or so I imagine.) Anyway, I was living in Illinois by that weekend, building a new fitness program and teaching kids to inline skate.
There are pros and cons to hiring students, of course. But with a clear training process like the Two-Brain Coaching First and Second Degree programs, it’s pretty easy to find a passionate kid who’s a blank slate and train him or her to follow your vision.
3. Find great coaches on the TwoBrainCoaching.com job board. It’s free!
Post your job (or your resume). Browse the first few jobs we have on there. Find coaches who are already steeped in Two-Brain values and education.
To grow your business, you need to buy yourself time. That means replacing yourself in front-line delivery roles—at least for a while. Make sure that person is as good as—or better than—you.
Other Media in This Series
Upgrading Your Team
How to Ascend Your Staff
In this series, I’ve been telling you how to get clarity in your business.
Now let’s talk about how to give clarity: to your staff, to your clients and to your audience.
All the people around you want you to be reliable: to do things the same way every time. They want you to be predictable: to apply yourself fairly to everyone. And they want you to be clear: to help them gain direction in their lives through your expertise.
Here’s how to do it.
Clarity With Your Clients
You need to provide the same excellent value to everyone.
That means your operations must be excellent always—for everyone.
That means your prices should be the same for everyone at each service level. No discounts, no special deals, no trades, no “I’ll tickle you there if you kiss me here” deals.
That means clear and even application of your policies, rules and standards.
If your policy says “two weeks’ notice for cancellations,” you have to uphold that rule every time. Otherwise you have no rule.
If your policy says “class starts at 7 a.m.,” you have to start at 7 a.m. Not 7:02. Because if you don’t start at 7 a.m. every time, you don’t start at 7 a.m. ever.
If your standard is “squat below parallel,” you have to squat below parallel every time for the rep to count. Every time. If one rep is a maybe, then every rep is a maybe.
If a client is negatively affecting the experience of another client, he or she has to go. If you don’t have clear values, you don’t have values.
Clarity With Your Audience
Are you a coach or are you a “functional movement specialist”?
Everyone knows what the first thing is. No one knows what the last thing is.
Maybe you’re trying to say “I’m different from other fitness coaches!” And maybe other fitness coaches can tell the difference between a Core Vibration Expert and an Animal Utilitarian Movement Expert (Level III Certified). But other fitness coaches are not your audience.
Your audience needs to know “that girl can help me lose weight.”
Your audience doesn’t need to figure out what your logo means, what your name means, what your certification means, what your philosophy means, what your religion means.
When they look at you, do they see themselves?
What they see (or hear) is your brand.
Clearer brands are better.
Clarity With Your Staff
First and foremost, you have to get everything out of your head and onto paper.
No one can read your mind.
No one sees things the way you do.
There’s no such thing as “common sense.”
If you’ve been unclear with your staff, you have some detangling to do.
You’ll have to edit the things you’ve told them before—or maybe stuff they’ve tried to figure out on their own—and put them on the right path. That should come as a relief to everyone. But change is tough: If you need to radically edit what they’re doing, you’re going to have a tougher conversation. This is my weakness, but I’m training hard to make it my strength. Here’s what I’ve learned:
I hate confrontation.
I build things up to be too big in my mind. I’m a “people pleaser,” and I want everyone to like me. And I know that arguments usually distract me from doing the real work; I can’t resist them when they happen, so I try to avoid them.
But as I grew from Founder to Farmer to Tinker, hard conversations became more important. And they just got harder.
As a Founder in the gym business, firing a client was very hard. There were hundreds of dollars at stake, which was big money back then. But, more important, I worried about the client’s reaction: How would she feel? How would she react? What would she say in my gym? What would she tell people on Facebook?
In the Farmer Phase, I had to start managing staff. That meant evaluations and correcting their actions—and even firing a couple of people. Those conversations were harder by an order of magnitude: The decisions affected the staff people and their families, and sometimes my clients, too.
And in Tinker Phase, every conversation set the precedent for the company, hundreds of clients and dozens of staff. Most decisions were held with tens of thousands of dollars in the balance; some literally had hundreds of thousands of dollars sitting in the balance. And some were more important than any amount of money.
One of my mentors, Marcy, was chosen precisely to help me with leadership. And leadership means having hard conversations. On our first call, Marcy told me:
“Chris, sometimes you’re being tactful. But sometimes you’re just hiding.”
And it’s true. Sometimes I do avoid tough conversations and tell myself to “cool off for a bit” or “phrase this politely.” Both are wise—but not when they’re avoidance techniques.
Thanks to years of experience, dozens of hard conversations and Marcy, I’ve learned a lot about hard conversations. Here are some things to keep in mind for context before you start:
1. Anticipation is always worse than the event.
2. Every tough conversation you have is just practice for a tough conversation in the future, when the stakes will be higher.
3. People aren’t really paying much attention to you. You might be staying up all night worrying about The Big Talk, but they probably aren’t.
4. The greatest gift you can give the other person is clarity. Respect him or her enough to say what you mean.
Here are my action steps:
1. Hold the conversation at the highest possible level of the communication hierarchy. Face to face is best. If that’s not possible because of geography, use a video call. If that’s not possible, call on the phone. Email is poor for having hard conversations because it’s very hard to read intent into the written word. And text isn’t an option at all.
2. Be sure but act quickly. Get the facts. But be aware of procrastination strategies like “I need more information” or opinion gathering. This isn’t a democracy.
3. Avoid emotional language. “I feel like … ” and “I think you should … ” completely dampen your message. They say, “I’m unsure.”
4. If you’re talking to a staff member, client or friend you’d like to keep around, work through this next step. If you’re going to end your relationship, skip to No.5.
Let the person release emotion first. Picture the person’s anger, frustration or sadness as a big black balloon that’s floating between your faces. You can’t really see each other while that balloon is there, so let the air out of it—slowly. Get right to the heart of the concern by asking a pointed question: “So you’re worried about this rate increase?” Then let him or her vent all the emotions.
When the balloon is a little deflated, poke it again. You want it completely empty. “You’re concerned you won’t be able to afford the gym anymore?” You might have to poke it a third time. Only when the emotional content of the speech is gone can you begin working on a solution. This was outlined in Chris Voss’s excellent book “Never Split the Difference.”
5. Then lay out your case clearly. “More words don’t make people feel better,” Seth Godin wrote in “This Is Marketing.” If you’re breaking up with the person, start the conversation with, “We’re breaking up.”
If you’re removing the person as a client, say, “I’m so sorry this isn’t working out. We do our best to please every client, but we’re just not a good fit.”
If you’re firing the person from your staff, say so. Don’t do him or her the disservice of hiding behind stock language like “we’re going another direction.” Say: “I can’t have you coaching anymore because you haven’t corrected X and Y.”
6. Give the person a cool-down period. “I’d like you to take a day or two before you respond. Think about what we’ve said. Then, if you want to talk some more, we can set up a phone call. In the meantime, I promise to be discrete about this conversation and trust you’ll do the same.”
There’s a lot more to it, and nothing beats practice. You’ll get better as you go. Luckily, you can practice on your loved ones or your staff (we made a deck of cards called the Two-Brain Scenario Deck for this precise purpose).
You’ll feel funny asking others to role-play with you, but it’s worth practicing, and practicing on neutral parties will save you painful and expensive practice in real life.
Other Media in This Series
How to Get Clarity
Building Filters in Your Business
Filter, Don’t Find
Clarity: The Two-Brain Roadmap and Mentorship
Has a client ever given you business advice?
Like this: “If you dropped your prices a bit, you could get a lot more people in here.”
If you’ve been around awhile, you probably just smile and thank the client for the advice. You probably know that his or her only business experience is as a consumer. You’re probably comfortable in the wisdom you’ve gained through your experience and focus.
But if you haven’t been around for long, that advice might be tempting to take. You think about it, right? Because, deep down, you think, “Everyone knows more about business than I do.” Or maybe you doubt your own value. Or maybe you just need filters for this stuff.
Even longtime box owners are susceptible to “advice” given online or by other business owners. Some of it is good; some of it isn’t. In Part 1 of this series, I told you how to filter the ideas you get outside your business. Here, I’m going to tell you how to build these filters for the people you care about most: your staff and your clients.
Because everyone wants to help.
Everyone has ideas.
Opinions are everywhere.
Facts are few.
First Filter: The Priority People Filter
“You don’t find an audience for your products. You find products for your audience.” —Seth Godin
You have to know who your best clients are and listen to them.
Do the “Apples exercise”: Figure out who your five top clients are. When they talk, you give them your full attention. When others talk, you smile and say, “Thanks.”
Second Filter: The Precision Filter
“Everyone is complaining about our programming!”
Exactly who is complaining and exactly what was said?
Most of your staff members have been taught to report problems instead of fix them. And because they care about you, they want to make sure you take their reports seriously. So they amplify their reports with words such as “everyone.”
But not everyone hates your programming. A few people might hate it—or they might just have questions.
Read “Killing the Canary” (it’s one of my best).
Third Filter: The Proposal Filter
I’m lucky enough to win the lottery every day.
I have enormous “who luck”—amazing people align with my vision and jump on board the Two-Brain bus.
Because they’re entrepreneurial, they have huge ideas.
But success in the Tinker Phase means saying “no” to good ideas and “not yet” to a lot of great ideas.
I love hearing ideas. My team knows it. They love to “brainstorm” stuff with me (and I with them). To make sure their ideas are fully formed, we have a Process Proposal Sheet to help all of us think through our ideas before sharing them with the team.
Many of my ideas die before I fill out the form completely. And that’s good: Putting them on paper means I won’t forget them. On the other hand, if they’re not ready to fill the page, they’re not ready to share with others yet.
If your business is small, you might not need written proposals for every idea. But you should limit brainstorming and ideation to specific forums: Have a brainstorming session at the end of a monthly team meeting or during your staff’s Career Roadmap meetings. When a staff person says, “I have a great idea!” respond with, “Awesome! Please bring it to our meeting on Saturday so everyone can hear it!”
That way, you avoid repetition, you avoid distraction, and you get to celebrate your bright ideas together.
Fourth Filter: The Perspective Filter
No one but you sees the entire landscape.
An idea might be great, but it doesn’t fit into your annual plan.
Or a complaint might be important to the complainer but shouldn’t distract you from the bigger vision.
This is a very tough filter to build because we’re hard wired to seek out threats and avoid them. It’s always tempting to shut down the entire school because the pencils aren’t sharp enough. We actually look for drama and then dwell on it instead of staying focused on the work we should be doing.
This one requires an objective third party, like a mentor.
One gym owner said this last week:
For perspective, that gym owner is changing the lives of dozens of people in our city—and she was focused on the work she wasn’t doing.
We all do it, and that’s why successful entrepreneurs have mentors. Every one of them!
Other Media in This Series
How to Get Clarity
Filter, Don’t Find
Clarity: The Two-Brain Roadmap and Mentorship
Clarity: The Greatest Gift You Can Give
In this series, I’ve told you the importance of consistency in your business, how to build a playbook (and do a few other exercises), and how to deliver operational excellence through the Rule of Threes.
In this post, I’m going to tell you exactly what to do. This is a 10-week plan to systemize your business and move you to the CEO role.
Become a CEO
Telling people “here’s how to do it” is never enough. As a coach, you know this to be true.
Showing people “here’s how I do it” is helpful, but it’s still not enough.
Breaking down the process step by step is even more helpful—but it’s still less powerful than mentorship.
This is the DIY guide. I’m telling you the exact steps to take to build a base of excellence in your business.
Less than 10 percent of you will actually see it through to the end. Because it’s hard. And it’s less exciting than hitting some supplemental front squats. No matter how clearly I say, “This is the first step in the path to freedom,” or “This will solve most of the problems in your business,” or “Marketing isn’t your problem; bad systems are your problem!” fewer than 10 percent of you will follow the plan to completion.
That’s why we’re a mentorship practice.
The books and guides I write? They’re not enough.
You need accountability. You need models of success, and inspiration, and the undivided attention of a successful gym owner.
Here’s our “CEO Book 2020,” which will show you how to become a “10-Hour CEO.” Start with it. Then get a mentor.
Of all the hours you’re putting in every week, I guarantee there’s one that could be used better by someone else. If, on Friday, you struggle to respond politely to “will lifting weights make me bulky?” take that hour off. Fire yourself from that spot. Find someone else to be in the gym at that time.
If you’re cutting corners when cleaning, fire yourself.
Fire yourself from one hour—your worst hour—next week. This weekend, choose that hour.
Work through the “CEO Book” from “Two-Brain Business 2.0.” By June, I’d like each of you to be spending 10 hours per week in a CEO role or doing whatever gets you closer to your Perfect Day.
You’re going to start next week by dedicating one hour to that role. Block it off in your calendar. Book a call with your mentor. Do the next module in your program (they’re in a particular order for a reason).
Next week, you’re going to commit to two hours in the CEO chair.
Other Media in This Series
Consistency Is Greater Than Everything Else
Consistency Is Greater Than Perfection
Consistency and the Rule of Threes
Driven Nutrition: Consistency Brings Success in a Tough Market
When you open a business, you step onstage.
Everything you say is spoken into a microphone.
Everything you write is printed on a billboard.
Everything you do is reported in the tabloids.
It’s never been easier to build an audience. But when they’re all in their seats, what message will you tell them?
That message is your brand.
In this series, I’m going to tell you how to build your brand.
First, I’m going to tell you how to stop poisoning your brand—even if you’re a positive person, you need to read this).
In Part 2, I’m going to tell you why clarity is more important than art.
In Part 3, I’m going to tell you how to determine whether your brand is effective or not (and then how to fix it).
On Two-Brain Radio, Certified Two-Brain Mentor Jay Williams will tell you what he learned at the StoryBrand seminar.
And in the final installment, we’ll recap the top takeaways so you know exactly what to do next.
How to Stop Poisoning Your Brand
“It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool than to talk and remove all doubt of it.” —Maurice Switzer
A current maxim in business strategy demands that we “be authentic.”
Great advice—unless you’re a jerk. Or if you’re thinking about sharing a strong political opinion with your clients. Or you can’t spell very well.
Your clients are paying for a professional service. Your online persona has to reinforce your professional value.
A few weeks ago, a gym owner asked if her husband’s social media posts were hurting their business. This was a first for me, but obviously she was worried enough to ask. And for good reason: His personal Instagram feed was full of “kick ’em all out!” and “build the wall higher!” memes. There was some pretty outrageous stuff in there. His political affiliation wasn’t just polarized: It was extreme. Even a conservative would feel uncomfortable reading some of this stuff.
How would a client feel? How would he or she associate those beliefs with the business?
Like it or not, every entrepreneur is a public figure. The easiest way to get “likes” on Facebook is to be likable.
I’m not recommending that you fake anything. I’m suggesting you consider your audience before you post.
Gary Vee and the F-Bombs
Gary Vaynerchuk is one of many “authenticity” advocates. Watch any of his videos from the last five years and you’ll him use the F-word like a comma. His audience is entrepreneurs now.
But his audience used to be neighborhood people who wanted to buy wine from his dad’s shop. Watch Wine TV’s first few years’ worth of episodes. Is there a single swear word?
Go ahead and check. Here’s the first episode to get you started.
Before the “Gary Vee” hype, Vaynerchuk was selling wine to a local audience of higher-income clients. He was mostly an owner-operator trying to turn a low-wage job into a profitable business. He did. But he’s not the same person selling the same product now.
Even his 1002nd episode, shot in 2016, he uses the language of his wine audience—not the language he was using on stage for entrepreneurs at the same time. His language, clothing and manner aren’t evolving; they shift depending on who’s in front of him. At 21:56 in the above video, he says “I day-trade attention.” And the right attention matters.
The same language, posture and attitude that attract audiences to his keynote speeches would turn off most of his wine-drinking audience. So he puts on a collared shirt to do Wine Library TV, calms down by 10 notches and uses different words. One viewer’s wine is another’s poison.
Many entrepreneurs want to believe that the “hustle” excludes them from social best practices. They huddle with other founders because they believe that no one else understands them. They cultivate an “outsider” image. And in making themselves distinct from those they would serve, they’re saying, “You’re not like me.”
Take it from a guy who’s made the mistake: Don’t try to be cooler than your audience. Create the platform on which they can be the cool kids—not you. Think friends, not followers. Use the language, dress and habits of those you want to attract.
By all means be authentic. Show people who you really are. And constantly strive to improve that person.
Other Media in This Series
Branding 101: Clarity Is Greater Than Art
Branding 101: What Are They Hiring You to Do?
StoryBrand: Can It Help You Acquire More Clients?
Branding for Farmers, Founders, Tinkers and Thiefs