Building a Client-Centric Business: The Model

A closeup of meshing gears, with one labeled "business" and the other labeled "model."

To build a successful client-centric business, you have to consider your mission, model, method and media.

Here, I’m going to tell you how to build your model to match your mission.

Your model must meet the goals of:

  • The client.
  • The owner.
  • The staff.

If your model helps the client but starves the owner, it won’t survive long enough for you to accomplish the mission.

If your model helps staff meet their training goals but can’t keep clients engaged, it won’t survive long enough for you to accomplish the mission.

And, of course, if your model pays the owner and staff well but doesn’t get clients results, it won’t survive, either.

We’re looking to tick all the boxes—there can’t be a tradeoff.

In our “How to Make $100,000 Per Year With 150 Clients” guide, I break down three models that have been proven to help the client, the owner and the staff.

You can get the guide by joining the Gym Owners United Group and leaving the comment “100k” on this post.

Model 1

The first model: 150 clients in a group-coaching setting.

To make this work, you have to charge appropriately. You’ll also have to hustle. This is a classic “owner-operator model” in which a single owner coaches almost all of the classes, charges above the average rate, and works a 14-hour day. It’s doable but not sustainable for most.

Get the guide.

Model 2

The second model: 150 clients, with 10 percent using a higher-value service.

In this model, the owner is still coaching but has some help to cover half of the classes and PT sessions. The owner uses that freed time to do marketing, retention, admin and other tasks. This is a “perfect day” scenario for many gym owners who just love to coach but want to make more than a coach does.

Get the guide.

Model 3

The third model: 150 clients, with 70 percent doing group classes, 20 percent using a secondary service and 10 percent using a tertiary service.

In this model, the owner is still coaching a couple of hours every day but has hired staff to do management, media, admin, cleaning and all the non-coaching jobs. They also have a full-time coach and at least one part-timer helping out. They could stop coaching and do the business stuff instead if they wanted to.

Get the guide.

You Need My Guide

I know I keep saying “get the guide!”—but the guide is amazing. It has screenshots of actual profit-and-loss statements to prove that each model works, plus step-by-step instructions for setting each model up.

Other models exist. You can build your own if you want. Download our “Gym Business Plan” here and start plugging in numbers, or book a call with our team and we’ll walk you through some options.

You might prefer to train clients in groups, you might prefer to train them 1:1, or you might want to train them in a semi-private setting. You might prefer to train athletes or clients seeking to lose weight or even recover from head trauma. You might love CrossFit or Pilates or kickboxing—we’ll choose a ‘”method” in the next post in this series. Here, I want to help you pick a model that actually works.

Let’s face it: The old myth—especially in the CrossFit sphere—that “more clients make for a better business” is false. It’s perpetuated because no one else says “here’s a model that is actually supported by data from successful gyms.” That’s why I’m repeatedly sharing the link to our guide—it’s essential reading for a microgym owner.

Still think you need a huge number of clients to succeed? Look for the CrossFit gyms with the largest enrollment in 2012 or even 2015. Where are they now? They’re either smaller or they’re gone—because they knew their method inside and out but didn’t understand how to put it into a model.

It doesn’t matter if you’re Level 12 certified in your method or the top practitioner in the world. If you put the best wine in a broken bottle, you can’t serve it.


One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.