Red-Alert Retention: The A+ Plan for a Client’s First 90 Days

Red-Alert Retention: The A+ Plan for a Client’s First 90 Days

Chris Cooper (00:00):
Keeping a client around long term really comes down to how they start. The first 90 days is critical. And today I’m gonna share with you our first 90 days client journey from my gym, Catalyst. I’m Chris Cooper. This is “Run a Profitable Gym.” And if this is interesting to you, you can go to and talk about it, ask questions in that group, and I’m happy to help. If you’re in Two-Brain Business, you can access the exact spreadsheet that I’m gonna show you and use it as a template to build your own 90-day client journey in the RampUp program or in the Toolkit.

Chris Cooper (00:36):
So today I’m gonna share with you the exact steps that new clients go through at my gym, Catalyst. I’m gonna briefly mention where they come from, but that really doesn’t matter. What matters is what happens from the point when they’re sitting in front of me at a No Sweat Intro. And every single step from there is laid out. The science of retention is really emerging, but what’s really, really important, the thing that really moves the needle for a lot of gyms, are the things that I’m gonna mention in this video. But the most important thing is that you have a plan laid out. And so if you’re in Two-Brain, use the template, tailor it any way that you want to for your gym, but keep the really important things in there that actually matter. There are a lot of experts out there who will tell you that the key to retention is this thing, but the reality is, unless it’s measurable, you don’t need to probably do it.

Chris Cooper (01:24):
And I’m only gonna share with you the things that actually work to improve client retention today. So without further ado, I’m gonna share this spreadsheet. Now, if you’re listening to this on a podcast and you can’t see it, just go to the YouTube channel and you’ll be able to see this all step by step. Here’s the start of this spreadsheet. Now this template is available only to people who are in Two-Brain, but if you wanna pause this and take notes and build your own, that’s absolutely fine. Again, the key is that you have something written down so that you can assign duties to your staff, you can check off a client’s progress, and you can notice when a client starts to go sideways and you’re losing them. So where our client starts, I use the example of them coming in through a lead ad on Facebook, and we teach this in our mentorship course, but we also teach three other marketing funnels.

Chris Cooper (02:10):
And so we want people to have multiple ways that clients come to them. Okay? In this example that I’m sharing here, they come in through a lead ad, and we’re doing sell by chat, and our only goal is to book an NSI. I included this on the spreadsheet for my staff because other people manage sell by chat. When people come in and they do a lead ad and they enter their information, I want my staff to remember the only goal of that text message conversation or even the phone call is to get them to book a No Sweat Intro. It’s not to sell them on the program. It’s not to list our prices or give all the different options. It’s to get them to book, period. And the success of that texting or that lead nurture is really just how many people book NSIs and how many people show up for them from there.

Chris Cooper (02:56):
Okay? A client books a No Sweat Intro, and then our only goal changes to getting ’em to show up. So there’s two things here already. Before they’ve even become a client, we are measuring how likely they are to book—that’s called our “set rate”—and then show up—for our “show rate.” This is really important because if you don’t measure these things, then you don’t know how your marketing is working. But today I’m really gonna be focused on what happens from the No Sweat Intro onward. So let’s say after somebody has made that booking, our client success manager, maybe your general manager, maybe one of your coaches, or maybe you are following up a lot to make sure that they actually show up. And we’ve found at Catalyst that sharing our mission actually helps with that.

Chris Cooper (03:42):
So that’s what we do when they show up and they do a No Sweat Intro. I’ve got a link here to our No Sweat Intro script. This is a basic motivational interview of about three to four questions that really digs down and gets to their motivation to want to exercise. And then from there, it’s the coach’s job to make a prescription on how they can get the results that they want fastest. And that prescription might include personal training, it might include semi-private, it might include group training, it might include nutrition coaching or a nutrition challenge or something like that. What I’ve got down here though is you know, when is it done? So first, the No Sweat Intro is obviously done during the No Sweat Intro time. It’s done at the gym. Our GM, Haley, does it, and I’ve got instructions here for the staff to follow, and that again, just links to Two-Brain materials.

Chris Cooper (04:33):
Of course, my gym is in the Two-Brain mentorship program, and so they have access to all of that. From there, I want the client to actually have their goals recorded. So it’s not the case that people are coming in because they want to try CrossFit. CrossFit is the tool that they are going to use to get fit. And if you’re a 9round franchisee, if you’re an F45, an Orangetheory, strength and conditioning gym, HIIT gym, boot camp, whatever, they want to use your service to achieve a specific result, I promise. And so what you’re gonna do here is actually record their goals. So this spreadsheet will serve as a template for each individual client, and a different version will be filled out for each client. Okay? When does that happen? It happens at the No Sweat Intro, which is done at the gym and done by the general manager.

Chris Cooper (05:19):
From there, we’re gonna take an InBody test. Then sometimes if they’re a competitive athlete, we might take a max heart rate or make a max-heart-rate calculation, okay? And that again depends on the client’s goals. For some clients that doesn’t really matter, but even if they’re just coming in off the street, we might just calculate what their max heart rate is, which is gonna help us make a better exercise prescription later. Okay? You might do something different in there. You might do a Functional Movement Screen or something else. And so, you know, I do have a blank here in case there’s any additional notes or there’s any additional testing that was done. Okay? That’s the first phase. Our first phase is Assess—what do they need? Can we help them get there? In some very rare cases, no, we can’t help them get there, and they need to go back to their doctor, or they need to go to a therapist first or whatever.

Chris Cooper (06:06):
Maybe we’re just not a good fit. The second phase of our 90-day journey is called Admit and Affirm. So we are admitting them into our program and we are affirming their decision to buy. So what we do here is make a prescription. So after we’ve done this testing, we open our sales binder and we say, “The fastest way for us to get you from where you are to where you want to go is blank.” And that prescription might be personal training or whatever. Then for them, we’ll say like, “Does this fit your goal?” And if they say “yes, that’s great” then we’ll sign them up. If we say “does this fit your goal?” and they say “no, it’s too expensive,” then we say “Okay, given your budget, I would do it this way. It’s not gonna be as fast, but it will be as effective over time.”

Chris Cooper (06:51):
So you might make a different prescription, but what’s really key is in the No Sweat Intro, the only goal is to get them signed up for our on-ramp program, which is gonna be done one-on-one. You don’t have to sell them on long-term personal training, long-term nutrition coaching. The simple goal of the No Sweat Intro is to get them into on-ramp. We know from working with thousands of clients over the years that our on-ramp program is really key to long-term retention. Some gyms who aren’t familiar with Two-Brain or aren’t familiar with an on-ramp might still believe the outdated idea that an on-ramp is a barrier to entry. It’s not a barrier to entry, but it is a barrier to exit. So from there, the next job of the GM is to take payment. This is on the client journey document because sometimes people will forget to say “what’s your credit card number” and take payment, and then the client will go away and just ghost us.

Chris Cooper (07:43):
Okay? So that’s important. We want that checked off. We want them to schedule their first on-ramp appointment. Now again, you might be saying, “This is really granular,” and it’s that way for a reason. I don’t want the client to leave without that first on-ramp appointment scheduled. If they do, there’s a chance they’ll change their mind, they’ll have some buyer’s remorse and not come back. Okay? Now, down below, again, who does it? Where do they do it? And there’s some links here on the exact template to download for the pricing binder for our on-ramp, and my clients can access that. And if you’re in Two-Brain, this is all available to you also, of course. Then we’re gonna schedule their healthy-habits appointment. So they’re still sitting in front of the GM and the GM is just checking off the checklist. They’ve paid, they’ve scheduled their first on-ramp appointment.

Chris Cooper (08:28):
Now I want them to have an appointment with our nutrition coach to talk about building the habits that will create success long term. Then the coach or the GM, the person that’s doing the No Sweat Intro, is going to share that client info with our client success manager. The client success manager’s job is to oversee each client’s journey through their first 90 days and beyond. Follow up with them, make sure that they’re staying on track. Retention is so important that we have a separate role for it. If you’ve got one person doing sales or one person doing marketing, then it’s e equally as important to have one person focused on retention. If you’re doing all that, this is a great role that’s very leverageable. It pays for itself many times over, and you can learn how to hire a CSM in the Two-Brain course.

Chris Cooper (09:14):
So boom check, okay, we’ve shared the info with the client success manager. Then the CSM sends them a welcome text: “Hey Jill, this is Jessica from Catalyst, and I’m here to be your guide.” The exact text script is right there. You can see it. They send a video on what the Catalyst method is so the client knows exactly what’s coming, and then within 48 hours, we want them to have at least their first on-ramp appointment or their first nutrition habits appointment. We want that gap between registration and first contact to be very, very small. The shorter you can make that, the better. Just like the time to return a client’s call after they enter their info on your website should be less than an hour if possible. You want them back in the gym and training within maximum 48 hours.

Chris Cooper (10:01):
So that’s really important. Then it tells here’s exactly what’s gonna happen. Okay? So they’re gonna have their nutrition-habits appointment probably first before we can get them in for their first on-ramp. In less-busy times, we were able to get them in for their first on-ramp sometimes the next day. But right now we’re so busy with new clients coming in that it might take a couple days till we can get them in for on-ramp. The healthy-habits appointment can be done virtually over Zoom or even the phone. And our nutrition coach can handle that. It’s only about a half an hour. So they’re gonna talk about how important nutrition is. They’re gonna provide recommendation for the very first step. So they’re gonna give them one thing they can do to improve their habits right off the bat. Then they’re going to say, “Do you prefer that I talk to you through email, text, what?”

Chris Cooper (10:49):
And they’re gonna give them a habits-tracking sheet, okay? So the client hasn’t started exercising yet, but they’ve joined the gym. They’ve paid, they’ve had a conversation with a coach, and they’re starting their fitness journey, even though we haven’t taught them a squat yet. Then the CSM will send them a video called “Sickness-Wellness-Fitness.” Now we’re into the third phase here, and we call this Activate and Acclimate. So we’ve activated their membership. We started teaching them about our gym, and so we’re going to be sending them things like the client’s bill of rights, the client’s code of conduct—basically like what do we do here? What is Catalyst? How are we different? So they feel like they fit in, so they don’t make any real gaffes, like showing up late for their first class or whatever.

Chris Cooper (11:32):
Okay? This is really important because the reason that a lot of people quit is not that they don’t like the exercise or they don’t see its value. It’s because they just think “I don’t fit in here.” And so you wanna give ’em all the tools and knowledge they need to feel like they fit in, okay? Then their first on-ramp workout is going to come. Now, what could happen here 10 to 20% of the time is that a client says, “I wanna get started today or tomorrow,” and we actually have capacity to take them and take their first on-ramp program workout. The cool thing here is that our on-ramp workouts are so dialed, and my staff has this client journey for every client, that I don’t have to have the same coach deliver the first and the second on-ramp. So if you know one coach is available, Tricia’s available today, let’s get this client started.

Chris Cooper (12:22):
Do the first on-ramp. Tricia isn’t available? She’s going on vacation for a week, but Dennis is available in two days. He can take her in the second on-ramp because we know that the experience is consistent over time. And so the first on-ramp workout, it’s basically upper-body push, and then they do a deadlift, and then they do this modified workout called Diane. It’s all spelled out. The coaches are doing it exactly the same way every time. Again, if you’re in Two-Brain, you’ll have this whole spreadsheet. You can click that link and you can actually see what that workout is if you want. Then we teach the client how to enter scores in our workout-tracking software. So before they even leave, we pull up the app, we make sure it’s on their phone, we log ’em in. We help them log their results because tracking results is a really important part of retention, okay?

Chris Cooper (13:09):
Then we can assign some homework, which is usually just some stretching or whatever, but the coach writes down what homework they gave them. The next day, the CSM is gonna follow up with them with this exact script. “How’s the workout? I got a new video for you today explaining the difference between your lifespan and your healthspan.” And you can use that video—if you’re in Two-Brain and you wanna use my video, you go right ahead, okay? If you’re not in Two-Brain and you wanna see the video, you can just go to the Catalyst Fitness YouTube channel and you’ll see some of these videos on there as a sample that you can duplicate and make your own. The second on-ramp, they’re teaching flexibility and weightlifting, okay? There’s the actual workout and everything. They’re gonna enter their scores in the tracking software.

Chris Cooper (13:51):
Then here’s the video that the CSM sends, and what’s happening is they are tracking the client’s progress on these sheets. So every day or every couple of days, the CSM is logging here. They’re gonna get a notification or they’re gonna be checking these spreadsheets and sending these texts. By now, a lot of you are thinking, “Wow, how can I just automate this?” And you’re right, every gym goes through this process of systemization and then optimization before they can grow. There is a way to optimize this, and that is using a CRM software like Kilo. However, you should do this manually. First, you should set it all up in a spreadsheet like this, run through it a few times, get your staff on board, get some reps in, and then move it all to your CRM to automate it instead of just setting up the automations.

Chris Cooper (14:44):
Okay? So, you know, we can go through the on-ramp here. They learn some stuff on the rings. They do a squat-endurance test from Level Method. They enter their scores. Here’s the messages they get sent, and then this takes them all the way through their sixth on-ramp session. That sixth on-ramp session is Fran. They get to do an all-time kind of CrossFit workout, you know. They get to experience intensity for the first time, and then from there, they’re brought back into a goal review. Okay? So all these sessions are done one-on-one. They are invited to try a group class with the coach after that if they want to. So after these six sessions are done, they should have a goal review booked. So this is probably gonna take them a week, maybe two weeks, to get these six sessions done. I guess two weeks.

Chris Cooper (15:32):
And then at that point, they’re right back into a goal-review meeting with the general manager or the coach who signed them up. So NSI, on-ramp, first goal review. And that goal review is where they check the prescription, okay? So they’re gonna say, “Now that you’ve done this, do you prefer to carry on one-on-one or do you prefer to try this in a group? Do you think you need more one-on-one attention in your nutrition or do you wanna wait until we have a challenge come up again?” Okay. And that’s it. It’s not really an upsell. Remember, the job of the NSI is to sell on-ramp. The job of this goal review is to make the best possible prescription for the client. Okay? So the GM is gonna look at their habit sheet, that habits-tracking sheet, and they’re gonna make them a new prescription, and that prescription is going to be called RX 1.

Chris Cooper (16:21):
Now, I’ve given you some samples here. So this client’s sample prescription was three strength days. That’s what SSS means. They’re got four Zone 2 days, so fairly easy aerobic days, one Zone 3, one Zone 5. So what they’re gonna say is like, “Okay, you can group some of the strength and Zone 2 days together.” You can handle this any way you want to, but at Catalyst we break that out a little bit and we’ll say you know, “That means you should be in the gym about four days a week. Are you more comfortable doing that one-on-one with me or in a small-group setting?” Depending on their answer, we’ll sell them the appropriate package for either CrossFit groups or a one-on-one group program, okay? And that’s it. That’s the decision that they have to make. All the instructions for this, of course, if you’re in Two-Brain, are can be found right at the bottom of this.

Chris Cooper (17:07):
I want my staff to have this. My gym is enrolled in Two-Brain, and so they have access to all this stuff. Then they take the payment for the recurring membership that the client is signing up for. So this fourth stage, which is the Accomplishment stage, is really getting the client going in your real program. They’ve been through on-ramp, they know how to do this stuff, they’re not gonna feel like an outsider anymore. They’re gonna be safe, they’re gonna be a decent mover. Now they’re joining your actual program. Okay? So you book the next goal review, you take their payment for the recurring membership, the CSM sends them a video. “Here’s the apps that you need. Here is our booking and billing app.” You might have something else. Level Method, if you’re using that, or Chalk It Pro or wherever you’re tracking your workouts and doing your billing and payments. That’s what you want.

Chris Cooper (17:57):
We send ’em one about SelfLoops, too. That’s how we track heart rate at Catalyst. Okay? After 30 days, the CSM checks in, okay? “Congrats on your one-month anniversary. How are things going?” And their job is just have a conversation. If there’s any little flags that come up that say that the client is less than thrilled, we want to know. Now, most of the time the client is pretty pumped up after a month. They love it. And so this is a great time for the CSM to just say, “I’m glad things are going so well. Tell me more.” If the client is like, “you’ve changed my life already,” the CSM might actually just call them or do a Zoom call and do an interview at that point. But in most cases, that’s coming up at the 90-day mark, which you’ll see in a moment.

Chris Cooper (18:38):
Here’s the 60-day check-in from the CSM, making sure that they remember that they’ve got a goal review at the 90-day mark, prepping them for that, making sure that things are still going well. If the client sent up a flag earlier, the CSM is gonna check in more often, like every week. Not every day, but we wanna make sure that the client is staying on track and feels like somebody cares enough to make sure. The fifth stage is called Adopt and Advocate. So at this stage, they’re pretty much bought into your program. Maybe they’re wearing your T-shirts. They’re 90 days in, they’re starting to feel better, they’re probably starting to get some results. And so now they’re gonna come in for their next goal review. At this point, they’re gonna do another InBody. They’re gonna see some results. They are going to talk about their new prescription going forward.

Chris Cooper (19:22):
So they do their goal review, they get their progress measured. We say, “Are you completely satisfied with your results?” If the answer is yes, then we’re going to ask for a testimonial. You know, “Can you share your story so that other people can experience the results that you have?” Or, “If sharing your story could help one other person, what would you tell them?” Something like that. Then we’re going to do Affinity Marketing to try and get a referral because at Catalyst, honestly, we’ve always been a referral-marketing business. We do run some Facebook ads. But most of our clients come from within because we remember to ask for referrals. Then we’re gonna make their second prescription. So, “You’ve got good results so far.” If they’re perfectly happy with their results and that’s what they say, then you go for a testimonial and a referral.

Chris Cooper (20:13):
If they’re not perfectly happy with their results, then you say, “Okay, in your shoes, if I wanted to speed up my progress, I would do this.” And you would just tell ’em as a coach, like, “personal training might get you there faster.” Or “doing this nutrition challenge might get you to your goals faster.” That’s all. Some people would think that this feels like an upsell, but it’s not. It’s just your duty as a coach to say “this would get you there faster.” Think about somebody coming into a doctor’s office, you know, 90 days after receiving a prescription for a medication. And you look at the symptoms, and you’re like, “Do you feel better?” And the client says, “Yes, I do.” You say, “Great, let’s just keep doing what you’re doing for now.”

Chris Cooper (20:53):
If the client says, “No, I don’t feel better,” then what’s the doctor gonna do? Right? Increase the dosage or change the medication. Like it’s your professional duty to make sure that your clients are getting results as quickly as possible. And that means recommending what will get them there faster. They might not take you up on it. They might say, “Nah, you know, I wish I was getting results faster, but I’m happy in the group.” Fine: “Go back to the group. We’ll talk again in 90 days, okay? Make sure that you’re making progress, even if it’s slower progress. That’s fine.” Because of course your group program is getting them results, just maybe not as fast as personal training would. Okay? Then upgrade membership if required. If your prescription includes a supplement, some of you do that, then you can a write that down here, okay?

Chris Cooper (21:38):
And so this is where, you know, maybe somebody is like, “Oh, I’m trying to get protein at every meal, but it’s a real struggle.” And you say, “Don’t worry. I’ve got a shortcut. It’s called whey protein. Here it is. This is what I recommend in my gym and sign up here.” And then from there you just get the new protein jug for ’em every 30 days. Or with most of our supplement vendors, they’ll just take care of the client from there and you’ll get the commission from it. So, you know, whatever you’re comfortable with there is fine. More and more I find that we’re working with really high-quality supplement companies, and so I feel good about prescribing a supplement where it will help. Then you book their next goal review. Here’s a 30-day check-in from the CSM.

Chris Cooper (22:24):
Here’s a 60-day check-in, and then 90 days from there. Now the client is more than six months into your program. There should be a recurring process where your CSM keeps checking in on everybody every 30 days, okay? That never, ever really ends. But the most important thing is that you’re doing these goal reviews. You know, when it comes to retention, there are certain things that work all the time, and goal reviews is one of them. I don’t mean that every single client that does a goal review is going to pay more—you’re gonna increase your ARM. But every single client that does a goal review is gonna stick with you longer and eventually become a more valuable client to you, and you are going to become more valuable to them because the changes that you’re giving them in their life compound over time, don’t they?

Chris Cooper (23:11):
And so if you really want to improve their fitness, their health span, their lifespan, you have to keep them around long enough to do it. In the microgym industry, the average length of time somebody stays in a gym is just under eight months. It’s not enough time to change a life. You have to get them out to like at least two years. That way, you’re not just on a marketing treadmill with your business. They’re not just on a workout treadmill with their fitness. You’re working together, you’re building a compounding business. And the best way to do that is to start with a plan like mapping out your 90-day client journey in advance. This was mine. Again, if you’re in Two-Brain, you have access to this spreadsheet. You have access to every link—you can copy and paste. What I recommend is if you’re in Two-Brain and you’re working with Kilo, set up your client journey using this template. Change anything you wanna change, and then move that all over to Kilo so that as much of it as possible is automated.

Chris Cooper (24:06):
I still prefer to have a human doing the CSM reach outs and stuff, but you can automate some of the texts that are the same. You know, for example, at a certain date they’ve done their second workout, send them this video. You can automate that if you want to do it manually a couple of times first. Really get it dialed in, make sure you love it, make sure that the clients love it, and then automate it if possible. I’m Chris Cooper. This is “Run a Profitable Gym.” And if this helps you, go to, join our free Facebook group, and you can talk more about retention, ask questions there.

Thanks for listening!

Thanks for listening! Run a Profitable Gym airs twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays. Be sure to subscribe for tips, tactics and insight from Chris Coooper, as well as interviews with the world’s top gym owners.

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help, and we read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes.

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.