Where to Find Gym Staff During a Labor Shortage

Where to Find Gym Staff During a Labor Shortage

Chris Cooper (00:02):

The job market is nuts. Where do you find more coaches? I’m Chris Cooper. I’m the founder of Two-Brain Business. I’ve been through this a few times in my 22 years as a gym owner. And today I’m gonna share with you our step-by-step strategy for finding more coaches for your gym and getting some help. If this episode is helpful, please just take one minute, less than a minute, to go on your podcast platform and hit subscribe. We use that as a flag to tell us which episodes help you the most. And we’ve been producing free content every day for 10 years. Now, I wanna make sure that we’re producing the best possible stuff. So please just hit pause, go hit subscribe and let us know with your listening vote what you want to hear more of. So we’re in a classic pickle that happens every few years, and that is it becomes hard to find coaches today.

Chris Cooper (00:52):

I’m gonna tell you four steps to getting more coaches that might open your eyes to some new opportunities. But before we do that, there’s kind of like a step zero here. Most of us who are really good practitioners and very passionate about what we do in our business think that we need to replace ourselves. We think that, “Okay, my business is growing. I’m getting more clients. I’m running outta time. I can’t do all this stuff. I need to hire a new coach.” Before you hire a new coach, replace yourself in all of the other roles first, especially the non-client-facing ones. So if you’re exhausted because you’re coaching all day and then mopping the floor at night, hire a cleaner first. This will cost you less money, very little training time, and it will free up like an hour of your time. We teach this as a strategy called the Value Ladder in Two-Brain.

Chris Cooper (01:44):

And basically what you wanna do is replace yourself in all non-client-facing roles first. So you hire your cleaner, you hire your admin. Then you replace yourself in client-facing roles that are less valuable or less hard to acquire than a coach. So you might hire a CSM. Then you replace yourself in some coaching roles that are easier to replace yourself in. Like a group-coaching role is easier to replace yourself in than a personal-training role. Then you replace yourself as a personal trainer. So before you dig into finding a new coach, start working up the Value Ladder. Like, what else are you doing with your time where you could be replacing yourself either with, you know, somebody who’s paid less, maybe a virtual assistant, or somebody in your gym? Who’s good at that one particular task? The CSM role is a great example.

Chris Cooper (02:34):

Very leverageable. This will improve your length of engagement. This is the person that calls your members; keeps them engaged; says “where you been?” and “happy birthday” and “hey, your credit card failed.” It’s about a five-hour-a-week role. It’s usually less than $20 an hour. It’s critical work that will pay for itself many times over that you’re probably not doing because you don’t have time. The goal here is not just to create jobs for more people. The goal here is to keep you focused on the work that brings you the highest value. Now, when you’ve replaced yourself in those roles and it’s time to actually hire a coach, there are four places we look. The first place is within our own clients. This might sound easy and obvious, but here’s how we do it. Every year we run something called the “advanced theory course.” It’s free to our clients.

Chris Cooper (03:23):

We usually take about five of them. And our goal is to show them what life is like on the other side of the clipboard. It’s to show them what programming means, how we get our programming, what it’s like to stand up in front of people and coach. We do a little bit of public speaking. We give them a book to read and do a little report on. And what we’re hoping to do is just build brand affinity. We want them to say “wow, there’s a lot that goes into coaching” and appreciate the service more. But as a bonus, I’m also looking for my next coaches. So we make it clear to them this is not the pathway to a job necessarily. It’s not like a course that you can take if you wanna be a coach. Instead, what will happen is at the end of it, if we get somebody who can show up on time, who gets really excited when they’re talking about it, who can speak in front of other people and project energy, even if they’re not like super great at coaching the thruster or whatever, I say, “I’ve got the raw material.” Then I’ll approach them and say, “Hey, have you ever thought about actually coaching people?” And from there I can put them through the rest of our training courses. I can sign them up for The Refined Art of Coaching courses. I can sign them up for their CrossFit Level 1 or their first level yoga instructor course or whatever my method is. I can go get them certified in that method. If I want them to start as a personal trainer, I can get them certified to be a personal trainer, start them one on one, and then teach them how to coach one to many.

Chris Cooper (04:55):

That’s Step 1. Step 2: What if I don’t have any clients who I think would be a good coach? And again, the qualifier for a good coach here is just personality. You hire for personality and you train for skill. Don’t ask yourself “who is the best mover? Who is the best demonstrator? Who is my top athlete?” That’s the wrong way to approach this. You should be asking yourself, “Who is the happiest, smiliest person in my gym? Who is the one who knows everybody else’s name and greets them at the start of class. Who is the first person to high-five everybody after the workout?” You can train them for everything else they need to know, but you can’t train personality. Okay. So Step 1: hire from within. Step 2 is find another trainer who’s working nearby who wants a better opportunity. So, for example, let’s say that you’ve got a personal-training client.

Chris Cooper (05:47):

And for the last three years, she did personal training with another trainer, but she moved. Now she’s closer to your gym. You can ask your best clients “have you ever worked with another trainer that you really liked?” And then you can go out to that trainer and say, “Hey, look, I think your talents are maybe being wasted at this globo gym. Or maybe they’re not providing you the opportunity that you deserve. I think I can do better.” And then you can start a conversation with them. If your clients have never trained with anybody else that they liked, have never heard a good thing from their friends about anybody else that they liked, here’s what you can do. You can go to a globo gym and you can say, “Who is your top trainer?” And then you can buy a session with that trainer and see if you like them.

Chris Cooper (06:30):

And if you do at the end of the session, then you can approach them about maybe giving them a better opportunity. And it should only take one session to know, like, do they have a sparkling professional, energetic way about them? If they do, don’t worry if they’ve never done CrossFit or strength and conditioning before. Again, you hire for personality and you train for skill. You’re not poaching this person from the globo gym. I promise you the globo gym has other trainers. I promise you that this coach is not getting the opportunity at that globo gym that you can give them by teaching them entrepreneurialism. Okay. So what you’re actually doing is you’re ascending somebody who’s passionate about fitness, who wants to make it their career but will probably phase out of the industry in less than two years—because that’s like the globo gym average.

Chris Cooper (07:21):

Okay. So Step 2 is recruit the best in town. Step 3: If that doesn’t work, find the future best at a university or a college with a fitness program, a kin program, a kinesiology program, a chiropractic intro program, even a health program or a teacher program. You go to that college and you say, “Hey, it’s Chris from Catalyst Gym here. I always love talking to graduates of your program. Do you have anybody right now who’s like a real standout that I should be talking to?” And one of the best examples of this in my own gym was we were talking to a local community college. They had this fitness and health program and their instructor said, “Yeah, I’ve got a few, but honestly, I’m not really sure what you’re looking for. Why don’t we bring my entire class over to your gym? You can guide them through a workout, do whatever you want. And then, you know, just see who stands out to you. And we’ll just start a conversation between you and them?” Community colleges especially are amazing at this because a lot of them make their money by promoting placement. So they can advertise like “95 percent of our graduates are placed as soon as they’re done their diploma” or their degree or whatever. And so if they’ve got an employer or potential employer coming up to them, that’s a huge win. Like that’s one job less that they have to find in the future. So if you approach these colleges, you form a relationship. You say, “Hey, look, we’re looking at making opportunities available. We’d love to bring your students in.” That’s one last session the teacher has to teach. You can cherry-pick from there.

Chris Cooper (09:01):

Now you’re getting raw materials here, right? Like this is not a refined end product that you’re getting. But again, you’re just looking for personalities, and you can train for skill later. And we’ve had a number of local college grads come through the door at Catalyst and work for three to four years and then either go on to a higher-level program at university or just stay with us. Or, you know, sometimes they decide they’re gonna do a different career. Some have gone on to open their own gyms, too, which is awesome. It’s great. But whatever happens, like they could not have furthered their fitness career if we hadn’t found them, pulled them out of the masses and taught them what to do. So third option is find the future best candidate. The fourth option is to advertise. And in this case, we usually use a service like Indeed.

Chris Cooper (09:48):

And we give you example job descriptions and ad templates and everything in our Growth Phase of our mentorship program. You could just copy-paste. We know that they’ve worked. In these ads, what you basically wanna do is talk about the opportunity. You don’t wanna say “we’re looking for a personal trainer.” Instead, what you would wanna say is “we are looking for fitness professionals who want to grow a meaningful, high-earning career.” You don’t talk about the wages. You talk about the opportunity. You say “our coaches, on average, earn 20 percent more than coaches at other gyms” or “our personal trainers earn 50 percent more than the industry average.” Okay? Then you give them a very specific application requirement. If you don’t wanna see a resume, who cares? What you wanna see is video. Again, for the fourth time now, you’re measuring personality.

Chris Cooper (10:41):

You also wanna know “is this person going to be able to promote themselves a little bit as we’re trying to get them clients faster? Are they familiar with social media? Do they know how to build an audience?” And so you say something like, “Apply in a video lasting two minutes or less and talk about your passion for fitness and why you wanna work at this company. Send your video to blank.” If they can’t figure out how to record a video and send it to you, you’re gonna have a much slower time building up their clientele. Anyway, anybody under 25 should just automatically know how to do all this stuff. So the reason that you do this is you wanna see them. You wanna see their personality, but you wanna know that they can do content creation or media or whatever. Okay? So the four stages—I’ll start from stage zero. Hire lower-value roles than your coaches.

Chris Cooper (11:32):

First, fill that up while you’re trying to fill up your coaching roles. Your first tier: Hire from within. Hire for personality, train for skill. Second tier: find the best in town. Third tier: Find the future best. Fourth tier: Advertise. Look, if you’re in a high-turnover market, you’re in Manhattan, you’re eventually going to have to run ads. And just like you’re running ads for clients, you might have to run ads all the time for coaches, but in most places you don’t need a big coach-acquisition strategy. You won’t always be hiring. You should always have feelers out there. You should always be looking for more opportunities. If you have an entrepreneurial approach to hiring staff, hiring more staff is great because it grows the pie for everybody. But in most cases you don’t hire until you absolutely need someone. And that’s another reason why we start within. Before we go to ads, we wanna take the shortest path to the best possible staff, and then train that person to get better and better and better over time. Hope this helps. Those are the four stages that we teach. If you need specifics, like job descriptions, roles and tasks, templates, checklists, training guides, staff evaluations, contracts, we have all of that in our mentorship program. Hope it helps.

Mike Warkentin (12:48):

Thanks for listening to Two-Brain Radio, please subscribe for more episodes. Now, Coop’s back with a final message.

Chris Cooper (12:54):

We created the Gym Owner’s United Facebook group in 2020 to help entrepreneurs just like you. Now, it has more than 5,600 members and it’s growing daily as gym owners join us for tips, tactics, and community support. If you aren’t in that group, what are you waiting for? Get in there today so we can network and grow your business. That’s Gym Owners United on Facebook or Gymownersunited.com. Join today!

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