In 2007, I faced what many would call a “good problem”: my gym was full.
I owned a Personal Training facility, and we simply couldn’t take any more clients.
We had people training in stairwells. At peak times, with 5 trainers and 5 clients in 4 PT rooms, we had huge lunge-a-thons up and down the hallway. At that point, we started to consider group training. Because we HAD to.
The same thing happened to Greg Glassman, remember? He started pairing people up because his book was full. Then he put them in small groups.
When I moved from 1:1 to small-group training, my revenue per hour went up. The value of my time increased.
So far, so good.
If you want to level up your personal income, fill yourself with 1:1 clients first. Make a living. Then add 2:1 training, and then small groups. Jump to group training ONLY when your client base is secure.
Here’s how I screwed it all up in 2008:
I opened a second gym. Instead of starting with high-value use of my time, I sold Open Gym memberships to people who really needed coaching instead. I started working 16-hour days for a couple of bucks per hour. My landlord made more money. I didn’t. The value of my time decreased. In fact, it bottomed out: I probably could have made more at a call center. I just kept working MORE until I couldn’t.
And here’s how I started to fix things again:
When we ditched Open Gym and regained our footing as a coaching business, the value of my time went back up. But I was still working a 16-hour day. And it was full: coaching, cleaning, writing blog posts. I had to climb back out of the hole. I was trying to do everything, but I simply couldn’t fit everything in.
So I replaced myself in the cheapest possible role (cleaner, back then.) I used the time to increase my membership. The value for my time went up.
Then I replaced myself in some of the class times. The value for my time went up, because I used the time to build a retention strategy.
Then I replaced myself as Personal Trainer. I slept in until 5am (oh, the luxury!) and came home in time to tuck my kids into bed…
…eventually, I became a true owner, and spent my time doing things to make my business profitable. And working out. I now work ON my business instead of IN my business. I help others do the same.
To increase your earnings level in the service business, you have to take this approach:
1. Start with the smallest sustainable iteration of your service. In fitness, that’s often Personal Training.
2. Fill your time.
3. Replace yourself in that role.
4. Broaden your audience to serve more people in the same time.
5. Fill your time.
6. Replace yourself in that role.
7. Broaden your audience to serve more people in the same time.
Don’t start with the broadest possible audience and try to filter everyone into the broadest possible service offering. In other words, don’t start with a 10,000 square foot facility, a $100,000 loan and no clients. Without the core from which to grow, you’ll implode.
Here’s a fantastic story of others who have done it both ways.
An update: Aaron has quit his full-time job. They’ve doubled their revenues–again–since this interview. I’m so proud of them!
If you’re saying, “Whoooooops…..” right now, it’s not too late. Book a free call to start building your core here.