Mateo: 00:00 – Hey, it’s Mateo Lopez of Two-Brain Marketing. On this edition of the Two-Brain Marketing podcast, I’m talking with Mauricio from CrossFit Cypher. You’ll hear about his experience operating a CrossFit gym in the Bay Area. You’ll also learn about his approach to sales, how he uses the Help First approach and how month after month he spends $1,000 on ads and generates over $4,000 in front-end sales. So you don’t want to miss this. Make sure to subscribe Two-Brain Radio for more marketing tips and secrets each week.
Greg: 00:33 – Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Two-Brain Business. We make gyms profitable. We’re going to bring you the very best tips, tactics, interviews in the business world each week. To find out how we can help you create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at twobrainbusiness.com
Chris: 00:52 – Hey guys, it’s Chris Cooper here. If you are headed to the CrossFit Games, I would like to buy you breakfast. So here’s what we’re doing. Together with Healthy Steps Nutrition, we have rented out the banquet facilities at the Sheraton across the road from the CrossFit Games and we’re taking about 250 people a day. You can come in and have breakfast with us. We’ll be talking a little bit about business, but the most important thing that always happens at these breakfasts, aside from the bacon and coffee, is the conversations. We have limited seating that’s gonna fill up, you can fill in the form in our show notes and make sure that you reserve yourself a spot. We’re going to do it at 7:30 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday of the CrossFit Games. We will see you in Madison.
Mateo: 01:34 – Hello and welcome to the Two-Brain Marketing podcast, I’m your host Mateo Lopez. I’m one of the digital marketing mentors at Two-Brain Business. Thanks for joining us. This is your weekly dose—this is your weekly dose of digital marketing magic. Every week we’ll go over marketing campaign strategies, useful tips and updates to keep you in the loop on the ever-changing landscape of advertising on the internet for your business. In today’s episode, we got a special guest, Mauricio Leal, owner of CrossFit Cypher. What’s up man? You’re gonna learn about his experience and how he and his business partner Leslie are able to spend month after month a thousand dollars on ads and generate $4,000 on front-end sales. So about a 4x return on that investment. So we’re gonna learn all about that. So Mauricio, how are you?
Mauricio: 02:20 – I’m doing great, Mateo. How are you, man?
Mateo: 02:23 – I’m good. I’m good. We were just chatting before here, so maybe you can fill people in, tell us a little bit about you, where you’re from, your business and particularly the origin of your business’ name. I just thought that was really cool.
Mauricio: 02:34 – For sure, man. So I’m Mauricio Leal, I’m originally from Oakland, California. We live in Berkeley right now with my wife Sarah and our old precious doggie, Nova. Our gym is in Richmond, which is about 15 minutes north. And we are CrossFit Cypher, co-own it with my business partner and friend Leslie, and yeah, the Cypher is kind of homage b-boying and b-girling and hip-hop culture that I was a part of through my twenties coming up in college and basically just falling in love with the dance, and it’s kind of a great translation I think because the dance circle is all about putting yourself out there and kind of getting comfortable being uncomfortable at first. And it’s like that in CrossFit too. And so I kind of saw that right away when I started CrossFit, like, oh, this is like very similar in that people are like throwing themselves out there and on the line and it’s difficult do that. And I really appreciated that. I really wanted to make that an essential theme to our business. The vulnerability.
Mateo: 03:41 – Yeah. I mean, and there’s so much crossover, right? It sounds like the community aspect that you’re touching on definitely there’s crossover there, the physicality of it for sure. You need core strength for both. Body weight. Gymnastics if you’re going into the advanced stages of b-boying and b-girling. So how did you get into CrossFit?
Mauricio: 04:02 – It’s kind of a long story, but basically I studied in school for engineering, did my masters in aeronautical and mechanical, and at the same time moonlighting basically as a b-boy, had this sense of like being in two worlds.
Mateo: 04:20 – Were you in a crew? Did you guys like battle?
Mauricio: 04:24 – A little bit. Like it was mostly through school and so we were all still mostly in school at UC Davis and we did do some battles and things.
Mateo: 04:31 – Oh, you went to Davis. That’s awesome.
Mauricio: 04:32 – Yeah. But it definitely was like, not the main thing in my life, but it became really like an obsession basically on the side. I finished school and then had this like job lined up as a result of a working with my advisor at the time and basically got into the office environment and was like, oh, this is my life now. I’m here 10, 12 hours a day writing code for wind turbines. And kind of had a come-to-Jesus moment when my girlfriend broke up with me and I was living in Sacramento with my dog who needed knee surgery. And I was like, ugh, this is not what I want for my life. Like I had all this passion for dance but couldn’t see how it would translate into making a living. But I realized that I needed to get out of riding a desk basically. And quickly after a year I was like, this is great, but I need to do something else guys. Everyone was very sympathetic but basically started from scratch again, moved back home to Oakland with my folks and was like, I need to do something where I’m actually on the ground helping people and I want to do something like teaching related and physically active because that seems to be like what I naturally gravitated towards and had kind of like pushed aside for a long time. And basically at the time, it was the end of 2008, and the financial crash hit, and so I applied at Gold’s Gym and Club One I think. Even 24-Hour Fitness, my God. And I interviewed well but they just weren’t hiring and so that actually pushed me to start my own business at the time, a pre-CrossFit basically. And I was like, all right, let’s do this. I got nothing to lose. And surprisingly it kind of worked, like I went to farmers markets and just put myself out there basically. And a few people had me come over to their house and train them in their houses and it all kind of took off from there. And long story short, we ended up forming a boot camp with another guy who did like self-CrossFit, that quickly grew and then it wasn’t very organized so we had to kind of part ways and then I decided to look for a space. Richmond was available and that’s when we formed CrossFit Cypher in 2012 as like another, a rebooting basically of this whole venture and been growing ever since.
Mateo: 06:51 – That’s amazing. That’s an awesome story.
Mauricio: 06:55 – Kind of a long story, but—
Mateo: 06:55 – No, that’s a great story and I think that’s what’s really cool. I mean, Chris has said this before, Chris Cooper said this before, the gift that Glassman kind of gave everyone was this kind of option, this path for entrepreneurship and for people like you and me who went to school and thought you were going to do life a certain way and then you were like, no, I don’t want to do this.
Mauricio: 07:22 – I thought I was going to be an astronaut, man.
Mateo: 07:23 – I don’t want to do this. I want to be in front of people and help people and I want to teach and make an impact. And I think that’s what’s great about that. One of the great things about the affiliate model for sure.
Mauricio: 07:38 – Yes. Very empowering.
Mateo: 07:40 – Yeah, exactly. So how long has your gym been open then?
Mauricio: 07:44 – So officially as CrossFit Cypher since 2012. So were seven going on eight years now in Richmond. We recently moved actually to a bigger spot just around the corner from where we were previously. And y
eah, it’s go time. We’re focused on growth, which is part of why we’re really all about this Two-Brain Marketing.
Mateo: 08:02 – Eight years. Congratulations. That’s a feat in and of itself, man.
Mauricio: 08:05 – Thank you. Thank you.
Mateo: 08:07 – Just surviving that long, that’s great.
Mauricio: 08:09 – It’s been a life journey for sure.
Mateo: 08:12 – And so how long have you been with Two-Brain?
Mauricio: 08:15 – Since the beginning. I was actually thinking back on this, I think it was end of, or latter part of 2016 when the 3, 2, 1, Go transition happened and it was like our second or third call and I remember getting a message from Chris and I was like, oh no, he’s calling it quits. So I was about to call it quit, suicide, I understand. But then he quickly clarified that he was just starting his own thing and I pretty much like found Chris through his “don’t buy ads” blog at the time, his one over 30 blog really spoke to me. And so there wasn’t any doubt we were going with them and it was the best decision.
Mateo: 08:50 – What motivated you to seek out, like mentorship help or business advice in the first place?
Mauricio: 08:56 – Well, I guess you could call it desperation in the basic sense. Like we were at a point, I was at a crossroads where I was like, I can’t keep going like this. There was like so little money in the bank and month over month it was stagnant. We actually started like a year before with the Biz, Raise Your Game, John Birch, I think. And were just like really thrown off. It wasn’t what we expected, underwhelmed, honestly. And it was very like music videos and panache and personality, but not a lot of substance. And I was like, is this what mentorship is in CrossFit in 2016? And then Chris was just like so different. He was basically kind of nerdy and I was like, oh, this is the real deal. This is what we actually need. And so that’s how we came around to that.
Mateo: 09:50 – Got It. So, not enough money in the bank. Was it just you or did you have other coaches or were you coaching most of the classes, what else?
Mauricio: 09:59 – It was me plus I think one other coach at the time or one or two other coaches at the time. Around the same time, my business partner Leslie, or just before that, actually the year before this, my partner Leslie came on board because she was doing—she has a similar story of working, she worked for UC Berkeley in fundraising for athletics, but kind of had a dispassionate relationship with that and was looking for something else at the time. She’s actually more like qualified. She studied kinesiology and was an NCAA athlete herself. And we really realized that we stood the best chance like doing it together. And at the time we just had a couple part-time coaches, one of them ended up opening his own affiliate and yeah, it was just like we’d been in it for a few years at that point. And some things had gone right but there was just too much like ebb and flow and not a lot of stable growth and I was still doing everything all the time. And it seemed that it really wasn’t sustainable. Like we were coming to a turning point where I was like, I don’t know how this can keep going like this. Like something has to change. I don’t think we’re going to figure it out ourselves just by thinking about it. So some sort of outside expertise is needed. And the way like the way Chris did it is like kind of brilliant. Like I was very apprehensive of being like he’s going to tell us to like do all these things like that I really don’t want to do right away and then that’s going to be hard. But he actually just had us go through the staff handbook. You know, it was like the first exercise and like writing down SOPs, as much as it is kind of drudgery, there isn’t a lot of like emotional resistance to it cause it’s just like this like boring kind of task and that you don’t really see the value in until later on. But there isn’t this like threat level of like, oh this is against my values or something. It’s just like a thing that gets you started that’s going to give you some momentum to then do maybe some more challenging things like raising prices and all that kind of stuff.
Mateo: 12:00 – Yeah, I definitely found like the SOP stuff and the handbook—it’s one of those things where you’re not going to see changes or the value in the short term, but it’s one of those things in the long run that’s going to pay dividends. And make a much meaningful impact, you know, in the long run. For sure. So OK, so that was the first thing. What else did you start to work on through this mentorship process and where you saw changes in your business, kind of turning around for the better.
Mauricio: 12:31 – Definitely getting everybody off all these different discounted rates was the big like lift that happened after we had started with him for a few months and you know, there’s a lot of emotion behind that and people struggle with it. In retrospect, I’m like, that was the best decision ever.
Mateo: 12:49 – Do you have any advice for people struggling with that and who still have, you know, people paying $50 a month who joined three years ago and they need to change that otherwise their business is gonna go under?
Mauricio: 13:00 – I think that’s tough because when you’re in it, it seems like this whole like special thing that’s an intractable problem. But I would say just seek out other people in the group, stories of how they dealt with it. Because I think there’s that really reassurance and seeing that the model has worked in lots of different places and hearing how like people, it was still tough for them, but they were able to navigate it and come out better on the other side. I think, you know, the story really resonates more than like the data and that’s what’s going to give you the confidence to push yourself through that process.
Mateo: 13:35 – Yeah, I like that. It’s like not one script is gonna make this any less painful when you send the email out. You kinda just really need the—yes, there is a good way to say it, but I think it’s just having the confidence, but hearing the stories of other people being like, yeah, we did it, it’s possible. I think that’s valuable for sure.
Mauricio: 13:57 – Yeah. And just the solidarity like of the group and the tribe. Like so many of these things like you’re perfectly capable of doing on your own, but it’s a lot easier when you know like you’re in this group and people are doing it and struggling with you and coming out better for it.
Mateo: 14:14 – Awesome. Well, OK, so you made a staff handbook, you were able to raise rates, you know, what else? Did you see any changes in the way you offered your services or how you sold? What is it that you sell and how do you sell it?
Mauricio: 14:25 – Yeah, well I mean there’s like a whole—like two years or three years ago it was when we started, it feels like 10 years, man. Like so much has changed in that time, so much has happened in business. Basically Chris really helped us right away with restructuring how we brought clients on board. He actually helped us get in with a school program at the time where we were basically running the PE program for a local charter school, which was a good chunk of change to help us stabilize, but it was also like running two gyms and not having control over the administration of it. So that worked for a while. But then just long term, just helping us tighten up our mentorship process for our coaches, getting better systems in place for on-ramp and goal reviews, actually I remember I was really resistant to that at first because that seemed like such a time suck. Like how am I going to meet with all these people all the time? And then it ended up being the best thing ever basically for maintaining those relationships and making sure people were tended to. It’s a joy. You know, the joy role has really helped transform our business in terms of retention and making sure we know what’s happening with people before they, you know, make a decision to continue or not. And yeah, it’s just the li
ttle things that add up over time. When Chris started like putting things out about Facebook ads, I was like, OK, let’s do this. And just quickly learned a lot about that even before Two-Brain Marketing and became an official thing. And have just slowly but surely tidied up all of our processes and that’s the secret, I guess, if there is one. It’s like there is no one thing, it’s just the accumulation of all these different systems and SOPs and plans that make a really successful business and we’re feeling that right now, like more than ever. It’s like we’re at about a hundred members. We need to get to about 130 to 150, and there’s not going to be like a turning point. It’s going to be meeting with one person, a meeting with one person and signing up one more person and that’s the process. And then suddenly you’re like, oh, we’re there. But it’s not like there was ever a line we crossed.
Mateo: 16:31 – Yeah, I love that. You know, it’s the journey. It’s a process and yeah, it’s all these things coming together that you finally will be able to see. In the long run though, your business will be—that’s how you build an enduring business, right? It’s these little steps that come together over a long period of time. This consistent work in tightening up the processes and making sure service is consistent, delivering great results, all that stuff.
Mauricio: 16:56 – Yeah. Yeah.
Mateo: 16:58 – And I liked what you were talking about in terms of the kind of ethos of the name and the brand. So in your words, what is it that you sell and how do you sell it?
Mauricio: 17:11 – I had to think a lot about this, just kind of what it means to me versus I know there’s like good answers for business. But I would say like my own experience is it is true that I’ve had kind of a transformative experience discovering, you know, CrossFit myself and really making my life largely about it. And I think that’s true for the average clients, too, just in a different way. But I’m more so of a features guy. Like CrossFit kinda sold itself to me once I tested it out and did it like on my own in the garage. But most clients I think, need more of a dialogue and a compelling narrative. So I think the journey really starts and is constantly being renewed with active listening, like really listening and hearing people, not just going through the motions. I think people will pay and continue to pay for that part of the service maybe more than anything because there’s so much like automation and apps now that catered to the notion that you’re being tended to, but it’s really just automated. And so we live in a very diverse city and part of the world, about a quarter of my intros now are like with native Spanish-speaking people, which is kind of a new thing that I’m having to adapt to. And so I think people really pay attention now more than ever to see if you’re actually engaged with them and giving them advice based on what they’re telling you. So it’s not just a canned response. So basically an attentive coaching and/or mentoring experience is what I think we’re trying to sell on the front end, and in the bigger picture, getting them to see that it’s part of this process or hero’s journey where they’re going through this growth and transformation where they come out better on the other side. That’s what we’re really like working on now of telling that story and then helping the client see that story and there’s like this ongoing value of them seeing that.
Mateo: 19:00 – Wow, I love that. And yeah, it’s like you’re doing that in that first meeting and really just helping first and listening, asking, you know, what can we help you with and how you can put them in that kind of position, that role, right? That hero’s journey. And then with the goal reviews, you know, you’re reinforcing that and keeping that dialogue open is really what you’re saying.
Mauricio: 19:21 – Yeah. And like now I do more preparation for goal reviews than I ever have. I’m like, oh, where did they start? What did they say their goal was at the No-Sweat Intro. And then what did we talk about at our last goal review and what did we set as our action steps? And when you like when you refer back to that stuff with people, they’re like, oh, he’s remembering stuff from months ago. Like he’s actually paying attention to my story. Not just like you can be present with them right now, yes, but that you actually see their whole context is like, oh, this person is really listening and paying attention. That’s someone I want to lead me.
Mateo: 19:56 – That’s awesome. So yeah, talk to me a little bit more about that too in the context of the paid ads. Because right now you have a system where you put a dollar in and pretty much $4 comes out, which is awesome. So a lead comes in through one of the paid ads. What happens?
Mauricio: 20:12 – Yeah. So we’ve pretty much adopted to the letter what you guys have set as the standard, which has been so helpful by the way, because it’s so difficult to figure out what’s enough and what’s gonna work when you’re guessing. So basically it’s taken a lot of the guesswork out. But basically, they an ad, a piece of creative, they go through the click funnel, that click funnel connects to UpLaunch, where they can either self-book themselves for a No-Sweat Intro or start a conversation with us via text message or even get on the phone sometimes. If they book, we reach out to them and I try to basically just ask them a few questions just to get them talking and see how engaged they are with the conversation and whether they’re like really interested in actually coming in and looking for some help with it, or just kind of like doing preliminary research. And so just building rapport in that early part of the process and a little bit of a filter too. Like, I want to make sure this person wants to come in and invest versus just like, again, just kind of feeling things out.
Mateo: 21:18 – Yeah. Tell me about that. What are your like prequalifying questions and how do you build a rapport?
Mauricio: 21:23 – Yeah, so if we’re doing it via UpLaunch, then it is, at this point, still just text-based. I basically just ask them—well the thing already prompts them, right? It says like, what are your goals? Tell me a little bit about yourself. And basically I just say like, oh, those are whatever their goals are, are good goals. And I ask them what are some things they tried to work on those themselves and what are some successes they had? Why do they think it worked? Basically just like one thing after another until I feel like they’ve told me as much as they can about their story and sometimes they’ll go off on tangents and that’s fine and they want to get into like what it is about our gym that’s different and we can get into that. And really just again, just active listening actually like responding to them in a way that indicates that I’m a real person. Like I’ve had people like reply back and give me like a math problem to solve to prove that I’m not a bot. I’m like, oh my God. Like even if I’m writing like off the cuff responses, they still think it’s an automated message sometimes. And so just being able to convey that sense of authenticity by responding with like a meaningful message that’s not a canned response. That’s basically how we build a rapport.
Mateo: 22:36 – That’s awesome. I mean that’s crazy that that happens. I like how you are taking the time to, you know, have that honest conversation with them even if it is via text. Yeah. All right, so someone books an appointment, sounds like you’re confirming that with them. And then what happens; they show up, what happens?
Mauricio: 22:58 – It’s kind of just like the goal reviews; I try to be like super dialed in as far as preparation, pulling up their info, having everything ready to go. And, if I’m really on top of it, I’ll be like an hour out and then I’ll message them again and be like, oh, hey, I’m available a little earlier than I thought. If you want to come in right now, just to give them that other check-in point, to make sure they haven’t forgotten abou
t it. And then when they show up, like I’m at the front door waiting for them, you know, smiling and waving, welcoming them in, give them a tour of the space and talk a little bit about like, hey, like have you been in a CrossFit gym before? This is probably a little different than if you’re at 24-Hour Fitness and we’re going to actually coach you through everything and lead you through this whole process. You’re never going to work out on your own and you’re always going to be in a supportive environment with your group and with your coaches. And we’re going to take care of all the details for you so you can just show up, basically. And then we go into the office space. Basically I have a cup of water sitting on the desk for them and make sure they’re comfortable. We sit down. Sometimes I’ll like introduce them to one of our members who’s there or another coach, just to kind of show that there’s these other people that are like enjoying the experience there. So kind of really trying to convey the sense of totality. It’s more than just like an intro with a bunch of questions and then we usually start with how did you find us and tell us a little bit about yourself that’s not even like gym-related. It’s like where did you grow up? Oh you weren’t born here. How did you come to live in this area? Like do you have any kids, you have any pets? What do you do for work? Just trying to really get the whole person picture before you get into like OK and now what can we actually help you with? And then basically we follow the process from there. There’s like 15 questions or something that are good and try to get like stuff about, oh are you the only person this is for? Is your wife involved in this decision? That kind of stuff. And then just really like getting to understand their goals and their pain points. Like why has this been a struggle for them and why is this such a meaningful thing for them right now? And that really helps us get a better understanding of where they’re coming from and kind of able to better explain to them how this process is going to help them based on what their struggles have been and what their goals are now. And that really helps support at the closing time too when we’re trying to get them over that line where they’re like, oh, you know, I want to think about this some more. I’m like, well we’ve already gone over how this is like such a big, important thing for you and how you’ve tried all this stuff and it hasn’t worked. And you know, I’ve really found solace from like that process and it doesn’t always work, but it’s a good enough plan that when it does work you’re like, ah, yes. Like that connection, that emotional connection was what turned their maybe into a yes and basically got them out of their own way.
Mateo: 25:48 – Yeah. All that, I completely agree with. The first bit that I really loved was just, those are some different rapport-building and ice-breaking questions that—I have never heard some of those before. I liked that kind of just, yeah. Not even make it fitness related. Just, you know, did you grow up around here? You live around here, you know? Oh, well you walk your dog around—that’s great. I think that’s awesome for breaking the ice and just starting that conversation. Yeah.
Mauricio: 26:16 – And shout-out to Josh Price, who, I was like, how are you getting this done in 30 minutes? He’s like, oh no, I just use like an hour. I just talk to them until there’s nothing else to talk about and they sign up.
Mateo: 26:26 – Yeah. I mean, it’s takes longer, but I think you’re right. You need that time to develop that relationship and get people to know, like and trust you. That’s the only way they’re going to buy from you. And I also think, yeah, the other thing you said is you have to establish that emotional tie, that emotional motivator and tie that back to the goal and the objective measurement, that’s the only way you’re really going to be able to overcome the objections when the objections do show up at the end, the only where you’re gonna overcome those maybes is if you can tie it back to that emotional connection.
Mauricio: 27:04 – Yeah, for sure. And again, it doesn’t work all the time.
Mateo: 27:06 – Yeah, of course. You’re still going get the people who are just not going to buy flat out, no matter what you say. But that’s definitely key. Awesome man. Well that’s great. And so it sounds like you guys have really seen a lot of growth in just terms of how you operate. The business sounds like just over eight years, this business has matured into something where you know, you really feel in the pocket now and now you have the freedom too, to focus and turn your attention towards you know, growth a little bit more aggressively to hit that 130-member mark. What do you think has been the key to success so far?
Mauricio: 27:47 – Oh man. I was thinking a lot about this. Obviously, like Chris was a person who was there right at the moment when things could have gone south one way or the other. So I can’t thank him enough. The world needs more people that are as daring and as caring as he is. The whole Two-Brain group and system has been integral. Shout-out to my friend Rebecca Boskovic doing her thing, taking chance starting anew in Georgia. In retrospect, like starting a CrossFit gym in general, especially like on my own was such an isolating experience. Like you’re out on an island all day long, being friendly with people, but not even really having time for many real friends. So the whole Two-Brain group, just getting to talk to them and sometimes being, you know, in person with them and actually being able to relate to it has like brought me back from the wilderness into a sort of sense of tribe again. Really what I loved about CrossFit in the first place, but then was kind of like, oh, like I actually don’t get to have this in like the raw sense in the gym every day because I’m in this leadership role. But by being part of another group of affiliate owners and having that going on at the same time, like now I’m back into feeling a part of something and not just like doing everything on my own. And that’s been really powerful. I would also like to thank my business partner, Leslie, because, again, she was there before Two-Brain was this thing where I felt a part of and she was someone who understood it and what I was going through, what we were going through, when basically no one else knew what we were going through.
Mateo: 29:27 – Yeah. Man, I mean, entrepreneurship, it’s a lonely road and you know, especially in the Founder Phase and that’s why, you know, I think that’s what’s so valuable about the group is yeah, exactly what you said. You have this tribe and this support network of people who understand what you’re going through and can help you through those tough times. Well, awesome man, this has been great. Thanks so much for jumping on. If people want to talk to you more, where can they find you?
Mauricio: 29:56 – Oh, well you can always just shoot me a message on the group, firstname.lastname@example.org, send me a message. I’d be happy to set up a call with you. Like I said, I’ve become good friends with Rebecca and we do video chats from time to time just to check in. And that really helps, honestly. It helps me hear other people’s stories and struggles and I hope I can do the same for some of you guys.
Mateo: 30:19 – Awesome, man. Thanks for hopping on.
Mauricio: 30:21 – Thanks so much, Mateo, have a great one.
Greg: 30:27 – Thank you for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Make sure to subscribe to receive the most up-to-date episodes wherever you get your podcasts from. To find out how we can help create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at twobrainbusiness.com.