TwoBrain Marketing Episode 8: Jenn Markwardt

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 Two Brain Marketing Episode 8: Jenn Markwardt

Today we are joined by Jenn Markwardt from CrossFit Sandpoint, in Sandpoint Idaho. Jenn started the incubator with over 100 clients already, but she and husband Kenny weren’t making enough money. They were doing all the work, and Jenn was working outside the business.

Today, Jenn and Kenny both work at CrossFit Sandpoint full time. They’ve expanded, bought out two partners, and have dialed their systems enough to open a second location. Here’s how they did it, how they get new leads, and their sales process for new clients.

Don’t Forget about the 2019 Two Brain Summit, June 8-9 in Chicago! This year we have some amazing topics and guests for both yourself and your coaches. Click hereto register and sign up now!



2:20 – Introduction to Jenn Markwardt

6:23 – Working a fulltime job while starting a gym

10:07 – What was the impetus for looking into Two Brain and starting the Incubator

12:02 – What to do when you want more out of your business?

15:07 – What is it that CrossFit Sandpoint Sells and how do you sell a new client

18:15 – The sales process and sales funnels at CrossFit Sandpoint

24:52 – The key to success in owning a gym: playing the long game


Greg:                                          00:02                       Welcome everyone to Two-Brain radio. It is our mission at Two-Brain to provide 1 million entrepreneurs the freedom to live the life that they choose. Join us every week as we discover the very best practices to achieve perfect day and move you closer to wealth.

Announcer:                            00:26                       Everybody hates their insurance company until they need their insurance company. My insurance recommendation is Vaughn Vernon of affiliate guard. Before I get into this story, I want to make it clear here that I don’t get any kickback for recommending Vaughn, but I’ve done it so many times. Whenever anybody online asks the question about insurance companies, I always say affiliate guard. Here’s why. Years ago when we affiliated with crossfit, my insurance company dumped me citing, quote unquote tractor pulls that we were going to be doing, whatever the hell that is. I’ve never pulled a tractor in my life. Um, I’ve driven lots of tractors and I can tell you, I don’t think I could pull one if I wanted it to. But that’s besides the point. At that time, the person who swooped in and saved crossfit gyms in Canada was Joanne Legal. And if you’re in Canada, I recommend talking to her period.

Announcer:                            01:16                       You don’t have to talk to her first. You don’t have to talk to her last. Just talk to her period. If you’re in the states though, I recommend affiliate guard because the program that I get through Joanne and Canada is really, really awesome and all inclusive. Joanne’s personality though is what keeps me with their company in the states. Affiliate guard is run by Vaughn Vernon, a massive personality, a crossfitter, a Jujitsu guy. He drives dirt bikes, he has good looking kids, all that stuff and his policy is the best. It’s really, really tough to tell when you’re reading your policy if the benefits are the same as someone else’s because they obscure stuff on purpose. It’s just like taxes. However, when I’m looking at my policy, I ask myself, will that guy get up in the middle of the night and help me out and this weekend was a great example of Vaughn’s personality.

Announcer:                            02:08                       One of my friends and clients down in Florida had their garage door smashed open, by a Mustang that was doing donuts in the parking lot and they texted me at 6:00 AM on a Sunday and I wanted to help so I texted Vaughn, he’s two hours behind me and he responded right away. Your insurance company is not going to do that. As I said at the start of this, everybody hates their insurance company until they need insurance and when you do need insurance, you want them to answer the damn phone on a Sunday morning and you want to talk to the head man and you just want to know everything’s going to be okay with affiliate guard. It is.

Mateo:                                      02:43                       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. Thank you for joining us and this is going to be your weekly dose of digital marketing magic where every week we’re going to go over marketing campaign strategies, useful tips, updates, keep in the loop and we’ll go over stories from some of our current clients. So you can hopefully learn from them and their experience in navigating the ever changing landscape of advertising on the Internet for Your Business. And in today’s episode we have very special guests, Jen from crossfit Sandpoint and we’re going to learn about her and her business and how she was able to really utilize some of the strategies we, we teach in the course to generate over $7,000 in front end revenue from just a little over 400 bucks in advertising spend. So hello, welcome. Thanks for jumping on. So first question for you, who are you, where you’re from, what’s your business and tell us a little bit about it.

Jen:                                             03:49                       My name is Jen and we opened the gym about seven years ago. Moved here from California. We live in northern Idaho. So almost to Canada.

Mateo:                                      04:02                       I think it’s a pretty big difference.

Jen:                                             04:04                       Uh, yeah, it was a huge difference. We went to school in southern California and then really wanted to start a gym. And doing that in Santa Barbara was just incredibly cost prohibitive. And so we’ve been coming up to northern Idaho for summers and skiing and decided that we wanted to make it our home and seven years later we never left. We love it here and we’ve got a pretty successful business. So
I run, my husband runs the programming, the operations, that side of it, and I do the marketing and business development because that’s what my background is.

Mateo:                                      04:38                       That’s awesome. Yeah. What was it? What was it like starting up the gym? It kind of sounds like you upgraded your life and moved to, I mean you had some familiarity with the area since you’ve been going there for vacations and whatnot, but you know, what was that? What was that process like?

Jen:                                             04:54                       It was crazy. We actually didn’t even think we were going to stay in this town. We just hung out at the lake. We’ll just take some time off and then we’ll figure out what our plan is going to be. We’re here. The more we just felt like this is where it’d be drawn to stay. There wasn’t a crossfit gym in town, you know, it’s a tiny town. It’s growing. But when we moved here, there were 7,000 people. So we started looking into, is there another crossfit gym? There wasn’t, but there were these two guys that had like a tiny garage space and it was basically like you press in a key code. They had some, you know, they had a small rigs and some bars, some weights and barbells. And so they were from the community and we said, hey, we’re going to start a crossfit gym and like, what’re you guys like?

Jen:                                             05:39                       We’re going to start a legit gym with coaches and all of those things. Like would you guys be interested in partnering with us? And they said yes. And you know, partnership is tricky and difficult and all those things. But um, it was great because they knew the community and the connections. And so that really helped us get our foot in the door, started a tiny little space and then we moved to a bigger space. And then that was next door. And then we took over the small space again. And, and then three years later I ended up buying them out. And now just on the business, the two of us. So

Mateo:                                      06:09                       Oh, so you moved in next door to them.

Jen:                                             06:12                       So we moved in with them. So we all started the business together and then there was an open space next door that was larger. So as we grew we took that over and moved out of the small space and then like three months later took the small space over it again.

Mateo:                                      06:25                       Wow. That’s awesome. What was it like in those early days trying to run the run the ops yourselves and trying to grow and trying to also live?

Jen:                                             06:36                       It was crazy because, so I obviously we couldn’t both with having two partners also, like it wasn’t going to be possible. So I had a full time corporate job, while Kenny was running the gym. And in those early days he did everything. I mean he was the janitor. She coached 30 classes a week. We did no personal training, no nutrition, nothing. There was nothing extra. It was just him coaching and you know, I would help, I would pop in and help as I could and the nights and the weekends and things like that. I mean we painted every wall in this place. We hung every rig, we put every piece of flooring in, you know all those, all those things. That’s the true blood, sweat and tears. Right. I mean that’s how you build something. Literally six months after we started the gym I got pregnant. So we were also raising our newborn son during all of this too, which is an adventure. But look back on that and see how far we’ve come now.

Mateo:                                      07:37                       cause there are a lot of people who are thinking about opening a business or buying out an existing business. It sounds like you kind of did a hybrid where you, you partnered up with an existing business and then, but also kind of bought them out down the line. So do you have any advice for people who are considering taking on a financial partner or maybe they’re the, they’re the money behind it and they want to take on an operating partner. You have any advice for people who are thinking about doing something like that when starting their business or or maybe even halfway through their businesses lifecycle?

Jen:                                             08:11                       First call us cause we can tell you all the things we did wrong. I don’t think we really didn’t have super clear roles and tasks. So what that meant is that they were making money and Kenny was, we were also making money but we were also doing all the work and things that got tricky where like they wanted him to clock in and out for vacation time and like all these things that you would like going in with good faith in you’re thinking that everybody has each other’s best interests at heart and who really wants to think through like what your day to day is going to look like, what everybody’s piece of that puzzle is going to be. You know, all the things that we do in Two-Brain from like a regular business perspective, you know, apply that to your partnership as well. And I would actually say if you don’t have to take money, don’t like, if you can do it on your own, do it on your own. Takes longer. That’s okay. You know, we ended up spending a lot of money to buy them out, which now it’s totally worth it. We have freedom to run our business, but if we were to look back. I would have probably said we could have probably done it on our own. It would have saved ourselves a lot of hassle and a lot of,

Mateo:                                      09:24                       yeah, I think that those are all great points. I think you take on a partner when you think it’s going to buy you a little bit of speed a little bit faster. But yeah, you definitely have to do the math because you know if you’re going to en
d up spending that money down the line anyway.

Jen:                                             09:40                       And I will say we had a particularly difficult partner, you know, so know who you’re getting into bed with and I, this sounds so pessimistic, but expect the worst and create a plan based on the worst. And if it goes better than that, then you’re prepared.

Mateo:                                      09:55                       I think that’s good advice. Okay, awesome. So it sounds like Kenny was, was grinding, you had your hands full with your full time job in the newborn. So what was the impetus for looking into Two-Brain and Chris and signing up with the incubator?

Jen:                                             10:19                       Right. We had 150 members. You know, we weren’t making enough money to run the gym, support a full time income and you know, put money away and do all those things. And I think Kenny started to feel like, well this is great but I don’t want to build myself a job. I want to build a company. Right. And so he looked into a couple of different, business mentorship program then settled on Two-Brain with, he actually started the incubator process before I came on board in any real capacity. So Dani was our mentor, she was fantastic. And he actually went through the incubator and then we took a couple months off before we started the growth stage. Cause it’s a lot like he, we didn’t have any extra help at that point. Like, so he was trying to do the whole incubator while still coaching a ton of classes and not having any coaches that were working more than like five shifts a week.

Mateo:                                      11:12                       Yeah, I mean it takes a lot out of the incubator when I went through was just figuring out roles and tasks and hiring people and learning how to delegate. But that takes time. You know, you’re not going to find someone you know right away to start helping you. And even if you do, you know there’s training involved, there’s development and that can take time and everyone’s different where they are in their journey. You know sometimes people already have a staff of five and it’s just re re shifting the mindset of your team or you have no one like it sounds like Kenny and you didn’t have anyone. And so finding that, finding those people who can help and training them up, that all takes time. So it totally makes, especially if you’re the solo operator, to going to take a little while to get through the important work that needs to get done to get you to the next level. So, so it sounds like what, what, what was the next level Kenny was trying to get to? It sounds like you, you know, he felt this kind of dissatisfaction. I know you said that you wanted to build a business, you know, what was he trying to, what next level was he trying to get to?

Jen:                                             12:16                       Yeah, I think all of a sudden it became clear I was working outside of the business. I know, jump in and do the work. Really wanted that guidance of like, let’s just not, let’s not waste our time. Which I think is really the incredible value of what Two-Brain gives, right? From whether it’s marketing or whether it’s the, um, growth program. It’s like, here are the steps. Like, yes, you could figure this out on your own. You could do all this, you could toil away for years. You’re gonna waste a lot more money. Um, and you’re going to get really frustrated. And what do we do? We coach people so we should hire a coach, you know? And it just became really clear that that was the best way to get there the most expeditiously.

Mateo:                                      13:19                       And then what were the changes? I mean it sounds like you were able to grow the business to where you were able to quit your full time job eventually, but what else did you see? What were the changes you saw after going through the process?

Jen:                                             13:30                       Really just our mindset right, of like, and we’re still working on it. Like we’re not 100% there yet. I will say that we are still in the process of giving tasks and roles away, but it was really like what is our time best spent doing and who else can do these other things. And really it comes clear like coaching classes is not the best use of your CEO or your owners time or whatever term you’re using. So really getting a staff with people that could help us with that. Figuring out how to empower people to do their jobs and then step back, right. Processes and procedures and really having, you know, we say like if we get hit by it, both of us get hit by a bus. Like is this business going to run? Is it going to support our child? Like, now I feel confident.

Jen:                                             14:16                       I used to have, I was telling Kenny this the other day, I would have nightmares when I wasn’t involved in the business because I knew nothing. And I would think like, what happened? Like what happens if Kenny gets sick? You know? I mean, his dad died young. So that’s just a reality for us. We think about it all the time. It was like, I know nothing. Like I don’t know the books, I don’t know how to coach. I don’t know how to write programming. You know? I, it was like this business, if you were to go like would not, it would be dead. So I think that was the impetus for us to really say like, we got to create something that is beyond us.

Mateo:                                      14:51                       Yeah. That’s amazing. And I think that’s the true test, right? It’s like, can you, can you leave, can you step away from your business totally for two weeks and it not burn down. Um, and it sounds like you were able to really get to that point, which is awesome. And so I want to talk a little bit about your growth after having done some of the work in the marketing section of the incubator. Before I do that, in your own words, what is, what is it that you sell and how do you sell it?

Jen:                                             15:23                       stronger and live the best life that you can and we do that through personal training, nutrition and group classes. But what we really provided,

Mateo:                                      15:34                       wow, that might be the most concise, most thought out answer yet.

Jen:                                             15:41                       Yeah, no, it was pretty. That was pretty on point there. I love it. Okay, now, yeah, but let’s talk about that. Let’s get into the nitty gritty. So how you generate the interest to sell that, right. How do you, how do you get people in the door and then once they are coming through, once they have inquired, how do you end up selling them?

Jen:                                             16:02                       So, I mean, I think before taking the marketing course, it was basically affinity marketing. I mean we did Facebook posts every once in a while it’d be like, oh we did. I’ve always been super interested in the digital market. It felt like I remember talking to you. And so I was always like really overwhelmed and I didn’t know where to start. Um, so when we started the Two-Brain course I feel like it just gave us this really actionable Growth ToolKit of exactly what to do. And then it went from being like, oh we get a no sweat intro here and then no sweat intro there to like a consistent stream of leads and people in the door. I will say that they are not all quality, right? Yeah. Some of them suck. But I think it really helped hone my skills and learn how to handle objections, which it always like I can talk to anybody, but when it, when it came to like making the sale and asking for that, I let in Kenny too, we’d let so many people walk out the door, you know? And I think going through that course really helped me understand like how important it is. Like if someone’s taking that step to get in the door, like they want to change, you have to show them how to get there. And I think when we started taking the approach of like it’s prescriptive rather than salesy, it feels so much better. I know I kind of hopped around there, I’m not sure if that’s the answer.

Mateo:                                      17:34                       No, that’s great. And so I think you’re bringing up some good points. You know, when you pay traffic and generating leads in that way can be totally different than someone who’s referred, right? If someone who’s referred that you’re a current member who referred their friend, they, they’ve done half the selling for you already, right? When you have, when you put an ad out, it’s going to take a little bit more work on our end. But we can’t control referrals like this paid ads. Like we can control that. So I think that that’s the trade off. And uh, and I think it’s ultimately worth it. And I think you’ve, you’ve seen that too with your campaigns. And so when someone inquires, what happens?

Jen:                                             18:27                       Actually we didn’t really have, and so we actually made the decision because we were so busy, we just signed up with UpLaunch because they’ve got that dialed. It got it. We don’t, I don’t have to set up a text messaging and Zapier and all that. I can just have them do the whole thing. So, um, when someone inquires they get a text message and an email. Initially, you know, I’ve been working with like a little bit, so we’ve been playing around with how involved I am in that initial process. Usually I’ll, if they respond to a text message, then that’s when I will start to engage in the process. We don’t have a sales manager yet, so when we do, I’ll probably have that person reach out via phone. Then it would be a phone call. Right now we just don’t have the capacity to do that.

Jen:                                             19:14                       So they get text message, uh, usually, you know, if they don’t sign up for a no sweat, then I will reach out to them and try and get them to do that. But the automation helps just make that happen, which is really nice. And then they book a no sweat intro and then they will, then we’ll send them, we send a confirmation text message 24 hours before where they have to reply. Yes. That has helped. You know, there’s been a lot of talk in the group about no shows and I cannot recommend that enough. It’s like cut our no shows down by like 75% probably.

Mateo:                                      19:49                       Wow. It’s like the simplest.

Jen:                                             19:55                       thanks. You know, and we’re at a speed where the spot right now, while we’re getting pretty full, so I’m at a spot where it’s like I just want somebody that really wants to be in here and if they don’t, that’s okay. Maybe they’ll be ready down the road and we’ll continue to foster that relationship through emails and texts and all those things. I’m not, I don’t have the time to chase down 25 people a week, you know? So I want them to take that, like if they’re going to take the step to get in here, they’re more likely to show up to classes and they’re more likely to stay longer.

Mateo:                                      20:29                       Totally. And so let’s say they come in through the door. What happens?

Jen:                                             20:34                       Uh, so generally I talk with them and then I will give them a tour of the gym.

Mateo:                                      20:43                       Wow. Fancy.

 20:45                       A little Keurig machine. It’s not bad. I like it. But you could see it’s not fancy at all. Um, but it’s, I think that’s just like a nice step of like, Hey, can I get you a cup of coffee? I’ve had two people say yes over the years, but it’s just a way of kind of breaking the tension and then we just take a quick tour of the gym and I literally just stand in one of the rooms and kind of see, I don’t get too fancy about it. I just, that’s not really what they care about. I just want them to, yeah, I wasn’t showing people the gym and then I’d like get ready to sign somebody up and they’d be like, well, can I see the gym? And then we do that and it was weird to get them back to the desk. So I’ve just started doing that.

Mateo:                                      21:24                       Yeah, I love that. If that’s, if that’s an objection, the objection that’s overcome that at the beginning. So I like that.

Jen:                                             21:33                       Yeah, this is the gym. If you think it’s too like raw or whatever, then then it’s not going to work anyway. So and then we just sit down and we’d go through the No Sweat Intro form, you know? And I really think that’s one thing that I changed a lot is I go through every single one of those. If I think somebody who’s like kind of a halfway sold, you know, if somebody is like they walk in the door, I have crossed that experience and ready to get this done. I’ll still go through some of them, but I might not ask all the questions about like envision your life in five years or you know, those ones. So I tailor it a little bit, but for the most part I stick to that form because it opens up so much opportunity to sell and to create a plan that’s right for that person. Someone may walk in the door saying they want group classes and then have that conversation and actually their goals won’t work at all with group classes. And they definitely need to do personal training to make it work.

Mateo:                                      22:27                       Oh you guys have a private office for this too?

Jen:                                             22:29                       Well I have a private office. We have two private offices, which is great actually. So one is on the floor, but no one can walk in and out of the office. So it’s like not our front office. So I’ll use that like during a really busy times. Cause I know some of these going to walk in the front door or if it’s kind of on our off hours and I’ll use our bigger office. So the flexibility.

Mateo:                                      22:48                       Nice. So what I love about that, that first part is that you’ve given them something. And I think people, people can do that even if it’s just a bottle of water or something small. But giving them something that, it kind of establishes that reciprocity principle where you know you’re setting the stage and setting the tone, you’re offering them something. And now there may be, you know, it just, it’s kind of like sales one oh one. You know, you want to get that reciprocity thing going so that they’re feeling more inclined to offer something else in return, which I think is awesome. And I love how you have a separate place that’s quiet and you don’t have loud music and clanging and banging going on or you can have a conversation cause that’s really what it is. You’re having a conversation, which I think the prescriptive model helps you do and taking the No Sweat Intro approach helps you do?

Jen:                                             23:37                       Yeah, a lot of clients are really anxious about coming into a gym. Intimidated, intimidated by dropping weights. If they see somebody, like my 4:30 class is really athletes, right? Like if a 70 year old comes in and wants to get started, they’re probably not going to be in that class anyways. But they see that they’re going to feel like this is not the right spot for them. So I just think just being really cognizant about like how much you’re showing people, not in a bad way, just like you want to make them, you know that you’re going to create a good environment for them once they’re in the door, and I’m not going to suggest that 4:30 class to that person, but they might see it and think, well, every class is that way.

Mateo:                                      24:21                       Yeah. Regardless of how amazing your community is, the sleeve tattoos and jacked people are still like, it’s an intimidating experience regardless, you know? So you’ve come a long way, right? You went from this point where Kenny was doing wearing all the hats and the business was really only supporting him to this point where you’re able to take over multiple locations, expand your space, expand your business, pave the way to have and support a larger staff yourself included and buy out your old partners. What do you think has been the key to your success so far?

Jen:                                             24:55                       It sounds so cliche, but playing the long game and it’s so hard as a business owner, I want to be able to do the things that I think it’s really easy to take shortcuts, but for us it’s just been like one step at a time, play the long game, I know what the year looks like and I’m in a plan that something’s going to take a year. So kind of always over planning and then hoping that it goes a little bit and then taking risks. You know like when I left my job I made a great salary, big chunk of what we were living off of and so it was really scary and I just kind of had it and said, we’re just going to quit my job, actually let me go part time and then transition out. And that was really scary. But it also lit fire under us to say, this has to happen, like we have to do this. And so I think putting yourself in a little bit of an uncomfortable position and knowing that that is going to, to do the work and make the change.

                       I think we’re done. Thank you so much for coming on. And then, uh, hopefully are you going to the summit? The summit.

Jen:                                             26:12                       We have a wedding to go to our former business partner is getting married. Next year for sure.

Mateo:                                      26:19                       Awesome. Well thanks for hopping on and uh, we’ll, we’re looking forward to seeing what the next year holds for you.

Jen:                                             26:25                       Thanks for all your help.

Speaker 5:                               26:28                       No worries. Hey everyone. Chris Cooper here on really thrilled to see you this year in June in Chicago at the 2019 Two-Brain summit. Every year we have two separate speaking tracks. There’s one for you, the business owner and there’s one for coaches that will help them make better, longer, more meaningful careers under the umbrella of your business. This year we’ve got some pretty amazing topics like the client success manager, how to change your life, organizational culture of the business owner’s life cycle, how to have breaks, how to have vacations, how to help your marriage survive, owning a business and motivation and leadership. How to convert more clients, how to create a GM position that runs your gym for you and leaves you free to grow your business. How to start a business owner’s group in your community and more point here is to do the right thing that will help gym owners create better businesses that will last them for the long term, get them to tinker phase, help them be more successful, create meaningful careers with their coaches and give their clients a meaningful path to longterm health. We only do one big seminar every year and that’s the Two-Brain summit and the reason that we do that is because a big part of the benefit is getting the Two-Brain community together and welcoming strangers into our midst and showing them how amazing gym ownership really can be. We’ll have a link to the Two-Brain summit including a full list of all speakers and topics on both the owners and the coaches side in the show notes. I really hope to see you there.

Greg:                                          27:57                       As always, thank you so much for listening to this podcast. We greatly appreciate you and everyone that has subscribed to us. If you haven’t done that, please make sure you do drop a link to that episode. Share with a friend and if you haven’t already, please write us a review and rate us on how what you think. If you hated it, let us know if you loved it, even better. See you guys later.

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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.