Scenario Solutions: Say Exactly This to Grow Your Gym!

A photo of Chris Cooper and the title "Say Exactly This to Grow Your Gym."

Mike Warkentin (00:02):
The jerk store is out of you. Do you ever wish you had the exact line you need in a certain situation and didn’t say something dumb? Like maybe when you need a referral or you want to sell some PT? Well, Two-Brain Founder and CEO Chris Cooper is here, and he’s going to solve your problems today by telling you exactly what to say in certain situations that come up so often in gyms. My name is Mike Warkentin. I’m here with “Run a Profitable Gym.” Please hit “subscribe” wherever you’re watching or listening so you don’t miss a single show. Chris, are you ready to tell people exactly what to say?

Chris Cooper (00:30):
Yes, I was super ready, but I’ve got to ask you what your opening joke is going to be every time. Yeah, totally ready. So ready. This is going to be awesome.

Mike Warkentin (00:38):
Yeah, and if you don’t remember, anyone who was out there, the jerk store was the classic “Seinfeld” line where George gets stuck in a situation, thinks of what he thinks is the perfect line, delivers it, and just gets kicked back in his face. It’s happened to me in the gym setting so many times. Chris, I know you’ve had it too. I think I recall a blog where you said something like, you literally used to tell people, “I’m a terrible salesperson,” and you really thought maybe I shouldn’t do that. Maybe I should just learn to sell. So, let’s go through a few things. I’ve got a big list of stuff that you’ve said, and we’ll talk about this because these scenarios come up in gyms all the time. I’ve dealt with them, you’ve dealt with them, and people out there, you are going to deal with them if you haven’t already. So, here’s a big one, and this one is—literally the answer is going to make you money. Chris, someone says, “Do you offer discounts?”

Chris Cooper (01:21):
I just say, “No, we don’t offer discounts.” And 80% of the time, that’s it, that’s the end of the conversation.

Mike Warkentin (01:30):
Why is it so hard to say that? It seems so hard to say that sometimes. Why is that?

Chris Cooper (01:34):
Well, because you get into this trap and it’s like, “Oh, I do offer discounts, but not for you.” It is really hard to say. So, if you offer discounts for firefighters and nobody else, what quickly happens is you find yourself trying to justify giving a discount to everybody else. So, “Do you offer discounts?” “Only for firefighters.” “Well, God, I’m an ambulance driver. That’s the same thing.” And then it’s like, “I’m a nurse. I’m a teacher. You don’t value teachers?” Right? Like, it’s actually just easier to say no.

Mike Warkentin (01:59):
And then you start getting defensive, right? I always feel like that where I’m like, “Oh, well, it’s just,” and then I start fumbling, and then I ended up giving everyone a discount.

Chris Cooper (02:06):
And that’s what happened to me. Yeah. And you know, one thing that I learned way back in the day when I was selling treadmills is to say, if people really press you on it, just say, “Our service is as inexpensive as we can make it for the level of service we provide.” And what you’re doing there is creating a difference in their brain. So, if they’re like, “Well, that guy down the street, he offers 20% for first responders,” you say, “Our service is inexpensive as we can make it for the level of service we provide.”

Mike Warkentin (02:35):
Now, you didn’t say cheap.

Chris Cooper (02:36):
No, no, I never say cheap. Never.

Mike Warkentin (02:38):
There’s a big difference because high value services aren’t cheap, and we don’t want to imply that they are. So, what you’re saying is inexpensive for this level of service. That’s a value statement, right?

Chris Cooper (02:48):
Yeah. You know, when I was selling treadmills, my boss told me to say, “We don’t play those games.” But what she was doing there is we were selling a high-end treadmill against a piece of crap department store product, and she wanted to provoke a response, like “What are you talking about? What games?” from the buyer. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to call anybody else cheap. So, I use the term inexpensive on purpose.

Mike Warkentin (03:10):
That works. So, guys, that one will save you money right now if you just tell people, “We don’t have discounts. The price is the price.” You will save—that’s easy. That’s like a rate increase in a lot of ways. Eliminating discounts is very much a rate increase. Onto the next one, so starting a conversation. This used to be a little bit easier back in the day before screens and cell phones where everyone’s down looking like this, but how do you—you’re out and about and you just, you might want to talk to someone and maybe eventually tell them about your business. How do you start a conversation?

Chris Cooper (03:37):
I say, “Good morning.” And because nobody’s ever going to have a negative reaction to good morning, right? And even if it’s like 1 p.m., I’ll just be like, “Good morning!” and then I’ll say, “Oh, I guess it’s not actually morning anymore,” whatever. And I do this when I’m on my bicycle. I do this when I’m buying a coffee. I do this when I’m meeting somebody who’s walking down the sidewalk in front of my gym. I will literally be the one to go first. And this is like—it’s so rare now that it’s almost a surprise that somebody would make eye contact and greet them. And I’ve never had anybody ever not smile and say “good morning” back. Even if they’re kind of flustered. It’s a skill that’s called going first. And I teach it to my kids. I teach it to all my staff too. Like, go first, say, “Good morning.”

Mike Warkentin (04:25):
And what happens after that? Because the conversation, you know, inevitably, inevitably goes somewhere. How do you get it into the realm of your gym? And if it doesn’t get there, that’s fine, but how do you do that?

Chris Cooper (04:34):
Well, it depends where we are, right? So, if I’m buying a coffee at a coffee shop, I’ll say, “Good morning.” Usually that leads to a little bit of conversation after. None of us are taught how to start a conversation, but we all know how to respond to good morning. You say, “Good morning,” and you smile. And then from there I’ll just be like, “How’s your day going?” You know, just natural and it takes practice. And then if I’m somewhere around the gym, I’ll be like, “Hey, by the way, I’m Chris, and this is my gym. Have you ever been in there?” And so literally this morning, OK, so this guy had a bunch of laptops accidentally delivered to my gym. He works next door, and he shows up, and I’m on a call, and I’m like, “I’ll be right with you.”

Chris Cooper (05:17):
I walk out to the lobby—his name is Mike—and I’m like, “Hey, Mike, great news. I’ve got your laptops.” He’s like, “Thank God. I thought the Amazon driver blah, blah, blah.” So, I’m like, “Let me help you carry them to your car.” So, he’s got like eight laptops, we’re carrying them to his car, and I’m like, “Yeah. So anyway, I’m Chris,” shake his hand, “This is my gym. Have you ever been in there before?” “No, that was my first time in there.” “Hey, fantastic. It’s probably not like the Good Life gym up the street, right?” “No, it’s not. I’m a member there.” “Oh, that’s cool. How are the workouts going?” You know, and it’s like we’re all too polite to say, “Get lost. I’m out of here.” And so, you know, you just start a conversation.

Mike Warkentin (05:56):
And it might not give you a new client right then, but that person knows about your gym, knows who you are, knows you’re a good person, and maybe down the line that will equal something, right? And so, it’s just planting these seeds. And I love the idea of what you said, going first. That’s so uncommon these days when everyone is locked into a screen. Just going first and having a conversation is going to give you opportunities to talk about your business. It doesn’t have to be a hardcore sales thing, but it’s just branding essentially. “Hey, that’s my gym.” He’ll tell someone, “I saw this great cool gym down over on—Catalyst there. It was amazing,” right? And then maybe someone’s interested.

Chris Cooper (06:28):
Yeah. And you know, the big hangup for me as such an introvert was I was always trying to think of like, “What is my desired outcome here?” And it’s like going on a first date with a girl and you’re like, “OK, what are the steps from first date to marriage?” OK, let’s think about it. And that paralyzes you. The outcome is that you have a nice conversation, and they feel good. That’s it. You know, that’s the goal.

Mike Warkentin (06:50):
My advice here, say what Chris says, and my advice is remember the lines and don’t be weird. Just be a normal person. React like a normal person. Don’t be weird.

Chris Cooper (06:58):
Do as I say, not as I do that. Yeah.

Mike Warkentin (07:02):
So, here’s the next part of the scenario. So, you’ve got this person, and they start talking to you, and they start talking about their goals. And maybe they mention, like maybe laptop guy is like, “Ah, man, my back kind of hurts when I carry these eight laptops,” or whatever. How do you take the next step? Like how do you get that person who mentions a goal or a desire into your gym?

Chris Cooper (07:19):
Yeah, so a different guy, again this morning though, he came in for something else. He was picking up a key for something, and he’s got two ribs out on one side, and now he’s walking with a cane. And last week when I saw him, he wasn’t, so I’m like, “Scott, dude, things are getting worse.” And he’s like, “I know, my doctor, they’re telling me to see a chiropractor. And I mean, any fitness pro listening to this sees the opening before me here, right? But basically, whatever you say is like, “Look man, I think I can help.” That’s the line. So, in this case, it was, “Look, Scott, I think I can help. I don’t want to see you in pain walking around with this cane. I can either get you a referral to a physical therapist to take a look, or we can come in at 2 p.m. on Monday.”

Chris Cooper (08:04):
“I’ve got an opening, and we can try something.” Now, in Scott’s case, I would refer him out. But for somebody else who I was running into who’s mentioned fitness, “Oh, I’ve heard of your gym.” Like a contractor who was working on one of our buildings last week. I’m like, “Oh yeah”—Scott is his name—”Scott, what are your goals with fitness?” “Oh, dude, I love doing these workouts at home. I’ve got this garage set up.” I’m like, “Great. What program are you following?” “Oh, I just kind of make it up.” I’m like, “Dude, let’s talk about your program. I’ve got an opening at 2 p.m. Monday. Do you want to come in then? And we’ll hang out.”

Mike Warkentin (08:39):
Is Scott coming in?

Chris Cooper (08:40):
Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, he’s also a contractor who wants me to hire him. But yeah, I mean, this has worked for me dozens and dozens of times.

Mike Warkentin (08:47):
Quid pro quo, Scott.

Chris Cooper (08:49):
Yeah. The key there is not, “Hey, well if you ever want to talk about your fitness,” like you can’t just leave it vague and open-ended, or it’ll never happen. It has to be, “You know what? I’ve got an opening Monday at two o’clock. Do you want to come in?”

Mike Warkentin (09:02):
And I love the part about help. “I think I can help,” and they can make the offer. And it’s just going first. It’s the same principle again. I like that one. So, let’s talk about someone who’s actually a client now. You’re doing a goal review with a client. Thrilled with progress, right? And you’re just—this person is just—like you say, “Hey, are you happy with your progress?” “Yeah, I’m happy. I want to keep going.” And you kind of think that maybe we could talk about referrals and friends. What do you do in this situation? What do you say?

Chris Cooper (09:25):
Well, the first is you want to know that client really well. So, in my brain I’m like, “OK, who are the people closest to this client?” So, who’s her spouse, right? Who does she work with, and who does she hang out with? Well, I happen to know that Bev’s spouse is named Alan, that she’s an accountant at the lottery corp, and that she hangs out with, she has a whole bunch of first cousins who are all the same age. I know that because I talk to my clients.

Mike Warkentin (09:54):
You’re a good coach. Yeah.

Chris Cooper (09:55):
First I’m going to talk about Alan because Alan’s her husband. I know what she makes. Therefore, I know what Alan makes. I know where she lives. I know, right? Like I know her hobbies, and I’m like, “Hey Bev, I’m so proud of you, number one, proud. I’ve heard you mention Alan a couple times. I know he is getting ready for golf season. What do you think it would take to get Alan to come in here and try a workout with you?” And then she’s going to tell me how to sell Alan, right? Because there’s a chance that she’s been trying to sell Alan and can’t do it, but she’s going to give me the language to do it.

Mike Warkentin (10:25):
Yeah. And the key here is that you know your client, and you can ask this stuff because you’ve been a good coach, and you’ve had these conversations

Chris Cooper (10:31):
One thousand percent. So, what I would say there, and there was a time when I would’ve been really nervous about this, but you’ve got to keep in mind Bev wants her husband Alan to come to the gym. She wants him to feel good. She wants him to be healthy. So, what I would say is like, “Well hey, while you’re here, why don’t we shoot Alan a text and just see when he wants to join you?” And she’ll be like, “Oh my God, he is going to kill me,” right? Like, OK, “Yes, he is. What’s his number?” And then you just text him, “Hey Alan, sitting here with Bev. We’re just talking about you, dude. I’d love to have you on Wednesday when she’s back at 11 a.m. Will you join us?” That’s it.

Mike Warkentin (11:09):
It’s weird if you pull that with a client who’s not happy with progress or a client who you don’t know anything about. So, you’re just sitting there and you’re like, “Hey,” at the end of class, “Yeah Bob, you got any buddies who want to join?” Like, that’s weird. Like that’s the jerk store, right? Like that’s not a good way to do it. If you know the client, it’s just a natural thing to say, “Oh, your spouse has been golfing for years, and he’s always been talking about hitting his drive further, and he’s never been able to do it. What if we got him in here? Let’s do it today.” And she’s like, “I’m pumped up about my progress. Let’s get him in here.” It’s not—you know, you have to pick your spots, right?

Chris Cooper (11:41):
Yeah, it is. And if I were talking to you, I would say something like, “Hey Mike. Hey, I know Crystal got really into biathlon over the wintertime, and I was just cycling this weekend with a guy who does biathlon. We were talking about training. I really think that I could give her some stuff that’s going to help. Do you think she’d come in with you so that I can show her this stuff next Wednesday?”

Mike Warkentin (12:01):
And I’m immediately interested.

Chris Cooper (12:03):
If you care about the person, it’s easy.

Mike Warkentin (12:06):
Yeah. Yeah. So that’s, I mean, the downstream is having these conversations. The upstream is being a good coach, communicating with your clients and knowing what they’re about and who they hang out with. You’ve got to know your clients, so don’t use this stuff if you’re not doing that first. And I’ll say that the key linchpin here is those goal review sessions. You have to do those things so that you get a chance to speak to your client face-to-face in those settings. If you don’t, you’re not going to have those chances. So, I would strongly recommend that. And then Chris, one of the things I pulled out from a blog he wrote a long time ago was asking someone to refer a friend, not a partner. And it was just, and you said it was a text or email and it was—subject line is the client’s name. I love that because if someone sees the friend’s name is the subject line, they’re going to open it. And you just said, “Hey, lead name. I was just chatting with client, and we agreed that we’d love to have you in for a partner workout. Her next appointment is July 14th. Can you make it?” And that’s a simple one, right? And then all of a sudden, you’ve got access to like a buddy.

Chris Cooper (13:02):
Yeah. And it’s not, “Do you want to?” It’s not, “Let me barf a bunch of information about fitness,” or say something like, “We all want to lose weight this time of year.”

Mike Warkentin (13:14):

Chris Cooper (13:14):
Yeah. Like my biggest mistake early on was always like, “I’m going to impress you with my knowledge, and then you’re going to want to join my gym.” No, it’s just, “This person cares about you. Can you make it?”

Mike Warkentin (13:26):
And if it’s a yes, you’ve got a really good chance to land that client because they’re already locked in with this person. They know about your gym. They trust their friend; they implicitly trust you because their friend trusts you. It’s probably an easy sell. So that’s a huge one that can make you money. Here’s one where you can get a group, and I love this one. So, your same scenario, goal review session, but you’ve got a client, and you know that this client’s kids are into sports. How do you get access to a client’s kid’s sports team? Because this can be a big money one.

Chris Cooper (13:53):
Yeah. So, when I’m teaching this to my staff, I call it thanking up, which is just kind of scaling up your client book by using a thank you. So, we did this so many times especially around like—hockey figure skating were kind of our biggest two, but we also saw a lot of sprinters and basketball players for a while. So, what we would do is this: “Hey Holly, thank you so much for being such an amazing client. I was trying to figure out what I could do to say thank you. And I thought maybe the best thing would be to invite your daughter’s basketball team to come in. I know it’s getting close to the end of their season, and we would just have kind of a fun team party here for them.”

Chris Cooper (14:32):
“What do you think?” Now what you’re doing is you’re solving a massive problem for that team because they have to throw a team party anywhere. The parent is like, “Hell yes. This is amazing.” And you are meeting another dozen parents. Every kid that comes in is going to sign a waiver with their parent’s name, phone number and email address on it. And you can even say, “Hey, if the parents want to come in and watch, that’s totally cool.” And you can invite them too. You know that the kids are going to have an amazing time. It’s not going to be like a salesy relationship, but it’s an amazing conversation starter. And what’s bananas about this tactic is that most kids play more than one sport. So, if you invite 12 kids in, number one, there’s a great chance you’re going to sign up half of them for your kids program. If you don’t have a kids program, you’re going to sign up one or two of their parents anyway. And that kid is also on the swim team. And so, then you say, “Hey, this has been awesome. You’re such a great family to have around our gym. What if we invited your swim team in?” You know, same thing.

Mike Warkentin (15:36):
And would you spend an hour to get 20 or 30 leads? I would. And the worst-case scenario—that’s what you’re doing here—even if no one signs up as a result of this, you’ve probably got 10 kids’ and 20 parents’ email addresses, and all of a sudden you can send those people all sorts of info and warm them up. And if they don’t sign up, then they might see something down the line. “Oh, you run a cycling program in summer? Holy crap, I want in on that.” Right? So, you could spend an hour to get leads, and you’re probably going to sell some people too, but what Chris said there is really important. Make sure they’re signing something, and you’re getting some contact info, and you can even say, “I’m going to send you some stuff from time to time.” Away you go. And then that’s a perfect way to get a ton of stuff.

Chris Cooper (16:14):
You know what’s funny—and it’s just a sign that I’ve owned this gym for 20 years now—is quite often when somebody comes in for an NSI, they’ll say, “Chris trained my kid,” and now they’re retired or whatever, you know?

Mike Warkentin (16:27):
Oh, that’s funny.

Chris Cooper (16:28):
It’s amazing.

Mike Warkentin (16:29):
Yeah, that is interesting. But that’s being the vocal local and getting a referral network; that’s the result. So, that’s the long game. You’ve been doing it long enough that you’re getting the rewards from that, like the boomerangs are coming back. And that’s because you started tossing boomerangs 20 years ago. So, if you’re out there right now, start doing that because the rewards will come back. Next one here, this is an interesting one. You get a client, and this client is a group class person—or even in a free consultation; it’s a prospective client who’s going to sign up. Actually, I’m going to ask you for this one first. This is the million-dollar line. So, guys, I’m going to just blow this up. This line has been said by our marketing officer that this line made him a million dollars. So, we’re going to ask you for this one. Chris, free consultation, you presented a workout plan, and you want to close the sale and see if the client is interested in PT. What do you say?

Chris Cooper (17:13):
Yeah. So, you’re framing this by saying, “Given your goals, here’s what I think is the best course for you. Are you more comfortable doing these workouts one-on-one with me or in a small group setting?”

Mike Warkentin (17:25):
There it is.

Chris Cooper (17:26):
That’s it. And you know, according to John, that made him, that question made him well over a million dollars at his gyms when he had them because you were just giving people options, and one of those options was not yes or no. And what happened was—you’ll find like 30% of the time people will be like, “I’d like to start one-on-one,” and then they stay one-on-one.

Mike Warkentin (17:46):
Use that line, present the plan in a free consultation, not a free trial, and ask the person, “Do you want to do this with me or in a group? And every person who says “with me” is probably going to be what—4x the value or something like that. It’s going to be much greater value. They’re going to get better results. It’s a win for everybody. Remember that line. If you do nothing else from this podcast, remember that line.

Chris Cooper (18:08):
For me, saying, “Would you be more comfortable?” performs best? But that might not—it might be “would you prefer” for other people. But for me, testing this hundreds of times over the last 20 years, it’s, “Would you feel more comfortable doing these workouts in a group setting or one-on-one with me?”

Mike Warkentin (18:26):
There you go. So, this is related to that one: If you are partnering someone up, so let’s say you’ve got a one-on-one client and you want to start shifting into a semi-private or a small group setting, and you want to try and maybe float that past this one-on-one client, what are the lines that you can say to start launching this program?

Chris Cooper (18:44):
Yeah, so I actually learned this from Greg Glassman. This is how he went from doing one-on-one training to small group training, which is what CrossFit always was when he was doing it. So, what he would say is, “Hey Mike, you’re doing amazing. In fact, the only thing that I could think of that would make you get more fitness faster is if I partnered you up with somebody at the same time. Now I’ve got the perfect match for you. She’s around your age, she’s very close to your fitness level, and you guys would be a great collaboration because I think you’d push each other to do a little bit more without it feeling competitive anyway. Do you want to try partnering up with her for a session? We can always go back to one-on-one if you don’t like it,” and that’s it.

Chris Cooper (19:26):
And so then he would bring people in, and “Mike, meet Crystal. You’re going to work out together, and it’s going to be super fun.” And then he would never say, “Well, what’d you think? Do you want to go back?” And nobody ever went back to one-on-one. He never said it’s 10 bucks cheaper to do a semi-private. He did charge 10% less or whatever. But that was just kind of the cherry on top for people. He always positioned it as “this is best for you because,” and then they tried it, and that’s how they did it.

Mike Warkentin (19:56):
And that’s an interesting way, if you’re charging $80 an hour for PT and you get two people together, and you charge instead of 160, you charge 140, each person pays 70—yeah, whatever the math is—they get a small discount that’s basically irrelevant, but it’s something, and you get to double that hourly rate more or less. That’s a pretty cool one. And then they’re—the other thing is they’re going to get better results because it’s going to push them; there’s a little bit of retention built in there because they’ve got a training partner. There’s a lot of good stuff that can come from that. So, if you ever want to start doing semi-private or small group training, that’s the line, and that’s the way to do it. Now Chris, do you have some more there?

Chris Cooper (20:28):
Well, so when we started semi-private at Catalyst, it wasn’t actually that long ago because I didn’t understand that that was the original CrossFit model, but when I decided we did want to start it back in January, we got 12 clients like that using that exact line.

Mike Warkentin (20:42):
It’s been tested; it does work, so remember that one. Here’s one that I think people will struggle with, but I don’t think it’s as difficult as they think. We’re going to talk about asking a client for a video testimonial. So, you’re in a free consultation, client is happy with progress and results, and you just high five, and let them go out the door. That’s a mistake. How do you get that client to give you some marketing assets that will allow you to get more clients just like that person?

Chris Cooper (21:06):
Yeah, I think “testimonial” is what throws people off here. So, here’s what you do.

Mike Warkentin (21:10):
Sounds churchy.

Chris Cooper (21:11):
She’s sitting in front of you, class is over, and she’s leaving. And you mentioned some result that she’s had: “Jane, you just deadlifted 200 pounds. I’m so proud of you. I really think your story could inspire other people, especially people just like you. Can I share your story?” And she’ll be like, “OK,” and then you just pull out your phone, and she’ll be like, “Oh my God, I didn’t think you meant right now.” And I’m not picking on women because guys are worse.

Mike Warkentin (21:43):
Exactly. Exactly.

Chris Cooper (21:44):
“Let me run to the bathroom and comb my hair,” right? And so, you’re like, “Hey, tell me about—you just deadlifted 200 pounds. I’m so proud of you. Why is this an important milestone to you? Why do we care?” And they just start going. They never end in under two minutes. It always winds up with like, “And Catalyst is my favorite place on earth.” And it’s funny, I was visiting this team in Minneapolis years ago called Sabertooth, and we were talking about testimonials. I was sitting in their coach’s room on the couch, and there was this personal training client leaving, and she’s a physician. And I’m like, “There’s your ideal client right there. How are you not getting a testimonial?” “Well, we ask people for testimonials, and they never give them to us.”

Chris Cooper (22:26):
So I got my phone out, and I walked out of the office, and I’m like, “Hey, I’m Chris. These guys were just bragging you up in there. Do you know how proud they are of you?” And she’s like, “I can’t believe they even talk about me.” I’m like, “Seriously, there are so many women who need to hear your story. Would you share it?” “Oh, I don’t know. I’m all sweaty.” I’m like, “It doesn’t matter.” And she’s like, “OK, OK.” Hit record, and they had their testimonial right there from a female physician who probably inspired another 300 women.

Mike Warkentin (22:58):
“Share your story” is different than walking up and saying, “Would you like to do a testimonial and say good things about my gym?” Like, that’s awkward, right? That’s again, my line: “Don’t be weird,” right? Like, just make it natural. “I’d love to share your story and tell other people about you.” Chris, some of the other stuff that you said is—I’m looking at my note here. Maybe you just—“Could you tell someone something you wish you’d known when you started here six months ago?” That’s a really great one. “Any wisdom that you could give someone who’s just starting their fitness journey?” Like little tips where saying, “Hey, could you help someone else?” And it’s not so much as like, “Say good things about my gym.” It’s like, “Share your story.” That’s different, right?

Chris Cooper (23:33):
Yeah, man. And one of the best I ever saw, and this is one of those ones I wish I’d come up with myself. So, they were just grabbing people as they were leaving the gym, and they would say, “You’re doing great. Do you feel like you’re making progress?” “Yes, I am.” Camera comes out. “What advice would you give to the person you used to be a year ago?”

Mike Warkentin (23:54):
Oh, and that’s good.

Chris Cooper (23:55):
They all cried.

Mike Warkentin (23:58):
Yeah. Tears are good for marketing. That emotion is good. Yep.

Chris Cooper (24:03):
Yeah. That’s so good.

Mike Warkentin (24:06):
I would—I love that. “Share your story” is so much more powerful than some of the other awkward approaches to that. “I’m proud of you. Can I tell your story?” “What can you say to your former self?” Like, these things are all great questions. Remember them and use it, and it won’t be awkward the next time you want to ask for a quote unquote testimonial. Do it the easy way. Here’s another one. Chris, this is another big one. This is the—we talk about kids, how it’s a 10-for-one kind of thing. This is the peer group, right? Where it’s like nurses travel in packs, accountants travel in packs, whatever it is. So, you’re in a free consultation again, client’s happy with progress and results. This person works with a large group of people or in an office or has a bunch of peers: How do you get access to the peer group?

Chris Cooper (24:46):
Well, it’s like, what can I do to help this shift worker or this office group or whatever it is, right? Like, that’s what you’ve always got to be thinking about is, “How can I help this person best?” So, the way that we’ve done this in the past is—especially with nurses and accountants, it’s worked extremely well. So, at certain times of the year, their workplace gets even more stressful than normal. So, we had this group of accountants, and it was in like a government thing, and I had the client in for a goal review, and I’m like, “What’s going on?” “Oh my God, the gym is good. It’s my sanctuary.” You’ve heard this if you own a gym. “This is my safe place. I come here to de-stress.” and I’m like, “Yeah, it’s March. Are things even worse at the office right now than normal?”

Chris Cooper (25:28):
“Oh, Chris, you wouldn’t believe it. My god. Between the stress of getting the stuff done, blah.” OK. And you think, “How can I help this person who’s suffering right now?” Well, the best thing that I could do is probably teach her people how to eat healthier so they’re not on this caffeine and sugar rollercoaster all day. Maybe I could teach them some stretches or how to relieve stress at their desk. OK. “Well, the best thing I could do is actually come into your office and teach people how to reduce their stress in 30 minutes a day. Why don’t I just do that?” And of course, this woman was like, “Oh man, that would be a miracle.” And I’m like, “No, I’m really willing to do this. Who should I talk to at your office about setting this up?”

Chris Cooper (26:13):
So, she connects me to her manager, and I talk to the manager, “Hey, I’m willing to come in. This is not a sales pitch. I am going to end—I might do a draw or something, but I’m not going to be there to pitch Catalyst.” And she’s like, “OK, let’s call it a ‘lunch and learn.’ They can bring their lunch, and they can listen to you if they want.” Like, wonderful, so I go into this building. I go through all the security. There’s 30 people sitting in this classroom. This is the first time I ever did it.

Mike Warkentin (26:36):
30 leads.

Chris Cooper (26:36):
Yeah, 30 people right there. I’m like, “OK, we’re going to be moving a little bit, so please sign this waiver. OK. I don’t want you suing me or your boss. Haha.” And then I’m like, “Look, this is a stressful time of the year. I appreciate you guys giving me your attention. I don’t want to waste a second. Everybody stand up.” And we just go through, “Here’s how to do a little squat. Here’s how to stretch. Here’s how to eat to reduce your stress.” “Fantastic. Thank you all for coming. By the way, you guys have been so great. Write your name on a slip of paper and throw it in this brown paper bag. I’ll draw somebody and give them a free membership. And what I’ve got there is 30 leads. Like no Facebook ad is going to get me 30 accountants who earn more than $120,000 per year who live in this area code, right? But that’s what I just bought myself.

Mike Warkentin (27:20):
And I think I’ve heard that story before. Didn’t that result in a large amount of money over the years for you?

Chris Cooper (27:25):
Yeah, that one was ridiculous. So that one, the first lady who put her hand up says, “You coached my kid. I saw you at the hockey rink.” And like, “Hey, the kids on your bench had a lot more energy than the kids on our bench. How’d that happen?” And then I was like, “Well, I’ll write down what I tell my kids, and you can share it with your team.” And that became this piece of content called “How to Feed a Hockey Animal.” And of course, that got distributed to like every hockey playing kid in town, which was incredible. But another time it was like, “Hey guys, we’re writing this book on how the brain and body work together in exercise. Can I buy your staff lunch?” And I sent this to a physical therapy practice. They immediately started referring people to us who were on insurance plans. And that earned us hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next few years. And it wasn’t me coming in saying, “Let me pitch this program to you.” It was, “Can we have a conversation about this? I really could use your advice. I’ll buy you lunch in exchange.” But really, that tray of sandwich just got me hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Mike Warkentin (28:23):
Make connections, meet people, talk things, don’t be weird, have conversations. It is going to result in downstream effects for your business. Chris, I asked a few questions in our Growth group for Two-Brain clients. I got a few really good answers, and I want to throw a couple of them at you. Two in particular because there’s two scenarios that are always cut. One is just squidgy. No one likes it. And the other one is a real opportunity for gym owners to hold onto some revenue. So, I’m going to give you the scenario or the question and the answer. So, “What do I say to a client who smells bad?” And if you’re like me, my stomach drops, and I’m just like, “Oh my god, I’ve got to deal with this.” Horrible, right? So, here’s the answer, and now I want you to tell me what you think of this: “Hey client, I noticed you’ve been working up a smell when you’re getting after it in the gym. I’ve had the same problem at times. You might try replacing some of your older workout clothes, and you could definitely use the gym shower before class if you’ve had a long work day. I’ve got body wash in there as well as spray deodorant you can use before and after working out.” What do you think of that?

Chris Cooper (29:18):
I think that’s fantastic.

Mike Warkentin (29:20):
Right? You’re just giving someone a friendly, kind bit of advice and not making it awkward because it can get awkward on that one. Another person said they use a preemptive strike in a message to all clients. So, when it’s starting to get warm, they say something like this in an email newsletter or something: “We’re heading into the deep heat. Summer smells can get funky. Take a moment and wash those knee sleeves and wrist wraps. While you’re at it, spray some odor killer on your shoes and in your gym bag. Swing by the front desk this weekend and grab a free on-the-go deodorant spray to keep handy. Lastly, double check your workout gear to see if it passes the sniff test. Sometimes things get past their prime and need to be replaced.” Solving problems before they happen. What do you think of that?

Chris Cooper (29:57):
Amazing. Like, that’s more my style. Like how can I solve this before it becomes a problem? I love that one. So good. Who did that come from?

Mike Warkentin (30:04):
I believe that was Brandy Forbes, I believe.

Chris Cooper (30:08):
Oh, of course it was. She’s so thoughtful and so empathetic. Yes. Amazing.

Mike Warkentin (30:14):
I think that was from her, and apologies if I’ve got that wrong, but I believe that was from her. Here’s a really good one, and I can tell you this comes from—the answer here comes from Jolene Bingham who is our Tinker lead and a great gym owner. This is great because she’s literally used this to save five people from holding their membership over summer. So, that’s five people who are still paying. So, the question was, “What do you say to a client who wants to hold a membership for summer?” And for me it was like, “Oh, I guess.” And then the person—I lose three months of revenue or whatever it is, and then for half of them they don’t come back, so I lose all the revenue. It was a disaster. Here is what Jolene said: “Hey name. We understand that summer is a busy time of year. However, you’ve made so much progress on insert the goal that you know from a goal review session.” So, “You’ve made so much progress on your squat strength. I would hate to see you lose that progress over summer. Let’s set a goal review so we can figure out a plan that allows you to continue making progress and accommodates your busy summer schedule.” What do you think of that?

Chris Cooper (31:11):
I love it so much. Yeah, so good.

Mike Warkentin (31:14):
Five people didn’t cancel because of that. There was one person, Jolene said, who had a legit—like was deployed to a war zone or something. It was like—the hold was legit, right? Where it’s one of those ones where you’re like, “Ah, you’re good.” Astronaut or something. But this one, most of them, five of them, saved just from using those lines. So, guys, those are two bonus ones that come from our Growth group with strong influence from our mentor team. Use those ones as well when they come up.

Chris Cooper (31:39):
Can I add one more there?

Mike Warkentin (31:40):
Yeah, please.

Chris Cooper (31:41):
For people taking a short-term vacation. So, one thing that’s always worked extremely well for us is, “Hey, can I put my membership on hold? I’m going on a cruise for two weeks, or I’m going to California for a week, or I’m going on holiday to this place.” And what we always say is, “Why don’t you find me the names of three gyms near where you’re staying. I’ll contact them for you, and I will pay for your drop-in fees because I don’t want you to lose your fitness.” And one time in five, they’ll actually do it. The other times they’ll just keep their membership running.

Mike Warkentin (32:13):
There’s another one you guys can use. It is the summer season. You are going to get asked for holds. Use those lines to retain members. Chris, as we close this out, if someone had some questions, where could they go to ask questions like this of a great group of gym owners and mentors and even you?

Chris Cooper (32:27):
Well, the best is in our mentorship program. That’s where all these responses came from. But the next best is, which is our free group that we run for gym owners. There’s 9,400 gym owners in there right now, and if you ask these specific questions in there, you’ll get a lot of good responses.

Mike Warkentin (32:45):
There you go. If you do one thing now, go over to If you want to go further than that and go further faster, head to and book a call to talk about how a complete plan can help you run your business better. This has been “Run a Profitable Gym.” Chris, thanks for being here.

Chris Cooper (32:59):
Thanks buddy. This is awesome.

Mike Warkentin (33:00):
Alright guys, hit “subscribe” on the way out so you don’t miss another show. We’ll be back just in a few days.

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