16 Sales in September: Here’s Exactly How Vel Bates Did It

A photo of gym owner Vel Bates and the words "16 sales in September: how he did it."

Mike Warkentin (00:02):
Marketing funnels: How are the world’s best gym owners getting clients? And how many are they getting? You’re going to get answers today. In fact, I’ll give them to you right now. Real stats from September in a gym: 45 appointments set, 26 shows and 16 closes. Those are real numbers from 3D Fitness in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The owner is here and he’s going to tell you how he posted those numbers. This is “Run a Profitable Gym.” I’m Mike Warkentin. We’re giving out the cheat codes to gym ownership here every single month. Please subscribe, so you don’t miss a single episode. Now with me today, Vel Bates, he’s the owner of 3D Fitness, and he posted great numbers. I just told you what they were in September. Set rate: That’s the number of people who book appointments at your gym. Show rate: That’s the number of people who show up for those appointments. Close rate: That’s the number of people who show up and buy. So, Val, welcome here. Let’s dig into your numbers. Are you ready to go?

Vel Bates (00:50):
Yes, I am. I’m ready.

Mike Warkentin (00:51):
Thanks so much. These are incredible numbers, and I love that we have the real numbers from ground level, and you’re going to tell us how you did it. So, I want to start at the very top of your funnel. Like what’s the number one thing that you did to get so many appointments in September? Like 45? How did you get that?

Vel Bates (01:06):
Well it all starts with overall leads that month. We ended the month with 102, so that’s a high month for us. Like usually we’re around about 70 I’d say or so, and most of them usually come from Facebook. That particular month we actually—I did a 5130 that completely blew up on Facebook, so that gave us a really big boost as far as total leads and got a lot more people. I would say more warmer leads into—

Mike Warkentin (01:34):
Okay. So, I’m going to ask you a couple questions, so people know exactly what you’re talking about. When you’re saying leads are coming from Facebook, is this organic stuff, or are you running paid ads right now?

Vel Bates (01:41):
Running paid ads. So, we’re running the paid ads. We’re kind of just letting that go monthly, watching it, and tweaking it here and there. Just making sure we’re staying up to date with like holidays and time.

Mike Warkentin (01:53):
Are you spending a lot of money on Facebook ads?

Vel Bates (01:55):
Yeah, I’d say between five and seven. We try to float around that number per month.

Mike Warkentin (02:00):
Sorry, five and seven what?

Vel Bates (02:02):
500 to 700 per month.

Mike Warkentin (02:03):
Okay, perfect. Because some people do five, seven bucks a day or something like that. So, five or seven hundred a month. Yeah, that makes sense. Cool.

Vel Bates (02:09):
Yeah, and staying in that window has been great for us. Honestly. There’s really no need to go any more than that.

Mike Warkentin (02:14):
Yeah. And you’re tracking that, and you’re getting results on that—or a return on that investment, correct?

Vel Bates (02:19):
Oh yeah, definitely.

Mike Warkentin (02:20):
Okay, so that’s an important one.

Vel Bates (02:21):
You know how it is. Yeah, like two sales. I mean, it’s worth it. You get that money back; you’ve got to think of it as more of an investment.

Mike Warkentin (02:28):
And you won’t know, listeners, if you don’t track. So that’s a big point right off the bat. And Vel is living proof. If you do not track the return on your ad spend, you might be wasting your money. You’ve got to know what’s happening. Now, you also mentioned a 5130. Tell listeners what that is because this is a really cool one.

Vel Bates (02:43):
Yes, yes, yes. So, 5130. So, it took me a minute to get into those, but what I like about them is they’re more organic. So, what I do is I’ll go to my personal page, and I have a pretty good following. So, what I’ll do is I’ll just go to the page, and I’ll say, “Hey, we’re looking for five to 10 people—or women, men, depending on what it is—looking to lose five to 10 pounds within the next 30 days.” What that does is it’s hooking a lot of people right away; most people are wanting to get that done. So, every once in a while—sometimes it’s hit or miss, some months it’s great, and then sometimes nobody really responds to it. But that particular one did really well. It was targeted towards women. And it brought in like 36 to 35 to 40 comments. And I didn’t expect it to do that. And it was within like 24 hours.

Mike Warkentin (03:30):
So, I mean, that’s incredible.

Vel Bates (03:31):
Yeah. That gave us a big boost. I know a lot of people struggle with the 5130s. They feel awkward in the group. I’ve seen that a lot. But it definitely helps a lot when everything is getting slow. You don’t want to just wait on the ads. That’s a way to kind of generate some quick leads and get some conversation.

Mike Warkentin (03:46):
So, listeners, the code for this—5130—it’s: “I need five people to do one thing in 30 days.” That’s what 5130 means. There are variations of that. You could say 10 people and so forth. But the idea is that’s been tested—5130 has been tested. Vel is living proof it works. Put that post up in your organic social media; you don’t have to pay for that one. And then you said you get comments on that. What do you do when you get those comments?

Vel Bates (04:07):
So, what I do, usually, I’ll say, “Comment ‘Me’” or “Comment an emoji.” That’s the fastest way. You don’t want to say, “Comment, ‘Get myself fit.’” That’s too long. People are—they’re not going to do that. So, I’ll just say, “Comment ‘Me.’” Once they comment, “Me,” I’ll comment back, and I’ll say, “Hey, I’m going to send you a DM now, so we can have a conversation.”

Mike Warkentin (04:24):
And then you’re talking to them in chat, and in that chat, you’re trying to get them to come in for a free consultation.

Vel Bates (04:29):
Yes. Yep. So that’s the first thing I kind of asked them, like, “Okay, what have you tried before? Have you been in fitness? Have you had a personal trainer?” You know, I kind of warm up the conversation first. I’ve tried jumping right to like, “Okay, hey, I was just coming in …” and I think sometimes people get uncomfortable, so right away we get in the chat, and I’m like, “Hey, thanks for commenting on the post. Wanted to see how I could best help you.” You know, I’ll let them answer back, wait a couple of minutes, and then we eventually get to that point where we’re getting them in the gym.

Mike Warkentin (04:56):
This is a sell-by-chat strategy. It works really, really well if you do the right things. And the goal here is—you’ve got a lead—you want to talk to that person, find out a little bit about them, and say, “Hey, I can help you with my services. Why don’t you come in and talk about it?” Then you have a sales meeting. So, this is lead flow, and I’m going to tell you something in secret here, guys, that we don’t always talk about. You can’t just put up the 5130 post, and it’ll just explode. You kind of have to be a presence on social media. That means you need to post regularly and build your audience. Vel, you have done a great job of doing that. Your social media accounts—you have a pretty big following. Do you—tell people where they can take a look at what you are doing. Because I know you’ve got a huge following on social media.

Vel Bates (05:33):
Mm-hmm, yeah, so definitely Instagram: I’m floating around almost 16K on there. So, a lot of my followers are outside of the city, but I do still have a lot of following here. So, usually, we’ll put the 5130 in my stories on there, and I’ll put a link right underneath, so that way they can just click that link and go directly to our landing page. That way there’s not a bunch of stuff in between there. You know, you want to make—

Mike Warkentin (05:56):
Where can people, people look you up? What’s your handle on Instagram?

Vel Bates (05:59):
My handle, my personal handle on Instagram is: hercules_bates. So, if you check that out, you go there, you’ll see all my 5130s here and there every once in a while.

Mike Warkentin (06:08):
Hercules_bates: Check that out, and follow him. He’s got a great account. And again, follower count is not the be all and end all; it’s a glory metric. But if no one is looking at your stuff and you don’t have an audience, you’re not going to have a bigger response. So, if you can get people to engage and regularly grow your account, you’re going to have a better, a bigger—we’ll call it a bigger ocean to throw your hooks into. And then when you put these things up, people are listening and watching. So, going back to your lead flow: You put up—you’re using 500, 700 bucks of Facebook ad spend, you’re using this organic post, and you said you got—what was it? 120 something leads in September, is that right?

Vel Bates (06:44):

Mike Warkentin (06:44):
102. So, that’s a huge number. And from there you used sell-by-chat and other nurturing things to get 45 of them to book appointments. You talked about DMing them. How else are you getting those people to book appointments? What else is happening in the background when someone becomes a lead?

Vel Bates (06:59):
Well, as soon as they become a lead, I think the biggest thing is to help with your show rate and get them to book. We do, like I said, we’ll send them—some people will ask price, things like that. But what we’ll do is we’ll ask them their general idea, what they want to do, and I’ll send them a transformation or before and after of somebody who had a similar build, similar goals. And I’ll say, “Well, here’s somebody that we’ve helped do that before. So, if you would like, we can come in, get you in here, we can do a quick 30-minute consultation, and we can talk about how we can customize this, so it can work as well.”

Mike Warkentin (07:31):
I love that. So, you’re showing them what we call social proof, right? “Someone like you did something that you want to do,” and it’s a great resource, but you have to have created those resources, right? That’s one of the things—Vel and I met two years ago at the Two-Brain Summit in Chicago. We were chatting—Vel hadn’t signed up with Two-Brain—we were just chatting, and I remember looking at his Instagram account, and he had a whole whack of great client stories and transformations. And I was like,
“Wow, like you’ve got this much stuff on here already—your business—you can showcase this and take off.” Now when someone asks you, says, “Hey, I want to lose 20 pounds,” you’d be like, “I helped these 10 people lose 40 pounds” or whatever. Right? You’ve got that on command at the snap of your fingers, right?

Vel Bates (08:08):
Yes. And that makes it way—I mean, 80% increase. And that’s a big number, but I mean, it gives them more of an emotional feel. And I’ve been an online coach as well, so I know firsthand, if I show somebody a transformation, sometimes that’s the close—that’ll be enough. They’re like, “Oh wow, okay, I see it. You can do it. That’s proof.” But it’s a lot harder to close on them when you don’t have any social proof. So, we also just try to make sure we show that and post that to the page—the testimonials definitely …

Mike Warkentin (08:39):
Two-Brain gives its clients a specific script to help you get those testimonials. You can certainly figure it on your own, but Two-Brain has an exact plan that says, “Ask these questions at this point with your clients. Create this stuff. Have it ready.” If you can show people testimonials—even on your website, if they’re just scrolling through and looking, but even by DM like Vel is doing, which is a great idea—you’re going to close more sales because people will see proof that you are actually an expert and can deliver on your promises. Vel, this is a good time to ask: What exactly are you selling at 3D Fitness? Give us the 411 on your gym and business.

Vel Bates (09:11):
Yeah, so our main focus now is personal training. So, one-on-one personal training. We’re growing and working on semi-private—still kind of new—small group classes just came back. And then we’re also offering nutrition coaching and 24-hour access.

Mike Warkentin (09:25):
Okay. So, you got a little bit of everything. What’s your—and you said your biggest focus is PT?

Vel Bates (09:29):
Mm-hmm. Yep. That’s our new focus now. Originally, we opened, it was 24 hours, so we’re still working on that shift to becoming more of, “Okay, we offer personal training,” but yeah, that’s what our main focus is.

Mike Warkentin (09:41):
Okay. So, when you did that shift, which is in progress right now, did you have to change your marketing and your approach? Because your avatar becomes a little different when you’re looking for someone who just wants to come in and do their program versus someone who wants to work with you on a specific goal? How did you change that avatar focus?

Vel Bates (09:54):
Yeah, so that’s been a work in progress. Even still now. It’s been really hard to get people to understand we’re not just the access. A lot of people—what we did was we kind of took it out of our ads; we don’t really promote it as much because it’s one of those things where it takes care of itself. We have enough open 24-hour members, so we don’t really post about it anymore. We try to make sure we headline everything as, “We offer personal training, semi-private, small group.” And then if they want to know about access, they’ll find it on our website, but we just—out of sight out mind is what we’re going for. It’s like, “Okay, let’s kind of dial it back on promoting the 24 hours” because that’s not something, as far as ARM, that’s not helping that number that much.

Mike Warkentin (10:37):
That’s average revenue per member. I’ve got to ask, has your ARM gone up a lot since you shifted this?

Vel Bates (10:43):
Yes, definitely. Yep. Since we were a majority 24-hour access gym, our ARM was pretty low coming in. Now that we’re incorporating personal training, that’s growing, and as we start to get more people in the gym that are already here to sign up for classes, the personal training, I could see that, and we’re growing a lot more.

Mike Warkentin (11:01):
Okay. So that’s great. And then by that metric, if your average revenue per member is higher, you don’t need as many clients, and you don’t need to market as much because you have fewer people paying more and staying longer. Is that what you’re seeing at your gym?

Vel Bates (11:15):
Yes, exactly. Yep. That’s the goal. I mean, we’d rather that—I know some gyms go for 500 members and things like that. If that works and you have the space. But we’re still a smaller, tight-knit community gym, so we’re really trying—instead of going for more quantity, we’d rather have more quality. So

Mike Warkentin (11:32):
Yeah. Okay. So, you’ve got organic and paid advertising at the top of your funnel, then you’ve got people booking appointments, I’m guessing through your website. Do they do that through your website?

Vel Bates (11:43):
Yes. Yep. I have that set up right on our landing page. Mm-hmm.

Mike Warkentin (11:46):

Perfect. Or you’re doing it just by DM or just booking appointments by chat through sell-by-chat. What are you doing in between there? Do you have any systems that make sure that people show up for those appointments? Because we all know as fitness owners that people will book, and they’re like—and then they just ghost you. So, what are you doing to make sure they show up?

Vel Bates (12:02):
Oh, yeah. So, I mean, that’s been something that we’ve been working on now for a couple of months, and I’m seeing that it’s common. It’s just the common thing. A lot of people will book an appointment and just completely disappear off the face of the Earth. So, what we’re doing though, we’re sending the reminders. So, depending on how far out, like if it’s a couple of days, maybe five days or so, we’ll do a three-day reminder. We’ll do a one-day reminder, so about 24 hours, and then we’ll do a four-hour reminder leading up to that. But those are set by email. And then we also do it by text. Well just in case they don’t … And then another thing we’ve added within the last couple of months is we send them a text message, and it’s basically our address, it’s a link to a local newspaper—we were featured in a newspaper earlier this year—and it’s our social media.

Vel Bates (12:50):
So, it’s basically saying, “Hey, here’s some information about us just so you can get to know us, get more comfortable with us before you come into the door. Let me know if you have any questions before your appointment on this date.” And usually we’ll wait, if we get a reply, that’s a good thing, and we’ll kind of gauge it off of that. But in between there, we send that about right after they book, if it’s the next day. But if it’s, like I said, Fridays out, we’ll wait a couple of days and then send that, see if they’re still interested, you know? Because most people will tell you right there, “Oh actually, I’m going to have to reschedule.” And most people won’t. But I think that’s helped a lot—just building that relationship before they even come in the door because walk in that …, and they’re like, “Hey, I read everything. I read the article,” and they have questions. So, that helps feel more comfortable coming in the door because we’ve all been there. I mean, you first start a fitness journey, there’s a lot of anxiety, and some people get nervous. We’ve had people get in the parking lot and almost drive away until I pop outside, and I’m like, “Hey, you can come in.” So, we know it’s coming.

Mike Warkentin (13:51):
So, there’s a couple of things, listeners, that are super important. The first is Vel has a system, and he’s laid out the signposts. They’re getting texts and email messages at these intervals. It’s all laid out according to a plan. The second thing I want to point out in that system is it’s not just email. He’s sending texts as well. Super important, everyone. I mean, if you look at your phone right now, you probably have 10 to 10,000 unread emails, right? And there’s lots of stuff in there. People lose emails. It is not the best way to get ahold of anyone anymore. Text message, in many gyms, works better. If you can get their phone numbers and send them texts because everyone looks at texts, not everyone looks at emails. So, that’s a huge, huge one that Vel just pointed out.

Mike Warkentin (14:29):
Consider getting text message reminders. Could be a video text. “Hey, thanks for booking an appointment. I’m so excited to see you Thursday at 10 a.m. I’m going to be checking in with you between then and now. If you have any questions, talk to me right now.” Video, texts, something that people are going to open it. That’s a huge one. All of those things get people to go in the door. What happens though, if someone doesn’t show up? Do you have a system in place there to try and get them again? Or do you leave them for a bit? Or what do you do?

Vel Bates (14:54):
So, usually if they don’t—if they’re not there, right on the dot, I’ll usually text them and go, “Hey, are you having trouble finding us?” You know, we know what’s going on, but “Hey, you having trouble finding us? Do you need …” and no response. So, then I’ll wait a couple of minutes maybe. I’ll text them again, “Hey, I’m so sorry. I wish we would’ve gotten to meet you today. Still looking forward to helping you. Did you need to reschedule? Alright, we understand things come up, accidents happen. If you’re still interested though, we would love to get you set up for a consultation, get you fit.” Sometimes they answer right away: “I’m so sorry, I forgot” or “Sorry, my kids dropped this, and I had to …” and we get it rescheduled.

Vel Bates (15:36):
But we’ll do that up to two or three times. And I know that’s nicer than some gyms. I know some gyms are like, “Nah, they’re done. They no-showed.” But you know, I’ll reach back out, and we’ve had people appreciate that. We’ve had people that they genuinely were not meaning to no-show. They just had a lot going on. They have anxiety. And I’ve gotten people to come in after four times of them not showing up, and they sign up, and they come in, and they sign up for PT and nutrition, and it’s like, “Oh, see, it was worth it.” And they appreciate it. So, we definitely check in. I just think don’t give up on them so easy. I know, for us, it’s our business. And a lot of people can take it personally when people ghost them, and they no-show. It can be taken personally, especially when you map your entire day out. But I do encourage everybody to give them another chance, reach out. You never know.

Mike Warkentin (16:22):
If you were ready for the appointment, and they don’t show up, you’ve got 15 or 20 minutes to start texting and do some lead nurturing. And there are stories in the Two-Brain group of like owners who have messaged people and put them on reacquisition campaigns and have gotten someone after like seven, eight months, maybe 10 or 12 calls, or something like that. And is this annoying that person? No, the person asked for help, right? That’s the person who contacted you out, went out of their way to book an appointment, and contacted you asking for help. It’s kind of your duty as a fitness professional to help that person, and say, “Hey, I’m here to help. I’m here to help. I’m here to help.” If they contact you, and say, “Hey, I don’t want your help anymore.” Let them go. Get them out of your system, or we’re done here; we’re all good.

Mike Warkentin (17:01):
But that’s perfect because you know you’ve gotten a “no” answer; it’s fine. But if you don’t contact them, they might still need help. Maybe they just need a little push. And this is where Vel’s social media comes in because let’s say that person skips an appointment. They’re nervous; they contacted him. Maybe they were having a bad night or something. They felt bad about themselves. “I want to lose weight.” Next morning, they wake up, they’re really upset that they’ve done this. They’re not ready for it, but they’re just like still in their head. They start thinking; they look at his social media. “This person lost weight. This person accomplished this goal. This seems like a really good guy. He’s a professional, he’s got a great staff, great facility. Oh, I got a message saying, ‘I missed my appointment.’ Okay, I’m going to rebook.” All that stuff is your backup plan.

Mike Warkentin (17:39):
It’s like, think about it—playing baseball, that’s the backstop that catches all the things, the pitches that don’t go over the plate. That stuff is essential. So, you’ve got to build all that. So, those are the systems that you’ve got to get people in the door. And you had a great time doing that. So, you got 45 appointments, 26 shows, and that’s fantastic, so good work on that. Now, you’ve got them in the sales office. Tell me about the structure of that sales meeting: What do you do, and how do you get them to sign up?

Vel Bates (18:02):
So, definitely the prescriptive model. Thank you, Two-Brain. Instead of them just coming in—a lot of gyms, they just walk in, and they’re like, “You want personal training? All right, here’s the price. There you go. Do you want it or not?” You know, that’s not going to close anybody. So, we definitely do the prescriptive model. We’ve changed our questionnaire a lot of times just over the experience and getting more questions. And what we do is we turn it into more, for one, identifying the pain points. Specifically, the thing about us offering all those services is we allow them to have control, and they can hybrid their package. So, with the prescriptive model, we say, “Hey, you may not, you might not—do you need nutrition? How’s your relationship with nutrition? Do you have experience with personal trainer, or are you more experienced with group classes?”

Vel Bates (18:46):
Okay. And they choose that. Okay, boom. So, as they’re giving us these answers, we’re building it out. And then at the end we have their prescription: “Okay, based on the things that you’ve told us and your needs, your goals, your expectations, here’s what we think will work best for you; here’s the price.” And we kind of get that out the way. But before we even do the price, the biggest thing I think is we kind of connect on more of a psychological and an emotional level basking them, if six months from now you were to achieve this goal, what would that look like for you? What would that feel like for you? What would change in your life? And that’s usually where we get the real answer, the intrinsic answer to why they’re wanting—everybody’s like, “Oh, I just want to lose 30 pounds.”

Vel Bates (19:24):
I’m like, “Yeah, but why do you want to lose 30 pounds? Why do you want to lose 30 pounds? What is that going to do for you?” Once you get that answer, you can use that as far as if you get any roadblocks and things like that. Yeah. But you know, “You said you wanted to be able to be here longer for your kids or be more in shape for your wife,” things like that. And I think that that gives you that extra push to close. I had a guy the other day that we closed on just last Friday, and once we got to that part of it, he was sold on it. I was able to relate to him on more of an emotional level and incorporating fitness and how that could change his life. I think it made a big difference.

Mike Warkentin (20:01):
Wow. So, there, I mean—I’m going to put a link in the list in the show notes for you, listeners. The prescriptive model: It’ll tell you exactly how to use it because Vel’s sticking to the Two-Brain playbook here. The short version is exactly what he laid out: You ask someone what they want to accomplish, you tell them how you can help them, and that’s the deal. And it works. It sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. Vel’s living proof. Again, it works. And he’s added in an extra step that we recommend; it is: “What do you want to accomplish, and why?” And if people—you’ll get some gut punches in there. When people tell you, “I want to do this,” like you mentioned a guy who wants to be around longer for his kids. There’s other ones where it’s like, “I just want to feel good in my own skin again.” “I want to go to the beach without feeling ashamed of myself.” Like, you’ve probably heard some incredible emotional stuff in there and that helps you understand what this person really needs. Like, have you had a couple of other really great examples of things people have told you? Like their whys that are just like, “Oh, this is incredible.”

Vel Bates (20:52):
As far as wanting to transform themselves, usually I get them by asking, “Okay, so not just are you wanting to be more in shape for your wife,” but I’m like, I still try to make it be for them. I’m like, “Okay, but what about what you want?” Because at the end of the day, that’s going to be the best way to go with it. You know, we learn extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation. You want them to—“What is it doing for you though, specifically?” And what I usually get is, “Okay, but yeah, you look good for your  wife, be here for the kids,” but, like you said, “I want to look good in my own skin.” “I want to walk in a room and not feel like I’m the most out of shape person in the room.” Especially, you want to be able to use those, like you said, the beach. But I think: You want to go to the beach and be able to just take your shirt off and not be insecure and not confident in yourself, you know? So, but those are mainly the ones that I hear. I think you pretty much got them perfectly. Those are the most common ones.

Mike Warkentin (21:46):
So, it’s: “What do you want to accomplish? Why do you want to accomplish it? Here’s how you do it.” And the cool part about the prescriptive model is that sometimes people will come, and they’ll say, “Okay, I want to look better. I want to build muscle” or whatever. And you’re like, “Okay, cool.” And they might just think that they’re just going to do personal training, but you’re like, “You know what? The best actual plan if you want to accomplish this goal is: I want to do personal training with you three times a week. But I also have a nutrition plan because if you’re not eating properly, we’re not going to get the results that you want. Right? We need to gain, lose a little body fat, we want to gain some muscle—high protein, low fat, whatever it is. I want to work out with you and give you some nutrition coaching, help you with your healthy habits, all that other stuff.” And they’re like, “Oh, that’s going to get me to my goals faster.” And you’re like, “Yes, of course it’s going to help you get your goals faster. The price is this.” They’re like, “Sign me up.” Right? And your system is the close. When you ask for the money, is it difficult or awkward?

Vel Bates (22:38):
No, not if you make sure you hit all the pain points, specifically to them. And I think, like we talked about social proof, if you say all of this, and you show a price, the value to them—psychologically value is determined by the result in a way. So, if they see these results, and they’re hearing these stories, and you can relate, your pricing is not a number to them. I’ve had people—of course, it depends—people are like, “Oh, that’s a lot.” But if you connect with them on an emotional level, usually the price doesn’t matter. They’re like, “I don’t care what the price is if it’s going to make me feel the way you’re telling me it’s going to make me feel—if I’m going to get the results like those people on that wall over there. I’m willing to—”

Mike Warkentin (23:15):
What is the price of self-esteem? What is the price to feel comfortable at the beach? What is the price? Those are valuable things, right? So, $200 a month or 300 a month, whatever it is, when you have that emotional hook, it’s not just a gym anymore. This is like you’re selling a result. You’re not selling a thing, right? You’re not saying, “Oh, this is just gym access.” You’re saying, “I’m selling you self-esteem through this plan.” And so, the close becomes very easy. And instead of you saying, “I’m trying to take this person’s money by getting them in my gym” and whatever, you’re actually selling a result and you as the gym owner, you’re on the hook for that result because you’re going to get them there, and you’re going to provide everything they need. Obviously, you can’t save everyone, but you do your very best to give everyone what they need. And you’ve got the social proof to back it up. Because like in your sales office, did they look at the wall and just see pictures of transformations and stuff? Is that there?

Vel Bates (23:59):
Yes. So, we added that like two months ago, and we’re still adding more. We just talked about it yesterday. So, not only do we have before and afters on the wall, we also have—there’s spotlights. So, we have it built into the client journey to where there’s a spotlight photo done at 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days. And that, it’s highlighting their wins. Usually smaller wins. But since we do have access to an InBody, we usually put their InBody numbers at the top, and then get their emotional response down, down this much body fat percentage, down this much fat mass. But then at the bottom, “Feeling more confident in the gym or in my body.” We have those all on the wall on one side, and we have just the before and after the other side. So yeah, we’ve had people stand up, and they’re like, “Can I actually look at these?” I’m like, “Of course.” You know, but they’re walking through, and they’re looking at these people, and they’re like, “Wow. So, they did that in how long? And we’re telling them. And like I said, I think that that just makes—at that point, I just kind of, we’ll just sit back and let them just look at all these people because they’re like—the best thing is sometimes those people that are on the wall are in the gym, and I’m like, “You want to talk to them? Because they’re here.”

Mike Warkentin (25:05):
Has that happened? Have they gone out and tried it?

Vel Bates (25:07):
Yeah, I’ve had that happen a couple of times. I’ve had some that were out there; they’re one of our seed clients for sure. And I’m like, “Hey, you feel like stepping in?” And I’m like, “See, she’s real. No Photoshop here. I know we have all this AI and stuff going on. I just want you to see these are real people just like you that started off insecure, started off without confidence, started off anxiety. Now, here they are on their own.” Because the good thing about us is after they get done with PT and everything else, since they’re self-sufficient, that’s the good thing about our access. We just go into access, and they stay longer now. They’re here for years.

Mike Warkentin (25:43):
Okay, so listeners, if you’re out there, start collecting social proof. I’ll give you a tip as to when to do it: Have a goal review session with your clients—three-month mark. After three months, have a goal review session. Ask that client: Are you happy with your progress? If they say, “Yes, I am.” “Great. I’d like to make a superstar of you.” Pull out your phone, ask them some questions about what they’ve accomplished and what their next goals are and that kind of thing. And start putting that social proof together. You can also do it like Vel does—put them on an InBody. Ask permission of course, but just get them on there. Put their numbers up, before and after pictures. Almost nothing is more powerful than a before and after transformation picture. Like Vel said, you can do them with AI. People do that.

Mike Warkentin (26:19):
It’s sketchy. Don’t do that. Do it with your real clients because you’re a great coach, and you’re getting results. Put that stuff up. Make superstars of the people. Celebrate them. That’s going to retain that member. And it’s going to connect—give you all sorts of ammunition when you’re talking to someone in your sales office. Vel just points, “Cindy did that,” “Jeff did this.” And it’s like, “Oh, that’s what I want to accomplish. He could obviously make this happen.” Tell me one final thing: Your sales binder—do you have an actual thing that you look through and show the client? Or how are you presenting prices to them?

Vel Bates (26:45):
So yes, we do the binder. I’ve been thinking about doing the tablet. Right now, we do have the binder, and we have it all organized by personal training, semi-private, small group, 24-hour access. But it’s all in order of all the services, but just so we don’t overwhelm them, again, based off the prescriptive model, we usually just flip right to that thing, right? To what they fit in. It feels too salesy if we’re flipping through everything, “Do this, do that, do that.” Then they’re like, “But I need you to …” So, we have the binder, and I do think that makes a great difference instead of either sitting there, “PT is …” Being able to pull that binder out—we actually have a printout of our client journey.

Mike Warkentin (27:26):
Oh, nice. Hold that up for a second. That is beauty.

Vel Bates (27:29):
So, it’s kind of like a roadmap. Just like that. Coop has something pretty cool like that. So, we wanted to incorporate it in what we do though. They see this on day one. And then as they’re going through their journey, Lexi also—she’s doing CSM work too—she’ll send them, when they get to 30 days, at the 30-day mark here, they’ll get like a—there’ll be like a little car or like a person on a bike—like, “Congratulations on making it 30 days! Congratulations on making it to …” So, they’re getting these emails throughout the first 90 days. We’re still trying to work on our retention, so we do a lot more in that first 90 days than other gyms do. But yeah, that’s been great. They actually have an expectation. Okay, this is going to happen at 30, 60, 90. We do a goal review at 90, get back started right back at the beginning of the road, and that’s in the binder. And then also we have our nutrition coaching, macro coaching—not just the prices. It’s also kind of a tease of “Hey, this is what it’s going to look like if you do this. This is the roadmap.” And again, I think that helps just get …

Mike Warkentin (28:35):
You look ultra-professional as gym owner if, instead of saying, “Uh, I think our prices are 70 bucks a month,” if you just pull out the page: “Three times a week, one-on-one personal training: 275,” whatever. You just pull out the page: “This is the best solution to your problem. It’s our hybrid program. It’s nutrition fitness, it’s 305,” whatever. You just pull out the page, show it to them. And there’s a whole different way to break down if someone who’s got objections says, “Ah, I can’t afford that.” “Okay, I get it. Could you afford 275? Maybe we won’t start with nutrition coaching. We’ll start with this.” “Yeah, I can afford that.” There’s a whole system that Two-Brain teaches clients to close those sales. But in a lot of cases, if you just show them the price, you build up the value, you’re going to close those sales.

Mike Warkentin (29:15):
Just like Vel said, just by showing them that stuff as a pro. Two-Brain does have, for clients, downloadable sales guides that you can use, and you can also show them on an iPad. Vel was talking about that. Some gym owners have been really creative. They’ll put them on a screen that’s up behind the client or something like that. Show them on a tablet. Having your prices and packages laid out simply and directly and clearly is going to help you close more sales than having them scroll through a bunch of stuff or having them try and memorize all the stuff that you’re throwing at them. I used to do a horrible job of that. Three times a week? Is this one time a week? Is this two times a week? Is this unlimited? Is this? The client’s like, “I don’t care.”

Mike Warkentin (29:47):
Right? You’ve got to just give them a number, right? When you do it like that, it works. And then I love this: That graphic that you’ve had, you’re showing them the client journey. So, you actually are telling them, “Here’s where we’re at. Here’s where we’re going. Here are the milestones along the way.” Some of those milestones are those check-ins, which are super important for retention. And that 90-day check-in has been proven—Chris Cooper has the data—it’s proven to increase average revenue per member and retention because you ask clients if they’re happy. If they are, you keep them going. If they’re not, you make changes and you might alter their program and even add more stuff. “I’m not losing weight fast enough.” “Well now it’s time to add in nutrition coaching because you’re doing the work in the gym; you’re not doing the work in the kitchen.” Let’s do that. So, that 90-day journey, when you put that in and show people that graphic, did that start to—did you see visible results in your business with greater retention and greater onboarding success?

Vel Bates (30:38):
Yes. Yes. And it’s a psychological thing too because now we have in our bio, and we have on a whiteboard a picture that just says, “We help people take control of their health and fitness within 90 days.” So, they’re already expecting to do at least 90 days. And that’s the last question on the questionnaire. “Do you feel like you can commit yourself to this for at least 90 days?” So, by the time they get to that 90-day mark, we put them through a—we show them like their InBody again. And we’ve actually had that save people from leaving you. Because people don’t—if they’re just going off the scale, they might go, “Aw, I didn’t lose any weight.” Well, we’ve had somebody that came in, didn’t think she lost weight, but when we showed her—we had her do a 90-day InBody before her 90 days.

Vel Bates (31:21):
And the last time she did it was her day one. And what we did was we go, “Look at this. Your weight’s the same, but it’s because you lost six, seven pounds of body fat, but you gained seven pounds of muscle. So, it canceled it out for her. So, then she’s like, “Oh my gosh. So, I have been.” I’m like, “Yeah, you had a body recomp.” She’s like, “Oh, okay, so I was thinking I wasn’t getting results, so I’m going to stay on longer.” But had we not had that 90-day check in there to show her, “Hey look, no, let me show you what’s really going on. You’re thinking you’re not getting progress from this …” But that 90 day can save somebody from canceling because then you’re showing them, “Hey look—”

Mike Warkentin (32:03):
I love it. And that again, Two-Brain data backs this up. And that’s why it’s like great to have people like Vel explain it ground level—how it works. I’m going to give you the summary here, guys: Organic social media, paid media. You’ve got your funnels all putting people into your business. You do not have to use every single funnel in the world. Two-Brain teaches four funnels for clients. There’s content, social media, paid ads and referrals. Those are the four big ones that get people going. Whatever you do, you’ve got to start with one and then make sure it’s working well, and then go to the rest. Vel’s got some organic social media; he’s really great on there. He’s also got paid marketing. Those are two that are working really well. I’m sure you’re doing referrals and stuff. Am I right?

Vel Bates (32:39):
Yeah. Working on that. That one’s harder. We’re working on that. Yep.

Mike Warkentin (32:43):
But that’s going to get you the best clients. So, that’s almost a free space, right? Because you’re getting results with your clients. You’re a great trainer; they’re going to give you their friends. So, once you get that going, the business is even going to take off. But his funnels, the main ones there: We got organic social media—call it content, a little bit of a blurry one there. And then you’ve got your paid ads. He’s coming in, he’s got his nurturing systems, telling people, “You booked an appointment; I’m going to see you here. If you don’t come, I’m going to follow up.” You get people in the door. Using the prescriptive model to close those sales: It is a very simple, hugely effective system. Check the show notes for a link, and then you’ve got this 90-day journey that retains the clients, gives you a chance to ask them, “Are you happy?” And if they are, you make them famous with social proof. If they’re not, you make a small adjustment, and you retain them, set new goals, and keep moving forward. The system works like a charm. Vel, gym owners who are out there—so, we talked two years ago; you didn’t have this stuff in place—tell gym owners who are out there right now who don’t have the stuff in place: How soon could they make this transition? How soon could they do what you’re doing?

Vel Bates (33:36):
If you’re committed to it and you’re willing to do the work—I know a lot of people look at it as the boring work. I’m not a systems guy, but I had to become one. You have to if you want to get somewhere you’ve never been, you’ve got to do things. So, I would say it would take you—if you were committed to it, give yourself a good six months to really nail it. Because obviously once you get it together you have to trial and error to make the adaptations. I’ll say, all of the work is upfront. Once the systems are in place, the systems do …, and you can make small … Definitely worth it. We didn’t have these systems, and we struggled and didn’t know why we weren’t closing on clients. We weren’t getting leads. Now that we have all these things in place, I encourage you to at least give yourself a six-month goal to have it all laid out, secure, and …

Mike Warkentin (34:25):
Six months to change a business is not that long. Vel, how important is a mentor in speeding that process up?

Vel Bates (34:30):
Very important. Peter’s great. I have Peter. Peter’s great. He just actually gave me a new challenge to post more for content than I already post. So, I started a blog. We have a blog on the website now. So, I’m going to be putting some blogs up and things like that. But yeah, great guidance. Always able to see things from a different perspective, an outside perspective where when you’re in the business, if you’re in the grid of everything going on, it’s hard to kind of go, “Hey, did you get this done?” Peter’s good at keeping me from the shiny objects. I’m like, “Oh, let me try this then.” It keeps you focused, keeps you locked in, and emotional support too. It’s not easy being a business owner, let alone a gym owner. So definitely worth having a mentor. And I would do it again if I had the chance.

Mike Warkentin (35:18):
I appreciate all your comments so much. There’s a ton of insight in here for gym owners. Guys, follow Vel on social media. Check out his blog. We’ll put a link to 3D Fitness in there, so you can check it out as well. And then take a look at the prescriptive model. Everything he talked about is laid out in there, and it can help you transition your business, and if you want help doing it: plug and play resources—Two-Brain business has that for you. Vel, thanks so much for checking in with me. I want to talk to you in another year and see where you’re at.

Vel Bates (35:41):
Oh yeah, for sure. You know I look forward to it.

Mike Warkentin (35:43):
Drinks in Chicago?

Vel Bates (35:44):
Yeah, sure; I’ll be there again.

Mike Warkentin (35:46):
I’ll see you there, my friend. Thank you so much. That was Vel Bates. He’s the owner of 3D Fitness. This is “Run a Profitable Gym.” I hope you enjoyed the show. There’s some great information there for you. Please subscribe because this stuff comes out every single week from me, Chris Cooper, and the other hosts of the show. And now, here’s Chris Cooper with a final message.

Chris Cooper (36:04):
Hey, it’s Two-Brain founder Chris Cooper with a quick note. We created the Gym Owners United Facebook group to help you run a profitable gym. Thousands of gym owners, just like you, have already joined in the group. We share sound advice about the business of fitness every day. I answer questions, I run free webinars, and I give away all kinds of great resources to help you grow your gym. I’d love to have you in that group. It’s Gym Owners United on Facebook, or go to to join. Do it today.

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