This series is about the Flywheel Principle and how I’ve built our mentorship practice to maximize its effect.
In the first post, I explained what it takes to get your wheel turning in the right direction and then how to build momentum and grow.
The second post showed how your personal flywheel is different from your business flywheel.
In the third post, I explained how you can remove flat spots in your wheel and obstacles from the road.
To close out the series, I’m going to talk about trust.
The Axis of Your Flywheel
Put a barbell on a rack. Place your hand on the sleeve. Spin it. Track how long the sleeve spins. That’s a measure of balance and friction. Good barbells have sleeves that spin longer.
Now put a 45-lb. plate on the sleeve. Grip the edge of the plate. Spin it on the bar. No matter how long the sleeve spun on its own, it will spin far longer with a plate on it. This is called rotational inertia.
Now put that plate on a rusted barbell that doesn’t turn at all. Spin the plate hard. It might turn a bit … but it will grind against the sleeve. It won’t turn for long. And you’ll have to use greater force to get it moving.
No matter how big your flywheel, it will spin faster and longer on a frictionless axis. And the axis of your flywheel—in business and in life—is trust.
I said that there are six “handles” on your gym business flywheel, and that pushing on any of them will make your business grow faster and last longer.
But if your axis doesn’t turn smoothly—if you don’t have trust—none of your pushing will work nearly as well.
The Six Handles
First Handle: Teach the Vision
Your staff and your clients know when you’re lying. If you’ll say anything to make a buck, they’ll see it. They’ll know when your values are different from their values. They’ll know whether you’ll have their back or throw them under the bus. But if they trust you, they’ll believe in your vision and pursue it to the death. Read more about Aligning the Vs (vision and values) here.
Second Handle: Improve Operations
Your staff and your clients know you’re not perfect. If you say, “I made a mistake. I should have charged more. And I should have focused on coaching instead of selling you open gym,” that’s going to be a difficult conversation. But the outcome depends on trust: If your clients trust you to do the best thing for them in the end, they won’t leave. If they don’t know why you’re making these decisions, or if they distrust your values, they will. And they should. They’ll argue. They’ll join another gym in revenge. They’ll try to recruit other members to go with them. These aren’t rational actions: They’re emotional ones, and they happen because there’s no trust.
Third Handle: Upgrade Team
Your staff has to understand their opportunities and responsibilities and trust you to measure them the same way every time. “That teacher hates me!” is now a common complaint among students who get bad grades. That means they don’t trust the teacher to provide equal attention and grading. If you sit with your team and set goals with them, show them their opportunities clearly, answer hard questions and give them feedback regularly, they’ll trust you. If you don’t, they’ll be susceptible to people who want them to fight with you (yeah, they’re out there).
Fourth Handle: Keep Clients Longer
When does your bank call you to ask, “How’s everything going in your business?” In my experience, that never happens until you close your account. Then, when the banker calls, I roll my eyes because I know the bank doesn’t really care; it just wants me to leave my money in the vault. Building trust with your clients means constant contact. You must re-sell them on your value. Just like a marriage.
Fifth Handle: Sell More
When your clients know you’ll give them the best possible prescription, they’ll pay for your suggestion. When they know you’ll run bait-and-switch marketing to get more clients, they also know you’ll say anything to get more money from them. If they understand that you value fairness, your rate increase won’t be a surprise. But if they see that you just value more clients, more clients, more clients, then they won’t trust you to give their goals much attention. Word gets around.
Sixth Handle: Get More Leads
When future clients see an ad, they might not take action. In fact, most won’t. And over time, as the high-trust early adopters move to something else, the rest of us need to trust you before we buy from you. We need to go to your website and see proof. We need to see other clients who look like us. We need to read or watch something to see if you know what you’re talking about. We need to trust you. Even Facebook now tells high-level marketers they need to publish a lot of free content to build authority (another word for trust) on their platforms. Gyms that publish a lot of media spend far less on Facebook ads (sometimes $0). Paying for attention isn’t the same as establishing trust.
Trust and Leadership
The axis of trust is important in your business. It’s also critical for your personal flywheel (listen to this podcast from Naval Ravikant on “compounding relationships”). But of course, there’s a lot of overlap.
Local physiotherapists and chiropractors refer their clients to my gym, Catalyst, because they trust me as a person. Local parents trust me with their kids because they see me volunteering in the community. And my wife trusts me to work long hours (and travel) because she sees me work hard to be a dad when I’m home.
Trust means that people know you will do the right thing even when it’s hard. That you will make the choices that will ultimately benefit them. That you have their best interests in mind.
Leadership means that you have earned the collective trust of your group.
Where will you lead us?