How to Do It the Right Way in the Gym Business


Mike (00:02):

OK, check these levels, this micro—what? Is this even plugged? Oh, hey guys, this is Two-Brain Radio. Keep listening. Chris Cooper is gonna tell you how to do things the way right. Right the way. The right way. Just keep listening while I try to fix all this.

Chris (00:17):

Hey, everybody, it’s Coop here. And usually I come on this podcast to tell you the right things to do, but today I’m gonna talk about something that’s just as important. And that is doing things the right way. My most popular book is Two-Brain Business, but the book that most say is my best is “Help First.” The reason is that all of us gym owners are generous people. Sometimes we’re generous to a fault, and none of us are really great at sales. At least it makes us uncomfortable to do sales, especially when we’re starting out. In fact, I didn’t even realize that I would have to do sales when I graduated up from personal trainer to gym owner. But of course that’s just part of the gym owner’s toolkit. So when I was a salesman over 20 years ago, I was really, really bad at it.

Chris (01:05):

I read all the books by Zig Zigler and I had coaching from a few people, including Joe Marcoux, but I didn’t actually believe that my products, these treadmills and home gyms, were going to help people. And so I sucked at it. And a decade later when I was trying to sign people up for my gym, I had one horrible sales pitch that just went absolutely sideways. Actually, I’m gonna pause here and tell you what that was. This woman who was a teacher who had been living in Kuwait. She came into my gym. She had heard about CrossFit. She had tried a couple of classes in Kuwait, like on her own. And she comes into the gym. This is probably about 2010. And she says, OK, sign me up. And I said, OK, well, before we get going, I gotta tell you, I’m the world’s worst salesman.

Chris (01:52):

And she laughed and she’s like, OK, well, what’s your sales pitch? And so I walked her around the gym and I showed her the equipment and I told her our schedule and I got into like the philosophy of constantly varied functional movement at high intensely blah, blah, blah. And she’s like, yeah, I already know all that stuff. How much are your rates? And so I said, well, what do you do for a living? Right? Like I was looking for an excuse to give her a discount. And she’s like, why does that matter? I’m a substitute teacher. And I said, oh, well, you know, we’ve got this 20% teacher discount, thank you for your service, blah, blah. And finally she’s like, yeah, you really are the world’s worst salesman. I wanna sign up less now than I did when I walked in here. And so that’s because I didn’t understand at the time that I needed to get people to sign up before I could help them.

Chris (02:42):

I realized finally that if I didn’t sell them, I couldn’t help ’em at all. And so I wrote the book “Help First” to solve this problem for everybody else. To put sales into the right frame. Of course, the book is most famous because of the examples in it. I gave dozens of help first strategies that were actually great for more than sales. They’re great for marketing too, because the offer to help is a great way to attract clients and the right clients, of course. I’m gonna share a few of those strategies with you in a moment. And don’t worry that I published this book just over four years ago because the help first mindset timeless. The right way to approach sales and marketing is with the help first mindset. But why do you need to get good at selling your service at all? Well, why can’t you just go out and get your level three certification and hope that’s enough to grow your gym?

Chris (03:36):

And that’s a line that I swallowed from CrossFit for years, that the best trainers just they’re good coaches and that’s it. And the clients will go out and refer people to you and they’ll talk about their success. And they will pull their friends in by the teeth to get them into your gym. Right? I wanted to believe that. And so I did. But gym owners who have been around for more than a couple years know that that’s just not true, or at least it takes too long. So a conversation that I had not long ago at the CrossFit Games made me realize that I needed to get good at sales. And my friend, John Franklin, who later became the founder of Gym Lead Machine, gave me this little bit of advice. And I wanted to share it with you because it really summed up all of the sales training that I had learned over the last 10 years. What he said was Chris, everybody is going out there and they’re getting advice from someone.

Chris (04:29):

Sometimes that advice is wrong. Sometimes that advice even does them harm. So if you care about them enough to make sure that they get the right advice, that will help them grow their gym and not harm themselves. Then we need to get this message out there to people. What John was talking about was marketing for Two-Brain. But this is very true in your hometown too. People are getting advice from somewhere. If they’re interested in losing weight, they are asking someone how to lose weight. And there are people out there that are giving them advice that won’t help them. There are even people who are out there giving that advice that will hurt them in the long term, right? Things like starvation diets and crazy supplements that will cut down on their lean body mass, which will cut down on their metabolic engine, which will create all kinds of comorbidity problems like type two diabetes.

Chris (05:22):

In the long term. There are people who mean well who are giving out bad advice and they’re doing it louder than you are. These people need to hear from you. And if you really wanna make an impact in your community, then you need to get good at sharing your message. You need to get good at marketing to strangers and you need to get good at selling the people who trust you. So first, selling is really coaching. The first coaching that you do with somebody is coaching them to the right answer. Now, for some that come into your gym, constantly varied functional movement at high intensity performed in a group setting is the right answer, but that’s usually not the right answer for a newcomer. And it might not be the answer for everyone. And it might not be the answer for this person sitting in front of you right now.

Chris (06:12):

Now I can say the same thing about one on one or nutrition coaching, or online coaching or anything else, our needs change. And you need to care enough to coach them to the right answer right now. And that’s sales. The second step in the sales process for me is to remove the choice of what price do I tell them, remove that stress. So first when they’re sitting in front of you tell them the right answer. Here is exactly what you need to reach your goals right now. Now you gotta know their goals, of course, but you’re a great coach. You can look at their goal. You can break down the process to get there. And you can say, here’s exactly what you have to do. So worry about that first. Put price out of your mind, put price outta the conversation and just tell them the answer.

Chris (06:55):

But second, remove the choice in your brain about what the price is going to be, write your rates and your packages in a book. And after you tell them the right answer to get to their goals, say, how does that sound to you? And they’ll say, great. And then you’ll flip to the page in your book that has that exact package that you just prescribed. And you just point to the answer, OK, here’s the rate. Then you don’t have to do deep psychological work to overcome your own limiting beliefs or whatever the other psycho business hype buzzwords are right now. You just need to remove the choice from your stressed out brain. If you’re sitting down in front of somebody and asking yourself, what can I sell them? You probably won’t sell them much. But if you’re sitting down in front of sell in front of the client and thinking to yourself, how can I help them?

Chris (07:46):

Then the steps are only two. The first is tell ’em the answer. And the second is tell ’em the price. And if they say, oh, I can’t afford that. Then you say, all right, what can you afford? And if I was in your shoes and I had to make a choice and I had to prioritize only part of the solution, this is what I would prioritize. And then you change based on that, right? You don’t have to worry about like overcoming objections or selling for maximum value. Any of that stuff. You just have to focus on coaching them to the right answer. Now, second, retention. Retention is just sales over time. So every single day that somebody comes into your gym, you have to sell them on coming back tomorrow. And to do that, you must care enough to tell them the truth before they decide on their own.

Chris (08:31):

This program is not working for me. Before they address their own self guilt about not following your nutrition plan. You must care enough to address that first. And of course, you have to do that in caring, tactful way as if you are addressing your six-year-old, and you have to realize that it takes time and you have to not overwhelm ’em, but these are the skills of coaching. The skills of coaching are not necessarily doing the best squat triage. The real skills of coaching are getting people to change their behavior in small, incremental, but measurable ways over time. Third. The right way to approach staffing and paying staff and hiring staff is to create a long lasting platform for them by giving them opportunities to grow the pie while being shielded from risk. We call this intrapreneurialism, and getting your staff to grow and stick around means also help first.

Chris (09:28):

You have to give them opportunities to get started. You have to show them how to become a coach. You have to show them how to share their gift and their passion for helping other people. And then you have to show them, here is how you make a career at this. You have to break down the math for them. You have to do more than encourage them. You have to actually show them the process. Here’s how you can do it. Helping first doesn’t mean giving your personal trainers on staff an 80% commission, or letting them do personal training for free off to the side as long as they coach a certain number of groups. You have to care enough to actually help them. If they’re going to work for you or in your space, then you have to care enough to say, I’m going to mentor you through this process of growth so that you can make this your career instead of just abdicating responsibility, giving them free space and letting them figure it out on their own.

Chris (10:23):

If you care, if you want to help, then you will guide them. You will mentor them. Now, fourth is marketing. If you really want to help people, then you have to go out of your comfort zone and reach out to them and help them where they are. This is why I love content marketing. If you care enough about your audience, then you can just give the knowledge away for free because nobody’s buying knowledge. The best people who consume your knowledge will immediately recognize the value of your coaching. Some, a few, will get results just from your free material. And that’s fine, but most will just follow along, not taking action, but paying attention until they’re ready to pay for coaching. Maybe that’s what you’re doing right now with this podcast. Help first doesn’t mean you give your service away for free, or you just keep giving people free coaching forever.

Chris (11:18):

It doesn’t mean discounts. It means building a client-centric business and taking responsibility for doing the things that will actually help people, even when those things are uncomfortable for you. That is called leadership. It’s called help first, it’s called building a client-centric business and it is the right way to do things. We’re called Two-Brain Business because there are two sides of your brain. There’s the logical analytical side. This is how you do it. And there’s the caring, creative, empathetic side. This is the way I want to be. Early on in my career. I was told that if you’re gonna succeed in the business of fitness, you gotta sell, sell, sell. You gotta make these massive promises. You gotta do bait and switch marketing. And I said, if that’s how I have to be, then this business is not right for me. I looked around to try and find a model of doing fitness successfully in a way that felt good. I couldn’t find a model. And so I had to build it and I started building it with the publication of help first back in 2017. I didn’t wanna be a slimy salesman. So I had to figure out how to make sales unslimy, and that’s called help first. And that’s why that book is the favorite of many people. Hope it helps you.

Mike (12:37):

This is Two-Brain Radio, please remember to like and subscribe for more episodes. Now here’s Chris one more time.

Chris (12:44):

Thanks for listening to Two-Brain Radio. If you aren’t in the Gym Owners United group on Facebook, this is my personal invitation to join. It’s the only public Facebook group that I participate in. And I’m there all the time with tips, tactics, and free resources. I’d love to network with you and help you grow your business. Join Gym Owners United on Facebook.


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