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Keeping Clients for 10 Years—All the Secrets

Picture of Brian Strump with title text

Mike (00:02):

Want to make a $24,000 sale at your gym? It can be done. If your average revenue per member is $200 and a client stays for 10 years, you’ll earn $24,000. The key to that equation is length of engagement. It doesn’t just happen. In this episode of Two-Brain Radio, we’ll talk to gym owner, chiropractor and mentor Brian Strump. He’ll tell you exactly how to keep clients for more than 10 years. More on that in just a second. Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by AGuard, providing elite insurance for fitness and sport. AGuard offers coverage for functional fitness facilities, mixed martial arts gyms and even events and competitions. You can also get access to healthcare insurance, discounted AEDs and discounted background checks. AGuard’s coverage options are designed to keep you safe. To find out more, visit affiliateguard.info. It’s Two-Brain Radio. I’m Mike Warkentin here with Brian Strump of Live Active Charlotte in North Carolina. He’s a chiropractor and also a certified Two-Brain mentor. Brian is here today to teach you how to retain members for 10 years. Dr. Strump. Welcome.

Brian (00:58):

Hey, thanks Mike.

Mike (01:00):

How you doing?

Brian (01:02):

I’m doing good now. Hectic.

Mike (01:07):

I understand. Are you guys still closed? This date of recording here is July 2nd. Are you guys still closed in Charlotte?

Brian (01:14):

Yes, but we opened on Monday the 29th under this ADA Americans with disability act and giving people rights to health care. I knew about it in April, but I felt like maybe it would have been perceived as reckless if we just like never closed. So, we waited until July to, actually June 29th was our first day inside since March 17th.

Mike (01:46):

Well, that’s a whole can of worms for another day, but I’m glad to hear that you’ve got people training and that must feel good.

Brian (01:51):

Yes. So everybody’s, the feedback we’ve gotten has been very good that people are excited to be back.

Mike (01:59):

You’ve probably got some ten-year members that are pretty pumped to be back in the gym after layoffs. Let’s talk about that. I want to tell people how they can learn how to retain members for 10 years, because that’s an incredible stat. And that’s going to be huge retention, right? That’s huge retention. The money over time is incredible for business. So let’s get right into it. I know fitness is a super fickle business. People leave, people try new things, you know, what do you say to people who think, you know, it’s impossible to keep a significant number of clients for a decade?

Brian (02:28):

I think you can, right? I think others have done it. And certainly when we first met these people 10 years ago, we never ever thought that like, man, 10 years from now, like your six year old, that you have is going to be driving or your 10-year-old’s going to be graduating college and it’s really, really wild. Like we don’t really notice the years go by unless they have kids, and then it makes it so much easier because you see like, what actually happened in these people’s lives. And I think it just starts with, you know, the thing that we do really well is, I mean, you know, a few things, but I think just making the gym—I was thinking about this when I was driving home to get ready for this call.

Brian (03:12):

I feel like most people don’t think exercise is fun. And if you polled the overwhelming majority of people that weren’t training for, I mean, even if you played a sport and you had to practice for a sport, like you just liked the games, you know? So imagine like practicing for like just kind of life stuff. You know, I think it’s hard to keep people for a long time. So I think it being fun. And when the novelty of whatever it is, whether it’s personal training or orangetheory or some other type of group, or the stuff that we do here, the novelty and giving them options and keeping it fun are probably the three. It sounds so simple, but you know, and there’s certainly some more, but, I think those are the three big things that are important that if you would ask most of our members, they just flat out enjoy coming to the gym, which is something that most people don’t say.

Mike (04:08):

Oh, that’s cool. We’re going to circle back into the exact steps to help people do this, create 10-year members at their gym. Before we do that, we were talking offline. You said you had some stats on 10-year clients at your gym. Can you tell me a little bit about those numbers and the retention and length of engagement at your gym?

Brian (04:23):

Yeah. I just got these, this was pre COVID. We haven’t kept, I mean, we’ve kept up, but I don’t know how accurate they would be before, but as of the end of February our length of engagement was 39 months. And we had just my goal when we were starting to get into these 10-year members, I wanted to like create something for them and I couldn’t figure out like what we create. So we created this like giant, which became very popular. I mean, I posted a picture of it. And a lot of people like asking me how we did it. We create like this big plaque of a big wooden plaque of members that have been here for three years, five years or 10 years. So right before, yesterday I looked at the plaque was, I knew we were going to talk today. And we had about 200 members pre COVID. So let’s say the end of February and 14 of them have been with us for 10 years. 45 have been with us for five to nine years and 21 have been three to four years.

Mike (05:27):

So that’s like 25% of your membership. That’s like 50 people that have been with you for five to 10 years.

Brian (05:32):

Yeah.

Mike (05:35):

That’s incredible. And I’m sure, like you said, it must have been amazing to watch these people evolve, like you could have people that literally started and probably couldn’t do a squat or a pull-up or whatever. And they’re probably doing 30 pull-ups and squatting 300 pounds at this point after 10 years or something similar to that.

Brian (05:51):

Yeah. So it’s really crazy. I’d imagine like doing this 20 years ago and pictures weren’t as so available, you know, it would be less exciting to look back and seeing these things, but now with Facebook and every few years it’s like, here’s your memor, here’s your memory? And you seeing these people and kind of like when you live with somebody, you don’t really see their changes over time, too. Like, you know, until somebody else sees them, or you haven’t seen them for a while. And so when we start to see these pictures, we kind of realize that, or they say, Oh, you know, I just had a memory pop up. And here’s a picture that was me with my husband or me with my family before or whatever. And it’s really crazy. Another thing that I didn’t expect, you know, when we first opened the gym is a lot of these changes go well beyond the physical portion of them, you know, confidence and outgoing or from how they operate in a business or whatever other lessons that they get from, not just us, but from the other members.

Brian (06:58):

It’s really amazing to see some of these people and how long they’ve been there and the changes that they’ve made in their life. And that’s what really kind of keeps us around. So now, like when people come in, you know, it’s easy for us to say, they’re like, well, you know what happens after these 90 days? It’s like, I’m not planning. Like if you’re not here for these three years, I deem that a failure. You know? And sometimes I don’t want to say it’s a double edged sword, but sometimes we’ll have members that have been here for five, six, seven years and they’ll leave and a coach might get upset or other members might be like, Oh man, Jimmy’s leaving, he’s been here forever. And then on the other hand, it’s like, exactly. Like seven freaking years, he’s had four jobs, been to the same gym for seven years. I’m like, I get more mad when somebody leaves after 60 days from like, maybe we did something wrong than after six years, you know, because that’s a really long time for somebody to be at the gym.

Mike (08:01):

And so, obviously some of these people are, they’re quite obviously your most valuable clients where if you’ve got a 10 year client and let’s say your average revenue per member is 200 bucks. I don’t know what it is, but multiply that out. That’s $24,000.

Brian (08:12):

Yeah. Oh 100%. Yeah.

Mike (08:14):

Yeah. So you want to create these and grow these clients and you work with a lot of gyms, obviously at Two-Brain, we’re always looked to drive up length of engagement. We’re looking to drive up average revenue per member, not just to get more money, but to help the client more with additional services. So with the gyms that you mentor, have you been able to work with them and see significant changes in their length of engagement and when someone makes a change, how long does it take to start seeing?

Brian (08:38):

I think, length of engagement to me, in one month, it’s kind of like, if somebody is measuring their body fat and then, two months they lost 1% body fat. And lets say that’s like the LEG, but then when they measure inches, it’s like, Oh my God, I lost 11 inches. So it’s like, it’s a number that I feel like it takes a really long time to like really see something to get excited about in terms of that number growing. So when we start working with a gym and say, OK, what’s your LEG like now? And like the only direction we want to see that going is up. And it’s going to take time. Like, your length of engagement’s 13 months and you want to get to 20, like you just can’t physically get to 20 in two months or six months.

Brian (09:26):

It’s like, you need to just keep keeping these people. So, we’ll definitely see it, but it’s definitely one of those stats. It’s not like revenue where you can make, Oh my God, it went up 20% revenue from last month. Like you just can’t physically like mathematically make that change so quickly in LEG. But I think looking at the long tail when I speak to most of the gyms, it’s like we’re playing the long game here, you know, these are the steps that I recommend doing and helping in order to getting that LEG to continue to grow. And then if we roll back to the numbers, like you just said, it’s like, it’s so much easier to keep a client for one more month. And it’s so much more valuable than to go out and find that new client that has to trust you all over again.

Mike (10:13):

Well, I’ll throw this out to you. Tell me if you agree with this, from what you’re saying, I think there are steps that gym owners can take right away to start improving the length of engagement. But they’re probably not going to see those results for a year or more necessarily in the numbers. Right? Because to get a leg of three years, you have to be open for at least three years, or you have to make a change. Right. So do you agree with that? There are things you can do immediately, but the results is going to kind of going to be a long tail thing, right?

Brian (10:39):

Yeah. I think there’s mindset things that like the owner has to start with that will or a coach starts with, that will trickle down to the rest of the staff. And then that infects, that’s a bad word to be using now, but that kind of falls down into the members now. And now the members kind of bring that same mentality. It’s like, when they refer somebody, it’s like, look, I want you to be here forever because I’m going to be here forever. And then everybody has that same mindset.

Mike (11:05):

  1. We’re going to talk in just a sec about exact steps to create ten-year clients right after this. We’ll get into the exact steps for increasing length of engagement, right after this. Website, designer, marketer, landing page software, calendar, CRM, form builder, emailing service, texting platform, connecting software. You can get rid of all of them by switching to Gym Lead Machine. This is the platform used by Chris Cooper, along with over 60% of the Two-Brain mentorship team. The average gym owner saves over $300 a month with Gym Lead Machine. And they’ll even waive the $1,000 setup fee for Two-Brain Radio listeners. Switching is easy and you can go live in just one week. Visit gymleadmachine.com to watch a demo and book a sales call. All right, we are back with Brian Strump. He is a chiropractor, gym owner and all around good guy. We’re going to go over the exact steps that you can take to create ten-year clients. So, Brian, again, we might not see these results right away. What are things that gym owners can start doing today? You talked a little about mindset, but what can with gym owners do, what are some of the main things that are going to help them get to ten-year length of engagement?

Brian (12:07):

Yeah, I think one of the most important things that typically gets missed is your staff and the consistency of your staff. You know, we’ve been fortunate enough that we’ve had staff that’s, right now we have 10 staff part time, full time. Everyone has been with us for four to 10 years

Mike (12:24):

Length of engagement for staff. I like that. That’s important.

Brian (12:27):

Yeah. So a hundred percent. So it’s like cycling through staff, and now your members can’t create relationships with these other people and they can’t know them better and know them better know them better. I don’t want them just to have a relationship with me, especially if I’m going to start coaching less. And that consistency in staff, I think just people, members start getting more comfortable and they could start getting a little more personal with them and having some more connections there. I think starting with this place, like we mentioned at the very beginning, fun and some flexibility, like it can’t just be business 100% of the time

Mike (13:08):

I’m going to take you back to the staff one for a sec. How can gym owners create that consistency with their staff members? Like, what have you done that makes sure that everyone is delivering to the same standard that’s very high and gives the clients what they need.

Brian (13:22):

I’ll be honest. I wish I knew like some secret that I had, but I remember from when my mom, when I was growing up and she would, Oh, you know, every once in a while, she’d have a shitty boss, I’m sorry, excuse me, a boss that she just didn’t like. And it seemed like the ones that she liked, who just like care about them and ask about them and ask how they can help. I think I do that a lot, making sure that I’m putting my staff in positions where they’re happy, asking them what they like to do, trying to try my best. I can’t remove what they hate doing the most. And then, you know, giving them some leeway to be creative and understand that when they make mistakes, that most of the time, they’re not going to be fatal to my business or for our clients and giving them a little bit of grace and then giving them a little bit of flexibility.

Brian (14:18):

Like if they have an idea, you know, letting them run with it and letting them take ownership over not just the program, but like if the coach has a good idea and it’s a good idea, it’s like, let’s do it. And now we kind of work on it, we test it and we move forward. So I think just caring for them, giving them some ownership, allowing them to be creative and then really just, you know, asking them how they can help and trying to put them doing what they like to do. And moving away from the stuff that they don’t like to do.

Mike (14:52):

Do you have a staff playbook, or some operational standard operating procedures that help them with the more mechanical aspects of giving a great service to a client.

Brian (15:00):

We do. And I think we could certainly, I mean, I’ve seen some people with playbooks that are just phenomenal. I think we just bring on a coach. And I think that the biggest thing, when we hire the coaches, I am a big believer in hiring for the person and then teaching them the skills like, you know, when I get a resume about how great you are, I don’t really care. In every ad that I’ll put out, you know, I’m asking them to, like, at the end, it says like, you know, please share your Facebook page, your Instagram page, you know, your newsletter. And it’s not so I could stalk them.

Brian (15:40):

Right. But really it’s like, can you read and follow directions? And sometimes I’ll get some resumes. It’s like, Oh man, this person will be, seems really good, but like, they can’t even read to the end of a page for the resume. So we don’t hire them. And then I think the important part is that is they really need to get in with my staff. You know, like they, I can’t bring somebody in and a staff that’s been there for seven or eight years be like, I don’t know about this guy. Right. And they need, and if we’re all like making exercise fun and it’s just exercise, let’s not take this too seriously, you know, in the scheme of things. Right. And you come in and you’re like picking apart every single movement of a 62-year-old with an ankle that’s been drilled shut.

Brian (16:28):

They can’t bend, you know, it’s like we need to tone it down a little bit, like, what do you mean? Like, I can’t tone it down. Well, then you can’t work here. This isn’t going to be a place that you’re going to be comfortable because you’re going to get frustrated with nine other staff members who understand, like the 62 year old, the 71 year old, or this person that’s 320 pounds. It’s like, I just want them sweating and moving, consistency, you know, intense, you know? And so it’s really important that we don’t all get along. We just have to be respectful of each other, but in terms of coaching and how we deal with the other human beings in the membership. Right. And I also preach being consistent with our members, because I think those are the things that get to get us in trouble. Right. If we don’t all treat our members consistently in the gym and now members starts saying, Oh man, well Mike, let me do this and let me do this. And then the one person who’s strict becomes the main one. So really explaining to them how that has a trickle down effect if one or two of you aren’t consistent and how it makes all the other seven of us look bad because you just want to be—

Mike (17:42):

OK, so I’ll lay it out, guys. Gym owners, if you’re listening, here’s what Brian’s done and what you can do to increase your length of engagement. You’re going to hire good people. And you’re going to work hard to retain them by being a good boss and always checking in with them and giving them opportunities. But you’re also going to give them standard operating procedures and a staff playbook that defines the boundaries that they have to work within so that they all are delivering to the same high level of service. They’re on board with your mission and your vision at your gym. And they’re all working toward the same purpose. So that’s a big one right there. And a lot of people won’t think of that because if you’re a gym owner and you’re just doing it all yourself, you don’t think about that until you all of a sudden hire people. But unless you want to coach every class, you are going to need to hire some people. And you need to make sure that they’re delivering to the exact same standard that you are. So next, creating ten-year clients. What’s another thing, you talked a little bit about making things fun. Talk to me about that. That sounds like a good one.

Brian (18:33):

We still want to see people move well and move right. And we’re still teaching people to squat with their hip below their knees and stand up when I’m deadlifting. But at the end of the day, most of these people, we just said, if we interviewed most of the people that came in, that you know, that we’re talking to is like, I haven’t exercised because this is not fun. It’s boring. So it’s not that we’re always playing games. But we’re smiling, we’re laughing. We’re not taking ourselves too seriously if we miss a lift or something like that. And there’s still, it’s not to say that there aren’t members that are like that. And that’s fine, but we need to understand and like play to our members. And that’s not to say, like, if you have a gym where it’s like uber competitive, and you’ve got a lot of like 23 year olds just out of college that were playing sports, then maybe that’s a different thing.

Brian (19:19):

But I don’t see those people, because now when those people out of college are 32 and maybe they’ve got a three year old and fitness isn’t as important as it was when I was 21. I mean, that’s what you might start to lose them. So, you know, warm-ups are fun and loose. Maybe we’ll play some games. I think some social aspects outside of the gym, you know, like we’ll usually do two or three potlucks a year. We usually do them in the morning. I like the morning time, in all honesty is less likely that members are gonna get hammered until two o’clock in the morning. So we do a potluck in the mornings and, you know, it’s like after a workout and they’ll have mimosas or whatever, everybody will bring some, they’re just a good way for us to hang out, they’ll bring their family, we’ll do something.

Brian (20:08):

Maybe every few months we’ll do a quarterly, something out at, you know, at a brewery or some other area. And then other people kind of get intertwined with like, a soccer league or kickball league or something. So it’s really just finding ways that these people could make connections that are fun, not just necessarily in the gym, but having them form little tribes of their own friends outside that are still always being connected to the gym. And I think when you have those and the more people that have those, the member, that was like a, you know, like whether it’s whatever the reason is except for moving far away, I think the more connections that they have to not just the staff, but to their friends, like a member is not going to leave our gym to go to a gym three miles down the road after they’ve got all their best friends that they just made in the gym for $15.

Mike (21:00):

So what I’m hearing, Brian is culture and community, right? So you’re establishing a culture and you’re maintaining it. Yours is fun. Other people have different things. I think fun is always, I agree with you. Fun has to be an important part of fitness, but you’ve got a culture. Every gym is a little bit different, but culture is an important thing. So you need to establish that culture and maintain it and protect it. It doesn’t just grow by itself. I can tell you that from experience, and I’m sure you’ve seen that you have to establish it. And that means sometimes you’ve got to get rid of people that don’t fit. And it also means you have to regularly remind people what your culture is. And then you’ve got the community aspect where you’re making sure that people are making connections with each other, with the staff members, with your brand, with your business.

Mike (21:39):

And again, that thing doesn’t just grow by itself. That community has to be maintained and nurtured. And if you don’t do it, it doesn’t happen. So a lot of times we say, Oh, we’ll just be great coaches and everything will just happen. It really doesn’t work like that. You have to work to nurture that. So I want to ask you specifically, you know, when we’re looking at creating those bonds between people and especially between clients and the brand creating retention, how do you do that? Like, do you have a client success manager? What are some of the things you do to get long-term clients, to keep smiling and keep hitting bright spots and goals and things like that?

Brian (22:09):

Yeah, I mean, I think it starts from the initial contact, right? Like we do have a client success manager. She does a lot of stuff, but that’s one of her tasks, she’s been with me for almost four years. She kind of does a lot of other administrative stuff. She’s the only staff that I have that’s not a coach.

Mike (22:30):

I bet she’s great at her job if she’s been there for five, four years in that position.

Brian (22:33):

Yeah, yeah. A hundred percent. So she’s the one, like, I think this whole relationship starts right from like the first step, when they first click on a link and you need to be text them or call them. And then they come into the gym and they’re greeted by their name, like what we’re expecting them, or when we confirm the appointment, we’re telling them where to go, where to come in, who to ask for. And then when they come in, staff’s not like, Mike’s here, who’s this. And we’re running around. Like, everything’s kind of well-prepared, she’s smiling, the staff’s smiling because they are happy to be there. You know, like every meeting is like, Hey, if you don’t want to be here anymore, leave. Not just her, but like any of our staff, like, I don’t need you here if you’re not going to be happy.

Brian (23:16):

You know? So like, she’s the one that’s following up with people when we’re running reports and seeing where they are checking with people, sending flowers for good things, sending cards for good things, sending food baskets for good or bad things, whatever it is, you know, onesies for babies. What have you. And, you know, it was really, you know, kind of sad, but like last week we had a 59 year old lady who was, I think I posted in a group that was running. She was on hold for COVID and she was running in her neighborhood in a neighborhood where there’s like 12 other members that come to the gym and people knew that it was happening, there was ambulances, like in the morning when people are coming to class. So people were saying, Oh, I think I’m not sure what happened to her.

Brian (24:02):

And then, it kinda got through the gym and she was like always smiling and working hard. And then we had some stats, some members say like, you know, it was a sad day, but it was, it was good to see, like, you know, like there were tears and there was hugs and there was stuff for like a member. So I think members really saw how like, connected we get to them that this isn’t just like, Oh, you’re coming here. And this is just work. Like if you were taking a shirt off the rack and my job was to fold it when you’re done, or if I was a lawyer or something like that, you know, they really make these connections that staff see our members, seeing staff like cry when they found out that she passed away, getting a card, putting out, you know, putting out like a giant sunflower in a pot to put out in the side because this woman was always smiling and getting a giant card, having everybody sign it.

Brian (25:03):

So I think everybody saw like that. And then really just kind of hit home like, Oh, you know, this is, most people already knew that. But to some of these other people that were like on the fence of like, I wonder if this is a place that I’m going to stay for another seven years, like, Oh, these people really take care of like their people and birthday cards filled with too much confetti, you know, birthday cards or PR cards. And we do a really, really good job with that. And people love it. People share it, selfishly it’s marketing because people take it, they take pictures of it and they show it to all their friends. You know, we had a woman that posted her card she’s like 43. This was last year. She’s like, I love this place. I didn’t get one birthday card.

Brian (25:46):

The only place that sent me a card was this gym. And it wasn’t one of those like pre typed out that you get from your dentist. You know, I had a little kind of personal note in there. And I think those things, I didn’t believe it years ago, but as time goes on, like we said, you don’t really notice LEG changing right away. But as you start to see a culture and what happens and the people that write the cards, love making the cards because they get to be super creative and send those out and people love them and they share them. So yeah, I think that CSM position is super valuable, but this person has to like always be smiling, cheerful, even when somebody is, you know, yelling and drilling them for something that’s not even their fault, which is like, OK, you know, I’m sorry, let me go speak to whoever and I’ll make sure we take care of it for you.

Brian (26:40):

So I think that high level of service where I think back to the power of moments book, like any time something goes poorly in a gym now, like the first place that my mind and some of the other staff’s mind goes to is like, OK, well, we really messed up here. Like, what in the hell? What in the heck can we do now to like, let them away with like, them being like, man, like that was unexpected. And, I don’t really remember what I was mad about before, because you guys really kind of like turned the tables on me right there. And I think that, I mean, that book was a super powerful book for us in regards to like upping this game continually from the second we made contact with them all the way through the cancellation. We also do a good job with when people say, Hey, I need to cancel.

Mike (27:33):

I’m going to interrupt you. I want to actually ask that question and I want to save that for a sec, but to summarize that first part, guys, if you’re listening, a client success manager and your client journey, so you need to know your client journey from the second that they start interacting with your brand all the way till they leave your brand or stay forever, which we prefer. And then client success manager, there is a way to hire these people. We have job descriptions, which we’ll get a link to that in the show notes will tell you exactly how, what you’re looking for in a client success manager. Brian said, happy, easygoing, engaging all these different things. We have characteristics. We also tell you how you can pay them. And I’ll tell you this, the details of this are in that guide, but a client success manager will make the money back that you spend paying his or her salary 100%, because you think about it.

Mike (28:23):

If your length of engagement goes up due to the work of a client success manager, the money that you spend on, you know, 12 or $15 an hour or 20 or whatever it is that is going to be paid back in full, or if a client leaves and the success manager reacquires them. That’s a huge deal. Or if a client is going to leave and the client success manager saves a relationship. That is another huge thing. So, Brian, now we’ll go back to what you were just going to talk about. Talk to me about what happens when a client might want to leave your gym for whatever reason. Probably they just don’t like you, but I’m guessing there.

Brian (28:55):

Yeah, it’s certainly possible. So yeah, so we changed this process in 2019. The process is the same. I’m just removed from it because I would help, I would get too involved and I would try to help some people too much or not enough depending on who they were and like, how valuable they were to like the gym and the brand. Like somebody that’s been around for eight years vs someone that’s been around for six months. And then I would find myself getting mad. So, now when they email us, I send the email to the person that’s in charge of the other relations. And then, you know, no matter what that email says, unless it says, Hey, I’m moving to another, not just I’m moving. If you’re moving,

Brian (29:45):

I want to know where, because some people will travel far to still come to us. So I send the email to her and say, Hey, see below, do your thing, and then we’ll follow up with them with an email or a phone call, depending on who the person is. It will start with a phone call and then an email if we don’t get in touch with them and really just like saying, Hey, like, what’s going on? What do you need? What’s gone wrong here. And that’s been super valuable in these last four months because you know, there’s a lot more reasons why people aren’t wanting to come to the gym or might cancel with this pandemic going on. Right. It might not just be financially. And now that we have online coaching, there’s a lot more other ways that we could still help somebody even if there are moving.

Brian (30:27):

Or want something less. So it’s really just asking a bunch of questions. And at the very end, it’s like, OK, you know, if you choose to cancel, we don’t say need. Cause I don’t think anybody needs to cancel. So I was like, we specifically say like, if you do still choose to cancel, here’s the link, fill this out. It’s really just like firing off questions. Why? Is it something that we did? Is there something that we can do to keep you or something that we could have done better? And then see what we could get because a lot of times they might come back and have an answer and then if they respond to us, then our next step is, Hey, why don’t we schedule a time for you to come in?

Brian (31:15):

And let’s see, because I’d much rather talk face to face with them. And see if we could come up with a solution. Right. But sometimes that’s hard maybe when they just send that email and they’re like super emotional about, like somebody said something about them or a member’s cheating reps or something silly. I don’t like the programming, financial, whatever it is. And even if it’s financial, I’ll bring them in. And depending on who it is, they’re either gonna leave saying, well, like Brian, that was super enlightening. I’d love to stay. Or like, man, I can’t believe you just spoke to me like that. I’m going to get three, not in your face and pressure you, but like, if I’m not going to say this to you and you’re obese with diabetes and cardiovascular disease or something else, nobody’s gonna say, listen, like a $550 car payment is a bit excessive.

Brian (32:16):

And kind of trying to get them to really prioritize their health. Even if it’s not my at my gym, even if they leave, like Brian was such an ass, I’m going to go to the gym down the block. I still kind of felt like my job was successful. They’re still exercising, you know? And there’s some that’s just like, especially nowadays, like we get some cancellations that are just wild. My response to black lives matter and my response to CrossFit. So those people are just like, Hey, I just forward the email to the one that does these and say, Hey, listen, cancel this effective now unsubscribe them for everything. Because like, those people, like, I’m not going to sit down, like I’m not dealing with some of these people, but the majority, I think it’s just asking a lot of questions.

Brian (33:02):

And then once they respond, then it’s like, Hey, why don’t we want to sit down and talk this through? And if they just fill out the link then we know that they chose to cancel and they’ll go back into our reactivation process, which is like the next step of keeping these people, you know, we have some members who have been here for eight, nine years. Maybe in those 96 months, maybe seven months, they weren’t in the gym because they wanted to try to train for a triathlon or they were traveling for a month or they got injured or they had a baby. So I think keeping, like, keeping in touch with these people with, I mean, you know what it’s like with all the content that you do. So I think it’s, you know, staying with them, but also every once in a while, maybe trying to send them a little personal something, just so they know it wasn’t, you know, a mass email that just came out to them. So I think that cancellation and reactivation piece is super important.

Mike (34:01):

Let me just summarize that for everyone. So the client success manager is going to be in contact with people regularly and your coaches as well. What those people are going to do is you’re gonna try and solve problems before they become major problems. So if a member is a little upset or just not feeling it, or it seems a little down, find out what’s wrong and fix it before it becomes a major problem. If for whatever reason, you don’t get to the point where that happens. And a member decides to cancel, set up a process where you can talk to that member on the way out, set up an interview, set up an email conversation, whatever you can do to talk to that person and find out what the reason is. And I’ve heard this from many people, I’ve had it happen to myself.

Mike (34:39):

Sometimes someone will cancel, you’ll ask why they’re canceling and they’ll tell you, well, you know, I travel too much for work and you can say, well, would you like some workouts you can do in a hotel gym with one dumbbell or with skipping rope that you put in the trunk of your car when you’re traveling. Yeah. I’d love to have those kinds of things. I didn’t even know you guys offered that, that stuff does happen. And then there’s other things where of course, you’re saying maybe someone has an issue with the programming or another member or, you know, anything, you can solve those problems in some cases and retain that member. If they leave that’s too bad. But then the final part of it, guys, if your listening is reactivating old or departed members, the people who have an association with your business knew you liked you and trusted you.

Mike (35:22):

And they may still feel the same way. They’re the most likely to come back to your business. Chris Cooper’s written about this. If you stay in touch with these people, either through an automated campaign or even better, you know, even a random text, Hey, I was thinking about you, how’s your fitness? Some of these people are going to come back and we have, what’s called the 10 word email that a lot to bring clients have sent out. And when they do it, they without fail re-acquire clients. And just ask them, how’s your fitness going right now? A lot of people say not so good since I stopped your gym. I gained 20 pounds and my knees hurt again. Come on back. Right? That starts the conversation and our gyms do require clients. And those are almost free ones because you don’t have to market to them. You don’t have to advertise. You just have to send a text. So that’s a huge one. Have those structures in place for cancellations, reactivation. Brian, what else? Ten-year members? Is there anything else that we’re missing here?

Brian (36:11):

Yeah, I think two more things I had in my notes was, are there any injuries and learning, understanding how, and I think this comes back to consistency in staff and skill of your staff is, you know, a lot of people will say, it just kills me when somebody is like, Oh yeah, I haven’t worked out the last five years because of my knee. It’s like, what in the world? You know? So like one injury or talking about the cancellations like, Oh yeah, I need to cancel, I hurt my shoulder. Like you got to stop everything cause you hurt your shoulder? Like, Hey, why don’t we set a time let’s talk. And then we kind of use that time to like either one, a great time for PT and trying to teach them about the benefits of personal training.

Brian (36:51):

Like you’re not gonna throw away all this progress for like four months of rehab. OK, have the surgery. Is that it doesn’t mean it happened in this gym, right? I’m going to have this surgery. I had this chronic thing. I’m going to get it fixed. I’ll be out for eight weeks. All right. I’ll put a note after the surgery, we’ll touch base with them at one month, we’ll touch base with them at eight weeks. We’ll touch base with them at 12. And then we’ll keep getting, trying to get them back in. Let’s start with the 30 minute PT session just to kind of get you sweating and moving. And then for some people like PT is legitimately just not a financial thing. They can’t pay five, $600 a month. Right? Then we can do a good job because my staff’s been consistent.

Brian (37:31):

They’ve been around for a long time, modifying a workout for somebody to the nth degree because of screws in their leg or a shoulder that they’re recovering from is truly gonna make the difference. Because we know that once somebody leaves, the odds of them coming back, regardless of the best reactivation process you have is still pretty slim. You know? It’s just easier just to be lazy, you know? So, understanding and being able to work with somebody like and say, Hey, I need to stop because of this. No, we don’t. Let’s have a conversation, even if it’s just the classes, can we still make them fun? Can we still make them engaging for you? And then the last, and then the other thing that, I think and maybe not so much for like a newer affiliate, but I remember like in 2008, nine, 10, when we first started talking about this, it was group classes and that was it.

Brian (38:32):

It was not, nutrition was not a thing, I mean it was, but like nobody really listened to it. Personal training was very, very rarely spoken about. And like building on skills and specialty classes and those kinds of things are none of the things that we did. So I think once the novelty of like high intensity exercise wears off or quote unquote, CrossFit becomes like, OK, what’s next? Like I’m decent at this. How do I get better at this? Or how can I work at these things? Or I cannot out-exercise a bad diet anymore. So having some other, even if CrossFit stays as your methodology or whatever that methodology is even. And I think in my last blog that you actually commented on, so thank you. So it was compare like your three options.

Brian (39:26):

And one of those was like orange theory and 45 and those boot camps that don’t offer personal training or nutrition options, I feel like that’s might be a reason. I don’t know what their length of engagement for a client is, but that might be a reason why those people look for something different because when they want something special, they want to get better at a skill. They don’t have the opportunity. When they’re not seeing change just from high intensity exercise, they don’t have the opportunity within your business to go to get that. So if somebody comes to cancel and now it’s like, OK, well we can move to personal training. We can move to nutrition or a bunch of people, or during the goal reviews, if I’m doing all reviews and all we offer is group classes. I really can’t help them very well.

Mike (40:09):

And you can’t upsell, either. You can’t offer a new service and drive your rate up.

Brian (40:09):

But yeah. So now, like all of these other things, I want to get better at rope climbs, double-unders, I want to work on a strict pull-up. Or I want to lose this weight. I’ve been coming here five days a week for nine months. I just am not seeing these changes. And we could still have other super valuable things to offer them. And now they’re going to be getting help. You know, the one thing that took me a really long time to realize is that if you give people what they want, it doesn’t matter what the—I don’t know if I’m saying this right. It doesn’t matter what the price is. Meaning we had a boot camp class and it was only offered Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 7:00 PM.

Brian (40:54):

And everybody’s like, Oh, what are we going to charge for it, it’s only offered like three nights a week. And CrossFit you got like 40 classes. How can we charge the same? But to those people, that those three days work, they don’t care. They’ll pay. I don’t really need to down sell or not charge enough for it. So it’s like if I could have enough things that I’m giving people what they want, they’re going to be happy. They’re going to stay and the more business that they do with us. The more connections that they make, the more coaches they might get in touch with, the more that we’re helping them meet their needs and goals, the better. On the other end. Right. I don’t think I want to be able to offer too many programs. I see some gyms that like, Oh yeah, we’ve got, once this is done they want a weightlifting program. And they want to get these heart rate monitors and then they want to get the zoom watch thing that they wear. So I think you don’t want to maybe go a bit too general in your offerings, where I lose maybe how good I am at some of those offerings too. That makes sense?

Mike (41:56):

And I think I’ll, you know, I’ll, I’ll summarize it for you. I think what you need to do as a gym owner is talk to your clients regularly and find out about their needs, desires, and problems, and then make sure that you can create services that work for them. Now, again, you can’t respond to every single person and say, yeah, no, we are going to create a rock climbing wall for just for left-handers. And it’s going to have, you know, like you can’t do that kind of stuff. You have to find the sweet spot between providing the right amount of services to the right amount of people. But we, again, Chris, Cooper’s written about this a ton. It’s it’s talking to your seed clients. These are your very best clients so like, you know, Brian for you, you’re talking to your 10 year clients and saying, what do you need right now?

Mike (42:42):

What are you struggling with right now? What are your problems? And if one of your 10 year clients tells you something he or she needs, or a problem that that person is having, you’d be in a good spot to probably respond to it because these are the people, these are the soul and the core of your business. So if you talk to your clients regularly, figure out what they’re struggling with and what they need, and then provide it. They’re not going to have as good a reason to leave your business and exactly what you said, your services may evolve. Like for a lot of us, for me, for sure. Back in like 2009, we did CrossFit group classes. That was it. Now we’ve got online coaching. We actually got rid of CrossFit group classes. We’re completely online, but we do nutrition, coaching and personal training, all that other stuff, where if you add these other things in and you can even add in specialty programs, if people want to take a foray into power, lifting, Olympic, lifting, gymnastics, whatever you all of a sudden give people options. And you get back to that novelty that you talked about earlier, and all of a sudden people have new goals, new bright spots, new accomplishments, new PRS, and everything feels like it’s just the greatest thing ever.

Brian (43:45):

Yeah. So after 18 months to two years or something, right where, somebody wants to try something else and I’m like, Oh, you know, I’m going to go to this other gym because I want to focus on strength and not too much cardiovascular stuff. And I was like, OK, now I’ve heard three people actually say that. I think maybe we can run this six week course. And now I keep them for six weeks. Give them what they want. Right. The gym makes a profit. The member gets the valuable piece that they want. And maybe we keep doing that. Maybe they’re, you know, maybe there’s a 12 month span where they’re not going in a group class, or they’re doing a little bit of PT. They’ve done nutrition. And they’ve done some of these specialty classes, because over 10 years is a long time. Three years is a long time, you know, to keep doing the same thing all the time.

Mike (44:32):

Like, Oh, you never do the same thing in CrossFit. That’s true. It’s still I’m looking for something that’s a little bit of novelty. I think that’s an important piece to be able to offer to people.

Mike (44:45):

And that is again, that’s that client journey it’s like, at some point, do clients need some new stimulation? Do they need a new approach? Do they need like maybe at one point they were training to get better college basketball. And now they’ve got a day job and they’re not in college anymore and they don’t care and they want to do something else, maybe a triathlon. It’s the client journey. So really what I’m hearing from you over here, if we’re looking to create ten-year members, we really have to listen to clients. Like we absolutely have to listen and then provide the stuff that they want. And then along the way, support them with amazing staff members, especially a client success manager, which is a key, key part of this. Thanks so much, Brian, for all the info. I hope we can bring you back in five years and you can tell me how many members you have at 15 year length of engagement. Would you do that?

Brian (45:31):

That’d be awesome.

Mike (45:35):

And again, guys, start today. You’re not going to see the length of engagement jump right away, but the stuff that you do has a long tail, and it’s going to have results if you start doing it today. So take action on the stuff that Brian laid out today. And then in a couple of years, or even a year, you’re going to see numbers and they’re going to be financial, and you’re going to see length of engagement improvements. Thank you for listening to Two-Brain Radio. I’m Mike Warkentin with Brian Strump. Want more directive advice based on data? Two-Brain founder Chris Cooper hands it out daily at twobrainbusiness.com. Head over there and check out the blog for everything you need to take daily action to grow your gym business. Thanks for tuning into Two-Brain Radio. Please subscribe for more episodes wherever you get your podcasts.

 

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