How to Move Your Fitness Business 100 Percent Online: Chris Cooper

Chris Cooper-BLOG

Andrew (00:02):

Welcome to Two-Brain Radio with Chris Cooper. As the COVID crisis continues, some gym owners are wondering if they want to go back to the bricks and mortar at all. In this special episode recorded during a live broadcast on April 26, Chris tells an audience of gym owners how they can move their business completely online if they want to. Two-Brain’s COVID-19 page is updated regularly with essential resources gym owners need right now. Visit Two-Brain business.com and click COVID-19 at the top. And now here’s Chris Cooper.

Chris (00:31):

Hey guys. Good morning. We’re just going to wait one minute to get everybody on board here, but hopefully everybody’s doing really well. I think the end is kind of insight here. As I said last week on Sunday, the value of a leader in this situation is going to be determined not by how quickly they shut down their business and went online, but by how well they can reopen their business. And we’ve been learning a lot in Atlanta already, thanks a lot to that group for sharing everything that they’ve learned. There’s a lot more to learn and we’re going to keep gathering that data as people open. This morning I was speaking to a couple of people in that group, Andy, Joanne, thank you. Nick shared a little bit of wisdom about like things they wish they had thought of or things they didn’t foresee when they did reopen their gyms.

Chris (01:18):

And I think a lot of the others will be doing it around May 4th. So as that happens, we’ll gather as much information as they’re willing to share and we’ll feed it right back to you. Of course. So, so guys, today we’re going to talk about how to move your gym completely online. And a lot of people are kind of thinking this way now, but even if you’re not, you can go through this step by step and the first seven steps out of the 11 that I’m about to share will actually help you with your physical gym and transition back into physical operations or transition back into the flex model, which is mostly physical operations with some online coaching on the side. I know that everybody’s across a broad spectrum here. Some people, they can’t wait to get back into their bricks-and-mortar gym.

Chris (02:03):

They’re never doing online coaching again. They hate it. Some people are saying, you know, 10 to 15 to 20% of my clients want online training, so I’m going to get back into business, but I’m always going to keep this revenue stream. And some people are now thinking like, this ain’t so bad. Some are asking, what if I don’t go back to the way things were at all? You know, what if I don’t even need a gym space and all the expenses that come with it. What if I like things better this way? And it’s actually thrilling for me to hear that question. Because it means like, you know, you have that opportunity. That’s what’s most important to me is that you have the chance to make that decision. Oscar and I were talking this morning and he said, you know, what have you learned about the founder farmer spectrum?

Chris (02:49):

And my answer was that like, if you’ve done a really great job in the founder phase, you can pivot all the way back to the founder phase and start over as a farmer with a completely new business model really, really fast and you’ll be fine. If you haven’t done a good job in the founder phase, you’re going to go all the way back to start-up, you know, and this time you might be doing it with some liabilities, like some expenses or debt or whatever. So, yeah, there’s a lot of opportunity here. I think, you know, whatever your preference is, there’s a lot of things that we can learn about reopening this gym and what opportunities you have. So despite all the stress, despite being back in founder phase, again, despite the steep learning curve and the loss of income and management challenges, what I haven’t heard is I’m thinking about quitting coaching.

Chris (03:38):

That’s it. I’m out of the industry. And that actually thrills me because coaching is a creed, not a job. Even if you closed your gym, your physical space, you could keep coaching. And I bet that even if there was somebody who said, I’m quitting the fitness industry, they would probably wind up volunteering to coach little league or something else or teach something. You know, coaching is a lifestyle. It’s a commitment. It’s a creed. It’s an ethos. It’s not, I have to own this gym and do this thing with barbells. So, you know, sure, we’re all excited to get back to our gym. But in case you’re thinking this shelter in place life ain’t so bad. here are the 11 steps that Justin and I went through that I think you could follow to move your business completely online. None of these steps are irreversible.

Chris (04:26):

There’s no risk attached to taking them. The first seven steps will add value to your brick and mortar business. And you’re not going to have to make a decision to close that down until you’re already making more money in like step eight or nine. So that’s the great thing about this business. When you have solid foundations, you can always change your mind and you’ll be OK. So if you decide you only want to coach people online, here’s the thought process that you have to go through. And here’s where I want, I want you to pick out a piece of paper. The first thing I want you to do is say, here’s how coaching online fits into my vision. I want you to write that down. So if you haven’t written down what your vision is for delivering your mission, do that now. So as a recap, your mission is what you want to accomplish in life.

Chris (05:13):

Like what is your life’s purpose? Your vision is how you see that playing out. You know, if you could look into the future five years, three years, what would you be doing? What was your day look like? And we used to call this exercise Perfect Day. So I want you to write that down. Now while you’re doing that, I want to share a little experience that I had yesterday. Because we’re going to be talking about bright spots here in a moment. This is kind of funny. So Josh Grinnell is my cycling coach and I had a decent ride yesterday. I have a new bike, it goes really, really fast, but I feel like I’m not living up to that bike. Right? It’s like you’re 16, you get your driver’s license and you get like a Lamborghini. Well, at first it’s great because looking at that Lamborghini like, wow, that guy’s got a Lamborghini.

Chris (06:00):

And then you start driving it and you’re like, I am not a good enough driver for this car. Like, you know, if this car could pretend that it wasn’t with me, it would do that. So, that’s how I feel about this bike. So anyway, Josh sees all of my stats, my distance, my time, my heart rate, my wattage, my climbs, my segments on Strava. And sometimes we text back and forth right after the ride. So yesterday he texted me this snapshot and it’s like, you know, held 10 Watts or 270 Watts for 10 minutes, did 240 Watts for 60 minutes and all this stuff. And I’m like, wow, Josh, good for you. Like you’re a stud. That’s amazing. I wish I could do that and his next text back to me was these were your scores today. So it’s hard, like when you’re inside this crisis to actually see how well you’re doing.

Chris (06:49):

And as you’re writing down like your vision of success here, I want you to just take one second and realize like, you’re winning, you’re doing it. The rest of our industry is gone. They’ve shut down, they’ve gone bankrupt. You, the little micro gym owner with a hundred to 150 clients in the middle of nowhere, Idaho, with no marketing money behind you, with no professional branding, with no giant celebrity endorsement. You’re doing it, you’re winning. And they are not. Like you just beat 90% of the industry in the last month. So I want you to take a moment and actually congratulate yourself because you’re just doing so, so, so well. I’m going to give you a moment here to finish writing down like what your vision of success is, because I think that’s really, really important that we know what success is gonna look like in this industry for you.

Chris (07:46):

So that’s our first little piece of homework here. So you’re answering the question. If you just joined us, how does online training align with your vision of success? OK, so here’s a quote that triggered this question for me. This is by Nassim Taleb, one of my favorite writers. He said that “if you have more than one reason to do something, like choose a doctor or a veterinarian, to hire a gardener or an employee to marry a person or to go on a trip, just don’t do it. It does not mean that one reason is better than two. Just that by invoking more than one reason, you’re trying to convince yourself to do something. Obvious decisions require no more than a single reason.” So if you’re feeling right now, like I love the online training, you know, I’m spending time with my kids.

Chris (08:31):

You don’t have to justify it any further than that. If you just love it, then great. Let’s go ahead and let’s just do it. You don’t need two reasons. Two reasons means that you’re trying to justify it. If you’re weighing pros and cons. If you’re not quite sure, if you’re trying to find five reasons to do it, then this might not be for you. OK? But if you have one good reason to do it, then that’s reason enough. Now, I asked you to answer the question, how does online training align with your vision? The next thing that I want you to do is determine your Perfect Day. Your business exists to serve you. Its real purpose is to help you win on your scoreboard, not mine. Does your Perfect Day involve spending more time with your kids or more time at home with your kids or a balance?

Chris (09:13):

And you have to answer this really honestly, because those things in your life, they do create guilt. Like I should be spending more time with my kids, but I want you to honestly ask yourself, would I be happier if that’s what I was doing? And then ask yourself next, will online coaching help you achieve that goal? Does in-person coaching actually take away from that goal? Or could you achieve that goal doing what you’re doing now but with better systems or more staff and I have a little drink here. I’ve been writing a lot so I’m pretty dry. So the question that you’re answering right now is revisiting your Perfect Day. What is it? Does that involve spending more time on things that online training will allow you to do and does what you’re currently doing with the bricks and mortar actually take away from your ability to achieve Perfect Day?

Chris (10:00):

Don’t worry about right now like the realities of can I actually make a go of this at online training? We don’t even have to make that decision yet. And I’m going to give you a link here. It’s Warren Buffet’s inner scoreboard. This is really, really interesting. So the interesting part of this is like, there we go. It’s the inc.com link, Warren Buffett’s simple test for living your best life. So Buffet talks about paying close attention to your inner scoreboard, but paying no attention to the outer scoreboard. You know, it doesn’t really matter what the other gym owners think of you. It doesn’t really matter what you know, the media even thinks of you. Joanne and I had a good talk about this this morning. It doesn’t matter what the public perception is of your business. What matters is how the business is serving your family and how the business is serving your clients.

Chris (10:52):

And if those two things are being done to the best of your ability, then you’re succeeding. And that’s the inner scoreboard that you need to track. We actually have a tool for this coming and it was supposed to be out April 1st but with all the COVID stuff, we delayed the release. So now you’re going to see something called the personal roadmap coming your way May 1st or June 1st. Next up. The third question you have to ask is looking at your Perfect Day document, you have to determine the income that you actually need to achieve your Perfect Day. Don’t worry about your business-related debt right now. Like wipe the scoreboard clean here. Pretend that you don’t have the bricks and mortar business, you’re starting from scratch and you’re saying, what income do I actually have to make? So when Brad Overstreet felt burned out by his 235 member gym, he calculated what he needed to make to live his dream life.

Chris (11:43):

Now his dream life included doing a little bit of scuba instruction and he was already starting to mentor some coaches for Precision Nutrition, so he didn’t have to fulfill, you know, all of his income needs just through online coaching, but it would fulfill, you know, at least two thirds of that. And so when he calculated that, he realized that he only needed about seven online clients to reach his target income. The rest of it, it was just, you know, a different attempt that he had made to reach that target income. And he was really just kind of holding on to that gym, because of, you know, ego. He loved having a 235-member gym, but also his ego was really scared that he wouldn’t hack it online. So we’re not to the decision point yet, but I want you to calculate how much money you actually need to make to achieve your Perfect Day.

Chris (12:31):

OK? And we’ll be using this calculation a little bit later on. If you haven’t heard the Overstreet podcast or you haven’t talked to Brad in the Two-Brain business online coaching group, do that, you know, get in there, talk to Grinnell, talk to Overstreet, talk to Mike Watson. These guys are in there, they have open office hours and they’re just generally available. OK? So a couple of people have just joined us. So I’m going to recap step one. I want you to imagine what your vision of success in coaching is. Then I want you to imagine your Perfect Day and now I want you to calculate how much it’s going to cost you to have that Perfect Day. What your lifestyle expenses are. Now we’re gonna stop just starting from a blank slate here and we’re going to bring ourselves to your present day situation.

Chris (13:18):

What are your circumstances? So the first thing we’re going to do is measure your commitments. OK? So these are like your rent, your loans, you know, any contracts that you’ve signed with coaches, any contracts that you signed with suppliers, vendors, landlords. OK. These are your commitments. The first thing I want you to ask is not how big they are, but can you get out of them if you had to, if something burned down or you got hit by a bus, could you get out of those commitments and how would you do it? So a lot of us can’t imagine a way that we would get out of a loan. For example, like if you’ve got a $20,000 equipment loan without declaring personal bankruptcy, you couldn’t get out of it. That’s OK. Could you get out of your lease if you had to?

Chris (14:02):

That’s what we want to know right now. What are your other commitments? Could you get out of them if you had to, what would it take? I don’t want you to do anything extreme like declaring personal bankruptcy, but I want you to know how long you’re actually committed to those expenses because it might be shorter than you think. If you can’t get out of those expenses today, then use them as a decision point. That’s your goal date. I’ll do the work by that date to have a clear decision in mind, you know, so I will give myself the opportunity to make a decision about whether I want to keep this business or move to another point, to online only by the date that my lease expires. You know, so Dave this morning or last night posted that his lease was up I think October 3rd and so he’s deciding whether he needs to go to the online model or not.

Chris (14:50):

Now he has here is about five months of time to build toward the opportunity. He still doesn’t have to decide before that he can see how far he gets. And then on October 3rd one is lease comes up. He is well positioned to make the best possible decision for himself and his family. So that’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to look at your leases, you’re going to look at your loans, you’re going to look at the end point of those and say, I need to build the best online opportunity that I can by that date, and then we’re going to work backward from there. OK, so again, to give you a moment here to kind of write that down, and by all means, if you have questions, just post them in the Facebook chat here and we’ll get to them. I don’t want to skip any questions as we go along, but so far we’ve been pretty simple with things.

Chris (15:38):

The fifth question is, now that you’ve measured your commitments, you’re going to measure the opportunity that you actually have. So do you enough of your clients actually want this? Now, we measured your expenses and your commitments first because the bigger your gym is, the bigger your loans are, the more clients you have to have just to cover those things. With those things gone, you don’t need clients to pay for those things anymore. So if your lease costs you 5,000 a month and your loan is another thousand a month, then the first $6,000 of revenue that you make from your clients just pays those obligations, those commitments, well, without those commitments, you don’t even need those clients. So what are you going to do now is measure the opportunities. How many of your clients actually want this? So when you’re about to reopen, you’re going to survey your clients and you’re going to say, do you plan to come back to group classes right now?

Chris (16:35):

Do you plan to come back eventually, but just not right now? And would you rather stay online at least in part or forever? And the interesting results from the surveys that we saw was that 10 to 20% of clients said, I’m going to stay online forever. Well, that’s incredible. And I think that once the gym reopens and if we reopen slowly and you start implementing the flex model, I think that rate is actually going to go up because people can say, you know, I can get this. I can get the community, I can get the hard workout. I can get the coaching twice a week, but I can fulfill three more days a week if I’m doing them on my own. Like the only reason that I can only exercise twice a week right now is because I have to come to the gym. So I have to pack my bag so I have to take an extra long lunch hour.

Chris (17:20):

So yada, yada, yada. If I don’t have to come to the gym, I can actually exercise more often. And I think that’s going to create brand new opportunities for people and for you to upgrade, too. So if you’re measuring your opportunities and asking how many clients really want this, the very first thing you can do before you reopen your bricks and mortar gym is say, what are your plans? OK? And then we’re going to ask them again in two months after your gym is open, are you still happy? And then three months again after that, the key here is just constantly doing goal reviews and saying, are you happy now? Are you satisfied with your progress? Instead of looking at a goal review as like an opportunity just to upsell or to get a referral, you’re really looking at that goal review as an opportunity to say what do you want now?

Chris (18:08):

And then to tailor that person’s experience. The beautiful thing about online training is that you’ve gained a new tool that will not decrease how much they train. It can only increase how much they train. And that’s really remarkable. So how do you measure that? You start by surveying your clients. Can you say how many of these people would change? OK. Or would stay with online training? The sixth question you’re going to ask is, or the sixth step you’re going to take us to maintain three points of contact. So there’s an old climbers’ analogy about maintaining three points of contact. And I put this in at least two of my books, maybe three. Basically you don’t ever change every facet of your business at once. You solidify your handhold in three places. OK? So that could be like your location, your audience, and your systems and you change one thing.

Chris (19:00):

So instead of saying, screw it, we’re not going back to the gym, we’re not reopening. You will reopen. You will keep the same clients, but you’ll start building that online audience while you’ve got your secure base of three points of contact. OK, so don’t throw anything away yet. Free up your time though to start building your online business. So put everything else into maintenance mode while you follow the old rock climber strategy of three points of contact. That means your business should be systemized. So the delivery of your coaching, your retention systems, your sales systems, and your marketing systems should be operating at least on a nine out of 10 level without you. So if we’re climbing the value ladder of roles and tasks, you will not be able to build an online coaching platform while you’re mopping the floor.

Chris (19:51):

You’re going to have to replace yourself in that role. You probably need to buy yourself even more time, which means hiring coaches to do more classes, or taking some of your personal-training clients or doing the nutrition coaching, maybe even doing the no sweat intros. You need to buy yourself enough time to work on this new business, opening it, you know, building an online business. It’s not like opening a second location where you can just duplicate the processes. You’re really going back to founder phase as everybody here has learned and building from scratch again, so takes more time than just opening a second location for your gym. What it means is that you’ve got to free yourself up at least 10 hours a week just to dedicate to this thing. So buy yourself that much time. Systemize everything you know, get your hands out of delivery as much as you can, buy those 10 hours from the work that you’re currently doing.

Chris (20:44):

Don’t just tack another 10 hours onto your work week, OK? If this is a bet that you’re willing to make and this is a bet that I would make, then it’s worth investing in lower value roles to buy yourself that time. So I’m just making sure. Sean, always great questions. One thing I’m struggling with is if my clients don’t want to move online, I feel like I’m letting them down. No problem. So Sean, remember like your business exists to serve you, right? There is a there’s a hierarchy of importance. The first priority that you have is that your business must serve you and your family. The next thing your business must do is serve your clients. Then the next thing is your coaches and then your audience. So if your clients don’t want to move online and you do want to move online, well then sell your physical location to one of your coaches and tell you clients stay there.

Chris (21:43):

I know you’ll be well taken care of. We’re going to make a meaningful transition for you. The other thing that you could do is just completely automate your bricks and mortar delivery as I’ve done and let that operate on its own while you build, you know, your online coaching business. Think of that as moving into the tinker phase. So one of the things that Oscar and I were talking about today is like shifting from founder to farmer and back to founder again. And what I said was that if you did a really great job in the founder phase and you’ve really replaced yourself in the primary delivery role, then you’ve only gone back to farmer phase here. If you’ve done a great job in farmer phase and you’ve replaced yourself in a management role, then you’ve got all the time in the world to work on tinker phase projects like an online coaching business.

Chris (22:31):

And that’s really where I am and this has been an amazing test. Did I have to jump back into Catalyst and save it? Did I have to keep clients? Did I have to fill out the loan paperwork? Did I have to work through all the changes in Zen Planner? Did I have to call the payment processors? Did I have to set up the new website with GLM? I didn’t have to do any of that. Jamie did it. The GM, which means that I’ve done a good job in farmer phase and I’m free to work on this thing. Now my tinker level project is Two-Brain Business and Two-Brain Coaching. Your tinker level product is going to be this online coaching service, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up your farmer project of the gym. You could still own it if you’re completely hands off.

Chris (23:10):

OK? And you can still save people in person and I get it shot. Sean, you flatter me. The best answers. OK. So that actually brings us to point 7. What you going to do is try and sell online while you’re running your current gym. So I want you to make the assumption in your brain that none of your bricks and mortar clients are going to come with you to online. They’re all going to stay in the gym. If you keep the gym and your coaches are running it, then fine, you win either way. If you don’t have the opportunity to do that, if you can’t sell that, if you can’t pass it along to coaches, if you don’t want to, that’s OK. But you have to assume that none of your current clients will come with you to this new business of online and just being conservative here.

Chris (23:59):

The reality is that five to 10% probably will, but let’s go with zero. So while everything else is running smoothly, focus your attention on building your online audience. So you’re going to publish every day. You’re going to create free giveaways and an expensive product to sell. Now the key here, and this is an entire different webinar, is either be expensive or be free. And that’s what you’re going to build your online presence to be. It’s going to be more valuable than your in person presence because you can’t do like group coaching or it’s going to be free. So while your group, while your bricks and mortar location is going, you’re going to buy yourself enough time to build your online presence. You’re going to do that through content creation, the tools of the online coach. You’re going to do that by establishing your authority by publishing every single day.

Chris (24:52):

You’re going to create giveaways like a lead magnet. You’re going to get really good at online marketing. You’re going to identify and develop a niche, all the things that you have to do to be a successful online business. You’re going to do that while you’re operating your bricks and mortar business. And you still haven’t reached a decision point yet because if you do this well, you can keep both. And I think that’s what Sean was most concerned with. Here’s step eight. And this is where you actually make a decision. So again, if you’ve measured your commitments, this decision point happens at the point where you have to decide on your commitments again, do I renew my lease? Do I buy more equipment? You know, so when you get to that point, and even if it’s a year away, we’re going to work backwards from this.

Chris (25:37):

You’re going to ask yourself, do I taper down my physical operations or do I shut them down? OK? So when you reach your minimum number of online revenue, after you’ve determined like, how much money do I need to get to my Perfect Day, and you’ve reached that number just in online revenue alone, then you can start tapering down your physical operations. So you’re going to pivot as many clients as you can to online. And this is really the point of no return because most in person clients won’t go online until the in-person option disappears. When I was still doing personal training with 34 clients a week, I tried to drop down to 10 clients so that I’d have more time to work for CrossFit Inc and for 3, 2, 1, Go Project. So out of the 34 I said, OK, I’m going to keep 10 and I explained that to all 34 clients and every single one of them said, how do I get to be one of the 10?

Chris (26:31):

And so then they were disappointed when I said, actually, I’m going to move you to Tyler or Charity or whoever it was at the time. What I actually had to do was go to zero. When I said I’m not taking personal training clients anymore, everybody moved to another trainer, every single one, no problem. When I said I’m keeping 10, everybody was mad if they had to be moved to another trainer. So when we finally get to this point where you know, you can make enough money on online training and you’ve decided you’re going to shut down bricks and mortar, then you say to people, if you want to keep me as a coach, you have to go online. And that’s actually what Overstreet did. Like some of his clients started with him in his bricks and mortar gym 11 years ago and now they’re with him online.

Chris (27:20):

So, some clients will promise to switch to online, but then they’ll hate it because they have the other option of being around you every day. Who wouldn’t take that? Some won’t switch until they don’t have a choice. And that’s why you don’t want to count on any of them switching. You want to build up a big enough online audience before you shut down your bricks and mortar location. So consider the current clients that you have in person to be a bonus to the new model. OK, that’s step eight. Now here’s where the rubber meets the road. All right, you’re welcome. Brendon. Let’s totally do that webinar. I’m working on my value ladder now for online. OK. Free leads to paid services that increase in value in price. Trying to figure out my free. OK. So Brendon, we could definitely do a webinar on this. When you’re selling anything online, you can’t compete with cheap because somebody will always get to cheaper.

Chris (28:18):

So you know, what’s a cheap service that you could sell? You could sell your programming. And in the last two years, if you look at like what has online programming cost, the cost of that has gone from $300 a month to 229 a month to about 99 a month. And now it’s $19 per month. And there’s always downward price pressure because to the average consumer, there’s no difference between Chris Spealler’s programming and my programming. It’s a commodity. You can’t win that battle. People who sell high volume stuff online succeed by getting to scale really, really, really fast. And that’s what the investor’s money is there to do. The investor’s money is not to help them think about their problem. It’s not even to help them build the software, really, it’s to help them gain audience at scale really, really, really fast.

Chris (29:10):

You can’t do that. So you have two options. You give stuff away for free or you can sell something that’s really expensive. The beautiful part is that each of those things aids the other, so I give away stuff for free all the time. Back in 2009, I started giving stuff away for free, kind of by accident. Now it actually costs me money to give stuff away for free because I know that I’m selling an expensive service of high value. So every month we spend about $25,000 creating media that we wind up just giving away for free, right? Every time we build a new course, we don’t just raise the rates for mentorship. We wind up adding more and more and more value. And we don’t sell, you know, like a discounted option if people want to sign up for the incubator.

Chris (30:01):

Now they can do it on a different payment schedule than you did it because we finance that loan for them, but there’s no discounts. A lot of people will call us right now and say like, I’ll give you 500 bucks. Just give me the course access. Or, you know, if I put my growth subscription on hold, can I keep the course in the Facebook group? We don’t do that. We have an expensive option or free option. And that’s basically how you succeed online. So the key to that first is like understanding who your niche is. So after you’ve got this online program built, you identify your seed clients. You say, what do you need from me most right now? And this is why I think, Brendon, that you’re going to be amazing at online coaching. What they always want is care and compassion and enough knowledge to shift to coach them on what they want.

Chris (30:49):

Well, you got compassion all over the place. So if a client says to you, I really need help with my mindset, I really need help with my stress, I really need you to just come and take a walk with me. Brendon, you’re going to do that. And that’s what makes Overstreet successful too. You know, Josh and I were talking yesterday about life coaching and we both hate that term because it’s just been abused. And you know, most of the life coaches out there, let’s face it, are not qualified to give advice on the things that they’re giving advice on. But really online coaching is starting to look a lot more like life coaching than anything else. No, you’re not telling them how to do financial plans, but you know somebody who can, no, you’re not telling them how to meditate, but you know, somebody who can, you’re just listening to them saying, how can I serve you now?

Chris (31:39):

And then bringing in the knowledge to help them. Right. Yeah, we can totally do that webinar separately. Chris, how do you recommend building the online presence without scaring or alienating your coaches? At what point do you clue them in that this the direction you might like to head in? As early as possible, but not too early, Justin. How’s that for a political answer for you? So what I would do is this. Guys, here’s what’s happened. We’ve gone online, we’ve all done an amazing job. Thank you for this amazing service delivery. What I’ve found is that some of our clients are actually being better served when I coach them online. So I’m going to keep some clients doing that. So, you know, that’s what I’m doing. I’m also going to advertise in case there are more people in our community who could actually be helped through this online method.

Chris (32:32):

And I’ll keep you guys apprised because you’re my team, you know, and I would never go off and just do something without you. But no matter what comes of this, there will be greater opportunities for you in the future. Do you want them? OK. That’s all. So Brendon, yeah man. So Brendon’s question is saying, I’ve been trying to explain that to my members right now. We’re trying to help them live better rather than just work out. Yeah. So this is a tough one, Brandon, because that’s not what they signed up for, right? They signed up for a workout. I think that the way that you gradually shift their mind this way is just through delivery. Right? You don’t convince them, you show them. So, the big online marketers’ ethos or the big writers’ ethos is show, don’t tell. So do this guys.

Chris (33:23):

A lot of you are telling me that you’re really stressing or you’re struggling to get on a daily routine and so you procrastinate and you don’t do the workouts at noon anymore because you don’t have a schedule. You can do them later and then you’ll feel like doing them at four o’clock and then you know you’ve eaten too much at dinner and before you know what the day is over and you haven’t done your workout. So what I’m going to help you with this month, I think it’s my duty as a coach to help you with habit setting. So I’m going to give you a tool that will help you do that, OK? And then you remind people of that and then when they come back in person, you deliver on that. Again, we’re not just going back to an old business model here, guys.

Chris (34:02):

You’ll still have to check in with people on a regular basis like you’re doing online. You’re still gonna have to help them with these new challenges. Fear, right? Accountability, habit setting, mindfulness, stress. If you have an expert in the gym who can help them with financial planning, by all means bring that person in. If you have a psychotherapist in the building like that I do, bring that person into help them by all means. What you should be learning from this is that you are so much more than an exercise coach, but it’s going to take a while for you to demonstrate that to your clients and you have to show them instead of telling them. Hope that helps, man. Just remind them of what you’re doing all the time. So you know, we’ve said in a few recent blog posts, like the sales process doesn’t end when they hand you their credit card.

Chris (34:49):

You have to resell the value of online coaching every single day. Well guess what? You have to resell the value of what you’re doing every single day. And that means reminding people of the value that you’re giving them. So guys, just as a reminder, I’m doing this extra thing for you. I know it’s not included in your membership, but this is what I feel like as your coach you need the most right now. You don’t have to attend, but we’re doing this thing, you know, this talk about financial markets or whatever to help you. Brendon says, right on care, compassion and knowledge. Love it. This helps. Trying to figure out what my free things are. I’ll keep brainstorming. Yeah. Brendon, you know the thing is like the question that I’ve asked every mentor over the last five years is how much is too much to give away for free?

Chris (35:37):

Obviously there’s a balance, right? And the thing is like what I’ve come around to is that you give knowledge away for free, but you sell coaching and your coaching is worth so much more. You know, like I said, we publish for free, we’ll publish data. You guys will get it first. But the real value of our service is mentorship and more and more coaching looks like mentorship. And that’s why I don’t like the term life coaching, but that might better describe like what we’re doing now. You know? So what we got through here guys was step eight. Step nine of moving solely to online is kind of the point of no return. And that is close your physical location before you dip below break even there. What you don’t want to do is force your online revenue to support your physical location. OK? You’ll just keep pouring more and more money into the same hole.

Chris (36:32):

So let’s say for example, that you think of your two businesses as separate. You’ve got your online training business and you’ve got your in-person coaching business. Now, yes, they will share clients. That’s OK. You know, clients can go back and forth between the two businesses in your mind. But if you reach a point where you’re making $2,000 a month on online coaching and your gym is losing $50 a month, shut the gym because, you know, expenses will always expand to require all the revenue that you make. OK? So this is the trap that I found myself in. I had this personal training business. It was doing pretty well. You know, it was mildly profitable and it was paying me about $45,000 a year. Then I had this gym that was losing money. And so I had the two. The gym was what I was most passionate about.

Chris (37:24):

My CrossFit gym, that was my industrial space. We had the pirate flag. The website was like black with skulls on it and stuff. It was a lot of fun, but it was sinking both businesses. And so, as I grew to realize that, I started to kind of resent the gym and I said, you know, how much longer is the personal training studio just going to keep pumping money into the gym? What I eventually did was just roll the two businesses together and that helped make it profitable after I had the systems in place. But what you don’t want to do, guys, is build this online, you know, business just to have it dump money into your business that isn’t working. So, you know, step nine is to close your physical locations before they dip below breakeven. Don’t let a successful business support an unsuccessful one.

Chris (38:11):

So if there’s any questions about that, we can certainly get to those now. I know a lot of you guys are actually looking at like a lease renewal in the next three months, six months to a year, and you’re making this hard decision. When the online training business surpasses the gym business and the gym business is actually holding you back from joining the online from growing the online training, that’s when you cut the cord. You do that to an objective eye. So your mentor will help you with this, but so will your data, you know, you’re attached to the gym, you’re attached to the members. As Sean says, he doesn’t want to let the members down. That’s why you need an objective eye saying, now it’s time. I would never make that decision on my own, but a mentor would help me make it.

Chris (38:57):

And the data, you know, this gym has actually been kind of a drain on your other projects for three months in a row. Now it’s time to cut the cord. The other thing that I need you to remember, and I said this at the start of this little webinar, was you can always go back. You can always restart. You’re an entrepreneur now. That’s your career. If this thing doesn’t work out, you can go restart a new gym. If you close down the gym and then you miss it, you can go start a new gym. You’ve got another 40 years of entrepreneurship ahead of you here, OK? It’s OK to make mistakes because now you’re a good entrepreneur. All right? Now step 10 is I want you to scale up. I don’t want you to just take your current clients, move them online, cut all your expenses, keep all the money you have to grow.

Chris (39:43):

Sooner or later, you know, every client is going to move away. The way you grow as you narrow your niche. So to get more clients online, you’re better to be the biggest fish in a very small pond. There appears to be more opportunity by thinking broadly. You know, there’s this blue ocean of clients out there right now. It’s always tempting to invent something new, but inventors rarely make money. The most successful people connect other people’s inventions or connect to ideas or bring an existing idea to a market that hasn’t heard it before or filters an idea to be specific for one market. So for example, referees. I shared a research paper in the Two-Brain Coaches Facebook group about the physiological needs of referees by sport and just how fit these people actually have to be, especially like football.

Chris (40:41):

A lot of the referees on the football field are actually more fit than many of the players, right? But who’s coaching these referees? Nobody. That’s a great niche. Who’s coaching soccer players right now? Nobody, right? Because nobody has pivoted to online training for soccer players. If I look at my nephew’s hockey team, you know, they were required to buy this package of home training equipment for 110 bucks because the trainer didn’t know how to deliver online coaching to the players. So he said, buy this equipment, I’ll send you some workouts. It was a massive, massive opportunity there. And it’s not going to go away just because gyms are going to reopen. So the key is like talk to your seed clients first. What do they have in common? That’s your niche. Then, if you can’t find like a specific niche that way and the narrower, the better, then you look at yourself and say, what are my hobbies?

Chris (41:37):

What am I especially passionate about? I guarantee you right now that if I started publishing stuff about, you know, using barbell training for cyclists, stretching for cyclists within a year, I could own that niche because I know what else is in that niche right now. And it’s just like, here’s a $9 a month subscription to some stretching for cyclists. If you watch these videos stretching for cyclists, you’re going to see they’re in a CrossFit gym and they’re doing a bunch of stretches. I’ve never done a video and learned a new stretch from these guys, but I still pay for the service because without it, I won’t stretch at all. There is so much opportunity out there to identify a niche that didn’t exist before. Not because you’re now connected to 7 billion people around the world through the internet, but because you’re connected to the five people who care about the same thing that you do.

Chris (42:29):

That’s what’s really important about building a niche and expanding that way. Robert Connors says, niche, niche, niche baby. That’s where it’s at. GPP market is flooded, but something like online PT for competitive AAU basketball players is untapped. You are absolutely right, sir. He says, I have a coach that is starting to exploit that and already has four to five clients. Brendon says, great point. Researching a niche. Do you approach this like keyword research? No. You approach this by, what do you care most about that you have never been bored by? Or what do your current clients care the most about? It’s best if it aligns with your mission. So for example, my niche you could say is gym owners. We buy information from businesses. We filter it through our database and make it applicable to gym owners. Because that’s my mission.

Chris (43:20):

That’s what I’m most passionate about. I can get up at 4:00 AM every day. I can write a blog post. I’m not going to run out of ideas. I’m not gonna run out of opinions. I’m not gonna run out of data. That’s what you need to find. What are you most excited about? You know, if Josh Martin didn’t have Two-Brain Coaching, he could do something for car buffs. I guarantee it. Yesterday he sent me a picture of his bike and it was only because he wanted to show me a picture of his car. I guarantee it. The car was in the background. Alright. Shawn, I’ve been thinking about the niche. I’m a singer and I had a huge list of friends who are singers and musicians. I know what they need. Maybe that’s where my focus should be. You nailed it, Sean.

Chris (44:00):

That is perfect. In fact, if you look at the Cindy Ashton seminar, it’s in the online coaching course, I think milestone eight. Her job is really to coach people to present. And so she coaches singers. She gives them warm-ups and some of the warm-ups that she gave us in that seminar are actually like singers’ warm-ups that she does. But you could take that into exercise. Absolutely. Keep in mind that like Cindy charged $10,000 for that two hour seminar that she did for the Two-Brain family. That’s her normal rate. Like that’s what she charges singers. That’s what she charges you know, CEOs who want to make a better presentation online, there’s definitely a niche for that. She is the best in that niece. That’s why I found her. And if you’re the best in that niche for singers, they’re gonna find you, man.

Chris (44:49):

Just keep publishing. OK. All right. OK. OK, so niche, and actually guys, like on the roadmap, we have this new row, right? And it’s like online training. That’s the online training course. Many of you have been through it and in the course it goes from step one to step 10. Starts at the very, very basics. As you know, around step four, you start doing online marketing. Step five, you start scaling. But when you get into step 11, 12, 13, that’s when we talk about niching and that’s, you know, a point that I’m really passionate about because that’s really what I’ve done before. I published “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” there was actually a different book that was supposed to come out first called the “Authority Ladder.” And that book is all about building a niche and growing that niche online. So yeah, basically like chapter 11, 12 13 of online training is the authority ladder book that I didn’t write. The 11th step here guys.

Chris (45:47):

And I said there were 11 steps here. The 11th step is to be patient. Nassim Taleb also wrote that “difficulty is what wakes up the genius.” A month ago, none of us were thinking about this stuff, right? We always had the online coaching module on the roadmap. It’s been there for four months. Very few people were doing it, but difficulty, you know, making this pivot is really what’s kind of awakened everybody’s eyes to the opportunity. Urgency has really, you know, made us pivot fast. But honestly, the work that you’ve done up to this point to make yourself a better entrepreneur and grow your business is what is making this possible. You guys can make this pivot. You can start at step one today, right? We already did step one, two. You can start on step three tomorrow. You can work on step four the next day. A month from now,

Chris (46:36):

you can already be on step six. Within a year, you could be completely online. No problem. Most other gym owners haven’t done that and it’s because they don’t have the systems to run their gym, to buy them time to build this new thing. They will never achieve that goal because they’re trapped by their business. So, you know, kudos to you guys. I hope that you take a minute and actually reflect on that. What I want you to realize too is like when a new fitness pro decides I’m going to open up a personal training business, and we’re getting these emails every single day now. You know, I lost my job as this. I want to be a personal trainer. We’re telling them to start online, get five clients, sell to them. Do you like it? Meet them in person, go for coffee, give them a nutrition prescription, tell them how to work out and then ask yourself, do I want to continue this career?

Chris (47:28):

If do, then you ask yourself, do I want to stay online or do I want to open a bricks and mortar location? There’s a new step to becoming a fitness professional that starts with building an audience before you commit to your operations. And so if you were starting from scratch today, you know, what would you do differently? All options are on the table, but you’re not tied into the current business model that you have. You know, the longest outstanding lease in this group is probably three years. By 2023, you could pivot online and you know, all the steps we’ve just gone through. So to recap, guys, the pros of going online, there’s less overhead. You need fewer clients, there’s less time required. You’ve already done the hard part, which is building an audience online. That is by far the hardest part. The cons are you are in the honeymoon phase of this.

Chris (48:26):

It is harder to get new clients online and it’s going to keep getting harder and harder. Your current audience didn’t actually sign up for this. So once they have the choice, very few might stick with online coaching. We don’t know. But the bottom line is like you can make the pivot. Other people have made the pivot. It will take time to undo your current business. But if you work backward from where you want to be, it’s definitely achievable. So let’s go back to questions here. Brendon, was find your niche. Number 10? Yeah, it was, man, why don’t I just pop through these steps really quickly without explanation. Step one, how does online training align with your vision? If this isn’t part of your mission, you can skip the rest. Step two, determine your Perfect Day. Step three, determine the income that you need to achieve that Perfect Day.

Chris (49:12):

Step four, measure your commitments, your current commitments, can you get out of them and when so that you’ve got like a deadline. Number five, measure your opportunities. Do enough of your clients actually want this right now or will you have to acquire new clients? Number six, maintain three points of contact. Keep your gym going. Optimize everything. Buy yourself 10 hours a week of time to work specifically on the online coaching business. Number seven, sell online while your current gym is running. Build up that audience to a sustainable level where it can provide your Perfect Day for you without the bricks and mortar gym. Number eight, that’s when you decide, do I sell this current gym to my coaches? Do I shut it down and keep as many clients as I can or do I just let it run and collect revenue forever? Number nine, if you’re going to close your physical location, do it before you start losing money.

Chris (50:04):

Don’t let the online business support the bricks and mortar business. Number 10, narrow your niche to scale up. And number 11 is be patient. Andrew. So when we’re building the online coaching business, do we start as generalist and then try to get as many clients as possible and then niche down? Or do we start with a niche and then build it up from a smaller pool? So right now, man, we had to start broad because there are early adopters out there who are like, Oh, I’ve got this time, I’ve got this energy. How do I get fit? Or you had this existing audience, right? If you didn’t have an online audience, you would start as small as possible and then scale up with your niche. So right now, when your bricks and mortar business gets open again, Andy, you’re going to start looking for that niche.

Chris (50:49):

Now the beautiful part is that you’ve already got an audience. They can probably tell you what your niche is, what you’re best at. And so start with them. Go down to your seed clients, your smallest viable audience. You know Peter Thiel’s book “Zero to One” was a great example of this. You know, if you only had like one client, who would it be and what would you train them to do? Travis. I’m close to going fully online. How many are thinking the same? We’d love to link up and chat more. So Travis, yeah man, you know, I think the best place to ask these questions is in the Two-Brain Business online coaching group. Because there are some people who are really, really tempted to do this. You know, will they still be tempted in three months when the honeymoon phase is over and we’re back to bricks and mortar.

Chris (51:37):

I’m not sure, but I do think that you’re not alone. Rick, I’m finding that the folks I’ve been coaching online and connected with me are forming a niche naturally. So that’s really interesting, right? So I would be really looking closely like what do those people have in common, you know, and looking beyond the bounds of fitness goals. Are they all parents? You know, are they all between 30 and 45? Do all their kids play soccer? Do they all earn more than 200,000 a year? What else do they have in common? And if you can find like the weird quirks, wait a minute, they all belong to the rotary club. Wait a minute. They’re all Catholic. That’s your niche, you know, and a lot of the times, like you don’t see that niche until you start digging below the surface. I’ll tell you guys like when, we’re looking at do we take this new client into the incubator or not,

Chris (52:25):

one of the secret factors on our checklist is what is their reason for succeeding? So if they’re, you know, 20 years old, they don’t have a serious girlfriend, they don’t have a spouse, they don’t have a mortgage. Basically, if they’ve got nothing to lose, we don’t usually take them like they have to have a solid emotional reason to succeed. So, that’s one of the things that we’ve learned by digging into these questions over 3,000 free calls. All right. The thing is Rick, like I think what a lot of people are going to realize is that the extra steps that we had to take to keep people around online, which is like customizing the workout for every person, which is talking to every person two to three times a week over texts. Did you do the workout? Yeah. These are actually the things that personal trainers have been doing all along.

Chris (53:13):

And it’s one of the reasons why personal training has a much better retention rate than group coaching. So many forward-thinking gym owners and coaches when they get back to bricks and mortar, they’re going to say, I gotta keep doing it. You know, if I want to keep people longer than seven months or 11 months or whatever, my best way is to actually keep delivering this customized service. OK, well how am I going to do that? I need more coaches, I need more staff, I need more time in my day. And those things cost money. And what they’ll find is that they’re not charging enough for the level of service that they should be providing. And so they’re going to have to make the tough decision on, you know, what service do I actually want to provide to people here and what do I need to charge to make that worthwhile?

Chris (54:00):

The great news is that the model that we’ve all kind of been led to believe is success, which is sell group classes, pack them as full as you can, forget about your turnover rate. Now we know that doesn’t work. Now we know that faced with any crisis, that model just goes to hell. And you know, there are so many examples of that, among, you know, perceived experts in CrossFit and in fitness that we don’t even have to go down that road. So the real model is customization and personal delivery. The real model feels more like life coaching or mentorship than it does teaching exercise. Now, if that’s the model, how do we build an in person experience around that model? And that’s really like what the next few months of conversations are probably going to be. But the good news is like that’s been the key to success all along.

Chris (54:52):

This has really triggered some stuff with Josh Martin and I. We’re asking ourselves like, are people prepared to do this? Do they have the tools? Do they have the skillset? Have they gotten reps at this? And the answer is that personal trainers largely have, group coaches, maybe haven’t. And so the way that you bridge that gap is through that like the first degree and the second degree course. It’s the way that we deliver at Catalyst now. It was easy for us to pivot to customized because that’s what we do in a group class. You know, here’s how this is going to help you with your goal today. But a lot of gym owners are going to have to learn that and a lot of gym owners are gonna find that they can’t provide that service without charging more money for it.

Chris (55:34):

Yup. Andy, me too man. You’re welcome. So guys, I am going to summarize these into a note that we publish later on this week. I am recording this so that you can watch it too. But what we want to do here is break that down, the decision making process into clear steps. Because if you’re just struggling with one question, do I close down my gym and move to online? It’s too big of a question. You can’t possibly answer that question. If you break a question down into smaller, more answerable questions and you can defer the decision point and tell you how certain answers and you can make those answers and that whole decision as objective as possible, that’s how you’ll make a great decision without taking much risk. I hope this helped, guys have fantastic Sunday. It’s been so great to see you.

Andrew (56:27):

This is Two-Brain Radio. Please subscribe for more episodes wherever you get your podcasts. Two-Brain Business has the best strategies and tactics for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. To see our essential resources for gym owners, visit TwoBrainbusiness.com and click COVID-19 at the top.

 

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On Monday, Two-Brain Radio presents marketing tips and success stories. Chris Cooper delivers the best of the business world on Two-Brain Radio every Thursday. 

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