The 6 Critical Systems Every Gym Must Have

Chris Cooper

Mike (00:02):

Ever felt like your business is stagnant and you just can’t break through to the next level? The solution isn’t some sexy new marketing idea. It’s much simpler. You need great systems in every area of your business. Chris Cooper gives you an exact plan on this edition of Two-Brain Radio.

Chris (00:18):

Hey, everybody it’s Coop and today gonna share with you the six systems that you need to grow any gym business. Your business will not rise to the level of your marketing. It will fall to the level of your systems, meaning the level of excellence that you can deliver consistently depends on the systems. It doesn’t depend on how hard the owner works. It doesn’t depend on how excellent the owner is as a coach. It depends on how things go when the owner is not there, or when the owner is not having a bad day. There are six systems that you need. And keep in mind that we teach all of these systems in the Two-Brain mentorship program. We usually give you a template. Here’s exactly how to do it. And you can just follow that template if you want to, but because we’re not a franchise, you can also change the template and make it your own.

Chris (01:12):

Instead of giving you like a rigid business formula to follow what this actually does is it creates entrepreneurial freedom because you don’t have to make decisions about stuff that you don’t wanna make decisions about right now, you don’t have to have an MBA to run a super powerful business because all of these templates free you to make decisions really, really quickly, to have a lot of influence on the stuff that you do care about and just have decisions made for you based on data and what the best gyms in the world are doing. It gives you the ability to just copy them as much as you want to, but also to make it your own. So here are the six systems that you need to have a profitable business, a good gym that will sustain and let you change people’s lives with excellence. The first that you need is a self-payment system.

Chris (02:07):

You have to be able to pay yourself well, or your gym just can’t last. There are a lot of martyrs in our industry. Let’s face it. We all got into this to help people not to make money, but the two things are not mutually exclusive. You’re not a better gym owner because you can starve yourself longer than I can. So the first system that you need is a pay yourself strategy. My strategy was really, really simple. In the beginning, my family had no other income. We had to eat. So every Friday, just to buy the groceries and pay the heating bill, I had to earn $900. And so my system was really, really simple. I got a checkbook. I wrote myself a check for $900. I post dated it, you know, for weeks, weeks, weeks into the future, months at a time. And I took this lump of checks, this brick, and I deposited it way in advance so that I would not have a choice because I knew that given that choice every single Friday, when I was beat down and exhausted, I would make myself suffer.

Chris (03:11):

I would take a pay cut if I thought that the gym needed the money more than I did, it seems so ridiculous now. But at the time that was my mindset. So the first strategy is pay yourself more if or the first system that you need is how to pay yourself. And the strategy that we typically teach is pay yourself first. If you want another strategy that doesn’t come from Two-Brain, I really recommend profit first. It’s a little bit more complicated, but it will definitely get you there. And you can talk to my friend, John Briggs at Inctite Tax about profit first in your micro gym. The second system that you need in your micro gym is amarketing and sales system. You need to be able to increase the number of clients that you have or at minimum replace the clients that you’re losing.

Chris (03:56):

Every gym has some churn because people move away and other people, you know, they can just lose interest over time. While we do have a couple of really long term clients at catalyst like 13 years, even those people took very short breaks at some point in their client journey with us. And so you need a marketing system. What system of marketing should you use? Well, at summit this year, we’re gonna be teaching the four funnels, but really if you have one working marketing strategy, that’s probably all you need. So at catalyst, we use an affinity marketing, which is a referral strategy. OK? So that’s our system and that produces more than enough clients. We have a waiting list. We’ve had a waiting list for the last two years because of COVOD and we’ve decided to cap our membership at 150. Other gyms, want more clients. And so they might use affinity marketing, but they might use one of these other funnels too.

Chris (04:51):

So they might use organic online marketing. They might use paid ads from Facebook. They might use content marketing, or they might something else. It’s really up to you, but you have to have one marketing system, get it working really well. And then move on to a second marketing system. If you want to. where most gym owners mess up with their marketing is that they don’t have a system that they’re following. Instead. They’re just trying a bunch of random, one off things. I’m gonna remember to post a Facebook this week. I’m gonna remember to shoot a video that I can use on TikTok. I’m gonna start a podcast that runs for four episodes. You’re far better off to understand which marketing system you can deliver on to go really deep into that marketing system and tell it’s working, and then think about adding a second. Most people sample marketing, they don’t build a system.

Chris (05:50):

We teach many, many marketing systems in Two-Brain. We teach them one at a time. We get people working on them, just in our ramp up program alone we teach 10 different marketing strategies because we wanna see where people are strong instead of just like dabbling in one thing and saying, well, that didn’t work. And moving on to the next thing, we have 10 strategies that we know work, and we coach you to use them until they’re working for you. And then you try the next. And then at the end you decide which one or two or three you’re gonna stick with. OK? So a marketing system is really important. And I’m saying that not because you don’t have one, but because you probably have marketing ideas and not an actual system. The third system that you need is a system whereby you can earn more per client.

Chris (06:36):

Look every single CrossFit gym undercharges, OK. It’s not as true in other segments, but this is, you know, it’s definitely a challenge with CrossFit affiliates. A lot of other micro gyms also undercharge, many personal training studios under charge. I know every yoga school in existence, probably under charges. You have to have a system where you can increase the value that you deliver to each client and they can increase what they pay you in exchange for that value. There are a couple ways to do this. The way that we teach is a hybrid. So there are, you know, different ways to raise the ARM, the average revenue per member that can include the one-on-one training, nutrition coaching, or both, that can include a high ticket offering that can include specialty programs. And again, there are a number of ways that you can introduce these things.

Chris (07:31):

But the system that we teach is called the prescriptive model because we teach gym owners how to run client centric businesses. We are never teaching the gym owner to sell something that the client doesn’t need. In fact, what we’re doing is teaching the gym owner how to determine exactly what their clients need and then provide that service to them when they can. OK, so the system for raising the value of each client is called the prescriptive model. And of course there are many strategies that you can employ. No two gyms are exactly the same, even though Two-Brain has over 800 gyms now, but they’re all following the same system. And the prescriptive model, the high level view is this. You have a consultative process at intake. You have a way to measure results based on the client’s goals, you have a way to change the prescription over time for the client.

Chris (08:29):

And you also have a pathway for that client to refer their friends and bring new clients in. The fourth system that you have to have in your gym is a retention system. It’s not enough to just be an excellent coach and have a great community. OK? I just did a podcas, about the things that actually improve retention. So being a great coach, having a warm, welcoming environment, these things are essential, but they’re not enough. So you actually have to have a retention plan. So the system for retention that we teach in combination with that prescriptive model is mapping a client journey. If you think about building a client centric business, everything that you do at business, every system that you build, every price point that you create, every piece of equipment that you buy, every person that you hire should go to supporting the ideal pathway of a client through your business.

Chris (09:29):

And we call that the client journey. So the client journey in a lot of ways is really the backbone of your business. And until you write it down, break it down. It’s very hard to understand. So the system that you’re actually building here is a system of processes that follows the client. So for example, what happens during a no sweat intro? The first time a client comes through your doors? Well, you start by handing them a bottle of water. What happens next? You invite them to sit down. What happens after that? About eight minutes of straight up listening and asking why, what happens after that, et cetera. And you need to map that all out. Now you’re gonna get really down into the weeds at the NSI, but you need to think about what happens to the client the day after they pay and what happens to the client on all of the days before their first session, and what happens to the client after their sixth session, how do you address that?

Chris (10:27):

What happens to the client on their 90th day? What happens to the client the first time they encounter something like the intramural open, and you have to map all these things out. Now, we’ve gone a lot deeper with this than we have in the past. And we actually give Two-Brain clients now a sample model year to follow. So for example, we can say like, we want all Two-Brain gyms doing goal reviews in April. And so then our media team can jump in, create content, social media posts, emails to help Two-Brain gyms, get their clients to do goal reviews in April, and maybe it’s coach evaluation season in May. And the same thing can happen. But Two-Brain clients also know they need to book people for their goal reviews in April. So they need to keep time open on their calendar.

Chris (11:12):

They might need to bring in staff for a few extra hours. They might need to practice doing on goal reviews. They might need to train their staff on goal reviews. They might need to think about what their upgrade and downgrade options are. They need to be really fluent in the prescriptive model, et cetera. So when you’re keeping clients longer, the system that you need is mapping the client journey. Of course, you know, we go through this in great depth in our growth program, but if you want to find like a DIY version, I strongly recommend Joey Coleman’s book never lose a customer again. The fifth system that you need is a system where you are ascending yourself. So when you start off your business, you’re in the founder phase and you’re doing everything. You’re coaching the classes. You’re taking the personal training clients. You’re mopping the floors.

Chris (12:01):

You’re going to Walmart to get toilet paper. You are trying to learn marketing. You’re doing the consultations. You’re trying to do the goal reviews. I get it. But the system that you need is a system of Ascension for yourself. Because if you don’t have this system, you will always be doing those things. Your work will always fill your day, whether it’s high value or low value work, whether it’s building your business or just keeping you busy. So the system that we use here is called the value ladder. And so basically what you’re doing is breaking down, every hat that you’re wearing in the gym, you’re assigning a replacement value to each one. Then you’re starting with the cheapest role in which to replace yourself, hiring somebody for that role, spending more time in higher value roles, and then hiring the next person. As you climb the ladder, you are the people to fill the rungs that you’re vacating beneath you.

Chris (12:58):

So you’re moving up and you’re back filling behind you. OK? There are other strategies that you can use for this. I think a good starting point is probably the e-myth. If you pick up that book, you’ll understand what roles and tasks are. At least from there, it’s a little bit more to figure out. It took us a long time to work out this strategy and make it this simple, but we teach the value ladder. And that is the system for CEO Ascension in your business basically. And the sixth system that you need is to improve your ROI. So you basically need like an expense audit and your goal is not to see every year. Like, what can I cut from my expenses? Your goal is to improve the ROI on the expenses that you have. I mean, you’re not dumb. So when you sign up for something, you know, that there’s a potential that you’re going to get a great return on that investment, right?

Chris (13:51):

And I’m sure that when you signed your lease, you didn’t do it blindfold, right? You didn’t just pick a spot on the map and say, whatever’s there, I’m gonna rent it. You had a plan. You, you saw this location and you thought, OK, I need to get 300 people to make this thing work. Or I only need four people to pay the rent or whatever it was. When you signed up for mentorship, you thought, OK, here’s how I plan to take action on this and do the work. And here’s how I’m gonna lay the time out. But every year you need to audit those things, right? You need to audit the service that you’re getting from your bookkeeper. You need to audit the service that you’re getting from your marketing agency. You definitely need to audit the service that you’re getting from your website or your CRM or whatever other software that you use.

Chris (14:37):

And instead of saying, what can I cut? Because you can’t really cut any of this stuff. You need to say, how do I get a better ROI on this? So the system that we use is something that we call the five audits. And basically once a year, you have these, these worksheets and you start off by auditing your physical location and you walk around the gym and you say, OK, what needs to be fixed? How can I get a better ROI on the square footage that I have and the equipment that I have, and then you move on to the next audit. And that’s an operational audit. And you say, can I get more efficient with my operations? Not what can I cut, but how can this operate, this system serve me better and reward me more. And then you do like a sales audit and a marketing audit and a staff audit.

Chris (15:25):

And you say, how do I grow the pie for my staff? Creating bigger opportunities for my coaches while also growing my gym. So growing the pie, instead of slicing up the pie and giving them a bigger piece. So the six systems are, you need a self payment system. You need a system for marketing to increase the number of clients. You have. You need a system for sales to earn more for each client that you get, a system for retention to keep your clients longer, a system for ascension for you, so that you work on higher value roles and grow the business that way. And finally, a system for auditing your expenses and improving their ROI. You can measure each one of these with a different metric, different KPI. You measure your self-pay system by net owner benefit, how much the business is paying you.

Chris (16:19):

You measure the number of clients you have by doing a headcount. You measure how much you’re earning per client through a KPI that we call ARM, average revenue. Remember you measure your system for retention based on your leg, LEG length of engagement. You measure your system for Ascension based on effective, hourly rate EHR. What’s your time worth. And you measure your return on investment through a metric called ROI, right? Return on investment. And you wanna do that each of these things constantly. And to do that, to measure the efficacy of each one of these six systems, you have to track, you have to know what these numbers are. You have to know your ARM. You have to know exactly how many clients you have. You have to know how much the business is paying you, et cetera. That means you need a dashboard.

Chris (17:08):

And so in Two-Brain, we not only provide you with these systems, but also with the dashboard to progress. Now here’s the super secret bonus for those of you who have listened to 17 minutes of me talking about systems, when you really want to hear about the CrossFit open results. The secret is that if you improve one, you’ll improve them all. Because each of these six systems magnifies the rest. If improve your RM a little bit, that will improve your metrics on all of the other five. If you improve retention in every client that you have by one month that will improve your net owner benefit, it will improve the number of clients that you have onto your roof. It will improve how much you earn per client. It will improve how much time you can spend working on the business instead of in the business. And it will improve your return on investment, on your space and equipment. So I’m Chris Cooper. These are the six systems that you need in your business. In Two-Brain, we call these the simple six. We give you strategies and tactics for each one. You do not have to follow exactly what we give you. We give you a ton of options and you can customize or tailor anything for your gym because your gym is not my gym, but I want the same for youa s I’ve earned for myself,

Mike (18:26):

Two-Brain Radio airs twice a week with tips, tactics and stories from real gym owners who are building amazing businesses. Make sure you hit subscribe right now so you get it all. And now here’s Chris Cooper. One more time.

Chris (18:38):

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

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One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.