Sinking Ship to Rocket Ship: How Brandon Evans Did It


Tiffy (00:02):

Hi, it’s Tiffy Thompson. Today on Two-Brain Radio, we talked to Brandon Evans of Heart and Hustle Fitness about why he, along with his partner, Ashley Wilton, were named Two-Brain’s future stars. We’ll share the secrets to their success so that you can get your gym moving up facst. First here’s Two-Brain founder, Chris Cooper, with a word about this special award.

Chris (00:26):

The Future Star award is us identifying the person who has put Two-Brain principles best into practice. And they’re on a rapid upward trajectory. A lot of the times, this award denotes humility, beginner’s mindset, people who work really, really hard at the right things. But for me, it also tells a story of focus. It’s not getting distracted by all the options or all the ideas or all the things that you could do. But instead following the proven path, working with a mentor, not getting distracted by shiny objects on the side of the road, growing really, really fast. All of those things that you hear about the best entrepreneurs are always present in the Future Star award from Two-Brain Business. And this year is no different. In the past, some of the Future Star awards have gone on to build massive companies, to open second and third locations, even in their second and third year, they’ve really proven the concepts to work. And we’re really proud to highlight their fast growth. We can’t wait to watch them in the future.

Chris (01:31):

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Tiffy (02:04):

Brandon, welcome. Congratulations on receiving this award. How did it feel to hear Chris Cooper read off your names as recipients of this award?

Brandon (02:15):

Yeah, it was awesome. We heard that we got nominated for it and not that you don’t think you’re gonna win, but you don’t think you’re going to win all these things, but when they come around. Right. So yeah, it was pretty special. It’s hard, we don’t often look back to see kind of like the path that we’ve come down. So it was really nice to feel and to feel that we were recognized for all the hard work that we’ve been doing.

Tiffy (02:41):

That’s awesome. What do you think is the secret to your success

Brandon (02:44):

What do I think is the secret to our success? I don’t know. I think we’ve had a lot of help along the way. And I think that we were willing to ask for help when we needed it. We don’t know all the answers. We never have. I’m sure I’m not alone in gym ownership to say that I just got into it because I loved what I was doing. And I wanted to help a lot of people, and I didn’t know that much about business when I got into it. And so every day we come across all of these unknowns, and we don’t know how to tackle them. Jeff Larsh, our mentor, has been huge. He’s been a huge part of our success and I think just keeping focused on the goal, like, it’s not going to happen tomorrow.

Brandon (03:30):

We’re not in this to be successful in a year from now, we’re here to establish like a 40-year business. We want this thing to last the rest of our lives. And if our kids want to get into it, then it can be generational. If I keep looking like into the future way down the road and be like, OK, if we’re going through a hard time, it’s just a bump in the road. So let’s just stick to the plan. Try not to get distracted and just stick to what we’re doing right now, because there’s always like when you lay out your plan for the year, there’s like this wealth of things that need to get done. And it’s extremely overwhelming. So by just like taking one thing at a time and trying to stick to that one thing, get that working, get it automated. And then we can move on to the next thing.

Tiffy (04:17):

Maybe you can walk me back to, like, before you started working with Two-Brain, like, about a year and a half ago, what situation was your gym in and what sorts of challenges were you facing at that time?

Brandon (04:34):

We opened our gym. And I think it was about eight months after we opened that we signed on with Two-Brain. So I listened to Chris for probably about a year prior to even opening our gym on his podcasts. Trying to get some information and, you know, I can do this on my own, it’ll be no big deal. And then before we signed on with Two-Brain, like every month it was costing us, like, I don’t know, $5,000 a month, 7,000 here, 3000 there, 4,000 there, we’d recruited members and things were slowly working, but it was like, it was costing us a lot of money. And we weren’t like, we weren’t out of the rabbit hole and we thought we’d be there a lot faster. And I just knew we needed to change. I knew we needed something different. We’ve been doing the same thing for the last eight months.

Brandon (05:23):

With little growth, we had this initial spike right off the bat, as soon as we opened and I’m thinking, it’s kind of like, plained out and we didn’t know what to do. We didn’t know. I don’t know anything about, you know, we didn’t know anything about marketing. How do we market? How do we get our voice out to people? What should we be doing right now? What works in the industry? We just wanted to open a gym that people are going love. Right. But we didn’t know how to run a business. So I was reading lots of books and honestly Tiff, I think the big thing was like, I’d read all these books, but I wasn’t putting things into action. And partly because I didn’t maybe have the confidence or I didn’t know how to do it. And we saw when we opened our books on the financial side of things to be like, wow, this is like costing us a lot of money on a monthly basis. Like, how are we going to keep this thing afloat? How are we going to do it? And I knew Two-Brain exists. I’ve listened to Chris’s podcast extensively. I knew before I called that I was going to sign on that day. I don’t know if my wife knew or not, but I knew that that was going to happen. And so we made the phone call and, yeah, we’re pretty happy that we did.

Tiffy (06:25):

What did your mentor have you focus on that really kind of brought you out of that rabbit hole?

Brandon (06:33):

Hmm. I don’t know if I can put a finger specifically on it. I don’t think it was one specific thing other than I’m just going to say that word again, focus, stay focused on the task that you’re doing for this month and don’t let shiny objects distract you. Jeff’s really big on like shiny objects. Cause they always come in. Right. Oh, what about this crazy idea? I got this idea. What about this? Like, shut up. Don’t do that. Just stick to what you’re doing. And so over the course last December, I think we’re coming up soon in a few months to two years with Two-Brain, in December, 2018, we signed on. Over the course of those two years. We just started like singular focus. How do we grow our membership? Let’s work on our staff. We looked at our staff and how do we develop staff?

Brandon (07:19):

Do we have enough staff? Do we have the bandwidth to do all of these things that we want to do? And so we kept shifting areas probably. And this isn’t exact, probably every like two to four months, we would kind of shift into another area. We’d get one area going really well and then we’d pull off and we’d shift to another area and that would focus really well. And then we would start developing our staff playbook so that we could reiterate whatever we were learning back to the staff. They knew where to look and how to look there and how to be trained on it. And all the pieces just slowly started to fall into place. Once the training for the staff was there. Once we hired a CSM to help us take care of all this backlogging of administrative work that we didn’t even know how to do, we hated doing it.

Brandon (08:09):

We didn’t want to do it. And she was more than happy to take that on, to become a part of it, to buy into what we were doing. Yeah. Things started to flow. Like we started, Ash and I started firing ourselves from certain positions that we didn’t need, like hired a cleaner right off the bat, hired a CSM to take care of the administrative work right off the bat. Have coaches doing coaching, like thinking that I needed to be in the driver’s seat, coaching the classes a hundred percent of the time. And then you cause burnout and you’re no good when you’re burnt out. So I think keeping focused on small, simple tasks, until they start working well enough that you can pass them off somebody else. And it allows you to focus on another small, simple task of a little bit higher value.

Brandon (09:01):

And eventually the Lego blocks kind of fall into place. And the tower gets a little bit bigger and a little bit bigger. And we started going from the red, into the green. I don’t have my numbers in front of me, but probably we were in the red in December when we signed on with Two-Brain and probably by March or April, we were out of it. And then it’s been consistent since then. We’ve been making profits since like three or four months with Two-Brain. And I don’t have the exact numbers here, but like I said before, like we were five to seven grand a month in debt before we even signed on.

Tiffy (09:34):

And you’ve had some challenges along the way. I mean, like COVID hits and then that kind of throws everything into disarray. What were like the biggest challenges you faced over this time period and how did you sort of deal with that?

Brandon (09:50):

A funny question, because the challenges that used to be really big aren’t anymore, you learn along the way, like we’d lose a coach and I would like lose my mind being like, Oh my God, how am I going to come back from this? How am I going to find somebody, how am I going to hire a new coach to put somebody in this position? And now like a year and a half, almost two years later, we just lost another coach. And like, didn’t even blink an eye. Like the ball is just rolling because we’ve set the systems in place to be able to deal with what those are. COVID was rough. I think it was rough for everybody. As challenging as it was, and as small as it was, we still profited through COVID the numbers weren’t staggering by any stretch, I’m not trying to brag or at all.

Brandon (10:37):

Cause it was wasn’t enough money to feed the family if you will, but we kept the profit margin through COVID. And I think it was just through help of guidance, accountability and focus, staying on task with what you’re supposed to do. I don’t know. There’s not one single big struggle that we’ve gone through. I think it all comes back to it’s internal, it’s me. Right. I struggle with my perception of what’s happening at the moment and my capabilities of being able to deal with it. I’ve really worked on me and my beliefs and like getting to a place that I’ve instilled confidence in myself that I’m able to deal with whatever situation comes. Cause if all my staff leave tomorrow, does that mean my business is going to crumble? No. It’s going to suck, but we’ll figure it out.

Brandon (11:32):

And so COVID showed Ashley and I a lot of that where like the world is crumbling. Things are difficult. People are leaving by the day in terms of numbers. How do we overcome this? How do we deal with it? And you do you figure it out. Now, we’re now, it’s September. It’s not March anymore. Going into October. Maybe a second wave is coming, but we’re so much more prepared to deal with whatever comes down the pipeline through just self reflection, like through understanding that it’s going to be OK. And if you want to be in business, you’ve got to get used to doing things that are difficult and to rising to the occasion and to solving problems, you do not know how to fix. And that comes with like having a community surrounding you, of people that you can lean on to ask questions because someone else has done it before. And if they haven’t, like COVID, we’re all going through it together. So let’s figure it out. Right?

Chris (12:29):

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Tiffy (12:50):

You didn’t have a business background before. Would you say that in developing more confidence in running a business, there are aspects of it that you actually enjoy, that surprise you, that you didn’t think you would enjoy?

Brandon (13:04):

Yeah, for sure. I love running a business. Love it.

Tiffy (13:08):

ls ike sales or marketing or like some other aspect of it, like more appealing now?

Brandon (13:15):

Sales or marketing. It’s leadership. I love leading. I love leading the team and inspiring my team and my community to lit themselves up and to become the best version of themselves. I love doing that through coaching. I love doing it through fitness. I love doing it through chats that we have, one of my favorite things that I do, we call it Ninja School. It’s the HTC program that Two-Brain has, and our best coaches have come from our Ninja School.

Brandon (13:56):

And, it’s one of my favorite things to do. Even as a CEO, now I’ll continue to do that role just because I love it. I love teaching our vision and teaching our mission and spreading that to everybody within the community. So yeah, sales or marketing aren’t my two favorite things in the world. It’s leadership. It’s connecting with the members on a one-on-one basis and helping to build those relationships. So maybe there’s a bit of both of those sales and marketing, especially when I’m trying to acquire new clients or meeting new business owners to help improve the business and how we can help improve each other, creating partnerships. Yeah. I’m really enjoying those things. And the biggest thing is like the challenge, like what’s the challenge today that we can figure out and overcome.

Brandon (14:44):

And I just find on a consistent basis that my skillset is constantly improving. It’s constantly getting better and I’m constantly falling in love with things that I didn’t even know about six months ago, a year ago, two years ago, there’s always something new with being an entrepreneur that comes down the pipeline and it’s all like it’s all related. It all relates to one another. The more we understand that the more I’ve learned to love running the business in its entirety and for everything the staff comes with the challenge instead of getting upset about whatever it is, you just take the time to think about it and try and solve the issue.

Tiffy (15:23):

You’re no longer operating on a deficit, as you said. So what do you think is the main thing that kind of righted that ship when it came to your profitability? Was it developing like a staff playbook and kind of refining that? Or was it some other aspects?

Brandon (15:39):

Honestly, I think it was like, a lot of it had to do with paying attention to my metrics and paying attention to the numbers coming in and the numbers, going out, plus our cash flow, the money coming in, money going out, and then like all of our sales metrics, like how many people did we acquire this month? Because it used to be, I don’t know, we just jumped from this number to that number. I don’t know how many came in and I don’t know how many left, I paid zero attention to it before Two-Brain. So focusing on the numbers and managing the numbers. It took me a few months to get enough of a grasp on it, to have a good enough understanding about how to even manage it. Because that just filters out to everything else.

Brandon (16:22):

What are our numbers? OK, they’re not good. How do we solve this issue? And what can we stop spending money on? What can we stop dumping money into? How much do I actually need to coach so that I can focus on other areas of the business to try to help to grow it. And what can we actually afford for me not to be in that seat right now so that I can focus on sales, focus on no sweat intros, focus on running some marketing or whatever it might be. So yeah, I mean, everything obviously came into play, but I think the biggest thing was understanding what our numbers actually were on a month to month basis. That helped to like turn the light switch on. They’re like, you need, you need to change. You know, you need to make a change, but you never understood why I needed to. So once we grabbed a hold of those things, it really helps perpetuate the pendulum to just keep swinging further.

Tiffy (17:16):

The dashboard comes in handy.

Brandon (17:18):

The dashboard is amazing and we didn’t have the dashboard when I started, we used a big sheet and that was all we had and the big sheet was great. And then the dashboard came along. The Growth ToolKit is just like, it’s amazing. I wish we had the Growth ToolKit when I started on day one, it was just a little different, right? It wasn’t as laid out as it is. And it wasn’t as clear as it is. We had lots of direction and we knew where to go, but the Growth ToolKit and the dashboard are two essential tools that I don’t care what business you’re in. Everybody needs.

Tiffy (17:48):

What do you is the biggest benefit you’ve derived from working with your mentor?

Brandon (17:52):

Rhe accountability is huge. The trust and accountability. It’s like, for the first eight months, I wasn’t honest with myself with how the business was and I didn’t even know where the business was. And then when we started working with Jeff, we had to answer to somebody and it’s like, it means a lot when you have to answer to somebody and when you have to present your numbers and you can’t hide them. And when, you know, you have to be honest. And he was amazing at establishing trust really early on, that we felt comfortable doing that and sharing all that information. Because we knew that we needed it and the business needed it, our kids needed it. So though we didn’t have that before, I had like my father and my mom ran their own business.

Brandon (18:49):

One of my best friends runs his own business and we’d all have all these little like, chats about what should you do here? What should you do there? It’s not the same thing, right? When there’s a third party who you don’t really know that’s holding you accountable, you’re paying for it. So you feel like you need to do this thing. It’s like a psychological aspect of it. Right. But it’s just been amazing. He’s been such a godsend to the business, to us. And like I had a call with him today and we probably talked about Heart and Hustle for about, I dunno, five minutes, because that was what I needed today. Yeah. That was what I needed to talk about. And that’s what keeps me going. That’s what fires me up to continue driving the business forward.

Brandon (19:36):

And he knows that, he can recognize that like keeps the focus in an area. And I know I have homework every week that I need to get these things done before the call. And it keeps me focused on the singular things that helped—I’ve seen it now, right. Being almost two years in, we’ve seen them drive the business forward and it can be something so small, so small as like you need to start running an ATC program. OK, cool. We’ll modify it. We’ll make it our own. We’ll put our own magic into it. And now I’ve got like a waitlist of coaches when I need a coach. I just pull off the waitlist, come on in, we’ve got interns that are working around the clock and it’s like, it’s amazing. I don’t have to think about it. Awesome. Stress gone. And that’s just one tiny area. So yeah, the trust that you have and for us anyways, the trust that we have in Jeff is massive. And then it allows us to hold up our end of the accountability and the business deserves it. My children deserve it for us to be held accountable, to take action towards our specific goals, whatever they are. Those are the two biggest things.

Tiffy (20:42):

What are you most looking forward to when it comes to Heart and Hustle and looking into your future.

Brandon (20:48):

I’m most looking forward to, this is a tough one for me, it’s a bit emotional, but to quit the fire department and start to create more of a limitless lifestyle for my family and my children. We want to spend our life traveling around the world and giving our children all kinds of experiences, myself and my wife and our kids. And yeah, we see great things in the future for Heart and Hustle. If we continue on the path. And, I always wanted a business that was automated. I just never knew exactly what that actually meant. There’s a lot of automations that are happening right now. And as the business continues to grow, not physically being there, I’m at my cottage right now, for example, things are still working back home. So to be able to start to have freedom in all of the areas in our lives where we need the freedom in order to do, to have the freedom of travel, the freedom of time that we want to explore those things.

Brandon (21:54):

We need a bit more of all of those things in order for me to quit the fire department. Especially the business has only been around for two years. But yeah, so we’re super, super happy and excited to have a plan driving forward to create this lifestyle that we’ve always wanted, that our parents may not agree with, but we know it’s right for is.

Tiffy (22:14):

It’s your perfect day.

Brandon (22:17):

Is our perfect day. That’s right. Yeah. It’s our perfect day for sure.

New Speaker (22:21):

Thanks so much for chatting with me today. It’s been a pleasure.

Brandon (22:24):

Yeah. Awesome. I love sharing our story and what we’ve gone through, so yeah, that’s great.

Andrew (22:32):

Excellent. That was Tiffany Thompson on Two-Brain Radio. If you currently work with Two-Brain, ask yourself, what would it take to win this award next year, then take action. And if you don’t work with us yet, be sure to join the Facebook group Gym Owners United, where you’ll find advice from Two-Brain founder, Chris Cooper. Every day, he’ll tell you how to improve your business for free. Thanks for listening to Two-Brrain Radio. Subscribe for new episodes every Monday and Thursday.


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