"Sold!"—Brendon Collins on New Fitness Services and Online Sales

Brandon Collins-BLOG (1)

Mike (00:02):

While some gym owners threw their hands up in the air when the COVID lockdowns came, others moved online within hours. This week we talked to Brendon Collins who’s having success selling online coach even though Strong Tower CrossFit’s physical location is a shut. Brendan tells his tales right after this. Two-Brain Business has put together a page of essential COVID-19 resources for gym owners. On it, you’ll find the free gym-saving guide “How to Add Online Training in 24 Hours” as well as links to government loans and other critical info you need to navigate this crisis. Head to twobrainbusiness.com and click COVID 19 in the top menu. The page is updated regularly, so bookmark it and check back often. This is Two-Brain Radio. I’m Mike Warkentin here with Brendon Collins of Strong Tower CrossFit, which is just outside Cleveland, Ohio, the heart of rock and roll as it were. A few weeks back, Brendan told me he’s working even more now that his physical locations closed, and his life is better. That might be because he’s got a plan to sell online services and the plan is working. We’ll talk about that and give you a few ideas of what you can expect as you move to online training. Brendon, sir, welcome. How are you?

Brendon (01:04):

What’s up Mike? Rocking and rolling this morning from Cleveland, Ohio. How are you, dude?

Mike (01:08):

I love it. I love it. I haven’t been to Cleveland, but I haven’t been to Ohio. It’s a great place. How are things going there with the lockdown? Is everyone safe and healthy or how is it?

Brendon (01:17):

Yeah, you know, thankfully everyone safe and healthy, going a little stir crazy as are pretty much everybody, I’m sure. Hey, you know, we are safe, we are healthy, we’re together as a family. So it’s hard to ask for a lot more than that right now. I think

Mike (01:31):

That’s good. I’m going to ask you for something right now and it’s the question everyone wants to know the answer to. We’re just going to get right to it. Have you sold new services in the new area of fitness and what numbers can you share?

Brendon (01:44):

Yes, I have. We have sold services in this new era and everything we’ve sold has been virtual. We’ve sold both remote coaching and we’ve sold nutrition all virtually. So from a numbers perspective, as of this morning, actually I just sold another one last night, so we’ve sold seven. We’ve sold seven new remote memberships, that’s for training and we have filled 10 spots in our nutrition challenge. So that’s 17 new memberships in one way, shape or form in the last month since we’ve been forced to shut our doors.

Mike (02:25):

Wow. Do you know offhand the revenue for that?

Brendon (02:29):

Yeah, so for remote, we kept that the same as our month to month offering, just because we were rolling it out and we wanted to honor that pricing for new members. So that is at 150 a month. Once lockdown is over and we get back to quote unquote normal, whatever the heck that looks like, that price for remote programming will go up significantly because it’s a higher touch offering.

Mike (02:58):

We’re going to talk about that. That’s gonna be a good one.

Brendon (02:59):

And then our nutrition challenge was $97. So front end revenue, I had it at 1870 but I forgot to add in that person I just closed last night. So add a buck 50 to that. So to we’re close to two grand in front-end revenue in the last 30 days.

Mike (03:18):

That’s incredible. Cause I know there are gyms out there that are struggling right now to sell anything. So you’ve had significant success in generating new revenue right off the bat. Congratulations sir.

Brendon (03:27):

Hey, thanks buddy.

Mike (03:28):

All right, we’re going to talk about the details of how you did that. But very quickly I want to get a bit of background for you, just so people know where you’re coming from. When were you officially closed and did you decide to do it earlier? Was it by state mandate or how did that go?

Brendon (03:41):

Yeah, that’s a good question. So, as of Monday, March 16th, we got the order from the Ohio governor that by the end of business we had to cease operations. Now a few people in our area decided to proactively close the weekend prior. So we’re talking the 15th or the 14th. We talked about it as a staff. We polled our members, overwhelmingly, 95% of our members polled and wanted us to continue operations. And we were very upfront with how often we were sterilizing and cleaning and doing extra things like that to keep the gym safe. So we felt comfortable continuing operations. But what we did, Mike, is we saw the writing on the wall. So we began to develop our remote offering while we were running our normal classes knowing full well that was going to come to that.

Mike (04:41):

You saw the wave coming.

Brendon (04:43):

Yeah. You couldn’t not see it coming. Right. So we were ready to hit the ground running. We actually already had a staff meeting scheduled for Tuesday the 17th to touch on this very thing and give people their marching orders on how to do it. So the timing actually worked out well. By the close of business, on Monday, we were to cease in person operations. We had a staff meeting first thing Tuesday morning and we hit the ground, you know, at 100% full speed transitioning all of our members to virtual customized class programming.

Mike (05:19):

And so when you’re talking about that, you’re talking not necessarily about Zoomn classes, which again, the reason why Two-Brain is not recommending that as your go-to thing is because the retention tends to drop off there and people, they lose their novelty, those classes. What Two-Brain has recommended, which I want to confirm that what you’re doing is you’re taking your workouts and you’re tailoring them to each client’s personal goals and each day you’re staying in touch with them and you’re giving them constant coach contact, but you’re not using them on a Zoom class. Is that correct?

Brendon (05:48):

That’s a hundred percent accurate. We tried a couple Zoom classes. Well, let me take a quick step back. What we did strategically is we took our client base and we divided them up among the coaches. Every coach had about 10 to 15 athletes that they were responsible for. And that’s to customize our class programming, to reach out to them on a daily basis and explain the workout, answer questions and keep them accountable. So once we divided everybody up, we gave the coaches some pointers on how to customize the class programming for each athlete. We left it up to the coaches if they wanted to hold a Zoom class and they would do it with just their team of 10 to 15 athletes. And we noticed the same thing that everyone else had, Mike, you know, at first you’d get eight of the 10 on there and now when we do a Zoom class, they’ll have two or three on. We weren’t excited about that as a class offering. It’s not who we are. So we knew full well that our service had to be those high quality touch points, the individual customization of our class workout. Hey, you know, Heather, here’s a workout today. I know we’re still working on pull-ups. Here’s a modification I want you to do so by the time we get back to the gym, you are that much closer to your first pull-up.

Mike (07:10):

So totally personalized.

Brendon (07:12):

Absolutely, Mike. Yep.

Mike (07:15):

How did that go? What when you did that, because that was a hard pivot that you did in like a day or two. What was your retention like?

Brendon (07:22):

So we sit right now at 97% retention from a month ago. And the people we’ve had cancel, and I’m sure this is not unique, right? The people we’ve had cancel have almost reluctantly done so. They’ve been laid off, their financial wellbeing has been impacted. And you know, under a quote unquote normal circumstances, when someone tells you they’ll be back, you say, eh … but when these people like heartfelt say, I swear we’ll be back as soon as the job comes back, I fully believe that. I expect, Mike, to look back on this like a year from now and say we were almost made completely whole after things came back to normal. I do fully expect that.

Mike (08:06):

Oh that’s fantastic to hear in a time when it’s, you know, Death Valley for a lot of gyms. Were you doing a lot of online coaching before this?

Brendon (08:14):

I had done zero.

Mike (08:16):

So completely new. So to put that in perspective, so you had no online coaching program at all and then this whole wave of stuff came from China all across to you know, North America and Ohio and you went online, retained 97% of your clients and sold close to 20 people and 2 K in revenue.

Brendon (08:38):

Yup. Absolutely correct.

Mike (08:41):

All right, so we’re going to talk now about the details, kind of how you did that. Cause I know there’s people out there that want to know really badly. So tell me like how did you develop the online products? Like you didn’t have anything that you were selling, how did you figure what you were going to sell and what were those products?

Brendon (08:56):

So the first one is just our class product, our coaching product that we moved to online. Now, I think it’s worth mentioning that, even when we were live and in person doing classes, we always emphasize that we’re a coaching gym. We don’t just write the workout on the whiteboard, say, Hey, your warm-up’s here, let me know when you’re done. Everyone done? OK, here’s your workout. I’ll start the clock for you. That was never our jam. Some gyms are that way and that’s fine. It’s just not who we wanted to be and it’s not who our coaches wanted to be. So all along our class programming was guide everyone through a warm-up, explain the workout, do a brief of it, why we’re doing things a certain way, what your goals are. We took everyone through movement progressions. I don’t care if they’ve, you know, been with us for all six years.

Brendon (09:46):

We all warmed up with the PVC pipe going over the Burgener warm-up when we were doing cleans, like we just did it. So basically what we did is we took our SOP for running a class and say, how do we make this translate as literally as we can to virtual. So what we did is we filmed our whiteboard session for every day, literally I stood in front of a whiteboard. I’ve got it here in my office right next to me, wrote down the workout and I talk through it like I was talking to a class. We got together and filmed as many movement demos as we can. I think we went from eight videos on our YouTube channel before this all started and now we’re up over 200 videos. So we produced almost 200 videos in a month.

Mike (10:31):

What’s the weirdest odd object that’s in there? I gotta know.

Brendon (10:36):

We, for our demos, we’ve used bags, but we have seen athletes use their dogs, which has been my favorite.

Brendon (10:44):

They’ve been holding their puppies for goblet squats and I’m a dog man, so they earn points with me.

Mike (10:52):

I’ve got English mastiffs and I’ve done that, but I can do only like 1 rep.

Brendon (10:53):

Please don’t try to do goblet squats with a mastiff. Oh my gosh. I got a 90-pound black lab who’s snoring behind me. Most people are holding their corgis doing their goblet squat.

Mike (11:10):

So you expanded your video library with some dogs and some other stuff and your team in the whiteboard stuff. Go from there.

Brendon (11:18):

Yeah. So what we would do is when we would deliver it, we talked about transitioning to a different software platform like Oh, what would be perfect for online coaching. But we realized that we needed to pivot as fast as we could to really keep retention. So my background is actually in software development.

Brendon (11:40):

This is before you know, agile method, we had something called a minimal viable product. So what is the absolute bare essentials you can get out to market and then you can just push out updates and tweaks as you go. So we realized we needed a minimal viable product. So we use Wodify and we said we’re going to continue to use Wodify. We put the workouts in there with links to all of our demos. And then the coaches one by one contacted athletes, whether it was Facebook messenger or text or whatever their preferred mode was and said, Hey Craig, you know, I want you to do this movement substitution today. Or, you know, instead of the snatches, I know your shoulder’s been bugging you or we’re going to change it to this today. And we just went with what we had and got it out to market as quick as we could. Knowing full well, Mike, the difference wasn’t our shiny application. The difference was our ability to individually and personally coach. And that’s been our mantra at Strong Tower all along. So it made for gosh, a pretty seamless pivot, to be honest.

Mike (12:49):

You laid the groundwork for that for probably the last six years. I’m guessing like from what I’m hearing is like this wasn’t a real culture shift. It was just a delivery.

Brendon (12:57):

Yeah. That’s 100% accurate. I would say it that way many times over our culture did not change. Our culture has not shifted. It’s just the way where it takes place is different.

Mike (13:08):

Yeah. The tool doesn’t seem to matter that much either. Right? It’s like, we did the same thing. Kind of where we had to shut down one day before I was ready. And so we had one day where we did Facebook live and that kind of it’s OK. And we we’re following the Two-Brain plan exactly. Same thing, divide up the people, giving them individualized programming. We are running Zoom classes just as a value add because we had the ability to do it. We started with Facebook, then Zoom, but we’re doing that exact same thing. Touch points. And I think for us it’s the exact same thing where we’ve tried really hard to stay in contact with our members forever. Now that’s not too big a switch, you know? So that’s fascinating. Tell me about your nutrition. How did that come about?

Brendon (13:45):

Yeah, so we’ve been working with Health Steps Nutrition for a while. We are in Ohio so by law we need a registered dietician. So it just made a lot of sense a while ago to partner with them. And so we’ve all along kind of when we planned out our year, we knew we were going to do a nutrition challenge around this time of year.

Mike (14:04):

Oh, wow. Planning again.

Brendon (14:06):

I know, right? So when the timing came around, my wife is actually our nutrition coach, which makes it incredibly difficult for me to have cheat meals at home. So those beautiful tacos you have behind you, brother, it’s so tempting right now.

Mike (14:22):

I’ll send you one to an outside location where you can go get it.

Brendon (14:25):

I appreciate it. So my wife Abbey said to me, she goes, what do you want to do with this? I’m like, I can’t think of a really good reason why we shouldn’t go on with it. The only thing we changed is our kick-off meeting for the whole challenge was going to be in person at Strong Tower. Well, we’ll do a Facebook live instead. We put it out there that, Hey, we’re moving forward with it. And honestly I think, you know, getting those 10 people plus a couple of coaches in the challenge for this day and age for what’s going on right now, I told my wife that’s a huge success. My mentor said the same thing. He’s like, that might be the normal equivalent of having 30 people in your nutrition challenge. I agreed with that. So we’re pretty happy with it and it’s going well right now and it’s focused a lot on habits, right? We give people a meal plan and you know, here’s what you should eat. But it’s more like what habits are you forming around how you eat, what decisions are you making for smart substitutions? It’s not, did you follow this to the T? And right now I think people developing strong habits are what is getting them through. So it’s been a home run as far as I’m concerned. I’m over the moon excited with it. I’m taking part in it myself. So, I’m seeing it from the inside.

Mike (15:51):

Yeah, no tacos. Then I’ll have to change my screen back around here. No more tacos. We’re going to like lettuce and cabbage and those few other things.

Brendon (15:57):

You’re killing me, Mike. Killing me.

Mike (15:57):

Some gym owners—I just want to help you through this difficult time. But some gym owners, they’re really having trouble creating value in their minds. So you’ve got gym owners that they’re really concerned, like they’ve built their whole thing selling, you know, this facility and these barbells and coaching and programming in person and all and this stuff. They’re having some trouble. And I’ve heard from a number of them that are saying like this shift to like online coaching without Zoom classes and they’re having trouble with it. Did you have any issues in that mindset and if you did, how’d you get past that?

Brendon (16:30):

Yeah, that’s a really good question. I’m thankful that our culture at Strong Tower, our coaching culture has always been one of personal contact and that’s really what has helped us define value and what’s helped me define value to our coaches. Like this is what, and I’ve said it over and over to them again, like we are not selling our programming. We’re not doing—that’s not ultimately what we’re offering people, you know, people could go on to SugarWOD marketplace and buy anything they want and they could Google it and get a billion results of an at-home workout program. What you’re selling is you as a coach, what you’re selling is normalcy during this time of isolation and fear and lack of connection. What you’re selling is human contact, as human as you possibly can during this time. And so I think once we got that idea in our head, that it’s not fitness, it’s a human connection, uit became a lot easier for us to deliver that with confidence. My background, like I said, it’s in software development, but I was actually also a pastor for a time.

Mike (17:45):

I didn’t know that until yesterday.

Brendon (17:47):

Yeah. That’s a book in and of itself, dude.

Brendon (17:52):

So it’s kind of always been at the core of who I am to get to the heart of people. And I got into fitness, I bought this gym because I thought the methodology of CrossFit and the community of CrossFit was actually a great delivery method for real, like holistic life change. And I think anyone who’s done CrossFit for a while has seen that in someone, right? Their whole life is different now because of, you know, their affiliation with a CrossFit gym, a good CrossFit gym.

Mike (18:23):

It’s behavior modification for sure.

Brendon (18:24):

100%. And you know, a lot of times it’s not getting your first pull-up. It’s realizing that I’m strong and I’m capable and I can do these hard things. It’s having someone tell you for maybe the first time in decades that you did a really good job. Simple things like that could significantly impact someone’s life.

Brendon (18:51):

So kind of circling all that back to your question of value. Like that’s the value we provide. And again, we’ve just changed where we deliver it. It’s no longer at Strong Tower CrossFit the physical location. It is done virtually through Wodify and True Coach and Facebook and text message and videos. And we try to make it as personal as we could. So I’ve had my phone up in front of my face recording a lot of videos and sending those to athletes. Instead of shooting a quick text or typing something up, I pick up the phone and give them a call or record a video and send them that message. So that’s the value we decided we’re going to create. It’s that as human a touch as possible in this time. And quite frankly, that’s made all the difference.

Mike (19:39):

You know, I’m going to imagine that no matter how good your customer service was before this crisis, your clients are probably getting more coach touchpoints now. Am I correct?

Brendon (19:49):

I would agree with that. Yeah. I have a hard time arguing with that statement and I think when we do, I don’t think, I know when we do reopen our doors, we’re going to be even better coaches as a result of this and we’re going to be an even better organization as a result of this. So yeah, I’m thankful for the shift to be honest. And it goes back to the whole growth mindset, right? This could be either really, really suck, or this can be a fantastic opportunity for growth and we’ve seized this as a fantastic opportunity for growth. And without that mindset, Mike, delivering the minimal viable product, what matter, how we market, it doesn’t matter, our front-end revenue doesn’t matter. It has to start with that mindset. And that’s what we’ve done.

Mike (20:35):

This is a question for like after the apocalypse ends and we get back to normal, but the question would be, you know, what would happen if you just kept texting your members constantly contact and doing all the stuff you’re doing in the coronavirus crisis, what would happen to retention if you did that, you know, in the normal, when the gym is open. So we’ll get back to that eventually because I think that’s going to be a real—people are learning retention tools right now that I think people need to probably continue, building relationships after this ends. We’ll have to figure that out, but that, you know, Chris Cooper will be all over that data. I can assure you of it. So tell me this now. So we have to talk about marketing here and I want to know how much ad spend was related to the 2 k in front-end revenue that you just generated. Purely online sales.

Brendon (21:18):

Yeah. Yeah. So I called my accountant. I got a whole table full of calculators and I have the world’s largest Excel spreadsheet. And after I’ve crunched the numbers, I’ve spent zero.

Mike (21:30):

Wow. So like no Facebook, ads. Nothing.

Brendon (21:33):

No. Not a single Facebook ad. Not even for awareness. I’ve done zero paid advertising.

Mike (21:38):

  1. So now here I need to ask the secret that you can give away your secret sauce here, but how’d you do it? How’d you sell this stuff?

Brendon (21:44):

I can’t tell you that it’s a secret.

Mike (21:44):

OK, I’ll send you some tacos.

Brendon (21:44):

Yeah, exactly. We’ve got to get back to negotiating tacos. We started with our existing audience. So they were already, you know, warm leads, right? They’ve already connected with us, whether it’s our Facebook audience or they signed up for our email list or they were former clients. So we decided to start there. So we had an organic posting campaign on Facebook, but I didn’t see a lot of success from my gym’s Facebook page. So I posted on my personal profile, I posted every other day for about a week and a half that, Hey, we’re switching to remote programming. I want a couple people, five of them to jump on board with me and help me test it out. And because you’re helping me, instead of the full price of like 300 bucks or 400 bucks or whatever it’s going to be when this is all over, I’ll give it to you at our current membership price of 150, and in a week I filled up all five spots and there’s a chunk of front-end revenue right there.

Brendon (22:55):

We had two other people also come from our email list. So, whether it was for the nutrition challenge or for the remote coaching, we filled up people that way. And then the best part, Mike, is one of the people I got through my Facebook, personal Facebook posts, I’m actually going to credit that to affinity marketing. So, we have three kids. All of them are school age, the oldest is in fifth, the other two are in grade school. My wife and I are both members of the PTA for our elementary school, so we’ve always pitched in and helped that way. Being a PTA dad is a lot of fun. But I’ve always asked how Strong Tower as a facility can help, you know, can we do free workouts for the kids and the parents at a PTA meeting and things like that.

Brendon (23:52):

We’ve sponsored, what we ended up doing is sponsoring their annual 5k and we would bring a couple athletes and you know, put our logo on a shirt and give people warm-ups to do. During the PTA meetings they offer childcare. So we’ve done a couple where we’ve said, Hey, we’ll do your childcare for that night and have some fun exercises with the kids. So we’ve always tried to help with the PTA. Well, one of my new members in the last month is the president of the PTA. So that’s 100% affinity marketing there. I look to help first. And I just try to help the people around me within my immediate circle of influence. And not only did I get the PTA president as a member, the person who messaged me last night is one of the vice presidents on that same PTA, so now it is starting to gain momentum. And I could see just from, you know, sponsoring a 5K, which we just gave away, like a couple personal training sessions to the winners. It wasn’t like we had to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to sponsor it, and you know, offering childcare for a PTA meeting. You know, we see front-end revenue as a result. And this is like a year and a half, two years in the making, like, but it’s paying off. So affinity marketing and my own personal Facebook page.

Mike (25:15):

So just for those of you who don’t know, affinity marketing is, it’s, you know, you can spend money to market, affinity marketing is basically working with people closest to you, the people who know, like, and trust you and working out from that. So you’re starting with, you know, family members, current clients, friends, colleagues of friends, and kind of working your way out. And eventually you’re going to get you those colder, colder leads and you’re going to probably bolt in some Facebook ad spending and so forth. But the idea is first the people that you can, the warmest leads, quote unquote, are the people that are closest to you. So in Brendon’s case, you’ve got current clients, you’ve got PTA people that he knows in the community and so forth, and you’re going to talk to those people first. And spoke to Ashley Mak a little while ago.

Mike (25:55):

He was doing some online advertising and said, it’s a little bit tougher to get those cold leads right now in the current chaos, which is going to lower consumer confidence. People are getting bombarded with online ads for training and so forth. So the affinity marketing principle, we always recommend at Two-Brain that you start with this before you start spending money, is talking about people closest to you. So Brendon just provided an example that this is working. Eventually you do some advertising. Who knows? We may not need to. And if you’re getting to two thousand dollar revenue with $0 spend, how good is that?

Brendon (26:27):

Yeah. And the great thing about affinity marketing is, and I think we’ve been there, like if you go back to the age of you know, jamming as many people into a six-week challenge as you can, but 80% of them are people you would never ever want to hang out with ever.

Mike (26:45):

And they all left anyways.

Brendon (26:45):

80% might be low. Affinity marketing. It’s almost like a 99% chance out of a hundred that they’re a dream client. And I’ll say that right now, like the PTA president, she might hear this podcast one day, she’s been a dream client. I love, love love working with her and it’s not because like she’s going to be a candidate to go to the CrossFit Games in a couple of years it’s because she’s funny, she doesn’t take herself too seriously and she works her butt off.

Mike (27:16):

And she probably hangs out with people like that. Right?

Brendon (27:18):

Yeah. That’s my dream client. I love that. And now the person she referred, I’m assuming she referred or you know, who’s also coming in, I could say the same things. So all I’m doing through affinity marketing is replicating that ideal client over and over and over again. Like Mike Michalowicz says, this is your seed client, this is your pumpkin plan. So I would rather, you know, take a year to build those relationships and then gain five or six of the perfect client, than get a flood of 20 wh 18 of them are jerks and 16 of them won’t be with me in two years. I don’t even want to bother with that

Mike (28:00):

It costs money to get clients. And so you want to get the ones that you want to keep. And we always talk about length of engagement. We want clients that are going to stay for five, 10 years. So spending a bunch of money to get one person who’s going to be here for two months and annoy you is not as valuable as a client that you love who’s going to be there for five years and change his or her life. So that’s the principle. So let me ask you about this because this is another tough one for people. Talk to me about the sales process for these online things. So now obviously you can’t meet people in person, you’re probably doing phone or Zoom, you’ll tell me what you do, but how does it work first of all, and then what’s the response in the market now when clients are coming to you completely online for a service that you’ve never sold before and they may have never heard of?

Brendon (28:44):

Yeah. So the sales process is different. What we’ve done in the past is something called the no sweat intro. We’d have people schedule an appointment to come into the gym and we had, you know, a 15 minute conversation with them and most of the questions were about their fitness history, what some of their goals were. And we would prescribe a plan for them. Cause we do group classes, personal training, nutrition, we do a whole bunch of things. So we would prescribe what we wanted, or excuse me, what we felt was best for them according to their goals. So I think at the core, I think that process is similar, but now we’re jumping on Zoom. And what I like about delivering virtual is I’m not confined to this new athlete is coming to Strong Tower for this class at this time.

Brendon (29:36):

I have 24-hour access to this person. So our intake reflects the fact that, yeah, I’m going to give you a program customized just for you, but we’re also gonna talk about your stress level. We’re going to talk about your sleep, we’re gonna talk about your eating habits even if you haven’t bought nutrition from us. We’re gonna talk about your daily life and routines because I could actually spend less time coaching all of those things for one person as opposed to going to the gym to teach a block of classes. So what I mean is like, I’ll wake up at 4:15 AM you know, get ready to go to the gym coach the 5:15 and the six 30 class, close up shop, come home. By the time I get home it’s like almost 10. That’s a six hour chunk out of my day. In those six hours I can coach significantly more people, much more holistic.

Brendon (30:32):

Did you do your workout? Awesome. What was your hydration like? Sleep last night. Oh, here are some tips on how to handle stress today. So I’m able to coach a person a lot more holistically, get down to the heart of who they are and really what they’re doing because of this method. So again, going back to your question, the sales process reflects that. So now I’m asking questions about their stress. I’m asking questions about their sleep habits and who does the meal planning in your house and who does the grocery shopping? What is your stress level like on an average day? What time of day do you prefer to workout? So the intake is a lot more oriented around their habits, who they are as a person, their likes, their dislikes. And now I even ask how they prefer to be coached because I can tweak my method. Like do like a drill sergeant or do you like someone who gently encourages you? Do you prefer video, text message? I could customize exactly how I coach to each person as to saying, Hey, you’re one of 12 people in this class, so you’re getting whatever Brendon, I, put out there. So, the intake process has been great because I’m able to dig into people’s lives. It’s fantastic.

Mike (31:48):

So that’s actually, you’re using this, you know, what would people call a challenging situation now to actually get easier access to the inside of a person, right? So it’s not just like, Hey, how many pull-ups do you want to do? Or do you want to lose weight? It’s like, how is your stress? How’s your sleep, housing, nutrition, all this other stuff that you’re looking at these people as whole people rather than just as quote unquote athlete or weight loss client or marathon runner.

Brendon (32:13):

And again, it goes back to why I got into this to begin with. And I think that’s why I guess why I’m so excited about this shift in our business model because what I’m doing now is probably the most pastoral thing. And I’m using air quotes, the most pastoral thing I’ve ever done without the religious dogma. I am spending quality time with human beings, helping them to change the very fabric of their lives, through the method of CrossFit and nutrition. And it’s probably the most significant pastoring I’ve ever done and there’s not a religious element to it. And it gets to the core mission of my life. We say it in the gym, but I’m saying it even more now. Six pack abs really aren’t that awesome if you’re dead inside. And so I’m trying to work from the inside out. And if you get six pack abs, that’s great. But I want you to be a happy, vibrant, mission-minded person. And I’m more effective at that now than I was when the gym was open for classes. Crazy thing to say. Right?

Mike (33:28):

Yeah. Well I’d wager that, I have no proof of this, but I wager that people need that more now than at any other point maybe in the last, I don’t know, the last decade maybe, you know, like, I’m trying to think of other significant events. 9/11 was a big one, so, but people right now are, this is a dark time, so people need that approach. I’ll ask you this, my final question. What’s the next step here? So we’re still developing this whole process. You know, you’ve made this shift, you’re having success. What is your next step now?

Brendon (33:55):

Yeah. Yeah. So the next step is, you know, constant refinement. Once we think we have something that’s out to market, we’ll deliver it a few times. We can take a look at it, we’re going to continue to tweak it and really dial in our standard operating procedures around remote. And then we’ll document that and kind of take a look at what is this going to look like when the gym reopens. And we recently got, you know, hints of some good news that beginning May 1st there will probably be this phased approach to reopening the state and reopening the country. So we’ll wait and see how that works. But dialing those SOPs, make a plan for how we’re going to reopen, what role this virtual training will play. And I tell you right now it will be significant, but we’re going to document this process of communication and accountability that’s been so effective and we’re going to really put that into our daily operations. We’re not going to, you know, say, Oh, we’re open again so we’re going to go back to the way things were. So the next step is to take all of this awesome stuff we’ve learned all these improvements on how we deliver our product and bake those into our SOPs so we’re always doing it, whether it’s in the gym or virtual.

Mike (35:12):

The cool part about that is as Chris has said, you are building another revenue stream and that revenue stream might come in really handy if we get waves of closures where this thing comes back cause we don’t know what’s going to happen. We know the white house is trying to open up America and other nations are going to be in some stage of that as well. But if things pop up, you might get closed again. And having that ability to pivot to, you know, systems that are in place or to a revenue stream that’s actually robust might be essential.

Brendon (35:42):

Yeah. I hesitate to say it, but it might even be easy.

Mike (35:49):

Yeah, if you’ve already got it going and you’re just like, OK, you know, this is a crappy time we got closed down again, but we’re right back to this awesome system that we have now even improved. You’re probably gonna have some happy clients who are more than happy to stay with you and support that because they’re getting what they need.

Brendon (36:02):

Yeah. And I’ve, Mike, I’ve honestly even given thought to reducing my physical footprint and focusing more on virtual cause it’s such an enjoyable revenue stream. I’m having a great time with that. I don’t think it’ll ever replace my in-person ops., but I look forward to growing this, especially in relation to my physical operations. Without a doubt.

Mike (36:21):

If you are listening and want to hear more about that, the show just previous to this, on the marketing episode is Ashley Mak. He’s telling you about how he’s actually shuttered his physical location, gone completely online. He’s going to come back and he’s gonna tell us more about how that’s going in a couple of weeks. So we’ll talk to him. Brendon, I want to thank you so much for your time and positivity here and I know it’s a crappy time. A lot of gym owners are really struggling. So hearing some success from you and seeing you smile is really great. So we’re going to keep in touch and talk more about this as we get further in the crisis. But thanks for providing a bit of hope and some ideas for people about what they can do at home.

Brendon (36:55):

Awesome, brother. Good to see you again, Mike. We’ll see each other in person soon, I hope.

Mike (36:58):

Thank you for listening to Two-Brain Radio. I’m Mike Warkentin with gym owner and online coach Brendon Collins. He is from Strong Tower CrossFit where he is the chief awesome officer. Two-Brain Business is in contact with gym owners all over the world and we’re collecting data as they adapt to the COVID crisis and recover. We’re going to tell you what works and how your gym can rebuild. For our collection of essential resources, visit twobrainbusiness.com and click COVID-19 in the top. Thanks for tuning into Two-Brain Radio and please subscribe for more episodes.


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