Chris Cooper: Increase Revenue and Retention Through a New Client Journey

Image of Chris Cooper.

Andrew (00:02):

It’s Two-Brain Radio with your host Chris Cooper. How do your clients engage with your business and what does their arc look like as they enter and eventually leave your business? Most importantly, could you change something to keep your clients longer? Here’s the good news. You can increase retention by examining and adjusting your client journey. Chris helped an online group of gym owners do exactly that on May 24th. What follows is the audio from that presentation. Now here’s Two-Brain business founder Chris Cooper.

Chris (00:34):

Hey everybody. Good morning, happy Sunday. Thanks for joining me again. It’s been a pretty exciting week. Lots of gyms reopening around the world, lots of gyms finally getting kind of like an opening date. And a lot of the gyms that are reopening are actually finding that they’re getting brand new clients or they’re getting a lot of their formerly canceled clients back. So it’s been a week just full of wins. If you’re still waiting to reopen, I hope that you know these stories shine as a light at the end of the tunnel for you and show you like not only are you going to emerge from this crisis, but you’re gonna emerge stronger than ever. A lot of people too are starting to say like, well, what if I want to emerge from this COVID cocoon a slightly different butterfly than what I went in and that’s totally acceptable.

Chris (01:18):

I’ve had three people this week say, I think I’m going to move my coaching practice completely online. And while you know, at first glance, it’s always sad to hear that like a physical gym is closing, I’m actually really thrilled for these people because they’ve understood that they can shift their coaching practice without actually ending their coaching practice. It’s just a different platform. And you know that one of the top three business stories that gets recounted in 2020 is the Netflix story and how Netflix made this massive pivot from mailing DVDs to online. But the thing is Netflix didn’t actually make a massive pivot. Their operations stayed exactly the same. They were, they are selling videos and movies, they’re selling access to content. Their audience stayed exactly the same, right? They’re still selling to the same people when they went online and they added more people because they were online, all they did was change their platform.

Chris (02:14):

And so while I don’t think that the Netflix story is an example of, you know, a massive pivot, I do think it’s a great example of success. And I think that the same thing can happen in the service industry. Even if you want to keep your gym open, have a physical location like I do, you can still add by doing online training. So what we’re going to talk about today is the new client journey. And this journey is true. Whether somebody meets you online, somebody starts at your bricks and mortar gym, somebody starts at one and goes to the other, or somebody does both. And the reason that we’re really talking about this right now is that retention rates in gyms are too low. As more and more data becomes available and you know, we started really digging into this stuff back in February, it’s clear that gyms are getting clients, like the marketing knowledge is out there now, but they’re only keeping clients about half as long as they should.

Chris (03:07):

And that means that gym owners are getting onto this marketing treadmill of like, I need more clients, need more clients, need more clients, but it’s only because the clients are running out the back door almost as fast as they’re coming in the front door. If you’ve been trying to market your gym for the last couple of years, you know that while there are great new tools like Facebook, it doesn’t mean it’s any easier or necessarily any faster to get new clients. So I want to make sure that every new client that you get sticks around longer so that you can maximize your ROI on that client. You can help them change their life and you have to spend less time marketing and selling. So to retain clients longer, we dug into the data during COVID because data was really important during COVID. COVID was a test of retention.

Chris (03:58):

If you had amazing retention before COVID, you probably held onto a lot of your clients. You still lost a few. That was unavoidable. If you had really poor retention before COVID, you probably lost all of your clients during COVID and even if you were OK at retention before, you had to get really, really, really good at retention during COVID. Now what worked during COVID, the one-on-one communication with your client and every day pivoting to say, what can I serve you with now? What do you need most from me? And really giving you that new perspective on coaching, that I hope, was a real eye opener for a lot of people because that’s what’s going to have to continue if you want to build a thriving coaching business and today we’re going to walk through that model of learn, design, deliver, refine. JoshMartin at is really the pioneer of this simplified version.

Chris (04:52):

I love it, but this is really like the bones of the new client journey. Learn, design, deliver, refine. So we’re going to walk through all four of those. The last reason that we’re talking about retention today is that gyms are seeing an uptick in interest. So they reopened the doors and suddenly their members are coming back and they’re bringing their friends and suddenly new people who have found fitness online during the crisis are saying, I want to take the next step and do this with a coach. And also a lot of other people, you know, the urgency of the COVID crisis made the decision to join a gym more important. So they moved that up in their budget and on their timeline. So gyms might be tempted to just go back to running free trials and to signing people up. And in the short term, I think that’s actually going to work.

Chris (05:38):

But the problem is that that never worked really well for retaining clients. It worked for signing people up. It helped the sales process. And so back between 2007, 2009, the most common practice that you used to hear at gyms was running like a free trial. People would come in, they’d have like community Saturdays or something. Hopefully they might sign up, you know, but that never really worked and those people weren’t retained well. So today it’s really important that we talk about the client journey. So more than ever before, the new client journey has four stages. There’s the learn stage, the design stage, the deliver stage, and the refine stage. All right. And of course, as always, if you have questions, by all means, just post them in the chat. And I will say your name and repeat your question before I answer it in case this goes out as a podcast.

Chris (06:30):

So learn, design, deliver, refine that is are the bare bones of a new client journey. And today what we’re going to start with is learn. The learning phase that we have always taught was the no sweat intro. Now the no sweat intro is a shortened, scalable time restricted version of a strategy that’s called motivational interviewing. And motivational interviewing is something you’re going to hear a lot about in the next six months. And it’s something that’s been used a lot by therapists, by you know, any kind of psychology workers or psychologists, psychiatrists, you know, psychotherapists, it’s something that high-end diet nutrition coaches have been using for a while, like through especially Precision Nutrition, you know, today we’re going to talk about the three different versions. The key to understanding what to use and when and how deep to get with people and when to use motivational interviewing is this. The more personalized your service, the more expensive your service has to be because the more of your attention somebody needs one-on-one, the more of your focus, it means the less you can scale. So your attention has to be expensive. The minimum for a high value service. So if you’re prescribing a hybrid service, and I described this as like the NGPO offering in the last few podcasts, the more expensive that service is, the deeper your intake process has to go. OK. So the absolute minimum is the no sweat intro. No sweat intro is what brought me, or what brought you to my gym. What would you like to have happen here? Why is that important to you? And then here’s a prescription. OK? No sweat intro is a short version of motivational interviewing that you can do in about 15 minutes. It works really, really well and compared to come and try a free class or bring a buddy Saturday, it’s way better at retaining people and moving people into the right service, right?

Chris (08:35):

You have to know their goals and you have to know their reasons before you can give them a prescription. That’s just coaching 101. The next version of that is short-form motivational interviewing. So it goes slightly deeper than a no sweat intro. It takes a little bit longer, but it shows a higher conversion rate for higher ticket personalized coaching. This form motivational interviewing like Precision Nutrition’s the five whys takes about an hour. But if you’re selling nutrition or personal training or online coaching, this is probably necessary. And every expert that we’ve interviewed and brought into Two-Brain in the last couple of months has repeated this. So step one, the bare minimum of is a no sweat intro. Step two is a short form motivational interview like Precision Nutrition. Five whys, I’m gonna share my screen with you here and walk through it.

Chris (09:27):

And step three is a truly deep motivational interview and I’m going to talk about that in a moment. So here’s second level worksheet. The five whys from Precision Nutrition. I will link to this in the blog post and I uploaded it to our Facebook group. If you want to just pull it out. The reason that five whys works is you get to like the reason behind the reason for success. So when somebody comes into your office the first time, they know you’re going to ask them why this goal is important to you and they’ve got a response plan, OK? And that response does not expose them to you. It protects them. So you have to keep going. So the five whys you’re going to start with, you know, why are you doing this? Why are you joining my gym right now? Why do you want to start a nutrition plan right now?

Chris (10:12):

OK? But then you have to go deeper. And so you say, why do you want to achieve that now? What’s your reason for wanting to lose 10 pounds? What’s your reason for wanting to shape up and get in shape? What’s your reason for wanting to build immunity? You know, and five bonus points for anybody who hears I’m joining a gym to build my immunity. Then you want to go deeper again and say, why is that important? And so what you’ll notice as you go through these five whys as you’re getting deeper into psycho psychological reasons instead of external motivations, like, Oh, I just want to look better. The key is you’re getting into internal motivations. Like I just don’t feel good about myself when I weigh this much. OK. And then the fourth question, the fourth why is why will that make a difference?

Chris (10:56):

How will that change your life? And now you’re actually having the client like project this change that’s going to happen. They’re kind of starting to define the end point and they’re being very vulnerable and open with you about what they’re hoping to achieve. And then finally, why will that matter? So the five why’s again, I mean you can get it from the precision nutrition worksheet, but the first is why are you doing this? Second is why do you want to achieve that? Third is why is that important? Fourth is why will that make a difference? And faith is why will that matter? Now, this series of whys has been proven to work, but you can definitely come up with your own as long as each goes deeper and deeper. When I was talking about this worksheet with Kevin Wood a few weeks ago, maybe it was only a week ago, time really compresses.

Chris (11:43):

He was saying that there’s a predictive value to using the five why’s at intake and he says that, you know, if somebody has an emotional moment with him, if they cry, if they need a Kleenex, he knows they’re going to stick around for at least nine months. If they don’t have that emotional moment, if he can’t forge that deeper connection, he knows that they’re probably not going to stick around for at least nine months to a year. And so during the COVID crisis, he said that he could have predicted the people who are going to quit during COVID and it was the people who really didn’t get deep into the five whys and they wouldn’t give him like the real reason for wanting to work out. The people who did trusted him to deliver his coaching no matter what the platform was that he used.

Chris (12:26):

And so if he had changed their prescription to be more online or more habits based or more mindset based or more nutrition based, that would have been fine with them because they knew that Kevin knew their deeper motivation for wanting to achieve what they wanted to achieve and that he was guiding them on their journey to achieve that whatever road that journey took. That’s a really key part of the new client journey is understanding what they want to accomplish and their motivation. What they want to accomplish is never fixed my movement, it’s never, I just want to try CrossFit. It’s never, I want to move better. Their motivation is always, I need to feel better about myself or I need to give people a reason to like me. You know, you have to get deeper than the service that you’re offering. OK? So that’s five whys.

Chris (13:19):

The third level is motivational interviewing. Now, long form motivational interviewing is good if your service is very long term and mostly centered around behavior change. So if you’re doing therapy on someone that requires a massive mindset shift, psychotherapy, maybe physical therapy, that’s when you would do a long form motivational interview. And I’m going to append a video from our resident psychotherapists Bonnie Skinner, on how to do motivational interviewing if you’re in the therapy business. If you’re in the coaching business, there’s a fantastic intro from Josh Martin in our Two-Brain Coaching first degree program on how to do motivational interviewing in a gym right now. What do you have to do? What are your steps? You have to show the client their plan in advance. They have to see a vision of the future and you have to really connect on a deeper level than ever before.

Chris (14:14):

At the bare minimum, you need to be doing a no sweat interview. A no sweat intro, even better if you can do it is like the five whys from precision nutrition. OK. So if the client journey follows the path of learn, design, deliver, refine, the learn stage comes through this kind of interview where you form a deeper connection and get to their root. Why? All right, I’m just going to take a look at questions here. If you have them, by all means, just put them in the chat. And I’m glad Bonnie is actually with us. If you have questions, you can see Bonnie in the chat and you can just ask her questions about what motivational interviews I’m going to share her later. OK. So next, the design phase of the new client journey. Now I’ve got a video here that I’d like to share with you called how to solve any problem in fitness. When you’re designing a client’s program, that is more than just designing their workouts, right? We commonly use this term programming, especially in microgyms right now to refer to the workouts that a client is going to do and usually that programming is broad, general, inclusive because we’re giving it to everybody. It’s the same workouts for everyone, but that’s not the same as their program. Their program includes the four cornerstones of your business, so nutrition group coaching, online habits, coaching and personal training. Not every client will do all four. Not every client will prioritize one specific one. Some clients might prioritize nutrition and they might back that up with exercise coaching and they might prefer to do that exercise coaching in a group or another client might need to start by creating solid habits in their lives. So they do your online coaching program for a little while before they work into your coaching.

Chris (16:01):

And some clients might come in the door knowing that they want group coaching, but you say, you know, to bringing you up to the speed of the group, ensure your safety, make sure that you get the most out of this experience, we start everybody with personal coaching so that you know, you learn the movements and stuff, OK? And that is the client’s program. That is their long-term view. And that’s what we’re going to talk about designing here. So good fitness coaches, they know how to help a client reach their goal, right? So if you start with a goal, let’s call that point B, then you’re going to measure the starting point. So let’s call that point A. And a good coach maps the path backward from point B to point A, OK to get you here, starting from here, here are the steps that we’re going to have to go to.

Chris (16:49):

So after they’ve mapped that process, a great coach prescribes the fastest path to their clients, right? Like this. Well, Alice, here are the steps that you’ll need to take to reach your goal, to get there quickly. You’ll need to exercise five times per week and follow a simple nutrition plan. How does that sound? Then the coach overcomes barriers like price objections or previous injuries like this. So if Alice says, I can’t afford that, then the coach says, no problem. If you can’t afford to move that quickly, we’ll take it a bit slower with the budget you just gave me. I’d say we should train twice per week, but one-on-one and really focus on that nutrition plan. Or if Alice says, Oh man, my back is just so tight, the coach can say, no problem. Your back is tight from work. We’ll take it a bit slower at first. With the limitation you just gave me, I’d say that we should train three times per week and have one specific mobility session per week instead of four workouts, and this is all part of the design phase. You still haven’t actually dictated what their program is going to be. You’re asking them what they can commit to so that you set a framework around what the program is going to be designed to look like, right. But the next step is that the coach motivates their clients by reminding them of their wins, showing them their progress and calling them when they don’t show up, and everybody just got really, really good at this. You’re in COVID. Along the way, the coaches track their progress and they adjust their plan because no plan survives first contact with the enemy and the enemies now our big sugar, Netflix and stress, and those enemies are pretty damn good at this game and they’re bombarding your clients 23 hours a day.

Chris (18:32):

So you need to be better than they are at telling a sticky story and making sure that your clients resist their urges and temptations, right? So Two-Brain gyms meet with their clients every quarter to adjust their plans. We’re going to, we’re going to come up to that in a minute. The thing is like nobody can ever afford to lose sight of the client’s goal. The coach can’t afford to lose sight of the client’s goal because the client never stops thinking about that goal. Clients don’t do your workouts for the sake of being good at your workouts. They do them because they want to achieve that real goal. And if you haven’t started with some kind of interview, you don’t know what that real goal is. You just know the surface level, the fake explanation that they’ve given you at intake, right? Clients are willing to trade short term pain to reach a goal if they trust their coach.

Chris (19:20):

Now we call this the prescriptive model because great coaches don’t sell group programming. Great coaches sell one on one relationships and they sometimes deliver exercise in a group setting. So here’s the prescriptive model. Just as a review, I’ll share my screen and what you’re going to see when I share my screen here is basically learn, design, deliver, refine it. And right now we’re talking about design. So you know, a no sweat intro is the bare minimum now, to bring in a new client. During no sweat intro, we’re going to start thinking about how to design a client’s program. That program will include four cornerstones, nutrition, group exercise and or personal exercise and or online exercise. We’re going to take an objective measurement that the client cares about. So if a client comes in and says, Hey, I just want to lose 10 pounds, and you say, why?

Chris (20:08):

And they say, so I look better in a bikini. You say, why is that important? And they say, so that people will be jealous of me at the beach. And so that I’m not self conscious about yourself. You say, why is that important to you and you know you keep getting deeper. It doesn’t make sense to then measure, you know, functional movement screen because they don’t care about that, right? What you have to measure is like body fat percentage or or measure skinfold or circumference measurements. Something that’s going to measure the client. Now the client comes in and says something like, Oh, I can’t even touch my toes anymore. I’m losing flexibility. I’m always tight. Great. Do a functional movement screen, by all means. From there you’re going to make your prescription and that is the design phase. The key though to understanding the prescriptive model, if you’re looking at this, if you’ve been through this in the Two-Brain incubator or ramp up program if you’ve been reviewing this with your coaches, is that deliver is the part that most people focus on, but it’s actually the least important part.

Chris (21:07):

You guys all know how to deliver workouts with excellence. Many of you have received coaching in how to deliver nutrition with excellence. Some of you are even pursuing how to deliver mindset and habit training with excellence. You’ve taken weekend seminars, you’ve read the books, you’ve watched the videos, you know, you’ve been certified of the four stages of a client journey. Learn, design, deliver, refine. Deliver is the least important part. It’s just the most popular. It’s the most fun, it’s the most sexy. When you’re looking at the prescriptive model here, what you’ll see is a breakdown of nutrition and exercise and that defines your delivery. So when you’re designing a program and you ask a client the question, would you prefer to do these workouts one on one with me or in a small group? What you’re doing there is just creating the program around the delivery method that they prefer.

Chris (22:00):

If you say, would you like to do some of these workouts at home, you’re just asking them how you want the workouts to be delivered, right? And then from there you’ll design the whole program. Then you’re going to deliver on the program with excellence for a few months. But then the most important part and the most overlooked part is refine. You have to come back to the client. You have to measure their progress. You have to show them their progress. You have to be transparent about it and be honest about it and then you have to prescribe either continuation of what they’re currently doing or a change in tactic. Now this is where the learn stage becomes so important. Motivational interviewing, no sweat intro, five why’s that establishes this foundation of trust. You’re saying, I am on team Alice. We are going to work together to get this and if the program isn’t working after three months, Alice doesn’t have to say CrossFit doesn’t work for me.

Chris (22:57):

Alice just has to say to the coach, this isn’t working. What else should we do? That’s what makes a great coach. It’s what makes a great business mentor, is that foundation of trust. The continual revisiting, measurement, update of their goals and then the pivot to something that is working because if your client is left to decide on their own, is this working, then they’ll have to make another guess. Maybe they guessed when they found you. Maybe they guessed when they tried CrossFit. Maybe they took a guess when they followed their friend’s advice and came to a Pilates class with them, but if they start guessing again, they’re going to choose something else and they’ll always be able to say, I did CrossFit and it didn’t work. This is something that has plagued me since we launched our CrossFit gym in 2008 we brought people in.

Chris (23:46):

We did not onboard them correctly. We just did free trials. Then we put them through like this two day on ramp where they did over 300 squats regardless of their physical condition. Most of them quit after on-ramps saying, this is too hard. I can’t do this. Instead, what I should have done was what I was already doing in my personal training gym, which is a no sweat intro, a conversation, habits, building, nutrition coaching, one on one training and then introduction to a group when it was appropriate and desired. Learn, design, deliver, refine. Learning, we talked about that. That’s your intake process. Designing is making your prescription. It’s the prescriptive model. It’s including the four cornerstones. Deliver. You need to deliver with excellence. This is where business systems come in. You need to know that not only you, but your coaches are delivering consistently up to a high standard.

Chris (24:36):

And so you need to be evaluating your coaches. You need to be improving your education and your delivery, not just taking more certifications but learning things like, how to have a presence at the front of the room and public speaking and hiring people for personality instead of just technical knowledge. All right? That’s the deliver phase and that’s the phase that I’m going to spend the least time on. The fourth phase of the new client journey is refined. And I already said that this is the most important part, but it’s the most overlooked part because you have to measure over and over what matters to a client. And you need to plot those results against their plan. You have to review their progress and change their plan regularly. So goal reviews are more important than ever. What we learned over the last two months is that gyms go out of businesses, but coaching businesses don’t.

Chris (25:31):

Coaching businesses do OK. And when they come out of a crisis, not only are they emerging into a field with fewer competitors, they’re also emerging into a field with a whole new crop of people who want your coaching. There are people right now who have been kicked out of their gym. The fragile model of selling access, 24/7, 19 bucks a month, come to my gym, use the equipment, is dead. All the people who paid for that model have no gym anymore. This is your chance to show them what coaching is. It’s an amazing opportunity for you to demonstrate the value of coaching versus selling the value of access. It’s not just selling a program like saying CrossFit is better than your spin class, or CrossFit is better than your bodybuilding workout at Gold’s gym. That’s not what you’re selling. You’re selling coaching. So, I want to talk about data and retention, but before I do that, I want to just take questions on the new client journey, on the learn phase, design phase, delivery phase, and refining phase.

Chris (26:36):

We’re also gonna talk a little bit about goal reviews and what’s included. All right, so Vitor from Brazil, my friend says it’s usually no sweat intros were meant to last 20 to 30 minutes. Do you think it’s possible to fit the five whys in it? I think so. I mean, you know, you learn the structure of an NSI so that you can become a master at it, right? So that you can deliver it masterfully. An NSI takes me about 15 minutes. Not because I’m rushing anything but because there are parts that I know I can skip. And the thing is like the step after mastery is artistry. And after you’ve delivered 500 of these NSIs, you’ll find that there are parts of the structure that you can skip. Now if you haven’t done 500, forget that I even said that. Follow the structure. Master the structure, right?

Chris (27:26):

Mastery is really, really important. Artistry is something different. Could you fit the five whys into a 20 to 30 minute, no sweat intro? I don’t think so. And the reason is that you have to sit there and listen. It’s not a tick box. You are filling in the blanks so the client can see that you’re engaged. But a lot of the times you can’t take somebody from, Hey, I’m here to join your gym to crying in your office in 20 minutes. And that’s not the goal. But that’s what often happens when you start peeling back these layers of emotion. So five whys is new to me. We mentor based on experience and so I sought out experience from people who use five whys and these people all say that an interview at intake using the five whys takes about an hour.

Chris (28:19):

Brian says, we’ve done the five whys with our nutrition clients frequently, but have not done it in the NSI. We only ever went surface level. I’m guessing we should get our reps in regularly in advance of implementing with your team. So Brian has found either, one, you ask them the five why’s off a script and it comes across as cold and scripted. Well that’s a good point. Or two, you go totally off track and a client goes down a rabbit hole on one of the why’s and never get to why four or five. I’m guessing reps is the best way to get this nailed down or even a scenario deck. Yeah, man, it’s reps. Brian, you nailed it. OK, so you have to practice this and just get really good at listening. What I’ve learned after almost 20 years of using a no sweat intro at intake is that the less I talk, the more likely the client is going to sign up and the more likely they’re going to sign up for a higher level package.

Chris (29:15):

Think of the no sweat intro as revealing the client to themselves. You want to ask the questions that let them take a look inside themselves. Keep in mind like when somebody comes into your gym for the first time to sit down, they know you’re going to sell them a gym membership, meaning they’re almost sold. All you have to do is get out of the way. And this was a really hard lesson for me to learn in the intake. I thought I had to sell them. So I was giving them facts and figures and data and I had like this really, really thick binder with graphs in it and like, here’s an article that I wrote for teenagers and here’s a graph of here’s what linear periodization is. You know, here’s a yearlong macro cycle. I was literally showing this stuff to people who wanted weight loss.

Chris (30:00):

Then I realized I just had to get the hell out of the way and let people talk themselves into it before I could talk them out of it. So I just started asking questions. Now I see there’s another great question coming up here. If you’re going through the five why’s and somebody gets to the third why, you know, why is that important or whatever, and they say, the bottom line, Chris, is, I’m just ready to change. So what can you do for me? Then you’ve gone deep enough, right? You don’t have to keep going. You don’t have to make people cry. You don’t have to turn into a therapist. You don’t have to install a couch in your office. At that point, you’ve gone deep enough, they know that they want to sign up, you can get deeper later. So you’ll say, all right, here’s my prescription, here’s what I want you to do.

Chris (30:48):

How does this sound? If they give you a limitation, maybe it’s budgetary, maybe it’s time, maybe it’s physical condition, then you refine their program to fit that. As I said earlier in the design phase. But yeah, if you don’t get through all five why’s, that’s OK. Get as deep as you need to get. If the client cuts the interview short by saying, just sign me up, then just sign them up. Take the money. OK, Andy says, what happens when you try and use the five why’s? but the client doesn’t give anything than surface level responses. So Kevin actually answered this question, Andy and you know, as usual, you’re a step ahead here. I asked him this question when I was talking to him last week and he said that it doesn’t always happen, that sometimes, you know, they’ll just give you the surface level answers and if that’s the case, then sign them up anyway.

Chris (31:36):

Right? They’ve already sold themselves on your service. They know, here’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to try it. I think the key though is to revisit some of the why’s later and kind of work it in slowly, right? Like relationships have a ratcheting effect. You pry your way in and then you sit at that level for a while and then when there’s an opportunity, you pry your way in deeper. So you ask your client, Hey, how was your husband’s surgery? Are they OK? Are they recuperating well? And you’ve worked yourself in a little bit deeper. And then you work with them a little bit longer and maybe a month later you say, how’s your husband doing? You know, and the deeper you get, the better affinity marketing works, honestly. But also the longer that client is going to stay. So even if you can’t take a deep dive with the five why’s right at intake, you can fully work your way in over time by implementing goal reviews and having these conversations preset with a client.

Chris (32:31):

Bonnie, our resident psychotherapist, says with any of these methods, it’s the connection that’s essential. It sounds more complicated than it is. And Bonnie, that’s my fault. Also with motivational interviewing, the most important question is what has gotten in the way of your progress in the past? It allows you to have the client tell you what you as coach needs to be aware of and help the most with. That’s fantastic insight. Thank you Bonnie. Mike says Coop. So you do the NSI, then set up another chat to do the five why’s. No. You do one or the other. So if somebody is coming in, they mentioned group training, we do an NSI, you know, and then at the goal review session, I might get deeper into the five why’s. If somebody else is coming in a brand new and I’ve got an hour, I’m going to go through five whys as deeply as I possibly can.

Chris (33:24):

They’re not additive. It’s really like one or the other. OK. Should we be moving away from the NSI and go to the five whys intake process only? No. So you have to have some kind of motivational interview at intake. If you have a large gym and you’re getting 10 to 20 new people every single month, then the NSI is fine. You know, it’s a good start. The key though is that you have to book these people for goal reviews and constantly work your way deeper with them over time. OK? You don’t have to go straight into the deep end the first time you encounter a swimming pool, you can work your way down. But that’s what’s important is if you’re doing an NSI at intake to speed up your intake process, that’s fine. But you have to have a plan on the back end to keep getting deeper with a client instead of letting them, you know, just fade away.

Chris (34:12):

However, if you’re pivoting straight to online, your physical contact with this client is going to be pretty sparse, maybe never. And so you have to get deeper. And so if you’re going to be coaching somebody online, number one, the value of that service should be high. But number two, you have to get deep to build that bond of trust really early. So, if somebody’s, you know, taking you up on the online training, that’s a higher value service. You need to go for the five why’s or a motivational interview. If somebody is coming to your bricks and mortar and they say right from the start, I just want group training, then the NSI is definitely enough, yeah. Brandon says, so like you said, it’s about getting the reps in, testing both our traditional NSI and five whys. With time we will get better and better at reading what the potential client needs.

Chris (35:02):

Yeah, I think so. Brandon. I, you know, I don’t know if I’m any better at reading people, but I just stopped guessing. You know, I stopped projecting what I think they need onto them. And this has really been true about many areas of my life. I’m not good at figuring out or or guessing what people want. So I ask them. Five whys just gives you a template, right? It doesn’t have to improve your NSI. It doesn’t have to replace your NSI. It just tells you like you need to be asking more questions and telling fewer answers during your intake process. A client comes in, you’re excited for them, you know you can solve their problems. You’re just waiting for your turn to talk so that you can tell them the answer. That’s the wrong approach. I know it feels good to you right now, but you’re just barfing on them.

Chris (35:50):

What has to happen is you have to trust that you will get the chance to tell them all those things over time. If you can get them to sign up today and if you can build a relationship that will keep them around long enough to learn all that you have to teach them, even if that takes 10 years. OK? That’s the key is you have to buy yourself the opportunity to tell them everything that you want to tell them by doing things like a motivational interview at intake. Now, the key guys to all of this, and I think like the answer to all of this that you’re really seeking is goal reviews. So the intake process is great. Yes, it’s more work than do a free trial. It gets people to sign up. The problem is that the sales process doesn’t end there. The coaching process doesn’t end there.

Chris (36:43):

  1. You know, if you had a heart attack or you know, worse, you had like a chronic condition like diabetes and you go into the doctor’s office and the doctor talks to you, 15 minutes, here’s your prescription, go and never checks in on you to say, how are you responding to that drug? How are you responding to that treatment plan? Then it’s pretty much worthless. Like what? I’m supposed to just keep doing this for the next 90 years? Even though new drugs, new treatments might come on the market? The value of coaching is not in that initial interview, right? That’s a lot of the work. But the value comes in the follow-up and the pivot. That’s critically important to here. As we’re measuring, you know, length of retention in gyms, red lights are starting to flash in my brain because while it’s going to take you two to five years to really make a life changing difference in a client, we’re seeing that clients aren’t even sticking around for half that length of time.

Chris (37:42):

You know, in non-Two-Brain gyms, average client retention is like less than six months. You can not make a meaningful change in somebody’s life in less than six months. You might sell some memberships, your marketing might work, you might track your ROI on your Facebook spend, but you’re not actually changing the client. And if you’re on that flywheel of get more clients, lose more clients, get more clients, lose more clients, you’re not going to last very long. Eventually, you’re going to run out of clients and you’re going to have to try to create them from scratch. All right. Jeff says, I’m finding that spending an extra few minutes on the phone with them to get through some, maybe not all the interview questions from the first degree program is getting more people to show up to the NSI. I think the little effort to build some trust on the phone makes a difference.

Chris (38:28):

I think that’s absolutely true. If you’re not seeing somebody in person or you haven’t met them in person yet, you are going to have to work harder to build that trust online. Right, and Jeff says, the goal I’m trying and he’s tracking data this week, atta boy, is to listen and build trust on the phone as opposed to just set the appointment. I think that’s absolutely true. You know, if you approach every conversation as this is the new neighbor who moved in next door, I’m going to have to have a good relationship with this person for the next 30 years or life is going to suck. Then you treat that intake process or that first meeting a little bit differently. If you approach each one of these meetings as this person might be my best friend, this person might be the love of my life.

Chris (39:15):

Or you’re on your best behavior because it’s your first date. Think about the habits that you use that right. What do you do on a first date? Well, you know that you should probably listen more than you talk. See, you ask prompting questions about the other person and you invite them to talk more about themselves and you listen attentively. That’s what we’re really selling here when we’re saying we’re selling a relationship, you need to model your first meeting the way that you would have your first date on a relationship, right? Same habits. So let’s talk about goal reviews here. The learn design, deliver, refine approach really pivots on how often you meet with the client to talk about their goals, how often you update their plan based on their results. Most coaches don’t do this. Personal trainers do this really well, and that’s why client retention for personal trainers is like five times higher than client retention for group coaches.

Chris (40:12):

Now, the key thing that we’ve been saying is that you need to plan a goal review with every client, you know, every quarter. If you have a gym with 300 people in it, that is a lot, right? And unless you’re willing to pay your CSM or a coach to run these goal interview goal reviews for you, you know, it’s going to be a lot of time on your plate. The thing is though that like you have to look at this as retention spend the way that you look at Facebook as like marketing spend, you know, you could spend the same dollar in either place, which is going to have more effect? I think it’s easier to keep a client than it is to get a new client. I think that it’s doing the right thing for the client. So you know, what is your retention spend?

Chris (40:55):

You could also allocate like your sales and marketing budget toward keeping clients around longer because retention is just, you know, daily recurring sales. Right? So this does get pretty critical. It doesn’t have to be done every quarter. Right? The question is not do you need goal reviews with the client? Yes, you do. Period. The question is do you have to do it every quarter or is that too much? What many people find when they go through the incubator or the ramp up is that clients who aren’t used to doing goal reviews might not want to do it? Right, and so they just say, Oh, I’m going to do a client survey instead, or I’m going to send them this form, you know, and they kind of skip it. Or like, I’m just going to grab them after class and ask how they’re doing. This is the wrong approach.

Chris (41:36):

You have to have one on one conversations with people so that you can upgrade their prescription. It doesn’t necessarily have to be every three months. What we’re doing right now with your data is we’re determining where clients fall off in their client journey and then we’re setting up goal review processes to be to happen just before that. So let’s say that your gym is Catalyst and let’s say for example, and this is just totally random, I’m not using real numbers from Catalyst. Let’s say that we break all the clients in Catalyst up into cohorts. OK. Depending on when they started and how long they’ve been around. And when we look at those cohorts, we find that people who came in in the last three months or people who came in at the beginning of 2019 only stuck around for six months and people who came in back in 2017 tended to stick around for a year and a half.

Chris (42:31):

All right? So now we know that our first drop-off point is at six months and we also know that something changed in that time that lowered our retention rate and that we do that by breaking people into cohorts. You know, we’re hiring an analyst right now, but Mike Lee, the chief information officer at Two-Brain, calls these cohorts LEG bands after our retention metric. So what can we determine from that? Well, we know that if people right now quit after six months, then we need to schedule a goal review at the five month mark because we need to talk to them. We need to adjust their plan before they start second guessing the plan and just quit because they don’t know what else to do. OK. The next step is let’s say that, OK, we learned that clients who stay longer than six months tend to stick around for 14 months.

Chris (43:17):

Great. We need another goal review at the 13 month mark. At the 12 month mark. So that we can catch those people before they quit and immediately the return on that goal review is like seven months times your ARM. So if the average client pays you $200 per month and doing a goal review at month five keeps them around for another seven months, then that 30 minute goal review is worth $1,400 to you and that’s how you prioritize your time and that’s how you use the prescriptive model to make more money. One of the interesting things, and we did a brief dataset with 50 gyms. This was really cool, is of these 50 gyms chosen at random, if a client was around at the 14 month mark, they were probably going to be around at the 24 month mark. In fact, it was almost like a lock.

Chris (44:04):

So what that told us is if you do a goal review at the 14 month mark and you change their plan, you talk to them about their goals, you make a new prescription, you reinforce your coaching model, that goal review, that point of contact is worth 10 times your ARM, right? Another 10 months of membership. So if your membership is 200 bucks a month, then that’s a $2,000 interview. Like where else could you spend your time better? All right, so learn, design, deliver, refine, refine is like the most important part. Andrea has another amazing question. Any suggestions on implementing this process with multiple staff? I.e., do we need to have the same coach do NSI and five whys also do the goal reviews? I don’t think so. And in fact I think you’re actually better off to do this with like your client success manager or you the owner.

Chris (44:54):

So let’s look at the four phases of entrepreneurship because the answer is different at each phase. When you’re in the founder phase and you’re doing most of the coaching yourself or all the coaching even, and you’re doing personal training and you’re doing the no sweat intro and you’re doing the goal reviews. Yeah, you’re going to do all that yourself. You need to get good at it. When you get into the farmer phase and you start adding staff to help you though, you need to make your staff really, really good at no sweat intros, five whys, motivational interviewing and goal reviews. Now not every staff person is going to be good at this, right? Like it took me 15 years. You don’t have that long to wait to get good at this. What you have to do is identify the staff who are the great listeners and put them in charge of these things rather than say, OK, coach, you know, here’s how you do a no sweat intro.

Chris (45:40):

Here’s how you do a goal review and go. Because not every coach is going to be good at this. Not every coach is going to understand the value. Not every coach is going to want to. So I think you’re better off to train people to do it really, really well. For me, that would be a client success manager. You know, if somebody is struggling at Two-Brain for example, or they want a new perspective, they want to change mentors, you know, I think people should probably switch mentors about every year, but or maybe it’s like, Oh, that mentor possesses experience that my current mentor doesn’t. That’s fine. What I’d prefer them to do is sit down with Eden or Krista and say, my goals have changed. My previous mentor have brought me to this point. Now I’m looking at a slightly different horizon. Who is best for me? And let my CSM make that prescription because the CSM is like, they are dialed with all the options, and that’s the other thing is if you spread this evenly across your coaches and you have some part time coaches, they might not even know what all the options are.

Chris (46:41):

Right? Like they might not know, Oh, it’s OK if this person goes from five times a week to three times a week or they might not know much about your nutrition program. Right. The fact of the matter is they might just be uncomfortable selling something that’s more expensive than what the clients currently pay. So I really think like you need to develop specialists in this. If learn, design, deliver, refine is the key to retaining a client long term, then it becomes like the most important part of your business. You’ve got the four cornerstones, but the beams that link those things up are the conversations that you have with your clients. So for most of you and you’re in the farmer phase of entrepreneurship, I think you, the owner should be in charge of the intake process and goal reviews and let the delivery of your service flow through your staff.

Chris (47:27):

Because this is the crux. When you hire a GM later, you know you’re in the farmer phase, you’re trying to get to tinker phase or like you, Andrea, you’re in tinker phase already, what you need to do there is like train the GM to be amazing at NSIs and goal reviews and then maybe have a select team of people who run these for you. The other reason, you know, and this doesn’t get talked about often enough, is if you’ve got one coach doing the intake, doing their personal training sessions, doing their nutrition coaching, running their group class, doing their goal reviews, your client really doesn’t have a relationship with your business. They only have a relationship with that coach. You might call that coach for life or whatever, but like what happens when that coach leaves? You know what happens when that coach has hours change, they start coaching less, or even they just shift their class on the schedule?

Chris (48:21):

Well, you’ve got a fragile relationship there because it’s just one on one client to coach. Really to level up in this business, if you want to have a business instead of just being an owner operator, then you have to forge the client’s relationship with your brand. And that means bringing in somebody like a client success manager, a GM to do these interviews for you. If you don’t have those roles, I would still suggest that it’s probably valuable at least once in a while to have an objective eye on the client’s progress. So let me give you an example here. If for example, at Catalyst, you know I’ve had a client, she’s been with me for five or six years, we’re friends, I went to her daughter’s wedding and now we’re sitting down at a goal review and I say, are you satisfied with your progress? Maybe it’s just the Canadian in me, but she’s probably going to say, yeah, pretty good.

Chris (49:15):

Even if she’s not totally satisfied. At least once in a while. It’s great to have an objective, caring, empathetic person. Say, are you really happy with your progress? So that she can say, Andrea, maybe I’m not. You know, yeah, we’ll need a solid process for documenting client info answers and design prescriptive model. Yeah, exactly. And so this is like, this is where documentation and maybe even software come in. One of the things that gym management software should do, if it really was gym management software, is be client management software. Keep your clients’ notes and progress somewhere. You know, this is why a couple of years ago we said, well, gyms really need a CRM, right? Like tracking a client journey. Because if you can’t make notes on a client’s progress, I mean, what are we doing here? How do you prescribe something new? Right? The key to the foundation of all of this is understanding that people are not buying CrossFit.

Chris (50:16):

They’re buying a solution to their problems. They’re not buying Pilates, they’re not buying, you know, XYZ. They’re, not signing their kid up for jujitsu. They’re signing their kid up to be bully proof because they were bullied as a kid and they don’t want their kid to get bullied. They’re not buying the method, right? What they’re buying is the solution. And sometimes the method doesn’t work as much as we want it to. Sometimes they don’t like the method even when it does work. And so as a coach, we need to pivot to give them a new method that will help them achieve that same solution. All right. I hope that helps. You know, there’s an old adage, I think it was probably “Good to Great” or something I read a long time ago about people going into hardware stores and people, you know, they’re going down the aisle for drill bits and they’re looking at drill bits and you know, what kind of drill bits should I buy?

Chris (51:06):

And the sales person will often say, well you need titanium or you need this one or you know, this one’s really high speed or this one you don’t have to use a chuck to insert in your drill. It’s a quick release. Instead what they should be asking, and this is like the motivational interviewing of a tool store is what are you using the hole for? OK, why do you want a hole in your wall? And if the client says, well I just want a hole in my wall so I can hang this picture. And you’ll say, why do you want to hang that picture? Well this is a picture of my mom and it’s really important that I have, you know, my mom’s picture up in my dining room so that I can remember. And then you know, why do you want it in the dining room?

Chris (51:47):

Well, this, and then the salesperson can say, what you actually need is something that’s going to be more permanent and you know, here’s the solution that I would recommend. Or they could just sell them the drill bit and say, come back and let me know how it went. Right? Sometimes the right drill bit is the answer. You know, sometimes CrossFit’s the answer. Sometimes boot camp is the answer. Sometimes personal training is the answer. Sometimes they’re not the answer, but the answer can change. And the key is establishing trust so that when the answer does change on your side or on the client’s side, you’re still their coach. That’s the lesson here. And learn design and deliver refine is really the bones of the new coaching business. Maybe they always were. I hope that gives you something to think about as you’re enjoying the rest of your weekend. If you’re in the States Happy Memorial day, if you’re a gym owner anywhere in the world, happy thoughts on surviving the COVID crisis, you’re almost out. And we’re seeing some thrilling results from gyms who have made it through to the other side, which is, you know, more clients coming in, more people interested in their health. The urgency of the situation has created demand as urgency often does. It won’t last long, but enjoy it while it does and make sure that you keep those clients while they’re coming in the door now.

Andrew (53:11):

This has been Two-Brain Radio. If retention is top of mind for you after listening to this episode, you need the Two-Brain guide, “Never lose a client again”. You can get that guide and more than dozen others for free on Two-Brain business dot com. Just click on free tools at the top. Please remember to subscribe for more great episodes. Chris Cooper will be back next week.

Thanks for listening!

Thanks for listening! Run a Profitable Gym airs twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays. Be sure to subscribe for tips, tactics and insight from Chris Coooper, as well as interviews with the world’s top gym owners.

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help, and we read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes.

Leave a Reply

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.