Chris Cooper on Competition and CrossFit’s Affiliate Playbook

Chris Cooper

Andrew (00:02):

Welcome back to Two-Brain Radio. Are you threatened by that gym down the street? Chris Cooper offers his views on competition as CrossFit LLC prepares to release its affiliate playbook and resource set.

Chris (00:15):

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Chris (00:47):

Hey everybody, Chris Cooper here. And today we’re going to be talking about competition. This is something that I’ve really struggled to get my mind around since the dawn of time. You know, I started up my gym in 2005 and the first thing I said to one of my partners was I’m going to take the personal training clients from every other gym in town. I’m going to put them out of business. And my partner said, Chris, you don’t need to put them out of business to have a great business yourself. And still it took me probably 15 years to really get that. And so after I did the podcast with Eric Roza a couple of weeks ago, there were a lot of great discussion points in our private Two-Brain business group, which are highly curated. And I participate in there all the time. And one of the greatest questions came from Kali.

Chris (01:31):

And, I’m going to read it to you almost verbatim here. I just don’t want to disclose exactly who Kali is, but I thought, you know what? This could help people understand the nature of competition and overlap and intellectual property and what actually makes them special by talking about what I’ve learned about what makes Two-Brain special. So Kali said, Chris, I really enjoyed the episode and the insight despite not being associated with CrossFit or its affiliates, but I was really curious about Chris’s internal gut reaction as he hears Eric talk about frameworks and tools that CrossFit is developing and rolling out to support affiliates that are a little bit similar to Two-Brain and what Two-Brain has already built, developed, and successfully implemented. If CrossFit can do that well, and they have a direct pipeline to their affiliates without extra marketing, couldn’t that eat some of Two-Brain’s market share, and it had my wheels turning with curiosity.

Chris (02:24):

So Kali, thank you so much for such an amazing prompt. It’s a great question in a group full of amazing questions. It stood out and it was one that I was hoping, I guess, unconsciously, that somebody would ask. And the reason I’m sharing the answer here is because I think it will help you, the listener of the individual gym owner, with this concept of who is my competition and how do I actually embrace these other gyms that are opening up in my town and selling the same thing or doing it, you know, with overlap. So first off, my mission at Two-Brain is to make a million gym owners successful. So if CrossFit’s playbook that Eric mentioned in the podcast or any of their other tools helps a few more gym owners achieve that goal, then everyone wins. I achieve my mission. They achieve their mission and you, the gym owner can achieve your mission too.

Chris (03:15):

Right? That’s good for everyone. But, and this is my second point, knowledge isn’t the problem. So even if an affiliate playbook is bang on, step-by-step and perfect in every single gym worldwide, it won’t really help anyone because free knowledge is not the problem. Lack of information is not the problem. It’s all out there. And if free knowledge was a threat, then I would be my own biggest competition. So I own mentorship practice for a reason, knowledge doesn’t get results, action gets results. I would love if everybody took our free tools on our website and turned that into the money to pay for mentorship. And that’s literally why we publish this stuff so that you can use it, generate some revenue and then upgrade to mentorship. But I promise you that happens very rarely, even though we keep making better and better and more actionable content with checklists and worksheets, and step-by-step do this right now.

Chris (04:11):

Very few people take action on that knowledge, because there’s just way too many things that you could do. There’s too much knowledge out there. And it’s hard to start separating yourself from coaching classes and actually building your business. So it’s action. That gets results. And that’s what mentorship is all about. So third, I know what it takes to publish data driven advice. It is crazy, crazy hard. It is crazy expensive and you have to be a hundred percent committed to doing it forever. It has taken me now four years to build our dataset that we have at Two-Brain Business. It’s cost me well over a million dollars. We give it away for free in our state of the industry guides every single year. And we give away free data every week on our blog. And I talk about it sometimes on this podcast, but you can’t get it fast and things change over time.

Chris (05:03):

You have to be committed to maintaining that data set and upgrading it all the time. So Eric Roza and I have spoken about this a few times in the past, and even in our very first conversation, this question, like why does Two-Brain have a dataset that CrossFit HQ doesn’t, has come up, and when you’re listening to the interview and he said, yeah, it would be good to have some data. I mean, you know that that’s basically what he’s referring to, right? What home office is going to be publishing with these playbooks is actually a collection of anecdotes. Like what worked for me stories. And these are like a bunch of N equals one examples, right? That’s the stuff that I was publishing in 2010 and it is helpful. Absolutely. It helped people back then and people who bought my first book have commented on that.

Chris (05:51):

But the problem with N equals one is that nobody, none of us individually have tried everything. So we can’t actually say like, this works better than that, right? We need to have a broader proven dataset. The problem is that since we’re all a bunch of type A personalities, we’re all 100% convinced that the thing that we did is better than everything else. So if you look at any conversation about gym management software, everybody has a really firm conviction about what’s best, but we can’t all be right. Right. Like the problem is that none of us have tried Zen Planner, Wodify, Mindbody, Train Heroic, all of them. So what we have to do is actually track like satisfaction, comparative data. Who’s using this. And instead of giving you my opinion, every year, we publish a gym management software ratings guide. And that’s based on the feedback and data that we get from hundreds and hundreds of gyms, sometimes thousands of gyms in some of our stuff, right?

Chris (06:49):

But if you take that disagreement and you extrapolate that out to something like on-ramp, which most gyms are now using, and you listen to Eric’s answer, he says, well, we know that some gyms use OnRamp and some gyms do it one-on-one and some do it as a group. And some gyms do a free trial first, and then you have to go in on ramp and some hate it. They don’t want to do it at all. Well, that’s what CrossFit’s playbook is going to say that some gyms use one-on-one and some do a free trial first and stuff. My job is to say, this is the best. And here’s why the data supports doing it this way. So for example, I can say that if you use a one-on-one on-ramp consisting of five to 10 sessions, your front end revenue will go from whatever your monthly membership is to about four and a half times that much money. I can also say the clients who go through a one-on-one on-ramp program lasting between five and 10 sessions have an average LEG of around 11 months compared to a client who doesn’t, who just does a free trial, who has an average LEG of under seven months. So a client who goes through one-on-one on-ramp is likely to stick around for an extra five months, even if they pay a lot more for it. All right. So that’s how it’s different.

Chris (08:06):

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Chris (08:41):

So the fourth thing is, and this is related, that best practices change all the time. Some of the stuff that I said in 2012 in my books, that’s outdated now. Some of it isn’t even correct. And we can update our Growth ToolKit every so our Growth ToolKit is like our collection of courses in Two-Brain. Every month we have a meeting where we update content and say, OK, this has been proven to work a little bit better. This tweak in the sales process or when the sales person says this thing, the close rate goes up. Or when we run this ad with this picture, the click-through rate goes up a little bit, you know, whatever. We’ve actually literally made 393 updates in 2021 so far, but home office can’t update their playbook, not like that, not without a firm commitment to data, right? So what you’ll see in 2021 is helpful, but it’s probably exactly the same thing you’re going to see in 2025 and fifth, the best Two-Brain clients actually come from people who have seen others’ material.

Chris (09:41):

So a lot of Two-Brain clients have worked with like Gym Launch in the past, or even one of the smaller coaching businesses. But even if they haven’t, I love it when people in Two-Brain say to me, I watched that guy’s videos, but the Two-Brain stuff is on a different level. Like he just kind of seems like one of these biz bros where Two-Brain seems more professional and you know, I’m not here to poke fun at anybody or anything like that. You know what I’m talking about in your gym, right? You can be the gym that knows the most about movement. You can be the most highly certified technician, or you can be like the fun gym, or you can have the best competitive team, or you can be like the warm and loving gym. But if you have all of those, what happens is you get the best clients from all the other gyms.

Chris (10:27):

And I try to provide all of those. So being the best isn’t enough to have a great business, but it’s still critical. And so it’s really important. Like if you’re going to be mentoring people, you need to be the best at collecting data, at sharing experiences, at curating the group of people who are working together at collecting best practices and having like a testing process. Right? And that’s not something that Home Office can do, but that’s not something that most franchises even do. You know, I personally mentor enough franchisees who have massive businesses that I can say to you, most franchises don’t even do this stuff, but a mentorship practice can, right? So let’s talk about what mentorship means. So on the podcast, Eric talked about peer mentorship and that’s awesome. You need to be around peers, right? People who are going through this at the same time you are, in parallel to you, but we’ve all been in mentorship programs, maybe in our home towns, or we’ve been in like peer mentorship, Facebook groups, like the affiliate owners group, or affiliate owners only, or whatever they’re called.

Chris (11:39):

Now, these can be productive. And I really hope that they are, but sometimes people misrepresent their success, right? And like the loudest people usually do most of the talking. So you don’t always know what you’re getting without curation. We curate for the best, because we have the ability to do that. So while mentorship might apply in both situations, it’s different. When you have a paid mentor, you have that person’s attention, you have their focus and you’re benefiting from the community that they’ve curated as well as the knowledge and experience that they’ve curated over time and the data that they’ve actually collected too. So, I mean, I’m sure you you’ve been in one of these groups, I’m not picking on the fitness industry or CrossFitters in general. This happens with every community in the world. Now, if you are a contractor, there are free Facebook groups for contractors and you get in there and you say, Hey, what invoicing software do you guys use for your roofing jobs?

Chris (12:39):

And you’ll have five different people give you five different ideas. And they’re all equally like committed this as the best to each one of those ideas. And they’re going to fight each other on it. And one of them is eventually going to say, I own a $10 million roofing company, listen to me. And you have no way of actually checking that, right? You don’t really know who you’re talking to. And so free mentorship or peer mentorship, sometimes it’s really hard to pick the pearls out of the rocks. I’ll put it that way. Seventh, you know, we don’t actually want everyone. So I do hope that Eric achieves his goal of a hundred thousand CrossFit gyms. That’s awesome. As a mentorship practice though, I don’t want a hundred thousand clients. So we have filters instead of low barrier front-end offers. Between us. I sometimes think like, we’re very, very close to 1,000 Two-Brain gyms worldwide.

Chris (13:32):

That’s enough to change the world. Let’s just stop here. And then somebody will say, yeah, but what if there’s one more Kali out there? And I say, good point. Let’s just keep looking for the Kallies. So I’m going to share this with you because you might be facing it in your own hometown too. If people are throwing rocks at you or criticizing, sometimes if you go in a Facebook group, what you’ll find is that there are people who like attack Two-Brain’s ideas or attack me or attack some of the mentors. And what you need to understand is that that is their marketing. They gain clients by being not Two-Brain. So maybe they say like, oh, there’s an easier way to do it than what Two-Brain is doing. Or, you know, they might even even go worse. Like, you know, you can get clients faster or you would make more money if you did this or whatever, I don’t even want to get into it.

Chris (14:22):

But what you need to understand is that the reason they attack Two-Brain is because they don’t have any ideas of their own. In many cases, they attack Two-Brain because they couldn’t even make their own gym successful or describe how they did that. And so their platform is like anti-Two-Brain, right? OK. And this might be happening in your town too. Let’s say that you’re a CrossFit gym. There are probably people whose marketing message includes CrossFit will hurt you. Not because they have a better idea, but because they want people to come to their bootcamp, yoga, Pilates, whatever, instead of doing CrossFit and you know what, that’s fine because you want the smart people who will actually dig in and say, is this true? You want the people who will actually try it out for themselves. You want the people who are not easily tracked easily fooled. And Bonnie Skinner,

Chris (15:19):

who’s a psychotherapist here at Two-Brain HQ, she gave me this concept of the goldfish and I’ll link to a blog post that I did about the goldfish. Basically, if you want to have a fish tank, that’s beautiful and clear unless you look at like the most beautiful tropical fish in the world, then you’ve also got to have a bottom feeder in the tank. You need somebody that’s going to go around and like suck up the poop. Right? And what happens is when you have a public Facebook group and people are giving advice, if people are attacking you, the only people who will be attracted to your attacker are the clients you don’t want anyway, they’re the people who are easily fooled, who just see what they want to see, who will not dig deeper or bear with you or give you the benefit of the doubt.

Chris (16:05):

These are not the clients that you want anyway. And so when you say like, you don’t want everyone, that’s not just you trying to be a generous, abundant-brained person. It’s really the truth. And the people who think that they’re competing with you are actually doing you a massive favor by attracting away the clients that you don’t want. It’s better that they attract that client away and keep them away from your gym than to let that person come into your gym, find out they’re not a great fit three months or three years later. And have them raise hell when they go out. OK. So finally, more CrossFit gyms does mean more clients for Two-Brain. About 70% of our gyms are CrossFit gyms. Even after the big de-affiliation happened last year and the best owners out there might take a while to get to Two-Brain, but they will eventually.

Chris (16:51):

Now here’s how this applies to your gym. More gyms in your town means more people getting introduced to fitness and more gyms that are exactly like yours. More CrossFits, more Orangetheories, more bootcamps, more yoga, more studio, whatever. What that means is that they are creating new potential students for your gym. If they can find new people and get those people interested in yoga, but you run a better yoga program. Then what they’re basically doing is finding and recruiting and training new clients for you. And the best will find you. And that’s what we find with gym owners. That’s what we find with CrossFitters. All you have to do is be the best. And when you’re the best, you will attract the best. You will not attract everyone. You will repel the worst, but you will attract the best, they will graduate up to you. These are the lessons that I’ve learned at my gym. These are the lessons that I now apply to Two-Brain Business. And I really hope that they help you out with your gym business, too.

Andrew (17:54):

Thanks for listening to Two-Brain Radio. If this episode helped you, don’t forget to subscribe for more shows.

Chris (17:58):

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


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