COVID, Roof Collapses and a Competitor Crisis: Tina Ferringer’s Story

Tina Ferringer and title text.

Tiffy (00:02):

From earthquakes to roof collapse and getting COVID, Tina Ferringer has weathered her share of challenges over the past few years. With two fitness studios in Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska, Tina had a full plate. Then she was devastated when 30% of her clientele left to join a competing studio, less than a mile away. In today’s episode of Two-Brain Radio, we talked to Tina about what went down, what she learned and how focusing on her own leadership pulled her out of a crisis.

Chris (00:34):

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Tiffy (01:14):

Tina. Welcome.

Tina (01:15):

Hi, thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here today.

Tiffy (01:19):

So take me back to a little over a year ago, where were things kind of at, with your fitness facility?

Tina (01:28):

Yeah, so we were in a huge transition. Like you said, we have two locations and we expanded really quickly. I would say we expanded too quick. So, you know, start small dream big. I ran with it and started real big, you know, just kept going. And so in those moments, you know, I put people in positions of leadership that weren’t a good fit for our business. So about a year ago I had a manager that pretty much copycatted our exact business plan. Our pricing, everything, and just undercut us. And in that moment, I was in Anchorage building a studio by myself, teaching all the classes, training all the clients. So I wasn’t able to really be at our Fairbanks location, which was extremely detrimental, because I really feel like our clients didn’t have that connection with me personally anymore.

Tina (02:25):

And so it created opportunity for this person to come in and have a lot of power in the business and just the intentions weren’t loyal. So that’s what happened. And it was extremely devastating because my business is my baby. You know, just like all of you out there. I mean, you put your heart and soul into it and I’ve sacrificed a lot for the business and family time and all the things. So it was the hardest thing that I’ve dealt with so far being in business. What I can say from it though is just amazing things occurred from it. But I would say, you know, I don’t want to whitewash the feelings that occurred. I mean, it was devastating, but I’m so thankful for the opportunity in those moments for growth.

Tiffy (03:11):

So what was your sort of first reaction and then what were the next steps you took after learning this information? Like what was the sort of catalyst to call Two-Brain after that?

Tina (03:22):

So the first reaction was I was like, you know what? It is what it is. I’ve always been really confident in who I am as a person, but also my intentions behind why I have a business. My mission and my vision is to help people, it’s very people centered. And so I just thought, you know, initial reaction was like, man, it was really hard because I thought of this person like family. So that was extremely devastating. But I was like, I’m just going to keep it moving. And then, you know, I really started doing work. And a big goal of mine was to become the best leader I could be. And Trent Sheldon said something and I follow him and he’s pretty phenomenal. And he said, you know, you got to protect your business like you protect your family. And I’ve been always the type to like, just move on.

Tina (04:11):

You know, it is what it is, keep on moving. But I decided, you know, there was a non-compete signed, non-disclosure signed. And our studio is very unique in the fact that we have a cycling class that I designed and I created and that’s what was taken. And that’s the reason why we’re so successful. Right. So I decided to go to court and we did go that route and I’m really proud of us. And I’m proud of myself in those moments because I fought for my business and I fought for my clients and I fought for the leadership team that I have. And we did win and got an emergency injunction in place. So that was the first like initial few months was, you know, going that route. I never thought that I’d have to, as a business owner, you know, but I felt it really important to fight for what I’ve built over the last, you know, seven and a half years.

Tina (05:05):

So that’s what it started with. And then kind of a full circle moment. I was talking to my friend, Matt, who owns a strongman gym here in Fairbanks called North Side. And he said, hey, Tina, you know I use Two-Brain. He’s like, you’re a lot farther in business than me, but you know, maybe you should reach out. Cause I had called him and said, Hey, I’m looking for a coach. And it’s hard in Alaska to find a coach in this business because I’m one of the frontrunners, right? So there’s not really somebody that I could go and say, Hey, this is what happened to me. What do I do? You know, there was nobody I could talk to at that time. And so that’s when I called Two-Brain.

Tiffy (05:47):

And what stood out to you in those initial calls with Two-Brain?

Tina (05:53):

I don’t remember the guy’s name that I first talked to, but I’ll tell you, he amazing. And he sold me. So, we were just chatting and he’s like, Hey, well, why are you here today? And I told him about what had happened to the business. And, we were in a really hard time at that point. And I said, you know, this is what happened. What do I do? And he goes, well, you raise your prices because not only was our exact like pricing options stolen, but they were also undercut. Right. So it was copycat and then it was undercut. And in that moment he goes, it’s the fastest way to the bottom. So who’s going to get there first. Like, that’s going to be the cycle. And I said in that moment, I just knew, I was like, I need somebody that’s been here. Somebody that’s gone through this before, to give me that leadership and that mentorship. And so that first call, it was a paradigm shift in the fact that like, I was ready to have help.

Tiffy (06:55):

Yeah. Yeah. And that mindset shift from, well, maybe we have to undercut her to—

Tina (07:04):

Right. You know, and that’s fear based. And I never ran my business out of fear, truly. I’ve never—I’ve always ran my business out of purpose and how can I help the community and how can I help the world in this work? Because I feel like the work that we do is so profound. And I see what we do as healing and helping people. So I didn’t want to go that route. You know, I don’t want to live my life in fear. I know what I’m capable of. I know what our leadership team is capable of. And I knew we were worthy of more and I didn’t want to accept any less than what we’re worth.

Tiffy (07:43):

Yeah. And then you had another kind of pitfall, major pitfall, COVID hits. Right. What happens then? How were your gyms affected?

Tina (07:53):

Yeah, we were shut down for about two months and I would say that I definitely am a visionary, so I can pivot very quickly. We’ve had multiple crisis living in Alaska, in our business, you know, like you said, our roof fell down. And we had class that night at another location, you know, we just don’t stop. And for me, it’s like, it’s never been about the money. It’s about showing up for our community. And here in Alaska, I think it’s just so important to have exercise. You know, it’s dark, it’s cold. There’s not a lot to do. And so when COVID hit, my team already knew, like get ready because we’re going, you know, and within two days of being shut down, we had already delivered 110 bikes all around Alaska to go right into virtual. And our community just stepped up.

Tina (08:48):

You know, even when our roof fell down, I mean, we had 50, a hundred of our clients pulling dumbbells out of the wreckage. I think when you do this work really to help, other people just show up in our community and Alaska is phenomenal and they just show up for us. And so, I rented a U-Haul in Fairbanks and my husband and I took over Anchorage. So my husband, Sean, and I delivered all the bikes in the Anchorage area. And then our leadership team in Fairbanks in that U-Haul, I’m telling you, they were getting stuck up mountains. I’m not even kidding people were pulling them out of the ditch. And I mean, it was just crazy, but you know what, we did the damn thing and I’m proud of us for always being willing to put in the effort, you know, we are willing to hustle. And I think that’s what really separates us is just the hustle and the grind and the intention behind it.

Tiffy (09:46):

During that time you were a mix of virtual and in real life classes?

Tina (09:56):

It was just virtual for, we were shut down, I think for, you know, it’s really hard. It was a time warp, but probably like a month and a half or two months. And I remember the first class I taught, you know, I had never really done anything on zoom. And I just remember, OK, I’m going to figure this out. And the first class I taught, I turned our little garage because, you know, we weren’t allowed to leave the house. We were in lockdown and I turned our little garage into a cycling studio and I had my daughter and my husband ride or dying for me. And I was teaching on zoom, no PV mixer, the sound was trash. We had 80 people on the other side getting with it, and people will show you grace so that you can figure it out. They will only show you grace for a while.

Tina (10:44):

I mean, you better figure it out quick, but they did. And then I just decided, like, I want to have a quality product here. People had been asking me for virtual for years, because we offer a class called culture ride and it’s the cycling class that I designed and people, a lot of military leave Alaska and they can’t find anything like it. So they’ve always, Tina please, you know, do something virtual. We want to join you in Portland or, you know, in Kentucky, like we want this in our lives. So it was something that I had been wanting to do for a very long time. Maybe just not pushed outside of that comfort zone yet to take the leap. And so it made me really step up and figure it out. So I got in contact with the local music store here and they taught me how to stream the music. So it came through clear through zoom. I got us mic’d up all the things. And so now, we’ve continued with that. We’re back in studio, but we still have bikes rented and we still do virtual classes every class that we teach. So we’re still offering that and I don’t foresee that going away anytime soon,

Chris (11:57):

We’ll get back to the show right after this. Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Forever Fierce. Reach out to them to sell more apparel or retail items. Matt Albrizio and his team will save you time with templates. They’ll provide ideas and tell you what’s selling best. And they’ll supply marketing material and preorder sheets. If you want to get serious about apparel and retail, visit foreverfierce.com.

Tiffy (12:18):

And during this time, how did your mentor kind of help you through?

Tina (12:22):

Yeah, so Peter is my mentor and, you know, I have to say like at first, when crisis hit, I didn’t even think to reach out. I mean, I think that’s where I’m trying to really grow is like, I’ll just do, I’ll do and do, and then I’ll be like, Oh, wait, you know, I have a coach. I should probably reach out, see what the heck they’re doing. Because I didn’t even think to reach out in the beginning. I just, we were in survival mode. Like, let’s go, let’s hustle. We gotta figure this out. And then I reached out to Peter and he really helped me design pricing. I had to restructure all of my pricing when we went virtual. You know, he gave me a great idea to go weekly pricing because it was so unsure and the times were hard.

Tina (13:09):

So he helped me really focus on—he’s great at giving me like structure because I am very visionary and, but I do have ADD, and that’s a great thing, but also it’s a struggle in business, you know? And so he kind of grounds me and helps me prioritize what’s important right now. So just in those things, like he truly was pivotal in our success through pandemic because I can tell you, we were doing just fine financially throughout the pandemic.

Tiffy (13:43):

Wow. Yeah. You mentioned it in one of your bright spots in your Facebook group that you were hitting $66,000 in revenue in the month of January, despite being at half capacity. Were you surprised by that?

Tina (14:01):

Yeah, we’re half capacity and 10 foot apart in one of our studios. So, that’s an obstacle in itself, right. Because we don’t have a huge space there, but, you know, I have to say, like, I wasn’t surprised, because I don’t think any type of success like that is surprising, because I know how hard of work we’ve been doing. So I wasn’t surprised. Proud, yes, extremely proud of our leadership team, because without our team, there is no way that we could have done it. Without Peter, and I think of our team too, as the Two-Brain team, without all the support, it wouldn’t have been possible. And so, definitely not surprising because I feel like finances is a manifestation of your thought, your mindset. And I worked really hard and I wake up every day wanting to grow and learn. So, I’m proud, but I only foresee it growing.

Tiffy (15:10):

You mentioned also in that bright spot, how some members in private revealed to you how your community had saved their lives, Can you tell me a bit more about that?

Tina (15:24):

Yeah. I’m sorry. It makes me a little emotional. Yeah. So, you know, the financial part is awesome. Right. And we’ve gone through a lot of heartache to get where we’re at and we’ve worked really hard and I love having financial goals. Since I’ve opened, that’s been a huge part of the business because I know the more income we’re earning, the more people we can help. And that’s what it’s always been about. I can say in that, I have a hard time with being able to step back and just celebrate, right? Like I’m always like, I want to do more. I always feel like we need to be doing more. So what I learned in January, you know, yes, we had this great month where we’ve earned more than we ever have, but in that same month, you know, I had three separate occasions of people coming and just sharing, you know, Tina without F and H you know, I could have died by suicide.

Tina (16:26):

And in Alaska, it’s just such an epidemic here. And you know, seasonal depression in the winters here, we see darkness, you know, six, seven, eight months a year. And so it’s near and dear to my heart because my husband struggles with depression and he has shared his story with our community. And so that’s why I’m in business. And, you know, it’s so much deeper than like a $66,000 a month or a million dollar business or whatever. It’s those stories that get me up in the morning and, you know, push our leadership team to just be the best we can. So that to me is everything. And that’s why I do this work. And that’s why we need more people doing this work. There’s always enough to go around. And I think people need to remember that. We get so worried about competition and other gyms opening up, but the amount of people that need us, it’s overwhelming, you know? And so just remembering, like, there are people that need you out there, so don’t ever feel like, Oh, you know, don’t get so wrapped up in what other people are doing, focus on what you’re doing, focus on the people that you’re helping. And that’s what January taught is just stay focused, Tina, keep going, keep building your leadership team. And it will happen. So I’m just proud of what we’ve done.

Tiffy (17:59):

Yeah. It’s really powerful. Tina, thanks for sharing your story with us today. That’s all for today’s episode of Two-Brain Radio. Thanks for listening. If you haven’t done so, you need to join Gym Owners United group on Facebook. Chris regularly post articles, instructional videos, and advice in there. It’s the only public group he’s in. That’s Gym Owners United on Facebook. Join today.

 

Thanks for listening!

On Monday, Two-Brain Radio presents marketing tips and success stories. Chris Cooper delivers the best of the business world on Two-Brain Radio every Thursday. 

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