Gym owner increases revenue by 400% in one year? How is this possible? Bryan McDowell will tell you right after this.
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It’s Two-Brain Radio and I’m your host, Mike Warkentin. Real quick. Here’s a reminder: subscribe for more episodes. We’ve got a ton of great stuff coming. So don’t miss an episode. Now at the recent Two-Brain summit, Bryan McDowell of CrossFit HSE earned our future star award. It’s given out annually to a gym owner whose stratospheric trajectory is obvious to all. In only eight months of mentorship, Bryan made it into our exclusive tinker program designed to help very successful gym owners grow their wealth, expand their businesses, plan for retirement and create legacies. He did that by increasing his revenue 400% from April 2020 to March 2021. That is incredible. And Bryan is here to talk to us about it. All right, Bryan, I have lots of questions, but I’m going to ask you for a one sentence summary right off the bat and put you on the spot. How did you manage to do all this stuff so fast?
Honestly, I thought about this for a while. I followed directions, and I had a really great mentor, Mat. I always, I always butcher his last name, VanSchoyck. He’s really talented at creating a clear path, asking the right questions to say, Hey, this is what I think you need to do next. And I followed the roadmap, you know, as simple as that sounds, it worked. I doubted it, but I did what I was told to do. And I, you know, I followed the marketing plan, follow the funnels, follow the ad copy. I followed the process and the process worked.
It’s interesting because one of our other mentors, Kaleda Connell, a lot of people asked her about her quick rise through business. And she said the same thing. She says she followed the plan and it’s hard as an entrepreneur because we’re kind of going our own way. It’s kind of hard to follow the plan. I want to know a little bit. What were you hesitant about or what kind of made you a little bit squidgy when you started looking at something and then did it anyway?
Qell, so I opened my first gyms in 2013, I own two CrossFit gyms, sold those in 2016. And so my wife and I were on our own 2016 through 2019. And, throughout that kind of hovered around the same membership mark and same gross revenue each year never really saw, we get a little bit of growth and we’d fall back down, you kind of knew something was broken, didn’t know how to fix it. So I started kind of looking around at different programs to help us out. And I came across two guys that were kind of like, throwing stuff out there on the affiliate owners page on crossfit.com or that, you know, on the Facebook affiliate owners page. And was a little hesitant, but I went that direction. I ended up getting burned for three grand one month, the next month, started to kind of seeing stuff wasn’t right.
Ending up getting my other three grand back, but, you know, got burned, took a little bit of a risk. And you know, obviously that didn’t pan out. And then I had been getting emails from Chris for quite a while. Hadn’t really known too much about Two-Brain. I knew another gym, in downtown Indiana, had used them. So I started kind of looking through his emails and actually reading through them and clicking on stuff. And I was, he looked like a lot different from what I had seen. Like he actually cared, and like genuine, definitely genuine and like loved what he did. So I ended up reaching out and I was like, we had, a little over six grand or somewhere around there in our bank account, our business bank account, end up finding out how much it was after doing like an exploratory call or whatever it’s called.
And, you know, it was a little bit less than what we had in the bank, but we kind of knew after, backtracking a little bit on the way on the way to the CrossFit Games 2019 August, we were listening to a podcast by Ben Bergeron. And it was on the business side of things. And he’s speaking about wearing all the hats in your business. Started going out to all these different roles and so forth. And I was just like, I stopped it. And I was like, that’s us, that’s us. And my wife was like, it is like, what do we do? Like, I don’t know. Like I know how to coach people to get better at CrossFit. I know how to sell a membership pretty easily, all that stuff, but all the other crap that comes along with it, I didn’t really know how to do it very well. I ended up reaching out, you know what I mean? I think that’s pretty common. The more and more I’ve talked to gym owners, but that’s kind of how we landed with Two-Brain. It was like, I am reaching out for help because we realized that we were doing everything and something wasn’t working. We didn’t know how to fix it.
So you told me that, you know, your revenue in those previous gyms that you had kind of stayed the same and then, you know, it was kind of at a similar level when you started and then all of a sudden things exploded. Take me through that explosion once you got going with Two-Brain.
Yeah. I mean, the two gyms we had, one was doing better than the other 2013 through 2016. It’s kind of like the same process too. It’s like, it wasn’t a lot of retention, pretty decent at sales, but there wasn’t all of development of the roles and the tasks, there weren’t all these processes put in place, it was just two guys that were trying to run a CrossFit gym and make money. And then kind of the same thing when it, that’s how we entered into our new space. We love fitness, we love nutrition. We wanted to stay in the industry. Not have much training doing much else besides this. So we did that and, you know, stuff never really took off we hovered right around, I think maybe one of our best months might’ve been in the $16,000 range, but we usually hovered right around 11,000 to 13,000 a month.
And we moved from Fishers in Indiana to Noblesville. We lost a good chunk of members, but we automatically right when we opened in June 2020. our membership started to take off, I think we gained like 25 the first month, and then COVID hit. So we were close to the open up for not even two months. And those, we went from like low hundreds down to like right around 66 members and that’s including coaches. So that was like seven coaches. So we were under 60 members and our gross revenue, I think we were right around 6,700. Which is like, you know, at, at one point it was kind of like, you can’t get much worse than this. Like pretty much lost all of our income.
So we were, you know, at home couldn’t really do much, the online stuff wasn’t really taking off, but our core group of members that were with us had been with us for years stuck around. And then when we kind of, when we heard that, we live 0.7 miles away from our gym, just super convenient. And when I knew that there was going to kind of be when we can reopen date, I went on to my gym lead machine funnel and mounted the ads. And I started blasting ads about two weeks before I was technically able to get into the gym and start doing it. Then I was going over there and I was selling memberships before we opened. And I continue that process and yeah, we took off, I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but we just, like, it was just like a continual rise.
Like we’re 60, now we’re at right around from that year, I think we went from 66 members of the ballpark, 190, 200, went from, you know, from this year, from that year of March to, I was like April or May of this year where we did 45,000 bucks had our best month ever. We made in 2019 last I looked was like, right around $164,000. This year, we’re on track, probably do half a million is my goal. We’re on track to do that, which has been insane. And our income too. I think our income was like, I think 2019, we might’ve made $27,000. We did 120,000 last year. So it’s been insane. And back then, it was one of those things when you’re like in it and it’s not working and you see other people that are successful, you’re like, there’s no way I can ever do that. I don’t know how they’re doing it.
Got to dig into that. And I got to figure out, you know, how you did it now. So like you, like I said earlier in the intro, you blazed through our ramp up and growth phases and you got incredible, incredible results that launched you into you know, our tinker program, which is the third phase of entrepreneurship. So what were some of the major changes that had the greatest effect on the business? Like I’m looking for, I know every little thing did something, but what were some of the game changers?
You know what, Matt, well obviously following the roadmap and doing all that stuff, it’s funny how that works. It’s like, it’s like, here it is, do it here. It is. Do it. Here, click and go click and go. That was pretty neat. But Matt really, he was a really good question asker, don’t know if that sounds right. He asks a lot of good questions and he challenged me to stop doing, you know, he’s like, do you want to coach classes? I was like, no, he’s like, let’s get you off classes so you can work on some more high value rules. How about personal training? I was like, be honest with you. I could care less if I do another personal training session for the rest of my life. OK, well, let’s get you off the personal training and that right there for me, it was like, I did a lot of personal training, made a lot of money.
But he was like, you know what, there’s some higher value roles that you can work on and we can get some of your personal training clients onto your other staff members. And I was like, it took me like two months to actually do it. Cause I was scared that I was going to lose my clients that I’ve had for years. And I didn’t. And so I started to have more free time to start working on marketing and start helping mentor my staff. And really the biggest thing for us really, I think was, you know, when I talked about wearing all the hats in the business, all those different categories, you know, cleaning, coaching classes, social media, all these different roles, and then assigning the tasks and then delegating them was was really difficult to do.
Cause I’m, you know, now I look back and see how controlling I am and I like to have control all that stuff, but developing those roles and tasks and giving them to coaches who are able, really was the game changer for us. Because when you’re doing absolutely everything in the business, you’re not really doing that much extremely well. It’s just like, you’re multitasking your business and can’t really work on those high value roles to actually make the wheel turn. So I think that was the biggest thing for us, and my wife too, is getting her off coaching the classes, getting her off personal training and having her focus on nutrition. And now she’s got a nutrition business she’s doing outside of the gym.
And listeners, if you want to learn more about this process, we call it climbing the value ladder, and there is an exact process for it. And it’s like down to the dollar where you start looking at how much time you’re spending in certain roles, you put dollar values on it. All your different tasks, and then you figure out what can you replace yourself in? And it usually starts with a cleaner, right? Because it’s a role that doesn’t cost that to fill. So you hire a cleaner for 12 or 15 bucks, and you get your four hours a week back or whatever you use those four hours to do something better, which is maybe take some sales calls, maybe take some coffees down the street, do affinity marketing, this plan exists. And so that’s what Bryan’s talking about.
The roadmap, and Bryan, Chris, this will be music to Chris Cooper’s ears. We tell you what to do. And you look at the tactic, you implement it and you move on. And if you do that, you generally find success. Because one of the things that Chris has always said that he can’t stand is when people say don’t do this, that sucks. But then they don’t tell you what to actually do. So our roadmap is designed to take you through these processes step-by-step with data, with testing, with analysis, with backups, so that you always know what’s working and you keep doing that. And then pivot, if you need to.
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Bryan, this is kind of classic. I love the value ladder thing, because I did the same thing. I had so many things that I was doing. Just classic, wasting my time on building maintenance and stuff that I’m completely useless at. And it happened for me too, when you start getting out of those roles and assigning things, things grow, and really, the price of control is your time, right? Because you’re just micromanaging everything. So once you started climbing this ladder and you got some free time, where did you invest yourself initially to like really start growing the business, and where are you at now? Like, what is your role now?
So now I’ve really been focusing on the marketing aspect, observing our Facebook funnels and tweaking those on a weekly basis. Sometimes daily checking that stuff. Mentoring my staff, like, this past summit. Yeah. This summit, this past summit was like, we talked about leadership was eyeopening. I kinda knew that I had failed in coaching our coaches on their roles and how to correct some stuff that they weren’t doing. They were, you know, not excelling at. Andit’s easy when you own the business and you’re controlling to micromanage and nitpick at stuff that they’re not doing the way you want it done, but when they’re not doing the way you want it done, it’s your fault. You know what I mean?
Cause you haven’t actually told them down to the detail how you want stuff done. It’s not always going to be done perfectly, but that was pretty eyeopening both to my wife and I just like the areas where we kind of just said, oh, well, here’s your role, here’s your task, train them a little bit. And then they go do it. It was like, no, there’s more to that. There’s more of a process. So we’re refining that process quite a bit right now. And also just kind of trying to help empower them a little bit in the roles. Yeah, hopefully that tracks a little bit there. That’s where I’m honing my time in right now, as well as trying to my wife just opened a nutrition business called eat well nutrition. She loves nutrition. She doesn’t want to be in our gym much anymore. So we rented a year lease up front for a nearby office space for her. And she’s just launching that this past week. So I’m helping her with her marketing with that and, kinda trying to help her get the ball rolling, sooner rather than later.
And that’s kind of that tinker stage. So you’re branching out into other stuff. So like you’re not grinding in the gym doing personal training sessions. You’re now the guy who’s in charge of marketing and, you know, obviously other things, but marketing is a huge high value role because you’re literally generating business for the gym and you’ve got your wife branching out into something else, diversifying, you know, the family revenue stream a little bit. It’s really cool what happens when talented people learn about business and free up their time and then do other stuff, you know, and one of the things you mentioned that I’m hearing more and more regularly from sort of I’ll call them upper level gym owners. And the Two-Brain term is tinkers. These are the people that have successful gyms that are moving into other stuff.
The thing that I’m hearing from these guys and girls of course, is that mentoring staff is a key part of it. And that’s something that few of us did. Like I didn’t do it either. I just said, coach the class, you know, you have your level one, do this. And that’d be mad that it wasn’t coached the way I wanted to. Actually bring people and teaching them how to succeed is a key part of offloading tasks. It’s also a key part of success for the staff members. I’ll ask you this. And I think I know the answer, but now that you’re doing all this stuff, are your staff members making more money too?
Oh yeah. My head coach when he came on, like, I won’t say what he was making in his previous job. I kind of brought him in back in, right when I was kind of getting out of, really from growth into tinker. I brought him on and I said, Hey, you know, like I don’t have anyone else right now, currently at that time to give personal training to, so if you’re here and you’re available, I’m going to give you these personal training clients. He was coaching a lot of our classes too, helping me with some sales, doing some cleaning. And I was like, Hey man, the sky’s the limit. If you’re here, nobody else can take this. So I said, here’s the numbers now, here’s where I think, I was showing him the leads we were having coming in, the sales statistics. And I was like, look, if you leave your job, I think you’re going to do really well.
This is what I could pay you. He did. And it was like, we, I think four times what he was making at his previous job. He’s on track to make 60 grand, his first year as a trainer. And I said, Hey, you know what? I’ve trained since 2011, 2019. I’ve made half of that every year. It was kind of embarrassing, but he’s doing fantastic. I brought another girl on full-time who was part time here and there. Was in and out of our gym for two years and brought her back on full-time to be our GM. And she’s absolutely, she had a little bumpy road there for a little while and I take responsibility probably for 80 to 90% of that. But she’s really taking the bull by the horns this past month and just taking the initiative, doing stuff and her revenue’s grown as well. And we got, I think we’ve hired three or four more staff members the past three months, brought new coaches on. So yeah, everybody’s making more money. Yeah.
You’re creating careers that are satisfying for the people who are in them and they’re generating revenue for you and retention and good feelings. And it’s kind of a win-win for everybody. So talk to me now that, you know, you’re out of the day-to-day, you’re not doing PT, you’re not doing coaching, you’re doing these other things. Talk to me about your mindset as a tinker. So, you know, what’s next for you and your business. And I don’t necessarily mean the gym, but you know, your business as a whole, as an entrepreneur, what’s next for, you know, for Bryan.
What’s next for Bryan? Well it is within the business. We have a class that’s called Burns, our 30 minute class. There’s a gaping hole in retention with that. So I have been this past 10 days or so reworking that membership offer. And I’ve talked to a few mentors as well. It’s a lower price point and it tends to be the thing that the eyes go to where people come in during no sweat intro. See the high ticket stuff. What else do you have? It’s the low ticket stuff. OK. OK. I’ll take that. And for me, it’s this like I have feared in years past that, you know what, 129 bucks is better than nothing, even though if it’s not the best fit for the individual, I’d rather have 129 bucks than zero bucks.
You know, and my wife and I started,this past Sunday, we sat outside, Chris Cooper had sent my wife the, I forget maybe the affinity ladder exercise. So she redid it for nutrition business. I redid it for our seed plant. Redid our avatar, kind of narrowing that down again. We’re trying to attract. And it’s a been a little eyeopening because I have, I think he said in that activity, it’s like, you know, you don’t want to take, I’m probably butchering what he said, but everybody’s not the greatest fit for our business. And I have fallen into the trap over the years that I’ll take anybody, even if they’re not a great fit, because I want to make money. So what I’m going to see here and I’m anticipating, and I think that’s part of the thing about being a tinker is I’m able, I now have the finances and the freedom to restructure our business model a little bit, as far as this class is concerned and test out some new pricing.
So I’m going to turn our month to month Burn to year only option. And then with some hybrid options that are going to be higher priced options, 129 to 379 and 279. So I’m going there to try to increase retention in that avenue, because if I can increase retention with that, we should make more than $500,000 this year. That’s kind of where my focus is this next 90 days. So we do our sprint is that, and helping my wife fully in her first year, making a hundred thousand dollars in her nutrition business.
I like it. So you’re really investing hard in the gym business and optimizing stuff that’s not going the way you want so that it can be even more successful. And you’re going to try and help your wife make six figures in the first year of starting a new business. So those are two amazing projects that you now have the time to do, and listeners, that affinity marketing guide, if you want it, go to Two-Brain business.com, free tools at the top, you’re gonna enter your email address. You’ll get access to that and a ton of other stuff. That guide has step-by-step worksheets that will lead you to the process Bryan just described that will help you figure out how to grow your business. It’s a great guide. Go get it. So, Bryan, I’ll ask you this. So our mentorship team was just amazed at what you’ve done.
You’re might be the most, the guy who’s gone through this thing fastest and had the most spectacular results. And it’s been so cool for our mentors to talk about you and watch. And that’s why I want to get you on the show so much. And that’s why you got the, you know, the future star award. So imagine this. You know, and you’ve been there. So this is why I want to ask you this, the gym owners out there right now, feeling disheartened about where the business is at, you know, they’re stuck in a rut, losing ground, not making progress, whatever the case is, what advice would you give that gym owner as a person who’s been in that spot and is now, you know, so far 400% above it, what would you tell that person?
Good question. Humbling as well. Hopefully I explain this well, like we, and I’ve examined this as well, too, like, and I told our members recently on a video, I told them about the tinker program, tell them how much it was. I won’t say it over this. And I said, you know what, two years ago, if somebody asked me to pay that much money, I’d have said, you’re crazy. And the same thing back when I decided to go with Two-Brain, at that time, it was a lot of money, but, you know, I realized what I was doing wasn’t working. And I needed help, and we preach to people when they come into the gym that they need a coach. And that our service is valuable and that what they’re doing isn’t working and then they need to be coached.
And I’ve never really had a business mentor in the past, but you know, it makes sense to have someone that has walked the walk and has been successful. And they’re where you want to be. And then they can guide you to get there. Like, it makes logical sense that if your business isn’t working and stuff is broken, you realize that you need a coach. And we tell everybody in our gym, we have coaches. We’re not doing stuff that we’re not telling you to do. We’re practicing it as well. So, I think that everybody needs a coach. It’s so helpful to when you feel like you’re stuck and be able to reach out to somebody and say, Hey, like, this is what I’m struggling with. What have you experienced in the past? What do you think I need to do next versus trying to do it on your own.
Like, that’s really tough. It’s tough to walk that out. Especially if you haven’t had success and when you have a multitude of counsel there’s wisdom in that, right. Especially when you’ve got a group of people, you can go on to like the Facebook group and say, Hey, what are you guys doing for retention? What are you guys doing for marketing? What are you guys doing for your athlete check-ins? What are you doing for your consults? I’ve tried this, this isn’t working. Why isn’t it working? And the group has all tested stuff out. It’s been tested. It’s been proven, there is extreme value in that. And if you’re not going to invest in yourself, who else is going to do it? Nobody. Nobody’s going to say, Hey, here’s some money, go invest in yourself.
You’ve got to take the action and do that. So, yeah, hopefully that speaks to somebody, that’s where I’m at with it. And that’s where my wife’s at with it too. I mean, she’s having trouble with sales right now. So we’re paying $5,000 to get her some sales training over the next 14 weeks. So she can be successful. Cause she’s recognized that she’s not good at sales. So guess what? We’re going to invest in some sales training so she can make more money in sales. She doesn’t have sales, she doesn’t have a nutrition business.
The thing that you’re bringing up here and it’s so interesting is, you know, you just, and you said it is like, you’re not spending money, you’re spending money to make money. And again, that can sometimes be a snake oil pitch from some people. But the reality, I got a dog too. So don’t worry about that.
Yeah. My son’s in the background.
The reality though, is that the Two-Brain business mentorship program and any good mentorship program, like a sales training, whatever it is that you do, should be designed to help you get return on investment. Meaning if you spend X, you should get, you know, 2, 3, 4, 5 X or whatever it is. And that’s how Chris has set this thing up where he, you know, we want to be an expensive mentorship program because we provide the value. But the idea is that you’re going to make that money back by following the plan.
And we want you honestly, to make that money back as fast as possible. And again, listeners out there, if you’re not in the program yet, you can certainly contact Two-Brain business, get a free call with one of our mentors to talk about this, go to our website and book that call. Or if you’re not, if you just don’t have the money right now, we’ve literally set up the free tool section to give you everything you need to make enough money to pay for mentorship. So go again to that free tools section on Two-Brain business.com. And Bryan has it, I’ll ask you maybe the dumb question here, but I’ll do it anyways. Have you made the money back that you invested in Two-Brain?
Yeah. Easily. From 6,700 a month to 45,000 a month. I’d say so.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Bryan, I’ll let you get back to building your and your wife’s business. And, we want to see where you’re at next year, will you come back and talk to us again?
Thank you, sir. I’m Mike Warkentin and that was future star award winner, Bryan McDowell. He’s probably a star already, not a future star. And if you join our mentorship program, you might be the next future star. Go to Two-Brain business.com to find out more. Now, before you go, be sure to join the Gym Owners United group on Facebook. Two-Brain founder Chris Cooper is in there all the time, dropping data and sharing strategies. You won’t see him posting in any other public Facebook group. That’s the only place you can get access to Coop. That’s Gym Owners United on Facebook. Join it today.