Hello, this is Tiffy Thompson for Two-Brain Radio, and we’re talking to Two-Brain award winner Mike Collette of Prototype Training Systems about his Gym of the Year award. Mike won the left brain award for metrics by generating more than $68,000 in revenue every month with a 30% profit margin. Before Mike tells you how he did it, here’s Two-Brain founder, Chris Cooper, with a word about this honor.
We’re called Two-Brain business because just like your brain, your business has two sides. You’ve got the right side, the right hemisphere of your brain, which is responsible for empathy and creativity. And you’ve got the left side, the left hemisphere of your brain, which is responsible for math and sorting things. The Two-Brain award for left brain for the year goes to the gym that has proven through metrics that they are the best. They have the highest revenue. They have the highest profit they have the highest ARM and some other metrics that we track in Two-Brain. You can’t win this award just by being the best in one category. It’s not enough just to have a million dollars in revenue, but no profit. You have to be dominant across the board. And this year’s gym is that the thing that I love best about this award is we can point to metrics. We can say, yup, that’s obviously the winner, but we can also follow metrics. We can ask, why are they the winner? What did they do that was slightly different from everybody else? Or did they just do more of it? How did they do that? And you’ll be hearing from all the top three in this category from me over the next year too, because that’s how the Two-Brain ecosystem works. We identify who is doing the best at everything. And then we say, how are you doing that? And then we turn that into our curriculum. And then we mentor you on how to implement their best practices in your gym. And this is how we always get better. This gym is one of the best of the best in the world. I am extremely proud of them. I started working with them before they even opened, and I can recall our basement Skype sessions, way back in the day, they were sitting there and dim lighting on the basement floor and trying to visualize this work plan for this gym that didn’t even exist yet. You’re going to hear from them in a moment, they’re going to have a lot to share with you. Shine on, and I hope everybody reflects in your success to make their own gym better.
Chris Cooper here, this episode of Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Wodify. Wodify is an all in one solution for member management, appointment scheduling and tracking. Wodify’s insights tool includes the business health dashboard co-developed with Two-Brain to provide average revenue per member, length of engagement and more key metrics. Gym owners, to receive 20% off your first year of Wodify Core visit wodify.com/twobrain.
It’s wonderful to have you on the show today. Congratulations on winning this award. What is the secret to your success?
That’s a great question. I’d have to answer that question dating back to before we started our gym. So we opened our gym in 2012 and we’re formerly CrossFit Prototype. We recently rebranded to Prototype Training Systems and have maintained our affiliation with CrossFit, but I called Chris Cooper before we opened our gym in 2012. He was with another company. And it’s funny because we talk about marketing all the time. I saw an ad, I think on YouTube with Chris Spealler, and the story goes, I call the number cause I was a hardo Chris Spealler fan. And someone picks up the phone and says, hi, this is Chris. And I say, Chris Spealler. And he goes, no, this is Chris Cooper. I get that a lot. And I go, Oh Chris. Oh, uh, yeah. So I saw your ad and I’m opening up a gym. And qthen since then I’ve hired Chris as, you know, our consultant and help us with our business. So we wouldn’t be where we are today, if it wasn’t for Chris and everything that he’s done. So our success is tied to the advice and the systems and just amazing culture and community that he’s created with Two-Brain. Awesome.
You’ve maintained a consistent profit margin over 30%. So what are you doing that others aren’t doing?
I don’t know if we’re doing anything special, but we’re just really, you know, on top of our costs and making sure that we’re spending—the money that we spend is going towards things that we’re going to find value in. You know, our business does do a lot of personal training. Actually it’s more than 60% of our total revenue is in personal training. So we’ve been able to create great opportunities for our coaches, earn revenue or earn money full time as well. And then our ancillary programs, specialty programs and nutrition, and it’s cut from the, you know, the Two-Brain book. We don’t necessarily follow the four ninths model to a T. But it’s relatively close.
And how do you manage to grow your revenue by while maintaining this level of profits? Is it that diversification or something else?
It is. So, you know, we have an amazing team and I have to say that, you know, the award says Mike Collette, Prototype Training Systems. This is not a Mike Collette award. This is a Prototype Training Systems award. This is our team. I can’t take credit for us winning or doing anything special. These coaches and trainers are amazing. They care about our clients, they care about their success. And they just have a true passion for helping others, which is one of our core values at Prototype. So, you know, to your question, you know, they’re out there hustling and busting their butts and they’re getting our clients results and they’re putting in a lot of the work and we’re fortunate to be in an area that we can help a fair amount of people. You know, we have close to over 300 members. So, you know, we’re in a good, in a good position there. And also our marketing has been, has been pretty good and we work with Two-Brain on that stuff as well. I actually worked with Sarah Carter and she’s amazing.
Nice. So you mentioned you were sort of close to 4/9ths in terms of how you pay your staff, how do you pay your coaches and keep wages in a spot that preserves that significant profit margin?
Yeah, so it’s a great question. So for classes we pay on a per class basis, but we have kind of an incentive model, right? So, how we’ve structured it is, you know, it is that intrapreneurialism model where coaches are bringing in or have responsibility for a certain amount of clients. And in our personal training, like I said, we do around 60% of our revenue comes from personal training. That structure has allowed us to basically allow our coaches to have a certain amount of money that they bring in per month. And then that is tied to a specific percentage that they get. So the more clients they have, the more money that they’re bringing into the business, we increase the percent percentage of that split. And what we found is that if we’re able to bring on more talent, great coaches that align with our values aligned with our beliefs, we’re able to replicate that. And we’ve done that consistently. I think right now we have, I think, eight or nine full-time coaches.
Wow. So you’re providing them with both stability and motivation to do more.
Yeah. Their motivation. They come in motivated and they love what they do. But I also am a huge believer in flexibility and free time. Right. So, you know, we’re in an industry and I know it firsthand because my background, my education in exercise science, when I graduated from college, I went into the personal training field. So my path was, you know, physical therapy. I took a strength and conditioning course, my senior year of college. And I said, you know what? I really like this versus, you know, working in a rehabilitation setting, which my advisor wasn’t very happy with, but it’s what I wanted to do. And so I went into, you know, a big box gym, I guess you can call it. And it was a dog eat dog sort of world, sort of corporate environment.
But what I learned there surpassed anything that I learned in school. And I learned basically that you had to hustle, you needed to be confident and you need to be really good at sales. And it was basically like, OK, you’re done with college now, you need to make money. You have student loans coming up, either you’re going to be successful in this industry, no matter how much information that you know, and you need to do it and put in the work. And basically what I did was just, I felt like I worked all day long and I really wasn’t getting paid much money, but I had to basically build up a book of business. So within six months I had roughly 50 personal training clients. I was doing over 50 hours a week of personal training. I was making a lot of money, but I didn’t really have that work life balance, but that’s OK if you’re 22, 23 years old. Right, right. But that’s not sustainable. And so we’ve, you know, I preach that to our team, like, you know, boundaries like use your free time, recharge, all that sort of stuff, because we are in an industry where, you know, you can kind of overwork and you can get burnt out if you’re doing too much,
You said you learned that you had to kind of put sales, first and foremost, and building a business, did that whole aspect of it come easily to you or naturally?
That makes me smile. Because it was so uncomfortable. It was so, and it’s hard to describe, you’re a 22-year-old kid that thinks he knows everything. Right. I thought I knew everything. I went in there. I went, I remember going into my interview for this job as a trainer. And I was like, I’m going to be the best trainer here. That was like, what I though. And I’m going to do everything I need to be, to be the best trainer. And this was my first like, real job. So I remember going into the interview, having a great interview and then meeting with the general manager and the first conversation I ever had, which is so great because Chris, and Two-Brain preaches this with the career roadmap. I go into the office of the general manager and he goes, Mike, how much money do you want to make?
And I go, I didn’t really think about that. We go, and then he goes, well, you know, here’s how this works. Right. And here’s, if you, like, if you want to make this much money. I forgot what I said. I might’ve said like, I want to make $50,000. He goes, OK, well, here’s how you make $50,000. And I go, Oh, that’s not that hard. Right. It’s only like 20 hours, 20, 25 hours a week. All right. Well, how do you, how do you make a hundred thousand dollars? Right. And so then to me, I was like, OK, who else is doing this? And then he broke that down. And I was like, well, I want to be the best, I want to do that. I want to put in that work. And he’s like, all right, well, this is what you have to do.
Like you have to hustle and you’re going to have to put in time. So I remember going in and asking my fitness manager was like the first day I go in and I asked him, Hey, like, do you mind if you know, I know I’m only working from this time to this time, but do you mind if I keep my shirt on and just walk around? Like, I know I’m not going to get paid. It’s OK. I want to be here because I know that the longer I’m here, the more people are going to see me. And the more opportunity I have for conversation. So basically I started by just talking to kids that were in the gym. Cause it’s like with our new coaches, I always tell them this too. It’s like, it’s so much easier to start when you’re training, training kids, because it’s really intimidating when you’re a new trainer training an adult.
Right. Cause you might not have that confidence. So I’m like, I started talking to kids, you know, like, Hey, like, you know, like what are you doing for your workout? Like a teenage kid in the gym. I remember being a teenage kid. I’m closer in age with them now than I am probably with their parents. I’m 22 years old. And it was like, Hey, like, you know, I can help you. Why don’t we talk about like, you know what you’re doing? Right. I don’t remember, like my first client was this like teenage kid. He bought like four sessions. And I remember that day, I was like, it was the greatest moment ever. And then like the second person that I sold personal training to was another four sessions to like this, this gentleman, I’m not going to say his name, but an older gentleman.
And you know, he could have been like my grandfather and he just wanted to be able to walk up and down the stairs, you know? So it went from that and then growing and growing, and then you start to find like your ideal clients and start to find the people you want to work with and then start to, you know, narrow that down. And then, you know, your book is so busy to the point where like now you’re only working with the people that you want to work with that might train with you two to three times a week. And then you’re not working with someone that’s just training 30 minutes once every two weeks or something like that. So it’s like this growth process and it didn’t come naturally for your question, it was super uncomfortable. I failed so many times I look back and I’m like, man, if I knew what I knew now, like it would be a totally different, it would be totally different. But I got to give the praise to the Two-Brain group. I wouldn’t know a lot of the things that I know now without Chris.
This is Chris Cooper. Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by AGuard, providing elite insurance for fitness and sport. AGuard offers coverage for functional fitness facilities, mixed martial arts gyms and even events and competitions. You can also get access to healthcare insurance, discounted AEDs and discounted background checks. AGuard’s coverage options are designed to keep you safe. To find out more, visit affiliateguard.info.
What would you do differently if you can think of one thing, major thing that you would change.
So I’m smiling because I asked, in the summit this past weekend, I ask Seth Godin that question. So, you know, we’ve got to do the Q and A. And I asked, I think I asked that like, what would be like the three things you would do differently? You know, you’re a successful entrepreneur, what are your three things you would do differently if you were to restart? And he answered it by saying exactly what I’m to say. And he said, I wouldn’t trade any of the failures for anything. Cause that’s how you learn. Right. So number one, I would answer that the exact same way. If I was to do something differently, like if I was to look at it from that perspective, I probably would have not taken on so many people that I know are probably going to be headaches, that I knew that, you know what I mean?
Like I became very like, you know, all right, you want to train with me, great and we’ll train, all right, you want to train with me? All right, great. We’ll train. Versus me being, you know, this is the person that I want to work wit. and I think I can provide the most value to. I was very, I was a generalist. So from like working with, you know, from moms to kids and athletes, to, you know, people that want to, you know, add 20 pounds of muscle to people that want to learn how to do CrossFit, like all over the board, which I guess at this point with CrossFit that said that I got into like all, you can all kind of help those people at the same time. But I took on, I had no niche. I was more like the generalist amongst the trainers that were there.
And a lot of the trainers that were there did have niches. Some worked specifically with, you know, body builders and the people that do the figure shows, some worked specifically with athletes and powerlifting and that sort of thing. And I was like more of the generalist sort of thing. So I would say that, but then I think back at it and I’m like, Oh, I learned so much working with all those different people. But again, maybe I wouldn’t say that. Maybe if I was to trade something, I would have been a little bit more humble.
So you mentioned that you’ve been quite successful in your marketing efforts. How do you market, like, what is your sort of strategy?
So we really didn’t start doing like Facebook ads until about a year ago. And like we saw great success with that and it really got like our name out there. Recently we started doing some Google stuff. But like, I think our biggest thing from the beginning is that we were writing content. So like back in 2012, even before like hearing it from Chris, I was writing blog posts because I saw the people that I look up to in the industry at that time that they were writing. And I was like, crap, these guys are writing. I should be writing. Like, why not? Like, and I didn’t do it with the intent of improving SEO or anything like that, but it certainly helped, right? Like we were ranking like number one overall for like personal training before we were even doing a lot of personal training because we just so happened that we would put out content, and it would align with however that algorithms work.
Right. So I try to write, I like writing, I try to write three to four pieces of content and blog posts a week, specifically with like COVID, a lot of stuff has been purely organic in the sense that we are communicating with our community on a daily basis. I’ve kind of stolen, and I told my mentor, Josh Price, this the other day, I’ve stolen the Two-Brain model that they don’t necessarily teach, but it’s what they do. So I find a ton of value in everything Two-Brain does. Right. Daily directives from Chris, the, you know, the like daily, like office hours that they have with a different specialist in the growth group, all that sort of stuff, the communication, the bright spots, people posting, they crowdsourced the other gym owners that gave great ideas.
So I was like, wait, like, I really appreciate that. Can I take that same sort of model and apply it to my gym. So when COVID hit, I was like, all right, I’m getting a daily email from Chris. I really like it. I read them and I respond to him. Chris, if you’re seeing this, I periodically, I respond to you. And so I said, all right, well now more than ever, we need to be communicating. So I started doing a daily brief and I would call it like our daily brief and in the daily brief would be like updates and stuff where, you know, Hey, like, this is what’s going on, you know, we’re canceled or here’s the newest virtual class, or, Hey guys, we’re starting our new or our regular classes again.
But every day there was communication. Then we started, we added in like a daily, like a daily WOD, like a home WOD, that was like, you know, during like the start of COVID. We pivoted right into virtual classes at the same time. But you know, the home workouts people were like, Oh, this is cool. Like, this is something if I can’t make a virtual class and we still have done virtual, we’ve programmed a home WOD every day since. We’re at day 192. My goal is to go 365 days, like literally have a 365 day book of home WODs. Because why not? I don’t want to end that streak.Aand then, you know, we started adding in our blog posts like, Hey, like here’s this. And then we started like giving asks. Hey, like guys, like, you know, we really appreciate it.
We can use your help. Can you write us a Google review? And like, people are so engaged with this stuff at this point that we have like, you know, anywhere between like a 40 to 50 plus percent open rate on these emails, I look at the click rate and it’s a lot of people clicking our posts and reading them and that they’re engaged with them. So like something that’s free that doesn’t take a lot of time, unless you’re like very like particular and anal like me. You can build out a daily brief and get engaged with your members and ask them to bring a friend or to create organic growth for you. And we’ve found that to be a very helpful element of what we’ve been doing as it relates to our marketing within our community.
So how long was your actual physical gym shut down or is it still shut down?
So, yeah, that’s a great question. So we were shut down for, I don’t remember exactly. I mean, this year, it’s weird. But, it felt like, you know, a long time, but I think it was like a few months. And then we were in the, in Massachusetts there was like the four phases. And so in phase one, we weren’t able to open, but in phase two, like the second part of phase two, we were allowed to start doing one on one, one on one training inside, and also outdoor classes, like group classes. It was funny because in Massachusetts, they didn’t necessarily, it wasn’t like a big, like thing on Facebook that was like, Hey, next phase, here’s all the stuff like you have to kind of go in and find it. And when they started allowin the outdoor workouts, it was great.
Cause we were able to kind of move and pivot from virtua to that. And then in phase three, we allowed, they allowed like indoor workouts. We, I think we have like, we’re allowed like 40% capacity inside. We have a 7,000 square foot facility for 40% of that as well we could have, but we’ve limited it to even less than that. But we’ve kept all our classes still outside just for the sake that people want to be outside. Like, Hey, listen, like why come inside? And we can still work out outside, the weather’s still conducive, but you know, this morning was 36 degrees. Right? So we’re getting to that point where we’re going to have to bring our classes back in doors, at least that early morning classes. Cause we start at five in the morning. So that’s coming very, very soon. So to your question, you know, classes are still being running outside our one-on-one stuff, all that stuff being done inside, all of our no sweat intros are still virtual. We still have virtual coaching, virtual training. One-on-one. People love it, very convenient. And our trainers, you know, our trainers like it too, from a convenience standpoint,
It sounds like you’re able to pretty nimbly, you know, switch to like online classes, one-on-one virtual coaching. What do you think is the key to when it comes to sustaining profitability in an era like we’re living in now where things are really uncertain and people might not necessarily be comfortable with coming into the gym?
It just comes down to communication. And so we pivoted, so we knew we were going to get shut down. I think everyone knew his impending. And like I was familiar with using zoom prior to all this stuff, doing conference calls and that sort of stuff. Some other businesses I was involved in. So I said, Hey guys, we’re going to have to go virtual. Like we’re going to have to, because, there’s no way we’re going to be able to service our community with just sending them a workout every day. Like, we’re going to keep, we’re going to do that too, but we need to give them options. So I think it was a week or two before we got shut down. I was like, guys, we’re all getting trained up on how to use Zoom. And then so like from there, like we launch and we’re like, all right, guys, we’re going to have a schedule. Like, and it was like basically the next day, like when we got shut down, it was like the next day, Hey guys, now we’re in virtual class, come in and try it out. Like, don’t worry if you don’t have any equipment. And then, your question was about to sustain profitability. Is it specifically like going forward or like during the shutdown?
I guess, yeah. During the shutdown, but then my next question is like, kind of what lies ahead and how are you aiming to continue this momentum given that we don’t know what’s what lies in store.
Yeah. So during that time we had to help. Like, we need to help people more so now than ever people need to exercise, they need to get their mind off of the uncertainty and that sort of thing. So, you know, we like to help our members out. We just basically just leased out all of our equipment. We didn’t charge anyone. It was kind of like, Hey guys, like we’re going to track all this stuff. Like we were to do one thing different would probably be how we, how we did that. Cause it was kinda like, Oh, you need stuff. Cool. Come in and take whatever you want. And then it’s like, Holy crap. Like we have like so much stuff that’s going really, really quickly. Like we need to like be better at like rationing that stuff out. That would have been like one thing I would’ve done a little bit differently.
But for the most part, you know, almost everyone had something or was able to get something from us. And so they were able to complete like workouts and keep that feel. We polled people early on again communication, you know, to get an understanding for comfort level. And we did that a couple times. But going forward, this is a whole new service offering that we now have, which is the silver lining in all of this, that our members that were not and so from a growth standpoint, we had members that weren’t with us anymore because they moved and they came back. They’re like, you guys are doing virtual. That’s amazing. Like I want to be back in this community. And it wasn’t like right off the bat. Right. It wasn’t like, Oh, you guys are virtual classes. Like let’s come back.
It was, we need to make sure we communicate this out to our email list. Hey guys, like we do virtual stuff now. Like if you’re not working out or you want to be back involved with community, you can. And so people started coming back in and then like, you know, we had our members that were like, Hey, like, you know, I was talking to someone the other day and they didn’t hear that you guys do a virtual class. They want to come back in. Right. And then we reached out to them and then we have a conversation and talk to them about how it works. And again, it’s like super convenient. You can have your cup of coffee, you know, put it down, turn on your screen, you know, a minute before class, it’s kind of funny. It’s like, you’re early to a zoom class.
If you’re like two minutes early, it feels like it’s like coming to class, like 15 minutes early. Like everyone’s either showing up right on time or like, you know, like a minute before. And so it was just super convenient and a lot of the personal training stuff, we have people that are, that go away for the summer. Right. So you have a fair amount of members that vacation in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, or up North, or, you know, go to the Island. So Martha’s vineyard. Before it’s like, they would put their membership on hold, Hey guys, I’m going to my other home for, you know, a month. Right. Like, Aw man, like, all right, well, you know, before that, like we weren’t getting virtual, you know, first of all, we weren’t giving virtual classes, but we also weren’t doing the individualized like programming that we’ve implemented as well where we’re writing programs for people and getting them on True Coach. That’s the app that we use, which is great to deliver them their custom programs based on their goals. So, you know, those are two separate services that you can use in tandem, but both of those things are things that we’re implementing going forward. So it’s great.
What are you personally, most looking forward to when it comes to Prototype?
Oh man. Well, after this weekend, I’m like, my mind’s still racing from the summit. You know, so I recently went through a bit, well, I shouldn’t even say recently at this point, I finalized the business separation, like the last day of 2019. And so up until recently, I say recently we had another business in our facility that was my former business partner’s other business. Prior to a month or so ago, we were, you know, fitness training. Right. So we did CrossFit and personal training, all that sort of stuff. And then we had a martial arts business that was in the facility as well. So they subleased from Prototype. They recently moved out. Right. So now we have all this extra space, which is like kind of good and kind of like, Oh man, like, you know, it was really nice to have that sublet and have that rental income.
And especially now during COVID where it’s like, we’re not having everyone in the gym yet. So now we have all this extra space to be able to grow out more specialty programs and that sort of stuff. So I’m really looking forward to that, I’m really looking forward to seeing our coaches continue to develop. We just hired this year, a couple of new coaches who are doing amazing so far. So I’m really looking forward to seeing their development. And I’m really impressed with our team as a whole, in regards to their resiliency and, them, you know, taking the situation on and continuing to being able to help people. So I think this is a massive growth year. Not just for our business, but for our team members as a whole. You’re never going to experience, well, I shouldn’t say that, it’s, you know, the unlikeliness of experiencing something like this, you build incredible resiliency.
You know, you build confidence. I remember like, you know, when this stuff happened, I remember sitting in my car and I’m like, you know, there’s either two things I can think of, right. Either like, Oh my gosh, this is going to be a disaster. How am I going to get through this? I remember sitting in my car and I was like, this is what’s going to define you as leader right now. I really literally said it to my, I spoke out loud and I was like, either, you’re going to be a leader. You’re not going to be a leader. You don’t have a business partner anymore. You don’t have someone to lean on. You just bought a new house. You just got married six months ago, you have way more responsibilities than ever these, all these things happened. So 2019, sorry to give you my life story.
But 2019, in May, I got married. Broke off the business partnership end of 2019, bought a house in March, April, 2020. COVID happened basically the exact same time, everything that had happened with CrossFit and, you know, and Greg Glassman and I just got a dog. So I don’t think this isn’t necessarily just about me, but I mean, all those changes and all those things like there’s, I confidently believe that there’s nothing that can literally get in our way. And I tell it to our team all the time. I was like, guys are not going to like, you know, we might not ever experience anything like this but we can grow through this. Like, there’s going to be so many more opportunities. And the unfortunate thing with all this stuff is that now we’re starting to see some of these other businesses that weren’t able to pivot.
They weren’t able to, you know, do the things that we may have done. They may have not have been working with Two-Brain and they’ve had to shut their doors. And we’re now starting to see those people that can’t go to their gym anymore, start to knock on our doors and say, Hey, like we need help. Right. And you know, I’m currently vetting a couple opportunities right now, you know, of different businesses within the area that, you know, that unfortunately aren’t in the best the best position. So, I don’t remember exactly what your question was. I kinda just went on a rant there, but, you know, looking forward to, I mean, I feel like there’s nothing that can stop us. It’s a decision for us to continue to be successful or not.
Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to chat with me.
No, no, this is great. I didn’t expect to be rambling and talking so much. I’m sorry if I went over the allotted amount of time.
Congratulations again on the award. That’s an amazing accomplishment.
Thank you so much. I appreciate it. And if I can say thank you and thank you to Chris and the whole Two-Brain team for everything you guys do. You guys certainly change lives. And it’s amazing to be part of this organization.
That was Tiffy Thompson on Two-Brain Radio. If you currently work with Two-Brain, ask yourself, what would it take to win this award next year, then take action. And if you don’t work with us yet, be sure to join the Facebook group, Gym Owners United, where you’ll find advice from Two-Brain founder, Chris Cooper, every day. He’ll tell you how to improve your business for free. Thanks for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Subscribe for new episodes every Monday and Thursday.