New Hire to Gym Buyer With Jeff Burlingame

Picture of Jeff Burlingame with title text reading "New Hire to Gym Buyer"

Mike (00:01):

Staffing a business can be tough. Employees regularly disappoint and underperform. In the worst cases, they become hostile. They leave and they start competing businesses. But some gym owners have staffing figured out. They’ve created amazing positions and filled them with the right people. People who then went on to either run the business for the owner or buy it outright. Jeff Burlingame will tell you how to take someone from new hire to gym buyer right after this. Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Driven Nutrition. If you’re struggling to develop a profitable retail program, you need to contact Jason Rule’s team at Driven. Driven puts customers first and provides a huge product line with some of the highest margins around. They’ll even provide training to help you grow your retail program. Curt Hendrickson of Iron Jungle CrossFit says Driven “has you, the affiliate owner in mind. Driven nutrition has some of the best support I have seen from any company we have partnered with.” To find out how to make more money with supplements, visit driven

Mike (00:54):

All right, this is Two-Brain Radio. I’m Mike Warkentin and certified Two-Brain mentor Jeff Burlingame is here to help you create amazing careers for your staff members. Jeff, welcome to the show.

Jeff (01:02):

Hey Mike, thanks for having me, man. I’m excited.

Mike (01:04):

Always a pleasure. We often talk sales with you. We’re going to talk some staffing and staff retention this time. So I’m super pumped to get into that. I know you’ve been in the industry a really long time. So talk about the typical career arc for a coach. And this is like not the Two-Brain good career arc.

Jeff (01:24):

The alternative, the multi-verse of career arcs. If you will.

Mike (01:29):

My joke is always that, you know, and this is not a slight at the program, but I’ve seen so many kinesiology and exercise physiology degree people end up applying for like police and firefighter jobs after getting burnt out in the fitness industry.

Mike (01:44):

It’s super disappointing. Cause these are our most trained, you know, degreed professionals who know the most about anatomy and physiology and even training and they leave the industry because they’re burned out. But talk to me about what you’ve seen both in like a globo gym world and the affiliate world.

Jeff (01:57):

Yeah, absolutely. So, I’ll draw from my own personal experience cause it was me. Basically I was that degreed individual. I had my kinesiology degree, bachelor’s in exercise science and I came out, you know, just all like starry eyed and excited to explore this new world of exercise science. And then it just like chewed me up and spat me out I worked as a personal trainer at several different gyms. I had a good internship. I had a good, you know, kind of intern lead at the club. I was working at like a tennis club kind of place, but they had a gym area and I was a personal trainer there. It was kinda my first training gig, but they didn’t offer me a job afterwards. And I was like, but why? I’m like qualified? They actually told me I was overqualified. I was like, I just graduated. How is that even possible? They were like, yeah, we just don’t want to pay you basically. And then I went off on my own. I became a subcontracting personal trainer at several

Jeff (03:00):

Different gyms. I literally worked at four gyms at one time that were spread out throughout the city. I lived in Lansing, Michigan, like all at once. So I would have a book of clients, but the clients would be at different locations, which was just absolutely a nightmare. So that was happening. I was getting underpaid like 10 to $15 an hour for these personal training sessions, which is nowhere near what the trainers should really make for the work that they’re doing, if you really think about it. So it really just was like not working out for me. And at that point I was already thinking career change. This is within a year of graduating.

Mike (03:39):

So you’re like the most highly trained fitness, you know, you’ve got a degree, right? That’s like in the exercise science world, that is what you want to have to be a trainer. And you get out of your program and within a year that’d be like, you know, an accountant, OK. I am qualified to be an accountant. And within a year of saying this sucks, I want to, you know, I want to build fences.

Jeff (03:57):

Yeah, pretty much. I had two personal training certifications. I had like graduated with like a 3.8 GPA. Like I was a educated individual ready to go in this world and it just was not happening. And this seems to be that typical, I would call it the typical career arc for coaches. Like they start excited. They’re riding high, pumped up to get into that, dive into this career path and start this journey. And it’s a lot harder than they think. They either get into it and maybe find like a decent gig and they hang out there for a while or they struggle to get started at all. And they tend to find different jobs, maybe different career paths entirely. Maybe they get into like the trade world. I don’t know, like it tends to vary. Cause at that point too, you got an exercise science degree. You’re not really qualified for other stuff.

Mike (04:54):

I’ve had this happen. Like in the last couple of weeks, I’ve just bumped into people and just chatting. And like the conversations kind of went back to education and you know, that kind of thing. And the two people that I’m thinking of both had exercise physiology or kinesiology degrees, neither was working anywhere close to that field at all. So they’ve invested three to four years in, you know, a degree in a program and learning about the sarcomere and all the other stuff that goes along with it. And they’re not even close to the industry and you know, I didn’t get too into it with either one of them. But in my experience, as a guy who ran a gym, a lot of our ex-phys grads ended up in different industries because they just could make more money in those industries.

Jeff (05:31):

Yeah, absolutely. And the funny thing too about, you know, getting your exercise science degree for example, is that it’s looked at within your university or wherever you go to school that becoming a personal trainer is like the lowest thing on the value ladder list for those roles, people are like going into clinical exercise going into, you know, physiology departments or going into maybe athletic training. They’re trying to be strength and conditioning on the border. But you know, if you’re me and you go through school and you’re like, cool, I’m going to go be a personal trainer. Basically everybody looks at you funny and says like, why would you do that? So you go for the lowest qualified thing on your degree and you don’t get that. How do you feel?

Mike (06:15):

You don’t actually need a degree to be a personal trainer, right? So it’s like you went to school, got a degree. I didn’t, I got a credential on a weekend course and we both ended up being personal trainers, you know? And it’s like, we both know that the degree and the credential don’t make you a good coach. Right. It’s actually being a good coach is a good coach. It’s completely different thing. But it’s just a fascinating situation where you have the industry has kind of a mess in that way.

Mike (06:40):

And so that’s where we’re kind of trying to change that a little bit and we’ll get into how we’re going to do that. But we talk a ton about retaining clients because that’s the key of the business. But retaining staff is pretty important too. How important is staff retention actually to running a business?

Jeff (06:54):

It’s a lot more important than most people give it credit for. The way I think about it is how much energy goes into a staff member to hire them, to train them, to educate them on your systems, to mentor them, to get them to a level that you’re happy to have them training your people, right? That’s a ton of energy, much more energy and probably money than goes into getting and retaining one client. So a staff member is extremely valuable and we tend to undervalue or maybe neglect them to an extent we’re like, Oh, they’re hired, they’re here.

Jeff (07:35):

They’re coaching. They’re fine. Right. We don’t really think about, well, how do we show this person some level of like appreciation, right? How do we show them that we’re happy that they’re here. We’re appreciative of the fact that they are covering hours for us. We can focus on higher value things. There’s a lot of things that we should be doing there, but retention of a staff member is huge. If you think about how much of a pain in the butt it is to actually like hire a coach, train a coach and get them ready to go at the level of performance that you want, it’s really retaining them would be so much easier than firing them, which is also a part of the energy expenditure exchange here, and hiring a whole new person. You might as well just keep the staff. Find a way to make it work.

Mike (08:23):

Hiring and firing and all that is just it’s a grind. I’m sure you’ve heard this with your mentees, but I’ve heard it just from friends and colleagues. It is so brutal. People hate hiring by and large. They hate firing people. They hate discipline. They hate training people, but there is an issue where a lot of us as owners, we never realized that like the career arc of you coach classes for $20 an hour for eight hours a day, isn’t sustainable and isn’t fun and doesn’t make anyone enough money to really live, you know? And so we made that mistake and by making mistakes as owners, we probably drove some of those employees out of the industry.

Jeff (08:54):

Oh, I have at least, I don’t know, a dozen or so.

Mike (08:58):

Cause we didn’t know any better. So now when we’re talking about staff retention, and I just mentioned that the $20 an hour, eight hour class grind is not sustainable. And you know, Two-Brain founder Chris Cooper has talked about his park bench moment where he gets 13 hours straight of personal training, got to the end of the day and realized he still couldn’t pay his bills. And that was kind of his lowest moment. So that stuff happens. So how important is it to create a career path for staff retention? Like to show these people that there is a future and it is brighter than it is right now?

Jeff (09:28):

Well, yeah, it’s huge. I mean, it’s exactly that too. It’s just to show them that there is a future because there’s no moment bleaker than what you just mentioned, that Coop has gone through. Any trainer. I have gone through that. Like any trainer gets that. You grind for the entire day and then you like go home and you look at your bank account and you go, wait a second.

Mike (09:49):


Jeff (09:52):

Something does not compute here. Like I literally had that moment. There was a time I was early on in my marriage at the time. Came home. Was like, man, I just crushed it this week, worked so many hours. It was awesome. I want to buy this thing. I can’t remember what that thing was, but I know that it was a couple of hundred bucks and I was like, I’m gonna buy this—it might’ve been fishing related. So I was just like, Hey honey, I’m going to go buy this thing. And she goes, no, you’re not. And I was like, why? And then she showed me the bank account balance and I was like, well, that can’t be right. Like, are you kidding me? This is literally a time that I decided I was going to go work for myself instead. Cause this is a joke and I’ll show them, but we all know how that turns out. But I literally just looked at this account. It’s like, wait a second. Are you kidding me? Like I swear, I worked way more than this is showing right here. But that was just, that was what I was getting man, pennies on the dollar man making dozens of dollars working hundreds of hours.

Mike (10:55):

This is not uncommon. And it’s like, you look at say personal training rates in globo gyms where they’re getting like 10, 15 bucks or whatever it is. It’s not good. Or then you look at, you know, the affiliate micro gym world where one of the standard common things is coaching an hour for 20 bucks a class or whatever. There’s just, we all. And we all know that like eight hours, times 20 bucks, doesn’t equal, you know, probably providing for your family in the best way. But worse than that is like, you actually can’t coach eight hours straight and be a good coach, you know, maybe for a day, but you can’t do it for a month. And eventually everything suffers. And then it’s like, I’m not making enough. The clients aren’t happy and they’re all leaving. I’m tired all the time. This sucks. And I’m going to apply at whatever other profession might be nearest to my degree or field, you know?

Jeff (11:39):

Yeah. A position where I don’t need to be qualified and I could work nine to five and get benefits. And that’s the problem with the industry right now, man, it’s like the money is there. The money is there. It’s there in the micro gym industry. Is there in the globo gym industry. It’s there any fitness related industry,

Jeff (11:54):

But people don’t know how to get it. And that’s exactly what you’re talking about. There is like showing them this career path is actually showing them the money, right? Jerry Maguire. I’m just say like, look, the money is there. If you did XYZ, you’d make this much money because they’re not going to equate that. They don’t know how to make that happen. They’re not magicians. They’re also not entrepreneurs. That’s why they’re working for you. And it’s funny because being a personal trainer is on that cusp of entrepreneurial-ism like it basically is. You’re going out on your own. Like if you’re just a straight personal trainer, you want to go work at a gym. You basically are an entrepreneur. You’re just your business exists within other businesses. So they’re is close to getting an entrepreneur to work for you as you can get. Really somebody who’s doesn’t want to go open up their own physical space, but wants to train somebody.

Mike (12:51):

We actually have a word for it. I’ll tell everybody what it is in just a sec. But we actually teach people, Two-Brain mentees, how to set a career path for their staff. So we can actually show them, you know, sit down with your staff. Here’s what you want to make. Here’s how we’re going to make that happen. By breaking all these things down. Here’s some hourly rates, here’s some additional tasks, here’s some specialty programs and so on and so forth. And that leads us to the word that I was gonna bring up. Intrapreneurialism. What is it? Why is it important? How does it make coaches money?

Jeff (13:21):

Yeah. So this is a perfect segue because you’ve got somebody who is generally young and hungry, like in the industry, kind of like me coming out of the university. I went to and trying to make my way in the world, but not having a dollar to my name. So I can’t exactly like start a business, buy equipment. You don’t do any of that. I don’t have credit. What is credit? I can’t, you know, get a loan, like none of, you know, and getting a loan in the fitness industry, by the way. I think we all know, very, very difficult. Banks don’t like gyms. Definitely not right now. Right? So, you know, I’m kinda kinda hopeless, right? So what do I do? So intrapreneurialism is something that we, as business owners can use to create huge opportunities for these coaches. It’s where they can be autonomous.

Jeff (14:13):

They can be creative, they can, you know, function within their own realm of genius and create these programs or these things that they love to do, that they enjoy doing and earn a higher percentage wage for that. A higher value than their standard value of coaching a class. And they can do so without any risk. Like we are the entrepreneurs, we own the gym. So we take the risk, right? We are the risk takers. They are not the risk taker, but we can remove that risk from the situation and say like, Hey, what if you ran a weightlifting course, right? What if that weightlifting course was successful? And then it turned into a club that you ran on a monthly basis and Hey, by the way, what if you took home like 44% of that revenue? Wouldn’t that be sweet?

Jeff (14:59):

And generally you get met with a yeah, that’d be amazing. That sounds great. As long as you have that hungry individual who does want to succeed and wants to make more money, but this is all part of that career path, right? We call it career Growth ToolKitping, you know, within Two-Brain, that is something that we teach our mentees is how to sit down and generally just mentor an individual down that career path. Right? So we map out the journey for them. And we say like, Hey, if you coached this many classes a week, you had this many personal training sessions month and you started a weightlifting course, which you would run quarterly. And if it goes well for a couple of quarters, we might even turn it into a monthly thing for you. Then you’d be earning this much.

Jeff (15:44):

Right. And Oh, by the way, like that’s not where your ceiling is. Cause that’s really what’s happening is they create this ceiling with their position where they believe the most I’ll ever earn in a month is a thousand dollars. It’s our job as the business owner to raise the roof, right. Literally lift that ceiling up higher and higher and higher and show I’m like, Oh yeah, that’s not your cap. Like you have not even come close to the opportunity that you have here, right? Your cap is actually probably like $6,000 a month if you wanted it to be. It’s all down to like how much time do they have and how much energy or effort are they willing to put forth to this thing? Because you, as the owner are going to provide them with all the tools that they need in order to succeed with this thing, they just have to do it.

Jeff (16:31):

It’s literally just the action that they will need to take. And that’s where the mentoring comes into play because oftentimes the inaction is not due to a lack of wanting to take action, it’s due to a lack of knowing what to do next. So if we can just, again, Growth ToolKit this out for them and just say, here’s step one, here’s step two. Here’s step three. I want you to complete step one by Friday, step two, you could do in the next two weeks, we’ll set this due date and then step three. I want to see you done in like the next 30 days, right? As long as we do that, we map that out and clear the course of action for them. And just say like, here’s this, this, this, and this. And here’s the tools you need go. Like it should happen. If it doesn’t happen at that point, it’s the individual’s problem.

Jeff (17:16):

But you have at least laid everything out in a way that you know that they could succeed. If they would just do the thing. Right.

Mike (17:21):

And I’ve seen the spreadsheet, like it’s great because it’s not like one of those, you know, pie in the sky, look into the sun, my child, and you shall be successful. It’s actually like, you’ve got this spreadsheet where you can actually put in, plug in numbers. Like these are your group class rates. These are your specialty class rates. These are your admin tasks and so on and so forth. These are your PT hours. And all of a sudden you can give this person a clear number. And that number comes with some increased but shared risk, right? Where he or she is responsible for running this program, driving it and has

Mike (17:50):

to generate some revenue. But he or she gets benefit of your insurance, your branding, your clients, your mailing list, your marketing systems, your all your social media, all your stuff. So it’s not as scary as starting your own business with all the startup costs and not knowing what to do, but it does come with an opportunity to succeed and kill your own meat. So to speak.

Jeff (18:07):

Yeah, absolutely.

Mike (18:08):

Guys, if you want a detailed resource, we’re not going to spend the whole time on intrapreneurialism here, but there’s a detailed resource. You’ll find it in our free tools section. Go to tools, intrapreneurialism 101. How to inspire your staff to create and grow a thriving PT business. It’s got everything you need in there. And I would recommend you download that and hit it. Before we go on: The people at Incite Tax know you’re working long hours to improve health for the world, but it can still be hard to turn a profit. You just can’t focus on your mission without money in your account. So Incite founder John Briggs wrote “Profit First for Mirogyms” and created a system that increases your cashflow so you can be home for dinner with a thriving fitness business. Bookkeeping, profit first, cash flow consulting, taxes, whatever your financial needs, Incite can help. Join their free five-day challenge at profitfirstformicrogyms/five days to get a snapshot of the financial health of your gym. That’s profitfirstformicrogyms/five days.

Mike (19:03):

All right, Jeff, we talked about intrapreneurialism. That’s a tough one to say, and we’re just going to keep going with it until we get it. What’s the career arc now? You were talking about how you got burned out, what would your career have been? What would it be for a hungry staff member who’s fired up, has an intrapreneurial plan in place. What does that look like? And how does it help the owner do what we call climbing the value ladder?

Jeff (19:24):

So, yeah, so I mean, what I would think of as a hungry staff member would be a member of staff who comes to me and says, Hey, what else can I do? Like, give me more, put more on my plate. I can handle more, blah, blah, blah. Right. That’s generally what I think of as a hungry staff member. Now that said just because they don’t come to you and say, that doesn’t mean that they’re not hungry. This is where the career Growth ToolKitping sessions really come into play. So you do want to be sitting down on a consistent basis with every member of staff, whether they’re part time or full time and just posing some questions to them. Like, what do you want to get out of this role? Where do you see yourself in three to five years? How do you want to grow within this industry, within this career path, blah, blah, blah, just like open the doorway a little bit and then start poking and prodding like, Hey, what do you like about what you’re doing? What do you dislike about what you’re doing? And try to like identify the primary roles that these people should be sitting in. And then you can build that up. But you know, a hungry staff member who either comes to me, who I discover is hungry through having these mentoring sessions with them, the career arc could look like coming in and coaching then taking on. And I do recommend this in a very like piece by piece, step by step bite by bite process, do not throw everything at them at once. Do not do the kitchen sink method. This is not a good idea. But if they say they want

Jeff (20:48):

more, start with one more thing. I’d say, how would you like to start doing personal training sessions? And then I’ll open the door to that and I’ll say, Hey, I do the intro. So next person I sell on personal training. That’s your client. I’m going to put them with you. We’re going to see how you do with them for 30 days. Things go well. OK, great. You’re retaining your client. Your client seems happy. Maybe you interview that client and make sure everything’s cool. Awesome. You’re checking the data points and making sure objectively they are, you know, improving over time. Things are changing in a positive way. OK, awesome. How would you like more clients? Then you give them more clients. Things go well over the next 30 days, how would you like to take on some nutrition clients? Here’s some nutrition clients, things go well over the next 30 days, right?

Jeff (21:34):

And so on and so forth. So this arc is going to look like leveling them up kind of month by month with different, opportunities within your business as well as expanding on each of those, maybe increasing the overall revenue from their revenue stream and therefore their income going up because they’re getting paid a percentage of that. So you know, more clients, they have, the more they’re making obviously, but also the more your business is making. So it’s really just a matter of like a monthly check in with this person to make sure, you know, a objectively they’re taking care of these clients, these members, that things are going well, that things are happening and moving in a positive direction and B, like, subjectively, they’re handling this well, they’re feeling OK. They’re not stressing out or freaking out over the amount of work or the workload that they have. And they’re dealing with it in a positive way. And as long as both those things are true, I’m going to hand them more stuff. And that continues for, I mean, it could continue forever. Like you could really, we’re talking about building somebody up from coach level, inbound coach, to running the business so you can work remotely or maybe buying the business. So it could continue all the way up until that point, if this is the right person for that situation.

Mike (22:57):

As you listed to all that stuff, I mean, as you have the staff member and you’re giving them personal training and nutrition and so forth, what you’re doing oftentimes is offloading tasks from your own plate. Like as the owner, you’re delegating stuff that maybe you don’t want to do. Like for example, you talk to your staff member and he or she likes doing accounting and wants to some personal training nutrition. You’re like, I hate accounting and I have too many nutrition clients. I’m going to give that to X and away you go, right. And that allows you as the owner then to then figure out this is the value ladder part. What can I do with that time? My free time now that would be more valuable. And it usually, as an owner, it’s going to be like finding ways to grow your business, right? Like going out in the community, making partnerships, developing different relationships, retaining clients, doing some of the higher value tasks. And ultimately what you were saying is that if you climb the value ladder high enough, you can eventually get even out of your business, if you so desired by either selling it or hiring someone to run it for you. So you do some completely different stuff and you now have a cash flow asset. And that’s kind of what we train people to do in our tinker program. And you actually did this, right?

Jeff (23:59):

Yeah. I actually did both of those at different times. So, I remotely owned my gym for 18 months and then the guys that were running it approached me, offered to buy it. I threw them a number, they accepted and they bought it over the course of the next several months. So yeah. I mean, you have that opportunity. There is all just a matter of, again, continually leveling them up because honestly, prior to those two guys, I had like a few other opportunities with coaches that could have taken over the gym or could have run it for me as like a GM. And it didn’t work out and it didn’t work out because I put everything on their plate all at once. That’s the kitchen sink method. I was like, cool, you’re going to be the GM. Now here’s everything a GM does. You start tomorrow.

Jeff (24:47):

Now I’m out. I’m not going to touch this business anymore. Good luck. And that is obviously not the way to do that. And we may say this jokingly right now, but I’m sure that I’m not the only one that’s done this where you really put too much on a brand new employee’s plate because you’re so excited. You got a new hire. Somebody is going to help you out. You’ve been working 15 hour days for the past six years. And you’re just like, finally, I get a break. I’m going on vacation, but what’s going to happen is you’re going to break that person. And you’re going to come back from vacation to start the next six years of working 15 hours a day. So don’t do that, bring them on slow, again, bite size pieces pieces they can chew up and swallow.

Jeff (25:33):

We’re going to do that. So just like in step by step, you’re going to do this and you’re gonna do this and this. And you just kinda like work your way up to that point. And that’s what worked out for me. I was able to leave the gym for 18 months, completely hands off because I built two guys up to a point where one became my COO and one became my CEO. Right. So I literally handed off the ideas and creative side of things too, because if you’re still the CEO and you want to operate remotely, that doesn’t work. So I was able to put a person in position that was going to take my vision and my mission and run with it.

Mike (26:08):

And you said, you said one of these guys was a staff member. One was a client?

Jeff (26:12):

Yeah. So, one of them, my gym is Friction Grand Rapids. It’s owned by Mike and Bobby. So Mike was our first member and then Bobby actually started the gym with me as my first coach, because I was working at another job. So I needed a coach that could run on the classes for me. So yeah, they’d been both had been with me since the beginning, which also shows you that this, this career path can take a long, long time. Cause that’s like five years, was five years start to finish that they eventually got into a position where they could own a gym. It doesn’t have to take five years. This is the other thing that I I’d tell mentees all the time. It’s like, if you want somebody else to take over, do you want to work remotely? You just have to set a goal to do so, and then set a deadline for it. You could probably do it in 18 to 24 months if you have the right person in place. It’s a very reasonable amount of time where you could build again, think about month over month, compounding their position to a point where they could be like a GM or an owner level, or like a C suite level role. It’s going to take maybe 12, 18, 24 months to like do that. Cause you’re leveling them up each month.

Mike (27:26):

And you’re not the only one to do this. Like I know, I know Kaleda Connell did sell her gym to a staff member who was wonderful, that she groomed for that role. And I think Tammy Friedt did it well as well in Pennsylvania, if I’m not mistaken. And then there are other Two-Brain mentors who have delegated huge parts of their operation and they just have GMs running the show for them. And they operate as CEOs or in some cases they’ve even hired CEOs. And they’re just remote owners who have a cashflow asset now that’s working really well. And even more interesting potentially for some of our gym owners is some gyms have used this system, this intrapreneurial system, to create huge revenue streams. If you look in our show archives, you’ll see NapTown Fitness, Peter and Jared, the owners there have created like six figure revenue streams from additional programs, which is incredible. And that’s like some gyms are struggling to get six figures of revenue. These guys have a six figure revenue stream in a million dollar business at this point because they’ve created a career for their coaches. It’s incredible.

Jeff (28:29):

Yeah. It can be huge. I was just talking to Jill and Vince over at Cobra Command CrossFit and they, their nutrition program is gigantic. They’ve got like 28% of our clients doing the nutrition program, 28%, which is insane. But also tons and tons of external clients as well. So this thing is going, it’s just blowing up. So imagine, yeah, any gym having one of those, but you could have two, three, four. I mean, it all just depends on how big the staff is or, or what opportunities the staff wants to take advantage of. At my gym, we went really big on clubs. We were able to basically 10 X our revenue coming from like, specialty courses. Cause you can only run specialty, like a six week course. You only run it three, four times a year. We were able to level up the barbell club to a point where we’re doing it monthly and that at that point, and then adding people to it and creating as a membership itself, was able to, you know, 10 X that revenue stream.

Jeff (29:33):

So there’s a lot you can do there. It’s all really just limited to your level of creativity, as well as the people that can run that for you.

Mike (29:41):

And it can be challenging to find these people. And there are lots of pitfalls. Like you said, if you make a mistake as an owner, you’re going to have some problems, but again, a mentor can coach you through that stuff. And we’ve all made the mistakes so you don’t have to make them. What happens typically to an owner who finds one of these hungry staff members puts him or her on the path to ascension what happens that owner in his or her lifestyle?

Jeff (29:59):

It greatly improves like, yeah, exactly. Like the way, the way I think about the owner lifestyle is like our days are kind of based on energy and momentum. And the problem we run into is the little stuff, right?

Jeff (30:17):

So you come into a day, you have this energy meter, you can picture, right? It’s like a health meter in a video game and it starts full. And throughout the day, no matter what, it only goes down, you can’t create more energy. It cannot be created nor destroyed. Like matter. It just decreases over time.

Mike (30:36):

Some Avengers level stuff right there.

Jeff (30:38):

There is no amount of caffeine that can save you. Cause you’ll just crash from that caffeine and means you’ll decrease the energy faster later. So you kind of come in, you’re like today is the day I’m going to crush it. Right? And then you get a call from a member and then you get an angry email from your neighbor about the noise. And then you get a member cancellation, come in.

Mike (30:59):

Tangled, skipping ropes. That was the one for me. Can’t walk by those things without untangling the damn skipping ropes, it crushed my soul every time to the point that when we closed our gym, we just threw them all out.

Jeff (31:15):

Then you got a leak in your roof, then the plumbing is backed up and who’s the guy or the gal doing all these things. It’s you, the owner, and always lands on your shoulders. So these are things that are depleting your energy levels and they’re killing more importantly, your momentum, your entrepreneurial momentum, which is what you need in order to get the bigger tasks done. You know, Mike mentioned the value ladder. Like those are the things at the top of the value ladder is go meet other businesses. Co-brand with them. You can be doing affinity marketing with members. You can be creating a new marketing process, right? You can work on your sales process, you could develop a sales team. So somebody else could be selling, these are all like extremely high value things that have—.

Mike (31:58):

Or you can change the toilet paper.

Jeff (32:00):

Exactly like changing the toilet paper is not something that’s going to level up any revenue streams, right? It’s just gonna help help a buddy out qho’s stuck on the toilet, you know, but you know, at the end of the day, those are the low value things. And what you’ll find is as you offload them, not only does your energy levels stay higher, longer throughout the day, but also your momentum is much more consistent. So you get more things done. And I’m not just talking, like I changed the toilet paper. Like I wiped the white boards. Like I mopped the floor, like that’s getting things done. I mean, getting things done that have the potential to, you know, exponentially increase your revenue streams.

Mike (32:43):

I talked to the local guy next door about a corporate nutrition program potentially.

Jeff (32:47):

Yeah, exactly. You’re creating huge opportunities like that because you had the energy, because you kept your momentum up because that’s the thing that happens too, is like, we’ll go into the gym, right? You got that energy going up. And then you look at the floor and 6:00 AM class didn’t pick up their stuff. So now you got to go pick up that stuff. But you were going to get this big project done with your corporate nutrition. I’ll pick this up, pick this stuff up first and you go sit down, you start drumming up. You’re drafting up that first draft for this new corporate wellness program. You’re excited about it. Then you get a phone call. You stop doing the email, right. And you deal with this phone call, then you come back and you’re like, Oh, I got to get back in the zone for this email that takes 15 minutes.

Jeff (33:26):

Then you get another email from a member, right? Oh no, I gotta take care of this. Then your energy is down. Then you need a snack. And it’s like, Oh man, it’s 6:00 PM. And I’d never finished that draft. Like that’s what happens. And you guys are with me with this. I guarantee it you’ve all been there because I know Mike and I have, and it’s an awful place to be. But that is, that’s your momentum. So to protect that you have to hand off those lower value rules. I can’t tell you how amazing I felt the moment I handed off member cancellations and holds like, I just handed that over to our client success manager. I said, you do this now because honestly it’s really not worth my time. As long as the client journey is in place, retention systems are in place. If somebody is moving, there’s nothing I can do about it.

Jeff (34:11):

Right. But if I get that email, I feel like it’s my fault. I still take it personally. It kills my energy. It kills my mood. And also my momentum. So then I stop getting stuff done. So the moment I handed that off, not only was this big weight lifted off my shoulders and I felt like I could rejoice. And I was so pumped about it. My energy was much higher, but I started getting the real stuff done more because I wasn’t dealing with those emails coming in that I could do nothing about. Right. I don’t have that kind of—

Mike (34:40):

Creates more opportunity. That creates more opportunity for your staff, right? Like we’re, you know, when Jeff, the owner goes out and starts making some partnerships, Bobby and Mike start getting some opportunities to make some more revenue in an entrepreneur. I can’t say this today in that intrepreneurial manner.

Jeff (34:55):

It’s a tough word. It was a tough word. But yeah, that’s exactly it. Like if I can go to that, I can funnel people to them and they can start doing the sales. They can start growing those revenue streams. That was better than me doing it. Right. If I’m in there doing the sales, who’s out there getting the leads I need to be go getting, I need to go get the leads. They can handle the leads and do the sales, right. And then they can also train them and do the service. But it’s better for me to be out there getting the leads cause otherwise the top end of your funnel is closed. Nobody’s going out and filling your pipeline. You’re the one that has to do that. You can’t just rely on a paid Facebook ad to do that at all times. I think we’ve all noticed during this pandemic, that’s going on that you know, leads are not consistent. We’re getting surges here and there, but they’re just not consistent, not the way they were before, in the before time, in the way, way back, long, long ago. But you know, it’s just not consistent. But imagine now if you pulled yourself out of the sales seat, so you’re not the one sitting there, like gotta lead, take care of the lead, then worry about the next lead. You’re actually out there getting all the leads, doing all the things to grow your business. And somebody else is managing those leads when they come in. They’re doing the lead nurture, they’re doing the sales process and then they’re also performing the service and we’re good to go. That’s how you have our perpetual funnel situation going on versus like a hit and miss fall. Yeah.

Mike (36:21):

And the whole thing just ramps up. Like we said, where as you rise up, you take people with you and those people eventually rise up further and you have options at that point where you can continue as is. You could sell the business to some of those people who now have a thriving business and a career for themselves. As they see fit, they can keep leveling up. Or you can just offload all tasks, sit back and collect revenue. That is a thing that some people do. They’ll start other businesses. They’ll do what, you know, they’ll just retire. Some people actually just retire. They have cash flow assets that are fitness businesses, which is a really cool thing that not super common 10 years ago, if it was even around, I don’t think.

Jeff (36:59):

It’s that functional retirement. Imagine being able to not have to deal with the day to day and just have a paycheck still coming in while you travel the country or the world.

Mike (37:09):

And the cool part about it is that we talked about staff retention, staff, and let’s be honest, like as honorable as it is to want to help people get healthy. If you’re not making any money, you’re not going to be able to do that long term. Right. So one of the best retention tools for staff is having them actually collect a good paycheck that allows them to live properly, have some spare time, spend some money, take a trip, take a holiday, not grind for 13 hours and sit on a park bench miserable, you know, and Chris found that out for sure. So let’s do the acttionable thing here. What is the one thing right now, an owner who’s out there and just like, OK. I don’t know, have a clue where to start on this, but I would like to start my staff members or one staff member moving in this direction.

Mike (37:50):

And we’ll, you know, that arc, we’ll call it from new hire to gym buyer or, or gym manager, however you want to term it. What’s the one thing that owner can do today to start moving in that direction?

Jeff (37:58):

Just meet with your staff. Like that’s hands down the best thing you can do is just sit down with your staff. And I don’t mean talk to them about what they’re doing right or wrong or systems or anything like that. I mean, try to start with mentoring them and then start working on this career Growth ToolKit option from there because we don’t want to, we’re not really going to do a good job career road mapping where we’re saying like, Oh, do this work this many hours here, this many hours here, this main area here, and you’re going to make this much money if we don’t know what they want. Right. Because to your point, you know, you mentioned one of the best things we can do to retain staff is getting paid.

Jeff (38:36):

Absolutely. But more than that too is trying to fulfill their creative needs as well. So everybody has this, this personal area of genius that exists within, we all have it. There are things that you do that bring you energy that get you excited. That no matter how you’re feeling before you do that thing, you get pumped up and the energy comes flowing back to you. And it’s different for everyone. And you don’t know what it is for your staff. I guarantee it right now, unless you’re in like the top 1% of gym owners right now, then maybe you do know then good job. If you’re like everybody else or like me, like, you don’t know that until you sit down and you talk to that staff member and it don’t get me wrong, it may just be money. Right? In some cases it definitely is just money.

Jeff (39:26):

That’s fine. And that’s fine. As long as you know that, then you know, like, Oh, they just need to add the maximum monetary value opportunity. Then they’re going to take advantage of that. But I have other coaches that I’ve had in my experience that didn’t care about the money. They wanted more opportunity to have a bigger impact. So I had to find them a position to do that. Or they wanted more opportunity to create the best program there ever was. So I needed to give them that opportunity. You need to figure out what that thing is. That is, you know, putting them in an energy surplus or getting them extremely excited. And you can tell when somebody’s passionate about something, right, they start talking a little bit faster and increases their energy is there. It’s vibrant. And you want to play to that. And these sessions help you do that. And you’re not gonna learn that in one session. Your first mentoring session with a staff member is going to go poorly. I’m just going to tell you,

Mike (40:21):

It will suck.

Jeff (40:24):

We talk about perfect day a lot. Right. So if you sat down with any person, any person in your life right now, and you said, tell me your perfect day. Do you think that conversation is going to go well in a positive direction? They’re gonna be like, what do you mean sipping Mai Tai’s on a beach? Why are you asking me this? No, it’s going to go poorly, but don’t wash it out after that. Don’t say like, wow, that went bad. I’m just not going to do this. You need three, four, maybe five mentoring sessions with this person in order for it to start clicking and for you to gain ground and for you to really get somewhere. I mean, if you guys ever go to a psychiatrist, a therapist, a, you know, like the first session is just like, hi, how you doing? Nice to meet you.

Jeff (41:13):

Further on. They’re like, Oh, we’re getting somewhere. You know, like it takes time to do that. You got to peel back the layers man, before you get to it. So yeah, I highly recommend committing to let’s do this, commit to doing five mentoring sessions with all of your staff members, no matter how part time or full time they are. Right. That is the action step today. I want you guys to do that. Book five mentoring sessions with every staff member you have. And in those mentoring sessions commit to 30 minutes to just sit down. It’s only 30 minutes, right? Sit down, talk to them about what they could do, right? Create this aura of opportunity. Try to get them thinking outside the box a little bit, ask them what their dreams and aspirations are. Do they want to stay on this career path forever?

Jeff (42:05):

Or is this a temporary thing for them? Do they want to work with you forever or is this a temporary thing for them remind them that there is no wrong answer and that if they say something like, no, I don’t want to work for you forever. They’re not fired instantaneously. That would be very important to preface with that. But you do want to like, get them thinking a little bit, get outside of the daily grind of your gym, your business, where, you know, they think, Oh, I’m in trouble, meeting with the owner. I’m in trouble. They’re going to just talk about systems. They’re going to tell me things not doing right. It’s not about that. Right. One thing I like to do, if you want to make this super simple, as I just like to ask them, what gets them excited? What gets them, what gives them energy?

Jeff (42:46):

What do they feel like really pumps them up. What do they feel like takes energy away or they’re never excited about? More simple terms. What do you like doing and what do you not like doing and talk about that. Every one of these five sessions, because it will change. So just say like, Hey, what are the things you like doing in this career, in this fitness industry right now? What do you not like doing? What are some things that you think give you energy and what doesn’t, and then make a list and then check that list every time you sit down with them and ask them that again. Right. And then start to talk about the opportunities. So then lead that, or segue that into Hey, you mentioned that you really like helping people with their nutrition, you know, but yet you don’t have any nutrition clients.

Jeff (43:33):

You’re just kind of giving that advice out right now after class, somebody asks you about like, Oh, I didn’t eat breakfast today. What should I do? But you get pumped up about talking about that. Why don’t we get you doing some nutrition coaching? I’ll sell the nutrition sessions. You train them. Sound good. Yes. And then that becomes that like next one little step, right. That we were talking about the bite size pieces. That’s that next one little step that you take with this person. If it goes well, take another one, but you got to keep having these sessions. Some people do these quarterly by the way. And I think like our minimal recommendation is quarterly, but that’s a minimum. Honestly, if you have a small staff, I would do this anywhere from weekly to every two weeks and just continue doing that until you’re in a really good position with your staff where, you know what they like, like what gives them energy? What doesn’t? Know what the next steps are with their career Growth ToolKit, their career path. And you’re happy with that. And they feel good and they seem happy that, then you’re good. Then maybe back it down to a monthly or even a quarterly thing at that point. But for right now, for these five, start it way more frequently.

Mike (44:41):

So step one is meet with your stuff and speak to them. I’ll throw step two is going to be go to our free tool section, get the intrapreneurialism 101 guide that will give you some insight into that. And step three is, I’ll tell you go back in our show archives and listen to the show with Laurie Drummond. It was just recently, she talks about hiring the persona. So as you start to interview your staff members, you’re going to figure out who they are, what they like, what fires them up, what rules might appeal to them, then you’re going to put them in those roles and help them thrive. Because some people like admin work and some people really don’t.

Mike (45:12):

And you’re going to figure that out if you talk to your staff members. It doesn’t sound like a groundbreaking idea, but many gym owners, Jeff, and myself included, did not talk to staff members enough. We’re telling you to avoid that mistake. Talk to them now. Jeff, thank you so much for sharing this advice super helpful today.

Jeff (45:26):


Mike (45:26):

Always a pleasure. That was Jeff Burlingame on Two-Brain Radio. You can get all our free guides from hiring to retention to marketing at Head over there, click free tools to get hundreds of pages. And I’m not joking. It’s hundreds of pages of Chris Cooper’s best stuff. All free, no catches. Thanks for listening to Two-Brain Radio. We’re back with another episode this Thursday. Don’t miss it.


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