Building Staff Relationships to Create Careers—and Revenue

Josh Nimmo

Mike (00:02):

Staff always leaving? Coaches not on board with your plan? Tired of trying to fire up your team? In this episode of Two-Brain Radio, I talk to a gym owner who can help you learn to lead.

Chris (00:11):

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Mike (00:56):

This is Two-Brain Radio and I’m Mike Warkentin, your host. Josh Nimmo of CrossFit MetroEast in Illinois recently won our annual award for coach education and opportunity. It’s given to the Two-Brain gym owner who is investing the most in growing a team. Today, we’ll dig in with Josh and give you ideas about how you can inspire your team and create careers for it. So, Josh, thanks for being here. I’m going to put you on the spot right off the bat. Why did you win this award? What are you doing that made our mentors recognize you among all the hundreds of Two-Brain clients?

Josh (01:25):

If I can be brutally honest, I don’t know.

Mike (01:28):

We’re going to find out today though. We’re going to dig in.

Josh (01:32):

And you know, I think if anything, you know, Jeff Larsh has been a fantastic mentor of mine and had recommended me for this award. And if anything, I don’t believe I’m doing anything, mind-blowingly different than a lot of other gym owners. We’re all passionate, we’re all committed. if anything, I think I’ve tried to just do my best to trust in the process of empowering staff and then maybe removing myself as much as possible. I’ve been a Jack of all trades for a really long time. And so I’m capable of coaching classes and running PT sessions and selling memberships and changing light bulbs and fixing toilets, and so doing less on my end, and then empowering staff more is really the best way I could describe it. And again, I’m so humbled by this award because I don’t think I’m done yet. Like I don’t even think, I think we’re in like this middle ground phase. So I’m so thankful that that someone would consider me for this award. But, yeah, the truth is, I don’t know.

Mike (02:44):

  1. Well, my wife says that I’m annoying and I have OCD. So I’m going to dig right in. I’m going to figure out what you’re doing and we’re going to grind it out somehow here. So here’s the question. Talk to me about empowering staff. Has that always been something like as a Jack of all trades and I was much the same as you. I didn’t do a great job of empowering staff. I did what Chris Cooper said. I abdicated, I didn’t delegate and I didn’t mentor. So talk to me about kind of your evolution, like as a Jack of all trades, was it really hard to give stuff away? And when you did, how did you start teaching staff to do things properly and grow as people and employees versus just saying, here’s your checklist and I’m mad at you in two weeks because you didn’t follow it, like talk to me about your evolution.

Josh (03:26):

Yeah. So I knew I was gonna open a gym when I was 15 years old. At 36, I’m 21 years into this dream and nothing’s changing. So, I got into the fitness industry very early. I started training doing personal training at 19. And so I’ve been doing this for a really long time. And I worked for a company before that, more of a fitness staff and then moved into some management leadership and then, eventually ended up moving out and starting my own gig about nine years ago. And, when I started my own thing, I think the thing that probably hurt me the most is I thought everybody else’s work ethic or everybody else’s like path to being a fitness professional would be like mine. And I was one of those people that I’d trained as many sessions as I possibly could during the week.

Josh (04:18):

And I, you know, I might train 50 and 60 sessions per week. It was terrible. And the quality of care was not where it should have been, but the quantity was there and somebody showed me, Hey, like, you know, if you train this many sessions, you’re gonna make this much money. And that’s really what I did. When I got out on my own, and then I started to bring on other staff, first of all, nobody was paid. Everybody was trading a membership back then. And so one, I had expectations for them. They had expectations for themselves and really there was no monetary exchange. And so there’s no contracts, no nothing. So, expectations were very different for each person. And I just expected that Hey, I train this much, so you should want to train this much. And that just wasn’t always the case.

Josh (05:04):

So in the beginning it was, I did a poor job of even empowering staff because I just expected them to do things the way I did. I expected them to clean the way I cleaned. I expected them to coach a class the way I coached a class, but I didn’t show them how to. You should just watch me and know what to do. Right. And that’s not true at all.

Mike (05:25):

So it was not communicated.

Josh (05:27):

Right. Yeah. So, then when I got a little bit further down the road, you know, we were probably about four or five years in, and at that point we had multiple coaches doing things. I started to kind of follow some business mentorship sides of things, you know, started to look at at Cooper’s stuff and some other mentor companies out there.

Josh (05:51):

And so then we started to kind of figure out, all right, we need to start paying these guys. All right. So how are we going to do that? Back then it was a weird, you know, we didn’t even have a four ninths model. And so, we were paying them percentages of personal training based on what I had previously done. But really all we had was group classes and PT. I had a big PT following because that’s what I came from. And so it was easy for me to have PT, but I didn’t know how to get my other coaches to coach PT either. It probably wasn’t until about four or five years into the business that we kind of had a massive shift. And I had a massive shift personally. I realized that I needed to, not that I was treating my business like a hobby per se, but I wasn’t being the CEO I really needed to be.

Mike (06:41):

So that you’re working 60 hours a week at that point or 40 to 60 coaching sessions?

Josh (06:44):

Well, that was a little bit earlier, probably closer to the 40 to 50. And I was coaching a majority of the classes, running PT. So I was coaching probably well over 30 hours a week, and then having to do the business stuff.

Mike (06:58):

So you can’t be a CEO with that volume of like on the floor responsibility. And what year was this? Just for context.

Josh (07:04):

Oh man. Probably 2015 ish.

Mike (07:07):

Keep going with that. So what was the shift? How did this happen?

Josh (07:10):

Yeah, so, I started to, you know, really dive into improving the business side of things and so really trying to put the right people in the right seats. And so that meant that like we had to loosen staff, we had to hire the right people. We had to develop the people that we already had that we felt were the right people, but maybe not in the right roles and right positions. And then I really had to figure out how can I make careers for people other than me? How do I get past me just owning a job and the rest of these guys actually having a job, but still being able to provide for my family as well. And so I really had to, I really had to bring up our business on a professional level that I had never had to do before, because, you know, my life was changing. I was getting married. we were having, you know, we were having more kids and everything and I couldn’t be at the gym 10 hours a day, like that just wasn’t going to work for me. But I also knew that that couldn’t work for the rest of my staff either.

Mike (08:12):

I’m going to interrupt you, so this is great. So you’ve hit this point of evolution where you knew that something needed to change. I’m going to just go on a limb and say you were a great trainer because you had all these hours that you were filling so you must’ve had happy clients. Now you’ve got to become a CEO and you’re making the shift and you realize that you needed to empower your staff and you couldn’t give them like, you know, 60 hour week coaching schedules that would clearly burn them out because you were experiencing like you wanted more home life and so forth. So what was step one to doing that? And I’m going to—tell me the year that this kind of happened, was it, I guess it was after 2015, but what was step one to figuring out how to get your coaches to do what you needed them to do?

Josh (08:50):

I think step one was me developing myself into a role to figure out how to get these staff developed. So at that point we started to, I started to pay attention to, I didn’t start mentorship with Two-Brain until about 2019. but when I sat down for my one-on-one, I was doing a lot of the things that Two-Brain had already told me to do for free. So we started to adjust our pay scale. So we shifted to a four ninths model. We started to actually create more revenue streams, like nutrition challenges, and, specialty courses, like a barbell course. Started to get other staff involved in personal training and teaching them how to sell that personal training. Started to create specialty programming. So we have what we call personal accessory program, where a coach could actually make a little bit of extra money and keep a client happy by just providing additional personal programming, but still keep that client in the group classes.

Josh (09:47):

So we really started to diversify our model, started to also expand our retail, to be able to create more admin opportunities for coaches. And I started to just say, Hey, we’re going to pay you, and we’re going to pay you for everything that you do. If you send emails, we want to pay you for that. And if you coach classes, we’re gonna pay for that. If you do personal training, we want to pay you for that. So that was really like creating the model and creating that entrepreneurial model for those coaches. That was probably step one.

Mike (10:18):

You did this before you started with Two-Brain? Did you get it from all the resources that we’d put out ?

Josh (10:23):

Yeah. I got it from, you know, just listening to the podcast back then and reading emails and blogs and everything else.

Mike (10:31):

  1. So that’s really cool because one of the things that Chris has always said is he wanted to put out those resources so that people could start doing things and then start making the money so that they could pay for mentorship, which is a really interesting context that was kind of counter-intuitive like, we kind of give away the, you know, the golden eggs here and then hope people like you show up and want to work further. So tell me a couple more steps in that process leading up to when you started with Two-Brain, what else happened with your staff?

Josh (10:55):

Yeah. So step one was obviously giving them the model. Step two, had to be actually developing them to be able to run the model.

Mike (11:03):

That’s mentorship that you’re giving your staff.

Josh (11:05):

You know, I can’t just say, Hey man, go create the specialty course. What we found is that they didn’t have any, they’re like, OK, well, what do I need to do? So really shifting their minds around, sitting down with staff and be like, Hey, what are you interested in doing? What do you really want to pursue here? And that’s how our barbell course created. And we said, OK, well, we’re going to do it as a course. We’re going to run it for eight weeks. And that staff member ran it for eight weeks. The second session we ran for 12 weeks and he ran it for two years straight every 12 weeks until he decided, Hey, I want to step away from this for a little while. And, but that was a way to offset his, he had no limit to the ability to sell it. And all we had to do was talk about it in our classes and promote it and sell it out every time. And he was able to make an revenue stream and make a revenue share.

Mike (11:55):

Now I heard earlier that you said you actually taught your staff to sell, is that correct?

Josh (11:58):

I think we on certain levels, yes. I think we had to get them out of this mindset that selling was difficult. So the whole idea is you’re already selling. All you’re doing is you’re having conversations with clients and you’re connecting them to the solution that you already have for them. They’re asking you a question, just provide them the solution. And they’ll happily pay for that. I think a lot of our staff and myself included, you know, years ago is a lot of us feel bad about asking people for money, for the services that they’re asking for like that. And that’s what we’ve tried to do is professionalize. Like I try to hone in with my staff you are worth every single dollar you make and every single dollar we charge. And so our clients more often than not are more than happy to pay for those services. Our staff just needs to get themselves out of the way and not be afraid to ask for that.

Chris (12:48):

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Mike (13:21):

So here’s what I’m hearing. You decided to add some diversity to your revenue streams, not crazy diversity, like you weren’t doing 30 different things. It sounds like you were doing like five or six kind of thing, which is like manageable and allows you to stay focused. Talking like specialty programs and personal training and sort of add ons, which is like, I guess we’ll call it a hybrid program now. So you’re doing that kind of stuff. But the key step that I see that a lot of people miss, including me, was you decided to teach your staff how to do it, not just say do it. And that’s a really, really big step that so many people, you know, have missed. And Chris was talking about this a lot now, because he’s realized this in his own business, it’s not enough to just say, here’s the plan. You have to teach them to implement it and then kind of groom them. Is that accurate?

Josh (14:06):

Yeah, but it only happened after I told them just to do it and it didn’t work.

New Speaker (14:12):

But you made the realization.

Josh (14:13):

I did. And I think that part of that is, you know, I did do a lot of those things previously, so, but I couldn’t use my own past experience. I really had to connect what they needed, mentorship wise to the individual. And, you know, I couldn’t just say, well, this is how I did it. Well, yeah, but that may not work for that person. So really being able to listen to my staff and find out where do they actually need to be equipped? You know, one of them might not have any problem selling personal training, but they have a real big problem managing programming within their personal training clients and staying on top of getting everything done there. You know?

Mike (14:51):

So how did you formalize this education, like how did you figure out what each staff member needed and then deliver it? Did you do like career Growth ToolKit sessions, or did you meet with each person or did you put together a training plan? How did that go?

Josh (15:04):

Honestly just talking to them, trying to get better, trying to get better with one-on-ones. And that didn’t mean that we always did that as regularly as we would like. And it also didn’t mean that we did it well all the time. Sometimes those are hard conversations. Sometimes it was a conversation that had to be Hannibal. Other times we had to have a conversation and let a staff member step aside for a little bit, because that’s what they needed personally. But I think one of the things I’ve just tried to do is stay connected to the personal lives of them and know that like, Hey, if you’re not good personally, one of our core values is, is you got to take care of you. And if you’re not taking care of you, you can’t take care of everybody else. And so just knowing, you know, who they are as a person, and then being able to accept feedback myself and know that they could trust me enough to tell me, Hey, this is what isn’t working for me, or this is what I’m struggling with.

Josh (15:57):

And them to know that, like, that doesn’t mean you’re outta here. It just means that maybe we need to put you in a different role or a different seat. I’m a big believer now that it’s not that we don’t have the right people on the bus. It means it, sometimes it just means that we don’t have the right person in the right seat on the bus. And so I would much rather work to develop that person around what they want and what they believe this dream for them is, rather than try to mold them into my dream.

Mike (16:25):

So it’s interesting because a lot of gym owners struggle just to have staff meetings, right? Like, just to find time for that once a month staff meeting that three people show up late too, and two can’t make it because of childcare commitments or whatever. And you found a way to actually do some and again, not formalized necessarily on a schedule, but you talked to your coaches one-on-one, figured out what they needed and then gave that to them. So that’s a really insightful thing that you figured out because I certainly didn’t figure that out. I can probably count on one hand, the number of times I had one-on-one conversations with staff, and then we, like, how long has it been since we had a group staff meeting, you know, so. You know, it was really an interesting thing to figure it out. Did you start seeing results as soon as you started talking to your staff one-on-one?

Josh (17:02):

I think so. I think where I saw the results was the relationship. I don’t know that I saw the results on the books or something specifically. I think I just saw the results through our relationship and it built more trust and value in our relationship, which then led them to just feel better about where they were with the organization. And then in turn, when I could make a suggestion or what I could provide some training or some feed on something, they knew it was out of love because they knew it wasn’t a matter of like, oh, this is just my boss. Like, it was a matter of like, Hey, I care about you. And this is what we talked about in our last one-on-one. So to do that, here’s what we need to do. And to help hold them accountable, maybe when it wasn’t meeting up. And then also for them to hold me accountable, when maybe I said, Hey, I’m going to do this for you. And I got right tied back into the day to day and missed something, you know?

Mike (17:56):

Interesting. So it’s relationship building first and that’s part of mentorship, but then the other thing that you mentioned earlier, and I should’ve pulled out sooner is, you know, you really, I sense that you had a real confidence in the value of your product. And that was a mentality thing where you’re saying like, you know, people need to pay for extra and extra is extra. Whereas a lot of us were like, nah, I’m going to give you 40 minutes of free coaching for no reason. You, and maybe like, did that come from your background in personal training where you kind of learned what value is?

Josh (18:22):

No, when I was a personal trainer, I had to charge what the gym made me charge. It was, I charged $25 an hour for personal training, 35 for a non-member. When I moved to my own, my own place, I still have clients that have been with me for like 13 years. And so, those clients though started paying me $25 an hour, 13 years ago. And so I’ve had to like steadily increase. I just felt so bad. I’m like, gosh, I read they’re paying way more than double than they ever started with me when I was some young buck kid, you know.

Mike (18:55):

Well, you’re twice as good now.

Josh (18:56):

Well, that’s the hope, right? But so it didn’t come from that because actually where I was before we didn’t sell a value in personal training. And so that was kind of hard.

Josh (19:08):

I think where it came from was honestly being willing to go against the grain and say, if we don’t survive financially, I can’t keep this place open. And I can’t provide for my staff. So therefore, what good are we when we have to close down because we can’t pay the bills. And so I had to be willing to be the most expensive gym in town to also charge for everything and to take all discounts away. And now like I’m still probably that gym and people may not agree with that, but I had to be willing to step out and say, listen, we might lose people who are looking for that, but I’m so confident in what we provide and who we are. And I’m so confident that I want to put food on my staff’s table that I need to, like, I need to know that my head coach, isn’t going to go somewhere else because he can’t make enough money. I need him to know he can come to me and say, Hey, I’m not making enough money. I need some help. OK, man, let’s sit down and figure out how we can help you do that. And then sit down and do a career Growth ToolKit with them. So it was probably just being willing to go out on a limb and take a risk to be more expensive than everybody else and hope it all works out.

Mike (20:17):

So 2019, when you sync up with Two-Brain and Jeff Larsh, what kind of stuff changed? I think you mentioned a couple of things probably, but tell me about some of the main things that helped you with staff development and empowerment after you started with Two-Brain. Cause it sounds like you had a pretty good head start. What happened next?

Josh (20:33):

Yeah. So the reason I got into Two-Brain is I could no longer, I felt like I had taken my business as far as I possibly could alone, right. Where I needed answers and I’m looking around and I don’t have anybody to talk to. Like there was no one that I could even bounce these ideas off of because at that point, you know, I’m in a leadership role, even in my area and community. So even other gym owners, you know, most of us either, there’s a few of us that maybe on an upper echelon that are leaders to other gym owners and then the other ones were having the same problems and none of us have the solutions. And so I really I had some problems in the business, that I just didn’t feel like I could solve by myself anymore.

Josh (21:17):

And so when I got with Two-Brain, one, I feel like I was kind of faking it before I made it for a while. And so I was running what most people would say, man, you’re running a great business here. And I realized, I knew that there were a lot of holes on the back end, like, you know, operating procedures and contracts and systems. Getting those things in place helped to take that last step of getting me out of the way and being, not to add everything up in my head, but to put more on paper for those staff. And then also just kind of cleaning up some loose ends. We were running profit first, but honestly I felt like our system was a little bit broken and so our cashflow is a little tough.

Josh (22:02):

And so working through that and being doing a better job of figuring out our cashflow appropriately. So not only we to have the money for staff, but we also have the money to run the operating expenses and obviously pay ownership. So those were the things, it was kind of like the, and then Jeff really came in and helped me focus and really say like, Josh, I know your list is a mile long, but what are these three things that really need to be at the top of the list right now, before we move to the next?

Mike (22:30):

  1. So in terms of staff, what was the staff issue, I mean, was there a staff issue in that top three kind of things, or you guys hit that right away? Like where did the formalization of kind of the contracts and all the other things start happening in that system?

Josh (22:44):

Yeah, I think almost right away, you know, I wanted to implement it. I wanted to implement contracts, I think that was something that coaches were somewhat like, what do you mean, I’ve been here for five years, why do I need something on paper? And I tried to explain to them like, Hey, all we’re trying to do is actually, this is just as much to protect you and what you’re doing as it is to protect the business. And what I want to do is I believe we run a professional program here and I want to make this professional. And so therefore I want all your expectations to be on paper so that you know exactly what’s expected of you. And I do. And I also want you to know because of these expectations, this is how you’re going to be paid, and this is what we have here.

Josh (23:21):

And the reason I want this to expire is not because you’re going to leave or you’re going to get fired. It’s because in a year I’m going to sit down and look at that contract and say, does all this still make sense? Is this all the stuff that you still value? Do we need to add something to your plate? Do we need to take something off? Are you doing the job that you’re actually not getting paid for? That kind of just came into fruition throughout the year that we didn’t know about? COVID a perfect example. Like our business has kind of changed since COVID. So how do we make sure that that coach’s, you know, contract is also still up-to-date and current? So that was kind of an initial, like question there with staff. And then I think when they realized like, and it was almost like they were kind of taking information from a fire hose a little bit, you know, cause I’m getting all this stuff and I’m like, Hey, this is what we’re going to do.

Josh (24:08):

And Hey, this is what we’re gonna do and Hey, this is what we’re gonna do. And they’re like, whoa, man, what’s going on? Like we thought this was fine. Right. And for me, I had to do a better job of kind of maybe siphoning some of that stuff in one. And two also just explain to them like we’re moving from a good gym to hopefully a great gym, that’s going to help sustain long-term. And I know some of you might be seeing the day-to-day things happening and you’re a little confused. My job here is to tell you, like, I’m looking at the next 10 years, 15 years and 20 years and what this looks like. And so if you have questions, please ask, like, I’m happy to explain those things to you. And you know, so there wasn’t really a lot of major issues, more like just kind of really honing in on our specific staff process and then really helping them create if they were doing a job that we didn’t have a process for sitting down and going, Hey, what is this process that we’re doing?

Josh (25:03):

We need this. If you’re on vacation for two weeks, I need you to be able to hand that process off to somebody and them be able to do it without thinking, how do we do that.

Mike (25:11):

So you systematized a lot of the things that you were doing before and made them, you know, put the procedures in place, put the contracts in place and put the structures in place to ensure the good things you were doing before kept happening. Was, is that accurate?

Josh (25:23):

Yes. Yeah, for sure. And by doing that, we found gaps we were able to fill.

Mike (25:30):

  1. So talk to me a little bit about some of the ways, you know, the gaps that you found and then, you know, with, particularly with relation to empowering staff to do stuff and grow and generate more income, like what gaps did you find in there and what did you fill in?

Josh (25:43):

I would say one gap that we had is, we would have staff that would have no problem running a service or offering a service, but then all of a sudden, somebody wasn’t getting charged for the service, and getting them to note like they almost like, oh, all of a sudden somebody would sell their membership. Cause this is, we had multiple staff may be doing consults. And so they might sell a package for an on-ramp and then all of a sudden someone’s going to do their on-ramp and they go through their first session. I ended up getting that person’s unpaid. Hey, why wasn’t this charge? Well, you know, they had this, so really getting staff and be like, Hey, at the time of sale, you have to charge this and I want you to be paid, so therefore charge the money so you can be paid.

Josh (26:26):

That was one thing that just making sure they knew that they could do that. And then the other gap I think was because I had done so much and maybe micromanaged too much early. I am very involved in my business. I don’t really have a hands-off approach, is allowing staff to feel OK to screw up. And so the thing, I kinda have a saying that I use with some of our staff members, like, Hey, one of our core values is, you know, full effort, you know? And so I want you to, if you’re going to fail, fail at 110 miles an hour and you know what, the other thing I tell my staff is like, nothing you do is going to bankrupt us because to be honest with you, if anything was going to bankrupt us, it was the first five years of mistakes I’ve already made.

Josh (27:16):

So it’s not going to end our business. And so if you mess up, I’d rather you mess up trying to do something productive and then us fix it later. And all within our core values, obviously, you know, don’t go tell somebody off on the Facebook page and then try to fix it later. But, I think just being OK with, you know, number one, charge for the service, and don’t be uncomfortable about people paying you money, they show up here to pay money. But the other thing was just being OK with, you know, having a failure that we got to fix because it’s not going to ruin our business.

Mike (27:52):

  1. So this is interesting. So Chris is writing about some of this, and you’ve hit on a couple of points that mirror exactly what he’s talking about, where you’ve created these standard operating procedures and systems and all this other stuff, and you foundd some gaps and so forth, but from that basis, we’ll call that point A, from that basis, you then pointed them toward point B, which is your mission and your values, right? So they know what you’re all about. And you’ve given them the freedom to kind of play with that a little bit. Like basically I like to use a baseball diamond analogy where it’s like, you set up the foul lines and said, don’t go outside these lines. Hit the ball anywhere you want inside there. And if they come up against those foul lines, that’s where you come in with, you know, the contracts and the procedures and so forth, but anything else in that field of play.

Mike (28:30):

So what happens when a staff member fails at 110 miles an hour? What is the process there for, you know, analyzing the action, you know, figuring out how to not fail the next time or, you know, and mentoring them to succeed. Like, do you have a system in place for that? Like when you track your metrics and say, OK, this was a failure, how do we re do it? How do you do that without messing the staff member up and make, you know, making them feel like they failed, essentially? How it a learning experience?

Josh (28:55):

I think if I’ve given them the authority to, and I’ve given them the jurisdiction to take on something, then it would be counterproductive for me to then come in and slap a wrist because, well, you did this wrong and the next time you’re not going to do this. I think it allows for, you know, in those one-on-one conversations. And we have a fairly tight knit, you know, staff group. So even if we’re not having set one-on-ones on a quarterly basis, like I’ve talked to staff on a regular basis, you know, I’m in here with my nutrition coach three or four times a week. We’re on a weekly staff call every Monday. We have our monthly staff meetings. And so I think it’s OK to, not that there’s like a system in place, but we can go and look, and especially on the quarterly and annual level, to sit down with my nutrition coach and say, Hey, listen, this is where my goals are for our nutrition program.

Josh (29:50):

And not because this is where the money needs to be, but this is how many clients we are affecting with nutrition right now. And I’d like to just affect more people in our population with nutrition. I believe that at least half our clients should be doing some sort of nutrition coaching program right now it’s only about 20%. And so if we can move the needle forward on that this year, that’s my goal for you. And then being able to, after a challenge, say, OK, you know, this is how, yes, the revenue generated this. And maybe that was good. Maybe that wasn’t so good. But what were the positives out of the challenge? And then what were the things that we might change or improve upon on the challenge? So allowing that staff member to be self-reflective as well, and then obviously getting feedback from clients on, you know, surveys and especially after challenges or specialty courses.

Josh (30:37):

I think that it’s just having an open dialogue, and then being able to allow them to, you know, we had one that, you know, they ended up having a client that was supposed to stick with personal training. They kind of canceled some personal training and I felt like we could’ve probably kept them longer had we, you know, maybe transferred service to another, you know, something else or whatnot. And, you know, I kind of encourage that, but they made their decision and then we had to just be responsible for that decision. And in the grand scheme, if that loses us five or $600 in revenue to allow a staff member to learn, probably a $10,000 lesson, that’s OK. Like, I think that that’s, you know, I’m willing for that. And part of that is too is as a business, I think that we can afford those mistakes. If you will.

Mike (31:33):

How often do you do career Growth ToolKit meetings with your staff?

Josh (31:36):

Not enough. And here’s the thing we were kind of getting to that point with career Growth ToolKit stuff right before COVID hit. And I felt like, I feel like we are 10 months behind and not just in the career Growth ToolKits with a lot of things in our business and more or less, just because we’ve just felt like we treaded water for a year and a half. And so, yeah. And although we would do one-on-ones, we haven’t done enough of the career Growth ToolKit things, and that’s something that we are really trying to hone in on. We just added about four more additional staff members, and that’s something that we’re starting out right away with them, because now we have staff, you know, that might be a part-time person right now that might be interested in leaving their job in another two or three years when it’s financially sound for them to do so. I want to be able to provide them that map of what that looks like.

Mike (32:24):

Listeners, if you don’t know what the current Growth ToolKit is, it’s an actual session that, you know, you sit down with a staff member and you show them using a spreadsheet that we have, the exact path to the money that they want to make. And then you help them figure out how to put those things in place so that you are creating a map to a career, not just a job where it’s like, personal training, personal training, I’m not making enough money and I’ll see you later, right. You’re trying to create a career. And, you know, you’ve talked about that Josh, many times careers for staff. So last question I’m gonna ask you is a big one. You know, what does investment in your team and creation of opportunities for staff, what does that do to your business in terms of staff retention and the quality of training that they deliver to your clients and just the, you know, the metrics of the business itself?

Josh (33:06):

Well, I think that, for me, although I was a Jack of all trades, you can then say a master of none, right? But there are certain things that I do really well and there are certain unique skills that I maintain. And I think it’s easy to get, you know, to just do all this, all of that stuff. But all that really does is it never really gives a staff member a leadership role. And so what I think is most important is as our staff has developed, one of the things that I think has maintained retention levels in our staff is by continuing to elevate them into more responsibility or more leadership. Sometimes it’s not even the responsibility changes that much, but to put them into an elevated level that they see progression, whether that’s even that may not be progression in the amount of hours that they work, it may not be progression in the amount of money that they make, but realizing, oh, I can do this new thing.

Josh (34:07):

And I’m actually moving up in the ranks, getting paid maybe the same amount of money I was for less hours than I was doing on the floor, and taking a coach and elevating them to a higher level role, within the organization. I think that that’s helped eons with retention. The other thing then that has had to come is that means that I’ve had to step down in some roles. And I think as an owner and all of us are on different paths and we have different desires for our career, I have never believed that I wasn’t gonna own a gym. I’ve never thought that I wasn’t going to train people like, you know, I joke a lot about, you know, how we’ll be doing this for a really long time. My dad still works at a gym and trains people in his sixties.

Josh (34:52):

Now I’m hoping, I keep trying to get him to retire, and come work for me to be honest. But, but the thing for me is being OK with actually taking me down on a level. I have a saying, like, I’m not trying to be anybody’s favorite. And the goal is literally I want my staff to be everybody’s favorite. And that way, you know, my clients, cause I truly, I attract a certain level of client, but we have nine coaches on staff. So all nine of those people should be able to attract another level of client. And it creates this melting pot and really expands our reach. It expands our reach, which then expands our programs, which then also expands our revenue model. And so it doesn’t have be just group CrossFit. It doesn’t have to be just PT and just nutrition coaching.

Josh (35:40):

We might have a program that we don’t even know about yet because we have someone on staff that’s going to grow and expand their knowledge or their reach and hit a niche that I could never hit. And so being OK with not being the master of everything and allowing our staff to actually be, and what I found is some of them are just better at some things than I am. They’re better at organization. They’re better at posting on social media. They’re better at caring for a client that might, you know, not align with where I’m at in a training level. And so just being OK with me step taking a step back and being also OK with elevating staff, which gets a little scary sometimes because when you elevate, you have to provide more responsibility and you have to let go of some things. And then also you have to extend how much revenue or your costs of taking care of that staff.

Mike (36:25):

So I’m gonna go back to the original question that I asked you about why you won this award. And I’m going to tell you what I think the answer is, and you can feel free to jump in and punt me out here if you disagree. But I think part of it is that you’re looking, you wanted to do this for a really long time. You’ve looked at it as a career. Your dad is still doing personal training, which I think is such a cool story. I think you should hire him. I hope you get him, but you’ve done this as a career. And so you had a very clear concept that this was a career, not just a job or a hobby necessarily, and that can’t help but influence the way you bring staff people on, especially if you’re passionate about creating careers in the fitness industry, in doing that, it’s clear that you’ve created relationships with staff all along the way, whether you did it with formalized sessions or with just having at least one-on-one conversations which so many gym owners miss, and then in doing that, you look for ways to scale up your model, create revenue opportunities, teach your staff.

Mike (37:20):

And that’s a huge one that we all miss, teach your staff how to take advantage of those opportunities, allow them to fail, systematize things, and then keep improving things and help them to keep succeeding. So you’ve done a lot of really interesting stuff here that so many of us miss, like I missed almost all of that. Many other gym owners missed a few points here and there and everything in between, and you’ve done a really cool job. And then finally, the big part is working with a mentor now to formalize things, figure things out post COVID, you’ll get the career Growth ToolKit sessions in place, train these new staff members, according to systems. Like it sounds like a lot, but the coolest part about it is that you had someone step by step you through it. So it wasn’t overwhelming. Now I just throw a lot at you. Is that more or less accurate?

Josh (38:03):

I think you’ll give me way more credit than I’m due.

Mike (38:05):

That’s why I have to say it, because I think you’d be too humble.

Josh (38:05):

I appreciate that. And again, I would say that, you know, my staff and myself, we’re not done yet and we’re going to continue to grow and develop. And it’s pretty amazing that somebody would recognize, you know, and I say us for this, it’s not my award. It’s our staff award, because if I don’t have a staff that’s bought in to the vision and to the mission and is commited to not only me, but our community, none of this works. And so it’s kudos to them for even just being a part of this and allowing me to lead them.

Mike (38:45):

Thank you so much for sharing Josh. And again, congratulations on leading your staff and being recognized by Two-Brain.

Josh (38:50):

Hey, my pleasure, Mike, thank you so much.

Mike (38:52):

I’m Mike Warkentin and that was Two-Brain award winner Josh Nimm., 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 for success. You won’t see him posting in any other public Facebook group. That’s Gym Owners United on Facebook. Join it today and be sure to subscribe to Two-Brain Radio for more episodes.



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