Two-Brain Radio: Sara Carter

The black and gold Two-Brain Radio podcast logo.

Mateo: 00:00 – Hey, it’s Mateo Lopez of Two-Brain Marketing. On this edition of the Two-Brain Marketing podcast, I’m talking with Sara Carter with CrossFit PortSide. You’ll learn about her experience transitioning from being a collegiate-level basketball coach to a CrossFit gym owner. You’ll also learn how she built her advertising system and how month over month, she spends $300 on ads and generates $3,000 in front-end sales, so you don’t want to miss this. Make sure subscribe to Two-Brain Radio for marketing tips and secrets each week.

Greg: 00:39 – Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Two-Brain Business. We make gyms profitable. We’re going to bring you the very best tips, tactics interviews in the business world each week. To find out how we can help you create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at

Chris: 00:57 – This episode is brought to you by Incite Tax. Incite Tax is founded by John Briggs, a CrossFitter, great big tall guy with a fantastic sense of humor, and John is like a coach for your books. These guys are not just pencil-pushing number crunchers. These guys will actually help you get toward your Perfect Day. If you’re a member of our Growth Stage part of the mentoring program, you’re familiar with John’s videos on 1099 versus W2 contractors. See, John used to work for the IRS. He’s seen the other side of labor law, and he knows exactly where the line is drawn. Don’t believe everything you read, but on the tax side, John can actually help you plan to take home more money every year and save more money on taxes because John is a certified Profit First accountant. If you’ve listened to this podcast before, you know that I’m a big fan of Mike Michalowicz’s Profit First system, and John at Incite Tax and his staff can help you plan backward from profit to get to where you need to go. He’s helped members of the Two-Brain family buy houses in the first year that they’ve implemented Profit First. It’s helped people save more money, take home more money and make the business do what it’s supposed to do, which is pay you.

Mateo: 02:08 – Hello, welcome to the Two-Brain Marketing podcast. I’m your host, Mateo Lopez. I’m one of the digital marketing mentors at Two-Brain Business. Thanks for tuning in. This is your weekly dose of digital marketing magic, and in today’s episode we have a very special guest, Sara Carter, owner of CrossFit PortSide. You’ll learn about her experience and how month over month she spends around $300 on ads and generates two to $3,000 in front-end sales. So Sara, how are you?

Sara: 02:37 – I’m good. How are you?

Mateo: 02:39 – I’m good. For those tuning in who don’t know, you, tell us a little bit about who you are, where you’re from, and a little bit about your business.

Sara: 02:49 – Sure, yeah. If you can’t tell by my accent, I’m from the deep south, in Gulfport Mississippi. I am a collegiate basketball coach turned business owner. So when I decided to quit coaching college basketball, I moved home, opened a CrossFit gym and have now been open about six years. And when I did open, I had zero business—I guess business sense, didn’t really know what to do, where to go. Just really ran things like a hobby and you know, tried my best to work with what I had. And it was all about, you know, CrossFit, CrossFit, CrossFit, and then, you know, decided to jump in with Two-Brain. And since then life has really completely changed for me. I’ve been able to hire full time, get myself out of coaching a lot of classes and more into that CEO role. So yeah, definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made.

Mateo: 03:45 – Awesome. And so, you were a collegiate basketball coach, and then what made you want to just make the switch? What was the catalyst for that? Like I’m just gonna open a gym now.

Sara: 03:57 – Actually got involved at Louisiana Tech where CrossFit Ruston actually is. So fell in love with it there. And I knew that when I was traveling, like to Vegas, we had a tournament in Vegas, and I called up a taxi, spent, you know, 40 bucks on a taxi ride and spent another 50 or so at the gym and $40 back, I knew I’d fallen for something new. And it just became my passion until I decided, well, you know, I hate to say I’m tired of the 18- to 22-year-olds, but just the livelihood, you know, dependent on winning basketball games and decided to move home. And then my passion grew and it changed from really just being like athletic and really seeing people do stuff like that to more health and fitness. So like it was more important for me to see people lose the weight they wanted to lose or do things that they’ve never done before. So that’s where the passion really started changing for me.

Mateo: 05:05 – Wow, that’s awesome. And so when you first opened, so you’ve been open for six years, which is a pretty long time. That’s a feat in and of itself. When you first opened, what was that like? Was it just you? Were you by yourself or did you have any other coaches or was it just you running the show?

Sara: 05:25 – It was just me. I was all by myself. I mean for almost two years, you know, I ran every single class, did everything, had this free time during the middle of the day. You know, I’d just hang out, go eat, work out. Like I was in incredible shape. So then, ended up having to hire and I got tired so there was no process about how to hire, you know, I just hired a couple of people that could help me with like mornings and some late nights and really I had no process as to how I would hire people, which has changed. Like we’re in the process right now, even hiring three more people, so they’re going through a much more extensive workshop, an internship to say the least. But yeah, I mean a long, long hours by myself just trying to get, you know, people in the door, people in the door, was all that I thought I needed to do, but that’s not the case.

Mateo: 06:22 – How did you get your first few clients? How did you get people in the door, just starting up?

Sara: 06:28 – Word of mouth, really. When I moved home, started working with a couple of ladies, just kind of at their house before I even had a place. And then I really felt like because of my background and moving home that people would just fly through my doors. And so I just, you know, hey, I’m opening and just kinda left it at that, and then people would come try it. And you know, I’d be here all day long just hoping that people would walk through the doors. So I didn’t do any kind of, you know, marketing other than just posting on social media and just trying to get other members to talk about it to their friends and family and stuff like that.

Mateo: 07:11 – And on those magical days where someone did walk in through the door, what was the sales process like back then?

Sara: 07:17 – Oh God. “Hey, you want to try this? Great.” You know, and they try it for a class, and then if they liked it, we’d sign them up. You know, I had no intro, no prep, no anything. I mean, it was sign up, oh, you’re a teacher, you’re a nurse, you’re this, you’re that. Oh yeah, we get discounts. You know, it was kind of, I did everything—I don’t want to say wrong, but I did everything a little bit backwards. And then since then I’ve had to change how I’ve operated. But yeah, I mean it was one of those, like I said, you get—I don’t know if the word is desperate, but it’s more like how many people can just come through the door so that my gross revenue can go up. And that’s how I thought. And then I had to shift in my mindset later, you know, four years down the road.

Mateo: 08:07 – OK. So four years into the business, is that when you discovered Two-Brain I guess?

Sara: 08:13 – Yeah, a year and a half ago to two years. So yeah, I mean, I listen to podcasts, you know, I tried to do things that I heard from the podcast, read the books, tried to do things on my own, but it’s just like coming to the gym, right? So that accountability was not there. Like I had some of the tools or I was getting some of the information, but I wasn’t—I didn’t have somebody on me
, you know, really guiding me through the process. Probably about four years, four and a half years in is when I decided, OK, I’m taking the plunge. I’m going with Two-Brain.

Mateo: 08:49 – Nice. And what was that final, kind of like the last straw that broke the camel’s back where it was like “Yeah, I’m doing this?”

Sara: 08:56 – Yeah. So I actually had eight total coaches, I believe it was eight, and we just, you know, I was trying to make some shifts. I was trying to move in a different direction. I just didn’t know where to go or what to do. You know, I finally was like, you know what—I was actually with a different mentoring program, stopped doing that, and I was like, you know what? I should have done Two-Brain, like I said in the back of my mind, but I didn’t at the time, so now’s the time. So I did it. The money was there. I was able to, you know, really start to put a business in place. Yeah, there were tough times cause you had to make a lot of, you know, hard decisions. But those hard decisions have led to, you know, a much better business in the long run.

Mateo: 09:45 – Awesome. And tell me a little bit about—because I know, well I guess, what was the first major change you saw once you started going through mentorship?

Sara: 09:56 – Really one of the biggest things I think for me became—I started to become a better leader. I started to, you know, my vision of the business completely changed, which is obviously one of the first things you do is really start to define your vision so that now the mentor could help me, you know, move my business into the direction of where I wanted it to go. So really I think just my leadership became better and my overall drive to make it a business and get away from, “Oh, you know, I’m OK where I am, “you know, as opposed to, “OK, how can I hire full time? How can I give people careers under me?” And really see that evolve has been one of the biggest changes and awesome feelings.

Mateo: 10:48 – That’s great. That’s awesome. And how was that process of—it sounds like you had some people who were on board with the changes and some that were not. So what was that process like of trying to, you know, make sure you have the right people in the right seats on the bus?

Sara: 11:06 – Yeah. That probably was—and a lot of people go through it because I think you hire your friends, you know, at the end of the day. And a lot of times they need to just stay your friends, you know, so that was probably one of the biggest adjustments is trying to figure out, OK, I’ve had these people that have been with me a long time, but do they have both feet in the boat or are they wavering on the outside? And I had some that were wavering on the outside. And since then some of them have gone, you know, you have to have a team where everybody is in your boat or on your bus so that you can move the business in the right direction. One of the biggest things was delegating.

Chris: 12:00 – Hey guys, it’s Chris Cooper. If you’ve ever run out of money, you know that it affects every single corner of your life, all of your relationships, your business, even your self-worth. And so when I found a mentor in 2009, I said, I want to share this gift with everyone. Since then, I’ve been building and refining and improving a mentorship practice that we now call Two-Brain Business. We break our mentorship into several stages. The first stage is the Incubator, which is a 12-week sprint to get your foundation built, to get you started on retention and employee programs and finding the best staff, putting them in the best roles, training them up to be successful, and then recruiting more clients. It’s an amazing program. It is the culmination of over a decade of work. It’s also the sum of best practices from over 800 gyms around the world. These aren’t just my ideas anymore. What we do is track with data what’s working for whom and when, and we test new ideas against that data to say, is this actually better? Then when ideas have proven themselves conclusively, then we put it in our Incubator or Growth or Tinker programs. I just wrote “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” to define who should be doing what in what stage of entrepreneurship. But no matter where you are, the Incubator is your first 12-week sprint to get as far as possible in your business. We’re a mentorship practice for one reason: Mentorship is what works. We work with gym owners for one reason: Because you have the potential to change the world with us, and I hope you do.

Sara: 13:31 – So I started delegating tasks and some of the tasks got delegated to the wrong people. And so you know, and that’s fine. That just showed me, you know, where people were and where I needed to go next and who I needed to look for in the hiring process. So it was tough. But you know, it shone a light on a lot of things for me and again, changed me as a CEO or as a leader so that now, start looking maybe outside of, you know, friends, people that are coming in to not just coach but to help grow your business.

Mateo: 14:08 – Yeah, I think that’s totally true, too. When you’re at that spot where you just need someone to pick up some hours now, usually you’re going to turn to people closest in your vicinity. It’s either long-time members you’ve developed a friendship with or it’s going to be, yeah, your friends from the outside or people who found CrossFit with you, and that’s tough, when you have your friends in the business, especially when you need to make some tough decisions. It gets hard to be objective, I think, which I think is a lesson a lot of us have had to learn the hard way. So tell me if you can—we’re gonna shift gears a little bit—about your paid advertising systems. So tell me about how you—it sounds like you taught yourself a little bit how to market. What was that experience like?

Sara: 14:55 – Really became self-taught. It’s one of the things that once I dive into it, I stick to it. So like it’s one thing that I just found a passion for. So I would research anything that I could about how to run ads, what’s the best platform or method to run them. And so what I would do is—I mean, obviously it’s pretty easy to boost a post. So I’d started with some stuff like that and I would spend like 20 bucks. Like that’s it, cut it off, right. And then I would—got into a little bit more paid ads, probably wouldn’t spend more than $5 a day, you know, just to kind of get—and then I’d get, I don’t know, 10 leads and I’d shut it off, and I was like, “Yes! 10 leads.” So I kind of played that game a little bit, still kind of playing around with it, but didn’t really understand what to do until like probably, I don’t know, six months to a year ago where I decided, OK, Two-Brain Marketing, here we go, you know, and then I dove in a lot further with you guys and was able to understand a lot more. But yeah, I wasn’t spending a whole lot of money at all on ads.

Mateo: 16:17 – I think you’re still seeing great results because you’re not, I mean, in the grand scheme of things, you spend 300, $500 a month. That’s still not a whole lot, but it’s great that you’re able to, you know, generate, you know, $3,000 from that spend. It’s pretty impressive. So what is your lead nurturing follow-up system? So someone ops in, what happens to them, for you?

Sara: 16:43 – Yeah, they immediately get a text. We use UpLaunch, so they immediately get a text. If they don’t respond, we message them again and we really keep messaging them and until they respond, I’m about to really dive into the calling because that’s one of the things that you guys really talk about. And you talked about it a lot at the Summit, too. So changing that up a little bit more cause we are getting a lot of leads and they’re booking appointments, but I want to get our show rate up better. So going to start the calling, call, call, call. And then after three or four calls, if they don’t respond then we’ll just put them in a long-term nurture. But for right now our process is we use UpLaunch a lot, they respond, the day before they get a message that they have
to confirm their appointment by saying yes. If they do, then we keep the appointment. If they don’t respond, then we just go ahead and cancel it. And I mean you’ll get people that say yes and won’t come, you know, through the door. But once they do come through the door, then it’s our time now to sell them on, you know, a package that’s right for them.

Mateo: 17:50 – And so in your words, what is it that you sell and how do you sell it once they come into that door?

Sara: 17:54 – This is one thing that’s really changed for us. We sell a 90-day fitness transformation package. One is personal training. That’s a lot bigger of a package. It’s almost $2,200 for the three months. And then we sell a 90-day transformation CrossFit. And both of those are—we have two of those, one for 12 times a month. One’s for unlimited, it’s $312 a month or $325 a month. We also include nutrition as well, so they get customized nutrition with our nutrition coach, ongoing nutrition biometrics, and they get five personal-training sessions at the beginning if you’re CrossFit, going into CrossFit. And then we give them two—we don’t give them, we put it in the package—two 30-minute personal training sessions in month two so that there’s still that extra accountability. If somebody picks the personal-training package, it’s nutrition as well and 12 personal-training sessions each month.

Mateo: 19:04 – Adding those personal trainings in even the group option, have you found that’s helped with your retention?

Sara: 19:10 – Oh yeah. We went from doing six-week packages to changing it to the 90 day so that we’re able to build that relationship and that rapport, and having the five sessions early on really gives them that one-on-one as well as we’ll go with them to their very first class. So then they’ve got their coach that’s been with them in their first class, so there’s a lot more comfortability, comfortableness there, I guess. But yeah, I mean we’ve seen much better retention than even with the six weeks. Cause the six weeks, it comes and goes pretty fast. So yeah, three months we found that to be a lot better retention, RN.

Mateo: 19:55 – That’s awesome. That’s great. I wanna go back to the sale a little bit. So you have these packages laid out, which is great. They walk in through the door, what happens?

Sara: 20:05 – Yep. We just greet them. Ask them, you know, what can we do for them or how can we help them? And then they, you know, get to chat and we try to let them talk as much as possible. A lot of people it’s I want to lose weight or I want to lose this. You get a little bit deeper, you know, why do you wanna lose 20 pounds? Or why do you want to lose the 30? So you constantly, you’re trying to find the root of why they’re there in here. Once we do that, then we would develop a little bit of rapport, talk to them about nutrition, ask them, you know, same thing with that. And then, towards the end, we talk to them about whether they’re more comfortable in one-on-one or a group setting. And that’s usually, that’s the big question, because a lot of people kind of, like they came in for group, but really I want to do one-on-one. So that’s when we’re able to sell them that personal-training package.

Mateo: 21:04 – I think there’s two, there’s a few things in there that I think were really important. One, you said you let them talk as much as possible, which I think is really critical. I think people in sales they’ll struggle because they get, them as a sales rep, they’ll get into feature selling and they’ll try to talk about their coaches, their certifications that they all have, the fact that they’ve been around for a long time. Their spaces, their different class offerings, like they have spark and boot camp and CrossFit and Oly and all these things and get into feature selling and trying to explain what CrossFit is when instead, I think what you just said was, yeah, let the prospect talk as much as possible. The more in depth you can get into in that discovery phase, I think the higher chance you’re gonna have of converting. And then the other thing you said, which I think is really, really important, just getting to the why, right? The root cause of what got them to come in there that day and understanding that why and teasing that out of them is going to be easier the more you let them talk. So I think that’s huge. That’s great. Tell me a little bit more about how you’ve been able to—because you’re now doing some work with us on the Two-Brain side of things. You’ve obviously unlocked some free time for yourself, you know, for people who are looking to delegate, you talked about this a little bit before, but yeah, people who are looking to delegate but are still kind of stuck. They can’t find the right people; what advice would you have for them?

Sara: 22:28 – You’re always hiring, for one. I learned that the hard way, but now we’re always hiring so that, you know, we’re talking to more people and just trying to find that right fit. And I think what you have to do is number one, you just have to let it go. Like you have to let some things go and let people show you that they can or cannot do it because it’s very hard to clone yourself and you’re always going to be the one that says, well, I’ll just go do it cause I know what to do and I will just get it done a lot faster. Well if you continue to do that, you’re never going to be able to step away. And I think that was a hard thing because when you’re in it and you’re in the trenches by yourself, like you’re just like, forget it, I’m just going to go do it. But you have to hand it over. You have to let people make mistakes. And guess what? Somebody also can probably do it better than you. So I think the biggest thing is just to always be hiring and be looking for people and talking to people. And if you do that, then you’re gonna find people that are willing to be in the trenches with you and who are willing to take on tasks and do a really good job at it.

Mateo: 23:42 – I think that was really well said. I think something else, too, that was said to me early on in my career was like, it’s OK to make mistakes because most things are reversible. Almost like anything you could do wrong, like if you’re trying to teach someone how to do something in Zen Planner, if you’re trying to teach someone how to you know, clean or fix the barbell, whatever it is, like most of the mistakes you could make are, you know, something we can come back from. It’s rare where it’s something that there’s no going back on this thing. So, and that was really helpful for me and liberating and empowered me to be able to make some decisions that I think were able to help move the business forward. So that’s awesome. Well, Sara, this has been wonderful. Thanks for taking the time. If people want to talk to you more, where can they find you?

Sara: 24:34 – Yup. They can find me You can look me up at CrossFit Portside. You know, I’m available, willing to answer any questions and happy to help any way that I can.

Mateo: 24:47 – Awesome. Thanks Sara.

Sara: 24:50 – Absolutely. Thanks

Greg: 24:52 – Thank you for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Make sure to subscribe to receive the most up-to-date episodes wherever you get your podcasts from. To find out how we can help create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at

Thanks for listening!

Thanks for listening! Run a Profitable Gym airs twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays. Be sure to subscribe for tips, tactics and insight from Chris Coooper, as well as interviews with the world’s top gym owners.

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help, and we read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes.

Leave a Reply

One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.