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 Sasha Cohen from Endless Mountains CrossFit in Pennsylvania. You’ll learn about how this mother of two who calls herself “computer illiterate” was able to generate leads for 71 cents, so you don’t want to miss this. Make sure to subscribe to Two-Brain Radio for more marketing tips and secrets each week.
Greg: 00:23 – 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 twobrainbusiness.com.
Chris: 00:48 – One of my favorite finds has been foreverfierce.com. I linked up with Matt several months ago at Forever Fierce and he had some fantastic ideas, and so he and I have put together a couple of packages that we think are really going to help CrossFit affiliates everywhere. Two-Brain mentoring clients use Matt almost exclusively. He’s got fantastic designs and he takes all the work out of it. All that time that you spend searching the internet and Pinterest and junk like that for great CrossFit T-shirts? You don’t have to do that anymore. Matt has designs for you. You can put your logo on one of his templates, which are fantastic, and your clients will never know the difference. It saves you so much time that you could be using on other things like real marketing. He’ll also go so far as to remind you when it’s time to reorder. He’ll give you suggested order sizes, he’ll help you set up pre-orders so you’re not even fronting the cash for the inventory. It’s all amazing stuff built to help affiliates and that’s why I love this guy and this company, foreverfierce.com; they do all the Catalyst shirts, all the Two-Brain shirts, all the Ignite gym shirts. They do everything for every business that I own.
Mateo: 01:55 – All right, everyone. Welcome to the Two-Brain Marketing podcast. I’m here with Sasha Kone, Kone like the ice-cream cone, even though she spells it differently than that. But it’s easy to remember if you think of ice cream. She’s the owner of Endless Mountains CrossFit and we’re gonna talk to her a little bit now because she was basically getting leads for 71 cents. So we’re going to figure out what went on over there in the mountains of Pennsylvania. So Sasha, how are you?
Sasha: 02:28 – I’m great, thank you. Thanks for having me. How are you?
Mateo: 02:32 – I’m great. Just got back from a lot of travel, so I’m glad to be home. So for those tuned in, tell us a little bit about who you are, where you’re from. I already said that a little bit, but you can go into more detail. Who you are, where you’re from and a little bit about your business.
Sasha: 02:49 – I’m a 38-year-old mom of two boys. I’ve got a 9-year-old and a 12-year-old. I grew up in Philadelphia. I played field hockey my whole life. I went to college, took a break from that. I decided I was going to be a cowgirl. So I got into barrel racing and rodeo, moved into a barn, bought a horse, a truck and a dog, and I was doing it. So I got an animal science degree and moved to Kentucky after college. I got my degree from Cornell. I switched from French and art history to animal science, natural progression, and I was in the thoroughbred industry for a while.
Mateo: 03:41 – OK, well I have to stop you there. Now I have a lot of questions. I have a lot of questions. When you say you grew up in Philly, Philly proper? Like the city like Philadelphia?
Sasha: 03:54 – In the city limits. Yes. It was in Chestnut Hill, so definitely a residential experience.
Mateo: 04:01 – OK. How do you make the switch from just like living in the city like Philadelphia and then you’re like, you know what, the cowgirl life is for me. How did that happen?
Sasha: 04:12 – I have been riding horses since I was three. My father found like the only stable in Philadelphia that would let a 3-year-old ride and I took lessons at the Academy Riding Club in Roxboro like every week from 3 to 17, and I loved it, but I never thought that I could work with horses professionally. Growing up in Chestnut Hill, I kind of thought liberal arts degree, you know, go be a doctor, Ph. D., something, right?
Mateo: 04:44 – That was my next question. Like how do you go from an Ivy League school to then deciding, “I know what: Animals.”
Sasha: 04:56 – Cornell is awesome because half of Cornell is state college or State University of New York and they have this gigantic ag program and pre-vet, agronomy, it’s really, it’s really intense up there and it’s really fun. And like that was my tribe. These field-hockey girls were friends with the guys in the ag fraternity and I just totally love those guys. Also my dad—my parents bought a place in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, when I was 4, up on the river and we would spend our summers and weekends up here and I would like cry when we had to go back to Philly. So I’ve always love living up here. We don’t have locks on our doors. I shouldn’t say that.
Mateo: 05:43 – OK. Wow. Awesome. All right, so, you switched up your degree to what was it, agriculture? Or, OK. So you switched up your—animal. OK, got it. So you switched up your degree. So then how come you didn’t want to a vet, you just wanted to ride horses, I guess, that was the dream, not take care of them.
Sasha: 06:01 – I wanted to be a vet. And honestly I was in farm business management, so I wanted to go work for Farm Credit. That was like my plan. Right. I think the year before Farm Credit created an equine position, and I have no dairy experience and that was the focus of New York state agriculture. Anyway, I didn’t get that job. So what do you do? You stay in school, right? So I got an internship in Kentucky at a big thoroughbred farm and we moved horses, dogs, boyfriend at the time. Now my husband. So yeah, we survived the move.
Mateo: 06:42 – That’s awesome. All right, so then, you’re in Kentucky, you’re, I guess doing the business side of dealing with horses. And then how did we switch over to fitness? Oh yeah. How did we get there?
Sasha: 07:02 – I became an equine dentist, so that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 15 years actually. I work on horses’ teeth and I still do that and it’s amazing; being in Kentucky was what opened the door to that. Horses’ teeth keep growing, so somebody has to come in there and keep them even. So at my max, I was working on 2,000 horses every year and traveling a lot. It’s pretty tough on your body. I saw a chiropractor like a lot and I had gotten away from fitness after college field hockey, that kind of turned me off training. It was not fun for me, which is sad because I loved it my whole life.
Mateo: 07:44 – That’s a story I actually hear a lot. A lot of people who like do college sports and are training at that level and when they get out there it’s like, you know what, I’ve spent enough time in the weight room to last me my entire life so I want to do that. And you kind of sometimes associate bad days with that. But yeah, it’s interesting you say that. OK. Horse dentist. All right. Why was it hard on the body?
Sasha: 08:12 – OK, so you’re lifting horses’ heads, right? And it’s almost like that position where your hands are in front of you and you’re doing dishes, you know your back can start to hurt when you’re doing your dishes? You don’t have to do that like all day long with your hands out in front of you. So I was having back issues, seeing a chiropractor. His wife was a personal trainer. So I started six and a half years ago going to personal-training sessions and I felt a lot better. And she introduced me to the CrossFit-style movements and I started getting into it at home with like whatever I could get my hands on. I had a free set of sand weights. It’s terrifying. There’s a joint in the middle of this pipe bar and I was like loading extra ankle weights on the end, like try to like deadlift all the way to I could get my
hands on it. My husband’s like, “This has to stop. We’re getting you a better bar. It’s going to break in your face.”
Mateo: 09:07 – That awesome. CrossFitting by any means necessary. I love it. All right, so, OK, so then I guess you made the move back to Pennsylvania, and at one point were you like, “Yeah, now I’m going to open a gym so I don’t have to use sand barbells, I can use a real one”?
Sasha: 09:29 – Yeah, no, I worked out in my horse barn for five years all weather. Buddies would come over and we’d hang out. And they’re involved in this gym now, which is really cool. Last winter I saw an ad for a gym in our town and it was this open space with a row of kettlebells. And I was like, ah, you’re my people. I need to check this out. There’s climate control. And I did a free trial month with them, not real CrossFit-style stuff. So I went on my way, but I was approached about taking over the lease. They were going to consolidate their operations to their central location and it was like, “Oh man, it’s time.” We’ve been thinking about having an affiliate here. There’s no other CrossFit in our whole county. I’d have to drive an hour to drop in somewhere to get an Open workout scored. And the internet is so bad that you can’t upload videos. Like, very stressful. Yeah. So I was like, we’re doing this; we’re jumping into it. And in six weeks we went from idea to open door LLC, all the deliveries in from Rogue, all the painting done. And we opened up January 1st.
Mateo: 10:45 – Wow, that’s amazing. So I want to talk a little bit about what life was like in those early days, which was not that long ago, like eight months ago, and how you’re adjusting now. But I want to ask you, what is your experience been being a mother of two, also having this other full-time job and then balancing this new brand-new baby business? What’s that been like? What’s the experience like? And then, you know, what advice do you have for any other moms who want to do it themselves?
Sasha: 11:21 – I’ve got an incredible team. Like I did not do this alone. I’ve worked 14-hour days before and I don’t want to go back to that. I knew that from the beginning. You know, my time with my kids is very important. They’re old enough here that they could like help out. We spent a lot of time in this space in December, right. A lot of like pizza deliveries to the gym. So they’ve been pretty involved and they’ve been able to see like a business start-up, which is pretty cool. It’s nice to develop an entrepreneurial mindset from a young age, but it’s crazy, you know, to be in my head, there’s like 50 open tabs all the time. And it’s nice when folks come in and they can actually see it on my computer and I’m like, I can’t close any of these right now. Like they’re all important. And that’s where getting to Two-Brain really helped to like organize that and delegate a lot of those jobs because I was doing too much and frying out.
Mateo: 12:26 – So, OK. So yeah. What was it like when you first opened the doors and then what was kind of the—you know, how’d you hear about Two-Brain and what was kind of the, you know, the catalyst for being like, hey, I need to pull the trigger and do this?
Sasha: 12:40 – So our first, like three weeks, we didn’t even charge any money. We just opened the doors because I had gotten with Wodify and that wasn’t even set up yet. You know, I was like, come check it out, you know? See what this is all about. I hope somebody shows up.
Mateo: 12:59 – Maybe you can pay me one day, but I can’t take credit-card payments yet. So just come and work out,.
Sasha: 13:04 – And it was fun. We had a great time. There were three of us coaching. We all went and got our Level 1s last year, kind of in hopes of opening a gym someday. And I was like, OK, now. Go. And I did the morning classes most of the time. And the other two gals did the evening classes. We had three classes a day and it was pretty fun, but it was pretty intense. You know, I had never like written programming before. I’ve followed a lot of other people’s programming, but that’s a lot more work than I realized, right? And well worth hiring out. Yeah. And it grew pretty fast. In the first three months, like I had a goal of only gaining like five new members a month for the first year. So my goal for the first year was 60 people total and we quickly jumped to 15 and then to 30 and that’s when we plateaued. Right? And we dropped some people and there wasn’t really much coming in. At that point I was like, oh gosh, that stresses me out. My rate of growth, you know, has decreased. I need help. And that’s when also I think that the companies that are like marketing these gym development health programs, they know, and I started getting hit hard in advertising from Gym Launch and Two-Brain and a bunch of other companies and it created this like sense of stress, as well, that I’m not growing as fast as I should be or or what have you. But so I started talking to the company and I think Jim Burlingame was the first person I talked to. And I was like, all right, I’m going to check with some other companies. I’ll talk to you later. Right. Got through a bunch of others and called Jim back. And I was like, well you guys kind of seem the most authentic and what you’re doing is coming from the right place. And it sounds like a lot more work, but that’s the work that needs to be done. I have a lot of stuff going, a lot of the same like projects that I got to eventually in the Incubator, but they were so scattered and in the wrong order and there were big holes missing from the process. So it really has put it all together and I have a ton of work left to do.
Chris: 15:26 – Hello my friends. It is Chris Cooper here. Since 2009 I have been writing daily blog posts, producing podcasts, videos, all kinds of stuff on social media with one mission in mind: to make gyms profitable. I came to that mission because I was an unprofitable gym owner. It almost ruined my finances and almost ruined my career, my marriage, everything. And since that day, since I made my recovery, I have wanted to help other gym owners become profitable, too. It’s part of my mission to the world because if you’re profitable, you’ll be here changing lives of thousands of your clients for the next 30 years. I think together we can have a tremendous impact. When we started mentorship, I did every single call myself. I was doing up to a thousand free calls a year and I was doing 10 calls with people who signed up for our early mentorship program, but the Incubator has been updated and improved a dozen times since then. Now the Incubator is really the sum of all of our experiences with over 800 gyms worldwide. In the Two-Brain mentorship program, we can now learn from everybody. We can collate data, we can see what’s working where and when and what the new gold standards are as they emerge. When somebody has a great idea, we can test it objectively and say, “Will this work for everyone or will it work for people on the West Coast or on the East Coast?” We can do that with little things like Facebook ads. We can also do that with operations and opening times and playbooks. All the questions that you have about the gym, we can answer them with data and with proof now. That’s the Incubator. It’s more than what I wrote about. It’s more than my experience. It is the best standard in the fitness industry, period. And I hope to see you in there.
Mateo: 17:08 – Yeah. I mean, your business is not even a year old. So like, yeah, there’s still a lot of obviously growth and things that need to be worked out as you continue to expand. But that’s awesome. So what were the first things you worked on with your mentor that you really saw, you know, the difference? Was it like you unlocked a little bit more free time? Was it that you kind of codified some of the processes that you were doing down somewhere? What was the first thing that really kind of was like, “Oh wow, this is helpful. I’m glad we’re finally doing this”?
Sasha: 17:41 – Yeah. So when I started taking like the seed-client list wa
s fascinating and that’s taking a few clients out to coffee and figuring out why they’re here. Completely not where I was going with how I thought we would be marketing to people and I was like, you want the ultimate fitness experience. Like the ultimate challenge. No, they want balance in their lives. They come in at 5:00 a.m., that’s our busiest class because that’s like the only consistent hour in the day. This is a blue-collar area, this is Appalachia and there are 2,500 people in our town. Yeah. So it’s some hard-working folks and good families involved with their kids after school, work can be crazy, you know? We got a lot of contractors, who knows if you’re going to be done at three or six, you know, and days start early. So figuring out what people were looking for was really important.
Mateo: 18:39 – Wow. Yeah. That’s awesome. Yeah. You’re in your own head and you know what you think you want, cause you’re coming from your own perspective. Like yeah, I wanted the hardcore CrossFit training, but yeah, most people, they just want to be able to move around and feel a little bit better and not have to derail their whole life to do that. So I think that’s a really good point. All right. So—and I bet that it changed your approach to how you sold, too, I bet it kind of changed the way you presented this when people actually sat down in front of you.
Sasha: 19:13 – Absolutely. Absolutely.
Mateo: 19:15 – Well, let’s talk a little bit more about that now. So you worked with Blake on the marketing side of things, sounds like you were getting really cheap leads, 17 cents in the beginning. That’s pretty outrageous.
Sasha: 19:34 – 71.
Mateo: 19:34 – 71. Oh yeah, I reversed those two numbers. 71, not 70. 71 cents a lead. What was it like when you got all those inquiries flooding in at once?
Sasha: 19:43 – It was wild. I had my second call with Blake, right. Ad went live using the stock videos, OK, not having the right calendar connected yet. Right. My bad. And my phone blew up and it was like immediate. I think I got five text messages, five zaps in the first like 10 minutes. And I was like, what is happening? So fortunately we’ve got lead nurture and sales videos to say, OK, this is what you do next. But I remember, I don’t know if it was Blake or Anastasia, asked me if I was going to be doing the lead nurture and I was like, yeah, of course I am. Having no idea how like intense that would be that first week. I think we had like 40 people pop up on a spreadsheet. First five days.
Mateo: 20:45 – And so what was that experience like once you finally got some people on the phone and started booking appointments? How did that go?
Sasha: 20:54 – Well, it was terrifying for me at first, honestly, because like everybody else has come in through some sort of connection, one or two degrees of separation, right? And these are cold. I felt prepared in that like I had the resources in front of me with the No-Sweat Intro sheets, we’d already done our homework on that, in our prep, which was good. And I’m OK talking to people and listening to them. Both of my parents, my dad is still in psychotherapy and my mom was a psychotherapist so I grew up doing a lot of talking. Our family is pretty good at that.
Mateo: 21:28 – Yeah. That’s probably a really good skill to have coming into sales, I think. Good background to have, for sure. Listening. Yeah.
Sasha: 21:36 – And then I’d been listening to horse owners talk for 15 years while I work, right? But this is different. And I know that first 20, 30 people I didn’t close sales like I should have, but it was a heck of an experience listening to their stories and I have many more ideas now and maybe we’ll go back and touch base with them again. You know, now that I’ve learned a lot more about sales and No-Sweat Intro process and presentation.
Mateo: 22:05 – Yeah. I mean those leads aren’t—they’re not gone forever. Sometimes they’ll just take a minute. And especially when, you know, your gym is still new, you’re still building that kind of trust in the community and that authority in the space. Like yeah, I think that’s the beauty of it. Like you get these people and they come in and you can continue to nurture them for months and months and months afterwards, too. Awesome. And what is your process now that you’ve kind of gone through so many of these leads and intros coming in? What is the process now for you? So someone calls in, they inquire, they book, what happens when they walk up to your door?
Sasha: 22:41 – Yeah, so they don’t book very much, actually, which is interesting. They very, very seldom do book an appointment on their own. But I do double-call. Nobody picks up their phone. So I send them a text. Text has proven to be very effective in this area. We also have terrible cell phone service, so at least half the time people probably can’t even hold a phone call. That’s how it is at my house. It’s tough. The struggle of living in like the mountains is real when it comes to communication and keeping up with technology.
Mateo: 23:19 – Wow. So an added barrier there.
Sasha: 23:22 – Yeah. All right. So I’ll strike up a conversation with them. I’m still doing all of the lead nurture myself. I talked to UpLaunch last week and we’re trying to decide whether to go that route or to hire lead nurture internally here. So I start chatting with them and at first I was like lobbing out numbers right away and quickly like watched your video and you were like “don’t do that!” And a couple of great lines on like how to bypass that conversation until they come through the door, ideas about how to get them booked pretty quickly. They’ll come for an appointment, they’ll come in, there are five of us that coach here, everybody’s trained in the No-Sweat Intro, right? So sometimes it’s during class, sometimes it’s busy, sometimes it’s quiet. Come in and have a conversation, show them our brochure. Usually that ends up being a sale. I’m also not great with statistics. I’m trying to get better with that. So to give you a number of like exactly how many sales we close, a little shaky on that. But the rate of growth has been has been good.
Mateo: 24:28 – Wow, so they come in, you chat them up, you use your psychotherapy background and you show them the sheet and then they sign up. That’s it. Well, great. That’s amazing. Well it’s been awesome having this time to chat, and I’m excited to see what the rest of the year holds for you. For people who want to, you know, for people who do have another job, who have a family and who still want to pursue, you know, something like this where they’re gonna open a new business from scratch, what advice do you have for them?
Sasha: 25:00 – Surround yourself with a team that shares your vision and your values. That’s been the key here and that’s so much good help. We’ve gone on two vacations since we opened this place. That’s incredible.
Mateo: 25:15 – That is.
Sasha: 25:16 – I know. I jumped ahead right from Founder to like some Farmer and like a little bit of Tinker stuff pretty quickly. And the team here, they pulled it off. There was one vacation pre-Two-Brain and one vacation post. Like after I was in the Incubator. Actually we went on vacation a week after we launched the ad.
Mateo: 25:44 – Wow.
Sasha: 25:44 – That’s terrible timing. I would not suggest that to anyone.
Mateo: 25:49 – That’s some good advice there. Yeah. Don’t do that exact route there.
Sasha: 25:54 – But everyone here was trained and they held it together.
Mateo: 25:58 – It didn’t burn down.
Sasha: 25:59 – It worked. Yeah.
Mateo: 26:02 – Awesome. Well thank you so much. If people want to talk to you more about horses’ teeth or about CrossFitting in the mountains, where can they find you?
Sasha: 26:14 – Endlessmountainscrossfit.com is our website. And if you want to talk about horses’ teeth, my email is myhorse firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mateo: 26:24 – Amazing. Thank you, Sasha.
Sasha: 26:26 – Thank you, Mateo.
Greg: 26:31 – Thank you for listening to Two
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