Make More Money for Years: Amazing Client Onboarding

Picture of Brian Zimmerman with title text reading "Make More Money for Years: Amazing Client Onboarding."

Mike (00:02):

When you acquire new clients, you can set them up to stay with you for years, or you can screw it up and send them running for the door after two to three months. It all comes down to your onboarding process. Certified Two-Brain business mentor Brian Zimmerman will tell you how to increase your length of engagement right after this. Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Forever Fierce. Reach out to them to sell more apparel or retail items. These guys will save you time with templates. They’ll provide ideas and they’ll tell you what’s selling best. And they’ll also supply marketing materials and preorder sheets. If you want to get serious about apparel and retail, visit This is Two-Brain Radio. I’m Mike Warkentin here with Brian Zimmerman of CrossFit Jungle Gym in Hamilton Township, New Jersey. He’s also a Two-Brain business mentor. Brian believes client onboarding is actually your greatest business opportunity. We’re going to find out exactly why. Brian, welcome to Two-Brain Radio. How are you today?

Brian (00:52):

I’m great, Mike. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here. And talk about the client onboarding process.

Mike (00:58):

Yeah. And first things, first CrossFit Jungle Gym. I love the name. It makes it sound like you guys have a ton of fun.

Brian (01:03):


Mike (01:06):

Oh, that’s good. I love names like that right away. You know, it’s like back in the day it was like gray skull and, you know, CrossFit murder house and stuff. And I love the idea of Jungle Gym, where it sounds like exactly what it is. A fun place for big kids.

Brian (01:16):

Yeah, exactly. It’s funny. You know, when I started CrossFit, I did my first CrossFit workout in 2005, I wasn’t even college kid yet, but throughout college I had no extra money for anything, but we worked out in the park. At one point used a half of a cinder block as a medicine ball and did pull-ups on the jungle gym. And you know, that’s part of where the name came from aside from just having fun and you know, it’s great. It’s also a great theme for a gym.

Mike (01:45):

I love the history too. I mean, I love stuff that goes back. Throw back to your early days in 2005, been doing it for a long time. That’s cool. I think you’ve probably got some information to share with our readers. So here’s the first question. What exactly is client onboarding? Tell us what that is if people don’t understand that process because when I started CrossFit and functional fitness, we just showed up and did Fran, and then we decided if we wanted to keep doing it.

Brian (02:08):

You know, I think that was the strategy about, just about every, you know, CrossFit gym. And then you got other gyms. I’m not sure that they had a—I guess I don’t really know what other gyms were doing, but I’ll tell ya. You know, really what the onboarding program is, is it’s the first program that any new client is going to do. And so, you know, really the only goal of it should be is to get them through it, vet them to see if they’re the perfect client for your gym and then turn them into clients for life if they are.

Mike (02:40):

So, does that involve, is that just a workout program or does it involve things like introducing them to a client success manager and all those kind of peripheral things to the workout? Is that part of it as well?

Brian (02:49):

Yeah, it’s all of it. I mean, you know, how many days a week they should work out to, you know, who they need to meet to have success in the long haul, you know, different interactions, different points where clients feel high anxiety and where they might fall off, not because of exercise, but because of, you know, mental, emotional, physical capacities that you as the business owner are only just learning about. But after taking, you know, several hundred people through onboarding packages, you know, like you start to learn things if you’re paying attention and that’s part of what we’re here to talk about. So I’m excited to get into some more of the details.

Mike (03:32):

It’s funny, cause I remember we’re talking old school, I started CrossFit back in I think, 08 and we opened a gym, physical location in 2011. But when we started doing that, it was you just did a trial drop-in and we put you through a workout and it was the baseline workout that everyone has done for years, but that was really it. And then if you liked it, you signed up and you came to class and we didn’t do a good job. And you can imagine our retention could have been better because we didn’t have those structures and systems in place. After I started working with Two-Brain, we obviously started reviewing those things and changing things up a ton. And it really made a difference obviously in the business, but more importantly in the clients’ lives, right where these clients were, they felt like they were being brought into this thing properly.

Mike (04:12):

They weren’t diving in the deep end. They had some support systems and everything changed and you can actually see the metrics improve in the business. We’re gonna get to that at the end. We’ll tell people how to figure out if it’s working or not, but let’s get into the details of this thing. So what are the key business opportunities in this stage of the client journey? Right at the very beginning, I mean, we’re talking after they’ve, you know, become a lead and they’ve signed up to come in and they signed up to be a client. So what does a great onboarding process create for this client?

Brian (04:35):

So I think one thing to chat about is like the no sweat intro or the sales process is important piece of this. And like, you know, like as we get into more of the process it’s important to know what your onboarding program can produce so that you can make appropriate promises and not over-promise during the sales meeting. Whether that’s no-sweat intro.

Mike (05:01):

Lose 50 pounds in five minutes, right?

Brian (05:03):

Yeah. If you don’t know what your program is going to produce, you can easily lose the trust of your client and you’ll lose them immediately following the onboarding package if you promise them that you can’t produce, and I think that’s really important when we’re considering the most important piece of onboarding is keeping them around for the next stage. So I think sort of the key opportunities is like what you need to do to have success in onboarding people is have to build trust between business and the client. I mean, there’s a ton of ways of talking about how to do that. But building comfortability with the brand, like for example, like when they come to a no-sweat intro, they don’t know this person. It’s important that that person is doing literally everything possible to make sure that they feel comfortable and not feel dumb at any point.

Brian (06:00):

You know, the same thing is going to be of their onboarding coach, of their nutrition coach, of their mobility coach of the client success manager is always to make an introduction to make them comfortable. To go back to like knowing what your program can produce is we make promises on what results that you’re going to get. We’re going to make progress on weight loss. That’s what people show up for like is these physical results. And you have to be able to know what your programming can produce there and promise progress on that. Are you gonna lose 50 pounds in the onboarding process? Probably not. Are we going to get 10 pounds of progress? Most people do, that need to lose 50 pounds. But what we don’t promise is specific stages where like for example, when you’re going to meet your first 60 days coach, like our onboarding process is 60 days long. When they meet their coach, we don’t promise them that they’re going to get a water bottle because they’re going to forget one, but we give that to them. And it’s a wow factor. Like, Oh, I forgot my water bottle. Guess what? We have one with your name on it.

Brian (07:11):

And when they meet their nutrition coach, they get a magnet that has our nutrition, some of our nutrition guidelines on it. And it’s like, we don’t promise those things, but they’re there. And it’s important that you create an expectation of what they sign up for. And then wow them on the client experience end of things. So I think that that’s something that over-exceeding expectations when you don’t over promise on things and when you can, wow people, they like that. And they like to stick around and hang out for more of that. They never know what’s going to happen.

Mike (07:49):

So right off the bat, you’re setting expectations that are reasonable, but also get them closer to their goals. And then you’re treating them like royalty essentially, right? Where it’s like, Hey, I have this gift for you, I have this, here are some friends that I’ve introduced you to. Everyone’s smiling. Here is your contact points. If you need something go this route, you’re really just, you’re starting that trust establishment process.

Brian (08:09):

Yeah, exactly. And you know, it’s setting the tone for the next five years they’re going to be training with us. I mean, it’s sort of the introductions to who’s going to help you when you need it. When you want nutrition, here’s your nutrition coach. And you know, who do I need to talk to when my coach is annoying me and here’s the client success manager and you know, all these roles and introductions have to happen at a point where there’ll be valuable immediately upon need of the client. You know, the last sort of like key thing that we need to do in onboarding is we need to sell value of all the services they may be interested in.

Mike (08:53):

So these are the business opportunities you were talking about.

Brian (08:55):

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you know, not every gym offers nutrition coaching. They should. But if you don’t yet, right, like this is something that when you’re recreating your onboarding process that you implement in there, so that the person who’s going to be running that program, whether it’s you or one of your coaches, you’ve already sold some value on it. And they know who they’re going to go talk to when they want it. Without that, they’re just sitting on the internet, searching for that advice and not going to get their nutrition coaching.

Mike (09:28):

Well, you know howmany gym owners are out there I think that invent a new program or start something. And they find that their own clients, existing clients, their best clients, the people that are most likely to buy it don’t even know it exists because they haven’t done a good job of telling them. And then you just say, Hey, you know what, guys, if you did it properly and you said, we have a nutrition program, 10 people sign up, all of a sudden rates go up. Everything’s great. So if you do that in onboarding and say, yeah, I know you signed up for personal training, but you’ve got some aggressive weight loss goals. I know maybe your budget doesn’t work with it right now, but if you want to speed up your progress, I do want to give you some information about our nutrition program so if you want to supercharge this thing, let’s talk nutrition. All of a sudden that person starts knowing what’s up.

Brian (10:08):

Yeah, exactly. I mean, you know, a lot of times people don’t, you know, they don’t even know a service exists. Why onboarding is the greatest business opportunity is when a new client comes to the gym, they don’t know anything about training, the way you do it at your gym. And you’re introducing them. And you know, if they’re introduced to this stuff right from the get go and they’re sold the value, snd when I say sell, I don’t mean like in the slimy salesperson way, but like, hey, this is why it’s important to the goals that you just told me a week ago. And giving, you know, advice and tips and practices that are going to me improve on their goals. That’s value. And like, if they get a little bit there, it’s very easy for them to come back to wevehor that person is and whatever service they were talking about, to come back and buy that later on. Even if they don’t want it immediately.

Mike (11:07):

It’s classic where, you know, you, there was such a focus on group fitness for a long time that I think there was a probably about, I’m going to guess, I’ll throw it out there. You know, 80 to 90% of clients, I don’t think knew that their CrossFit gyms actually could do personal training too. Right. It’s just like, wow. You do personal training? I would love to not miss double-unders all the time. Sign me up.

Brian (11:26):

Yeah, yeah. You know, we did seed client interviews when I started as a client with Two-Brain three years ago. And you know, we did a little bit of personal training. Our seed clients were like, we love when we get one on one attention, if it’s a light class or if it’s one on one sessions. And like we double down on that and like said, you know what, you know who we want to service is people that want personal training. And like, we implemented that into our onboarding. And we went from 10% of our revenues were personal training to 25% of our revenues are personal training. And like, it was really from what we changed in our onboarding. And it wasn’t some sales tactics we used. It was, we introduced every new person from then on to personal training and was able to sell the value of personal training to every person. You know, not everybody wants personal training, but everybody gets an introduction to it. And they know the value, even if they can’t afford it, they still know it’s valuable and they might recommend it to somebody else in that fashion.

Mike (12:32):

For a long time onboarding and on-ramps, the focus was almost exclusively on creating a fitness program or some sort of like workout plan, right? Like how do I get this person from zero or whatever stage they’re at to join in group classes or whatever it was. And for some people that on ramp was, like, you know, show up and go, other people was 10, 20, 8 sessions, whatever. But now in what we kind of call a new era of fitness in microgyms, the focus is—the fitness is still there, but we know that’s easy to provide. Like, we’re all great coaches. We can all make someone fitter, that’s not a big deal. Now the focus is on how do we start this client off properly for the health of the business and the long-term health of that client so that client gets results, because we all know that if a client doesn’t stick around, they won’t get any results at all. So it’s incredible that the whole focus of this conversation is really on sort of the soft stuff, not the gym stuff. You know, it’s the stuff that probably happens in your lobby.

Brian (13:26):

Yeah. The fitess end of things is important. Obviously. Like you said, there’s a lot of great coaches. And, you know, when I look back when my wife and I were starting and you like, look at how we coach, and you’re like, Oh my God. People paid for that. And like, you look at it now, and you’re like, this is really awesome. At the same time, like our process for giving a good client experience has, I mean, not even tripled, quadrupled, it’s at least 10 times that. I mean, at least. That’s definitely the difference maker. Like the fitness part is a lot easier now, and there’s been a lot more.

Mike (14:08):

So we’re going to hammer into a few best practices in just a sec, but tell me, like, what are some of the worst ways to onboard a client? I know, like I gave an example of just like show up and go, what are some other, just things you need to avoid no matter what.

Brian (14:22):

I think the most important thing is that you can’t not have some sort of process.

Brian (14:31):

When we started doing one on one on ramps, as opposed to—we had a schedule, like we’re going to do two sessions a week and you go, OK, there’s already some waffling happening in there. And for a new client, they need, this is what you do. Right. And it switched eventually to, we’re going to do two sessions a week and then you’re done. Right. And it made it very clear and up front, and there was no, Oh, they don’t really know what’s happening. It’s just making sure that all of the details that you already have set, make sure that they’re rock solid and do this. Right. Cause if you don’t have it set, like you’re going to lose people, anybody that’s sort of like, Oh, I don’t know if they know what they’re talking about. You’re going to lose them if you waffle at all.

Brian (15:21):

So then the next biggest thing that you need to avoid is not tracking progress on what the client told you they wanted. If you don’t produce progress on weight loss or body composition, or if you’re, you know, a long time, like in the beginning, we were super excited about performance metrics. Front squat more, and you know, run faster. And like all those were great signs of fitness improvement, but some of my clients just don’t care. I want to see the weight change. And if you’re not tracking the things that matter to the client, none of that matters. Like they may get excited about it. But in the end though, they’ll leave.

Mike (16:03):

Yeah. So that right away, so that is, you have to have a process. You have to have standard operating procedures. This should be written down. At Two-Brain, we do teach you how to go through a client journey and figure out exactly when these things should happen. And some people, there’s some variation where people might say, Oh, the client success manager call happens in 10 days, rather than three, but it still happens. And it’s on a schedule and the ball doesn’t get dropped. So that’s the first one I’m hearing from you is standard operating procedures. The second one is tracking progress and making sure that you’re tracking progress and the client cares about not the progress you care about. So if I said, if I came to you and said Brian, I want to increase my deadlift. And you’re like, dude, your pull-ups are—I don’t care. I came for deadlift. So those are two big ones.

Brian (16:43):

Yup. And those are probably the most important ones. I think if you like, what happens for example, when you don’t have a process and why it’s the biggest problem is like, if I’m the only coach, I’m probably going to do those sessions and that process pretty much exactly the same. I’ll probably actually improve it on each cycle that I go through with a new client. But what happens if you don’t have that process down, as soon as I say, Hey, Mike, you’re going to take the next client is they don’t get the same experience. And you know, when somebody’s paying the same price as the client that just went through before them, but went through with me and they get a different experience, like that’s a difference in value. And, when you’re trying to keep people around, a difference in value is distrust and you lose clients from distrust very quickly. And I think that, you know, when we’re talking about that, it’s like just building that process makes the world of difference. And like, it’s also the way that you’re going to get new coaches on board and being able to produce a valuable service.

Mike (17:57):

So it’s as simple as this. It’s like, Hey, Brian, I just finished on ramp with coach X. And, I didn’t get my water bottle. What’s up with that.

Brian (18:05):

Yeah. That could be a problem.

Mike (18:09):

  1. But if you have that stuff written down and all of a sudden it’s in the process and your coach is checking off boxes that allows you A, to deliver to the value of the client, but B also offload the responsibilities of this program to someone so that you, as the business owner, can level up to something that you know, is a higher value role instead of literally doing every single on-ramp for the rest of your life.

Brian (18:30):

Yeah, exactly. And like when we were writing out our first iteration of good onboarding, you know, it was like, all right, they’re going to get a water bottle on their first. Clients love this, like, Oh, he thought of me, Brian. And it was great. And then what happened when James took somebody through? They said, Oh, James, you thought of me like, thank you. And like, now, you know, if you’ve ever had the icon problem, you’re now eliminating. If you’re wondering how you’re going to scale your business up, you’re now.

Mike (19:05):

For those of you who don’t know the icon problem, that’s when everyone, every client or prospective client sees the business owner is the only person who’s able to deliver the service properly. And some business owners create that problem for themselves on purpose because of an ego situation. But that’s fine. You can be the person in that business forever if you never want to level up, if you ever have dreams of expansion, doing other roles, doing other things, you need to offload stuff, we teach you exactly how to do that step by step in the Two-Brain program. And you have to solve the icon problem where—and I suggest we did it. I’ll brag for myself for a second, but people don’t even know who I am. I’m just the weird guy who’s changing lights in the background. My wife is the face of the business.

Mike (19:41):

So I was very lucky about offloading. That’s the only reason we were able to do different things. So solving the icon problem is 100% a thing. Chris Cooper’s blogged about that. And we’ll get that blog in the show notes for you. Brian, we’re going to get onto some best practices in just one second. Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Wodify, an all-in-one solution for member management, appointments, scheduling and tracking. Wodify’s insights tool includes the business health dashboard co-developed with Two-Brain to provide average revenue per member, length of engagement and more key metrics. Gym owners, to receive 20% off your first year of Wodify Core, visit Check that out. Back with Brian Zimmerman. And we’re talking about onboarding clients. So now let’s talk best practices. We’ve hit a few of them in conversation here. Let’s talk about actual advice our listeners can take out of here. What are the gold standards of, and you can use your gym as example, because I know you do a really good job here. Let’s talk gold standards of onboarding.

Brian (20:37):

  1. I got a couple of notes on this is number one, is you have to have at least two levels of service. The reason being is there’s some people that require less service.

Brian (20:54):

And you can kind of think of the lowest level, like we call ours the basic package where they’re going to get what’s the minimum amount of training experience that is going to get them ready for their next service. Now, in our gym, it’s the people who want to come in and they prefer group training.

Brian (21:16):

So they go through a couple of one-on-ones. They go to their first class and then they’re in the group class. And their onboarding package ends 60 days later. The next service level up is it’s those same PTs. And then they go to group classes, but they also do one PT session a week. I mean, it’s dynamite. Anyhow, it’s another service level up. For us, we have three. And I think most gyms at this point have three. Like they have the, get people to group, get people in PT and your third service level, the highest one would be PT only. I think that that middle one in there is where a lot of gyms miss out is because it’s sort of like, it’s all PT or it’s all with the intention of going to group. Somewhere in the middle there is very high value clients that you can produce really, really good results with. So, you know, I say at least three service levels because that middle one is where most of our PT sales come from. And like those clients that do some PT and some group, those are the ones in our gym that get the absolute best. And I think from working with other gyms as a mentor, like I think that’s probably true.

Mike (22:43):

That sounds like about a $250, maybe 200, $250 client who’s probably going to get great results, love the service, never hit a plateau and stick around for like five to eight years. Maybe.

Brian (22:54):

Yeah. That pretty much sums it up. When everybody’s writing out their perfect client, I think that pretty much sums up the metrics around that client as well. And if you have the onboarding package to number one, deliver the service that costs that, like this is a win win for clients and for the business. And certainly, you know, for the society as a whole. People that are healthy. I hope that’s why everybody opens a gym.

Mike (23:24):

So that’s that’s our first one is, our first goal is levels of service. You have to have it clearly lined out what each person in that level of service gets.

Brian (23:33):

Yup. The next gold standard is like, you have to measure before and after of what the client wants. Now I’ll go a little bit deeper into this is, you know, how many times you ask a client goals, right? We kept track of this for years. Right. And we basically said, what’s your top fitness goal. Right. And by the time we got four years’ worth of answers, I decided one day I’m just gonna look through this because there’s so many commonalities. Like, let me just go look through this. There’s six goals. When people come in, like they have one of six goals. Some people come in and say, I want to be healthy. But usually they say, Oh, I want to improve my blood pressure or lower my A1C or something like that.

Brian (24:18):

But that all falls under the category of be healthy. So like we have six different categories, so be healthy, get stronger, look better, some aesthetic goal, lose weight, improve sports performance, or do fun and challenging workouts. Like I was saying, it’s like over the course of four years, we ask that of every person that comes in, you collect all that information. You know, one day I just got sick of asking like an open ended question, like let’s categorize. And you know, the long story short is like, we could use that for different automations, but it also made it a lot easier to find the objective measures that people cared about. So I may not have the capability within my gym to measure blood pressure or blood sugar or something like that maybe would be better. So I can send the client to go do that before and do it after.

Brian (25:13):

And I can also have a bunch of other data that’s very similar and it’s going to give me the trends on where their health is going. So for example, body composition, or take measurements, you know, performance times, all that stuff. You know, and we’re a Level Method gym so we can use the Level Method, all of those other, like basically we can collect data on each one of these goals in some form, you know, at the gym inside of 15 minutes and then be able to do that same measurement at the end of 60 days. And like having those measurements, even if like a client has something that’s out of the scope of doing inside of the gym, you have at least some data that determines like this is going to be improvement. And you can also say, Hey, Mike, go get your blood sugar taken before you come on day one and we’ll schedule it for after basics. They can have the very specific detail.

Mike (26:11):

  1. So that’s a gold standard there, is, you know, essentially knowing your clients as a general unit, knowing what your client avatars are. There might be some seventh weird goal that, you know, might come up 2% of the time, but in those six you’ve probably got 90% of them covered. Correct?

Brian (26:28):

Yeah. Like for the most part, I haven’t found a goal that doesn’t fit in there. And it’s like, if there is something, it’s likely that I’m gonna be able to say, Hey, there might be a better gym for you. And like, not every gym owner wants to be able to say that, but you know, if you ever want to niche down, like we’re gonna be able to look at this list and go, here’s where we’re going to start. We’ll cut out the fun and challenging workouts. We’ll cut out weight loss as one of our goals if we’re focusing on clients that want to get stronger.

Mike (27:03):

So if you don’t know why people find your gym, if you’re listening right now, you need to figure that out. You need to figure out why people come to your gym and what your ideal client’s goals are. And I really cool way Chris Cooper’s written about this many times, if you want to find out, ask people. And it sounds silly, but most of us, for a lot of us, gym owners, we never ask, for a long time, we just assumed everyone wanted to do Fran, like we did or whatever. Now, if you ask your clients actually what they want, over at Two-Brain Coaching, they actually tell you how to get to the root goals. And what they’re looking at there is they’re trying to find someone says, I want to lose weight. Why do you want to lose weight? Right. The root goal is actually like, Oh, OK.

Mike (27:38):

You know, I just, I don’t feel comfortable in my own skin right now. I want to feel better about myself. And then there’s all these different emotional attachments that come to your program and you can really help this person if you know what they actually want. So if you’re out there listening, a gold standard thing for onboarding is going to be, find out what your ideal clients want to accomplish. And when people start talking to you and they come in and they do their no sweat intros, figure which category they fall into. And then I’m going to guess, Brian, for you, when you would have these different categories and people are in them, you essentially have all the onboarding stuff laid out where it’s like, I know this weight loss client needs to see results at this point. Needs these touch points. Am I correct on that?

Brian (28:17):

Yeah. And so like for our first 60 day program, it’s almost standardized because you know, people who come to us have the same accountability goals. Like they’ve likely tried three or four other gyms in their lifetime and not had success. And so generally there’s a standardization, but what does change, I would make it relevant for them. And like, you know what you’re talking about with like the emotional reasons why they want to lose weight is that’s how we make it stick. You know, like in a no sweat intro, like we’ll talk about the weight loss. And if they say, you know, I really want to build a confidence. We’re going to do that. Part of it’s going to be, we’re going to lose weight, but you’re also gonna get that from training. How a coach talks to that client during their 60 days or their onboarding package is going to be what makes the program relevant to them. So it’s important to know not only the physical goals that they’re hoping to accomplish, but the emotional whys behind them, because that’s how the coach is going to—

Mike (29:20):

And it also, it really gives you like tons of retention tools, right? So if you know exactly what a client wants to accomplsish, you know where they’re at in their progress toward that goal, it gives you a couple of things. First of all, you have an opportunity for goal setting sessions along the way to review goals, go through bright spots, talk about what’s going, right. Maybe adjust goals. If the timelines were too aggressive or not aggressive enough, maybe sell some additional services. And then later on down the line, you also have these retention things, just like you accomplished this. What do you want accomplish next? If someone falls off, you can get them back by saying, Hey, you’re on your own right now. Did you make any progress towards that deadlift PR? They’ll say, no. Hey, do you want to come back? So there’s all these, I mean, when you talk about business opportunities, all this comes from the onboarding process because you get to know exactly what the clients want. And you have all these tools later on for retention, which is huge and re acquisition if you happen to lose somebody.

Brian (30:15):

Absolutely, absolutely. Nailed it on the head.

Mike (30:18):

Any other gold standards that we should go over? Those are two huge ones. Yeah.

Brian (30:22):

So I think the thing that we kind of alluded to earlier, but like, there’s the emotional part is what I want to talk about finding these sticking points where clients can feel anxious or nervous or afraid, and then putting a specific action in that place wow the crap out of them. All right. So like at the no sweat intro, for example, like they don’t know exactly where your door is. You haven’t made it perfectly clear and the coach could be standing outside, waving to the person who’s driving around in the parking lot. Like not knowing where they’re going. Like that is the beginning of a standout moment. And it may seem small, but it reduces the anxiety. Like they drive around the parking lot twice, and they’re an anxious person. They’re not coming in and their life isn’t going to change. That’s a problem.

Brian (31:18):

I can eliminate that obstacle. OK. Hopefully you actually do it by having directions by the website. But you know, you can always go to a higher level of service at the no sweat intro, right? Shake their hand, you know, welcome. I’m shown where to sit down, pull out the chair for them. I’m like, these are things to make people feel comfortable, right? At the end of the intro, you welcome them to training. Like sign up as a member, you welcome them. You give them a teacher to take their picture and you say, Hey, I’m going to introduce you to all my coaches with a picture and tell them what. When they get home, I’m already writing out a letter to them and saying how happy we are they signed up and we’re ready to help them make the changes that they’re hoping to make.

Brian (32:11):

And that we don’t take it lightly. And maybe if you feel like don’t take it seriously, then maybe you need to check, listen, and start caring more, but we don’t take it lightly that people spend over $300 to sign up with us. You know, for a lot of people, that’s a lot of money. Like we don’t take it lightly. And we tell them, we don’t take it lightly abd that we’re honored to be there to help. And like when they get that letter, for example. When somebody signs up and they spent $600 on anything, they go home and they’re like, and then the more time that passes, the excitement trickles down. And then at some point for a lot of people, it goes to the, I just wasted 600 bucks. Was I’ve just taken? Should I call back and get my money back. Buyer’s remorse. And then the next morning they get this letter in the mail from their gym that they just signed up for that says, Hey, we don’t take what you just did yesterday lightly. It’s important to us that you know that we care and that we’re going to service the crap out of you. Like they are not expecting this letter, you know? And it’s, it sets the tone like, Hey, we’re here to take care of you. We know what your emotional state is. And like the first emotional state they go through after signing up is buyers remorse.

Brian (33:36):

So it’s like thinking of moments like that. So like, there’s a couple of different stages. Like buyer’s remorse is probably the first one. Any time they’re meeting a new person, I’m meeting a new person, I’m a little anxious about it. I’m going to say something stupid. Am I gonna do something dumb? Like, do they care? Like, are they gonna care about me or they’re a jerk. And you know, when your coach first meets that person, when they walk in for the first time to your gym and they hand them a water bottle say welcome to CrossFit Jungle Gym or to wherever, like it sets the tone. He just gave me a gift. Or she just gave me a gift. I wasn’t expecting that, it breaks the ice and just immediately sets the tone for like, this is a positive thing happening to me in my life. Right. And you know, anytime they meet somebody new, there has to be some exchange of gifts. It doesn’t have to be a gift, but it has to be a positive exchange that leaves them walking away with like, this water bottle is something that James gave me. This magnet nutrition with guidance on it was from Tommy. T-shirt was from Brian. He’s one who welcomed me to the CrossFit family. Like those are things that now become memories. Like the emotional state of anxiety turns from anxiety into excitement and positivity.

Mike (35:04):

I’m sorry to interrupt, but that’s just, I want to just remind people like people remember how you make them feel. And if you’re adding value at every link in the chain, that client is going to have a great experience because it doesn’t have to necessarily a gift. Like you said, it could be just an exchange of helpful information. Like when you have a problem email this person, like if I think if I had that at my gym 10 years ago, I would have had way more clients for way longer, but I didn’t have that. And now that just adding value in every step of the onboarding process is a huge, huge part of that. Sorry to interrupt.

Brian (35:38):

Yeah, I think another, another big one that a lot of gyms miss is when people go like a lot of gyms have an onboarding program that’s one on one now, that’s excellent. That’s doesn’t have to happen, but it definitely makes a stand out moment a lot easier. When people go from the one-on-ones and they jump right into classes, this is a high anxiety moment. Like I’m going from working one on one with Brian, who is now my only friend at the gym. Now at this point, now I’m going to go meet five, 10, 20, depending on thegym. Other people that don’t look like a complete idiot. And you know what, that’s a moment where you can easily step in and show them that it’s not that scary. And you do that by having the coach that took them through their one on ones, take them to their first. And you build, you build that service into their onboarding. And it’s in the price that coach is still getting paid and it changes the experience entirely. And the reason why we did this is we have people who are like gung ho through the entire one on one experience. And then they go to first class and never show up again. And you’re like, what?

Brian (37:04):

And they said they wanted to do group classes, but the anxiety crushed them. And we can eliminate that by just going and introducing them and making sure they feel comfortable. And if they don’t, then we can have a conversation easily and make sure that they have the services again, what that does is build more trust. And even if they don’t want to spend more money, which they have that high of anxiety, like they’re finally like, you know, it’s happening many times, but it builds trust when you go, Hey, maybe the group isn’t for you. You can see their face, like just about, or that went well, if you might prefer that over one on one, that’s great. The key is you’re always being honest, upfront building trust. That’s how you keep people around when they have to.

Mike (38:00):

So you’ve obviously looked at your client journey and you see a few speed bumps and you’re just finding ways to help people get over them. Right. But that’s crazy, I think. And I’m sure there are other speed bumps along the land journey. And maybe it’s not just at, you know, the first group class transition. There’s probably one in all of, I think 30, probably 90 days as a common fall off point for a lot of people. Or maybe it’s like summer holidays for a lot of people. I’m sure if you look at your client journey and every gym and every market’s gonna be a little bit different, but there will be commonalities for sure. You’re going to find places where you can probably do a better job. And that takes us slightly beyond the onboarding process. But even within that portion of the client journey, you’ve already identified one spot where there’s a major, major puddle.

Brian (38:40):

Yeah. Yeah. And I think there is a lesson to be learned from onboarding and in what happens going forward, like just setting, like you’re setting your clients up with expectations for a length of time, right? Our program is 60 days because it’s the shortest length of time that we can guarantee that they’re going to get some result and that we can prove it to them. You know, if, if we felt like six weeks was better and you know, six weeks has turned out to be more marketable, but you know, eight, eight weeks we were like, no, we’re absolutely confident that on all the goals that clients how we can produce the results. That’s what we do. And you know, like if you can set up whether it’s onboarding or what you do ongoing, here’s our plan or X amount of time commit to that.

Brian (39:26):

Like Mike, as my client, commit to that. If it doesn’t go the way we want to, then we’ll reevaluate at that time. And if you want to say peace out, Brian, you can do that. But like commit to this plan for this long, and then let’s reevaluate. And then my job or the coach’s job, the business’s job produce the result they want. And that, you know, I think that’s something that can be learned from the onboarding processes. Like we want you to hear for days at our gym, you know, whether it’s 90 days or six weeks at your gym, you know, getting that sort of mental commitment and building that.

Mike (40:02):

All right. So the gold standard for that part of the conversation was always be improving. It’s not enough to just sit there and think everything’s good because you had a good system. Once you need to constantly evaluate it. Every iteration is going to get better and better. Your clients are gonna get better service. And that leads us into the next portion here. The final question I want to ask you. So how do you measure the success of an onboarding system and how do you test things when you’re going through iterations? How do you know if a test is successful in other metrics we can track, how do we do it?

Brian (40:31):

So the primary one that we want to track is simple. The simplest one is, you know, if the clients trust us, get enough of the results that they signed up for they will sign up for the next package. So anything less than a hundred percent of the time, like they sign up for onboarding. If they don’t make it to the next package, or you don’t have a, like they moved across the country or they, you know, their wife had a brain tumor, they need to take care of their five kids. Like you need to convert a hundred percent. I mean, otherwise you have improvements. There needs to be a legit reason why anybody wouldn’t be there, but you should always be looking at it as like, the goal of onboarding is to get them to the next package and, you know, say it like that.

Brian (41:21):

It sort of sounds like, Oh, you know, you got solved. The next thing, I mean, you’re always selling, but like a client has a goal of losing 50 pounds. Like 60 days is not going to be the timeframe that they’re going do. If they need to stick around, like, if people want to be healthy and you want to change the world through health and fitness, it’s going to be through lifestyle changes. And it’s going to be a long haul and, you know, for business, like the length of engagement is how long does a client stick around? You need to get them to the next package to succeed on all their, you know, whenever I’m trying to improve any of my business metrics, the first place I go is onboarding because it’s like, if I’m not happy with where my arm is, I’m going, I’ve signed up clients who are not fitting in with the average revenue per month that I’m looking for.

Brian (42:16):

I think for us, when we started with Two-Brain, ours was at 190, like, and it’s not bad number. It’s pretty good. You know, for us, we would rather service less clients and service them really deep and full. Right. And so for us, like we’re shooting for, and we’ve hit once the arm of 300. And like, if I want to change that metric, it’s gotta start from the beginning. Like clients have the expectation that they’re going to be personal training because it’s a high value to them. It’s also high value to us. You know, if like I’m looking to improve life, I have to get them to stick around to through onboarding package, unless your leg is less than two months, like it’s required. They make it through onboarding in order to improve their life., So, you know, sometimes like what clients have done, for example, over there three years with us, like the clients that were with us before we started doing goal setting sessions, they don’t like doing goal setting sessions.

Brian (43:19):

They’re happy with the service that you’re getting. That’s cool, but all of our new clients, that’s just what we do. And it’s the same thing with personal training. When you have a problem that you can’t solve with your classes, you solve a PT because we built that into the onboard and we educated them from day one. Like any, it’s always my first go to anytime there’s any metric, I want to change my business. I go to, how do I make this not a problem with any new clients to ever come on again? And then whatever I got to change with the current clients, I’ll figure that out second, but eliminate the problem at the source and then find bandaids.

Mike (44:02):

So that’s the two that I heard there is a hundred percent conversion from your onboarding program. We’ll call it phase two, whatever your next change of services. So your first 60 days, and then whatever comes next. So a hundred percent conversion. If it’s anything less, you need to take a look at what’s going on and figure why those people are not converting. And like you said, if it’s someone moving to the other side of the country, there’s nothing you can do unless you have an online coaching program, which will tell you how to do if you really want. But if it’s something less than that, where it’s like, I just didn’t get the service I wanted, you have a problem. The second one is increasing length of engagement numbers. So that means that what you’re saying is everything that you do in the first let’s call it 60 days.

Mike (44:40):

It could be every whatever days your onboarding program is, whatever you do in that first period is going to have a dramatic, long tail effect on that client’s entire experience. And if you do a good job early, you’re probably going to find a length of engagement goes up, and I’m going to tack this one on it. And I’m just, I’m riffing on what you’re saying. And you can tell me if I’m wrong, but we had the same experience. We didn’t have our current clients did not want to do goal setting sessions because we hadn’t put that in the process. We started doing it with new clients. Every goal setting session is an opportunity to help that client with a new service or product. I would wager that if you started doing that kind of stuff, longterm and onboarding, and then continuing it longterm, I think you’re going to see average revenue per member drive up. And again, it might be tough to track that exactly the same, because there are other factors go in, but that just, it just seems so natural to have a chance to talk, to apply, to tell them about new services.

Brian (45:31):

Yeah, that’s exactly it. And that’s, you know, the goal setting portion is absolutely vital. And like when I said, you know, one of the other goals, standards is having multiple service levels. That’s exactly why, like, if you have those already laid out, it just makes it seamless to be like, I’m not making this program for you, Mike, this is a program that we’ve run and it’s successful for other. And if you, if you haven’t made those programs at your gym yet, and you haven’t had people have success in them yet, that’s OK. Like other gyms have. And there’s, there’s some data that shows that it works really well. And the more people you run through that iteration, like the more success, the more experience you’re going to have, the more confident you’ll see all your notes and in your onboarding programs to produce the results of clients.

Mike (46:21):

So I am going back to the original thing we said, I’m convinced that onboarding is your greatest business opportunity.

Brian (46:28):

Yeah. That’s what I’m here to do. That’s my jam.

Mike (46:34):

I appreciate it. Thank you so much for being here, Brian. That was great advice for everyone. Thank you for listening to Two-Brain Radio. I’m Mike Warkentin here with Brian Zimmerman. If you want more actionable advice based on data, you need to check out Gym Owners United on Facebook. In that group, you’ll find daily directives from Chris Cooper, as well as the support of a host of business owners from all over the world. That group, again, Gym Owners United on Facebook, join today, and answer the intake questions. Thanks for tuning in to Two-Brain Radio. Please subscribe for more episodes, wherever you get your podcasts.


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