Why We Don’t Take Every Client (And Neither Should You)

If your primary goal is “make money”, you look for ways to sell more stuff.

You productize your service: instead of coaching people, you sell DVDs. You knock your prices down. You write sales copy. You send 22 spam emails in a row. You measure success by input, not output. More clients = better.

But if your primary goal is “help people win”, you quickly realize you can’t help everyone.

When I speak to gyms, I ask, “How many members can you serve?” Most give me a big number, like 300, because they haven’t heard the question before. The REAL number of lives you can affect long-term is closer to 150 (Dunbar’s number). It’s an anthropological norm, but I’ve written about the 150-member point in several places.

But even if you plan to someday reach 500 members, it’s helpful to ask yourself:

  • What if I could only get 150 clients?
  • What would I have to charge them to make a great living?
  • How long would I have to keep them?
  • How can I help them BEST?

The best gyms don’t become the best by having the most members. The best gyms are the best because they help their members MOST.

Think about the followup questions to the above:

  • How much space do I really need to service 150?
  • Who can afford to pay the rates I need?
  • If I’m starting a 30-year relationship, does it really matter if their first three months are spent focusing on their diet and NOT exercising?
  • What can I do to help these people more now that I’m not worried about chasing down 100 others?

And, of course, the biggest question of all:

What kind of client DOESN’T fit in these 150?

As I said in Millions or Myths?, I want to save The Movement. CrossFit has given us all the entrepreneurial opportunity that we wouldn’t get otherwise. But we need models of business success, and a fitness model isn’t a business model.

At Two-Brain Business, our goal is to create those models: to sharpen the Tip of the Spear. To focus on the top 1m000 gyms, and let THEM demonstrate success to everyone else.

If our goal was to sell more, we’d take everyone and anyone into our mentorship practice. But that’s NOT our goal: our goal is to save The Movement. And that means we can only take 1,000.

With that number in mind, I’m very particular about who we invite into our mentorship practice. I ask myself the same questions that I ask in my gyms (you just read them.) Sometimes, that means a good gym isn’t invited. Sometimes it means an honest, salt-of-the-earth coach isn’t asked to join. It’s hard to get to know a person in a free 30-minute consultation, and I do make mistakes. But when I do, I err on the side of exclusion.

I don’t compare each caller on our free consultations against an objective norm. I compare them against our best mentoring clients: “How does this person’s personality complement Rich’s personality?” “How can his ideas trigger growth in Kaleda’s gym, too?” “How can her drive push Tate even further?”

This means our bar isn’t set by revenues (plenty of gyms can’t “afford” the program when they start). The bar is set much higher: by the personalities of the TwoBrain family members.

We’ve turned down million-dollar-grossing gyms, but made way for gyms with less than $7,000 in monthly sales. The million-dollar gyms in our program are led by exceptional humans.

If we didn’t offer you a spot in our mentorship program, take heart: it doesn’t mean we don’t like you. It doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to succeed. It DOES mean we have to focus elsewhere. Sorry.

We produce blog posts, podcast episodes, webinars, free videos and inspirational social media content EVERY DAY. I’ve been doing it since 2009. For free. For everyone. Hours of work, every day, to help you win. And some exceptional personalities are invited to participate at a much deeper level. Thanks to everyone who reads, listens and acts on our advice, whether part of the Two-Brain family or not. Keep sharpening YOUR spear as we sharpen our own.


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.