Your Questions Answered: Q&A With Coop

Q&A with Chris Cooper

Chris Cooper: 


Is Facebook advertising dead? Should I hire a marketing agency? When do I hire a general manager? How do I buy a building? Should I carry supplements? Should I add more programs or go deeper on my core programs? These are all amazing questions that I’ve had over the last few months through email.

Today, I’m gonna answer these questions one by one in a segment that we call Q & A with Coop. If this helps you, hit like or subscribe to our YouTube channel or to whatever podcast platform you like listening to. Every few months, I like to do a Q & A episode. I get amazing letters from you through my email,, usually in response to something that we post.

Now, we post free content every single day. And so the first question that I’m g onna answer is one that I’ve had several dozen times over the last few months. And that is, how much content is too much? In general, you’re n ot p ublishing e nough c ontent. A s someone who publishes a blog post every single day, a podcast two to three times a week, and a YouTube video at least twice a week, plus videos in our private Facebook groups, plus guides in Gym Owners United. com. I’ll tell you, it is very hard to reach a threshold where you’re publishing too much content, even talking with other business coaches in different niches, nobody publishes as much content as we do.

And, you know, I first asked this question of Seth Godin, 10 years ago, he was publishing a blog post every day. And I thought, gee, maybe that’s too much. And he said, Chris, it’s never too much. The reality is that nobody goes through your back catalog. So the stuff that you said two years ago is not getting looked at. People also don’t pay attention to every form of media that you have. So if you’re saying the same thing on your podcast, as on your blog, nobody is reviewing both and rolling their eyes, right? They’re getting it one place or another. So the short answer to the question is there is no such thing as too much content. Staying in front of people, giving it to them in a medium that they enjoy consuming like a podcast or a video or a blog- that is more important than feeling like you’re repeating yourself.

Trust me, you will get tired of your own content long before your audience ever does. So what’s the minimum amount of content that you should be producing? You should be publishing content at least five times a week. It could be a blog. It could be a podcast, but it has to be meaningful.

And so a lot of people are now understanding that if they own a business, they own a media company and on their checklist for the week is I need to publish some content. And so they’ll just throw something up on Facebook, right? Something that’s not meaningful. Look , it has to be meaningful. It doesn’t have to be complex. And so I’ve got this framework that I’m gonna give you on five topics to make sure that you’re publishing media five times a week. It’s a very simple framework. It will help you get your actual media published.

Your media doesn’t have to be long form like I do. It can be a five minute podcast. It can be a blog post, but it should be on a platform that you control. i.e, not Facebook, not Instagram, not TikTok. You can put stuff there, but it should just be a link back to your platform. Like your website. You can put stuff on YouTube, but publish it on your website. You can put stuff on your podcast, but publish the show notes on your website. But don’t make this complicated, just publish five meaningful pieces, five times a week.

Now let’s get into length. You know, what’s most important, like doing one long podcast a week or doing five short posts a week? Honestly, you’re better to go shorter, if you can and make them meaningful than to have long interviews, that don’t really mean anything or ramble. A lot of gym owners now are getting into podcasting because it’s such an easy medium to produce and an easy medium to consume. But what you have to realize is that if you’re not capturing the attention of your audience, in other words, if they’re not saying, oh yeah, this is meaningful to me in the first four minutes, they’re gone. And so if you do like, a show where you’re not answering the questions that they care about, you’re not talking to the people that they’re interested in and you’re just rambling. They’re going to stop.

So before you produce a podcast, make sure that you’ve got 12 very clear and concise topics in mind to produce the first 12. If after four, you’re like bringing in a co-host, talking about the weather, doing inside jokes, you’re in trouble. So how much content? Five times a week podcast, usually 20 minutes or shorter , and YouTube videos, five minutes or less, blog post 250 words or so. Make ’em good, make ’em concise, but get them out there. Second question I got is, is Facebook advertising dead? And this is coming from people who, maybe they’ve had a lower return on their Facebook ads. Maybe they tried Facebook ads once, three times, three years ago, a year ago, they didn’t get a good ROI. The key here is that you really can’t answer this question for yourself until you’ve looked at your entire marketing funnel and done an audit. So a lot of people who said they tried Facebook advertising and it didn’t work, or they tried Instagram, or they tried billboards, really haven’t audited their whole funnel. So they don’t know what’s actually broken.

Now think of your marketing like a chain. The first link in the chain is your advertising and its sole purpose is to get people to the next link in your chain, which is your website and its sole purpose is to get people to the next link in your chain, which is your No-Sweat Intro. And its sole purpose is to get people to sign up the next link in your chain. Well , any of those four links could be broken and you won’t be able to tell the difference unless you audit them. So maybe your Facebook ads are working just fine. They’re doing their job, which is getting people to your website, but maybe your website sucks. And you know, “sucks” means that it’s not doing its job of getting people to your NSI, right? Like, maybe your website is just too artistic and not purposeful. Maybe it’s not doing its job. Maybe it’s got the wrong language. Maybe you designed it yourself, and you know, you’re not as good as you think you are. Or maybe your designer doesn’t understand the purpose of the website. And they’re creating a brilliant work of art instead of something that converts, or maybe you’re bad at No-Sweat Intros, right? Maybe the people are coming in, but they’re not signing up. And you’re saying, ah, these leads are all unqualified.

You really have to audit to answer this question for yourself. The audit is not complicated. Your Two-Brain mentor can walk you through this. We have like, a marketing funnel audit that tool that you can use. But the reality is that Facebook advertising is working incredibly well for a lot of people. Maybe they’re not getting a 30 X ROI like they were a decade ago, but any marketing where you can invest a dollar and get $3 back, to me, is a marketing system that I want to go full throttle on. And so is Facebook marketing dead? Nope . It’s working really well for a lot of people. Is it different than what it was three years ago? 100% . Is it different from what it was six months ago? Probably. Is it effective for you? You have to test it and audit it. Just like every other system in your business. Next, should I hire a marketing agency? I really don’t like this. I don’t like outsourcing nearly anything in your business, but when you do outsource something, you wanna go through this process. Okay. So first you wanna do it yourself. Then you wanna systemize it. You wanna write down exactly how it should be done and you’re going to systemize it from your own experience.

Here is how I do it. Then after you systemize it, you wanna optimize it, right? So you wanna tweak it a little bit and see like, could I do this a bit better? But within three months you should have a solid system. Then you automate it and you automate it by hiring somebody else to do it. Hiring, you know, somebody like an agency to do it or doing it with software, but you don’t automate it. You don’t outsource it. You don’t, you know, rely on software to do it for you until you’ve done it yourself, systemized it and optimized your system. So hiring a marketing agency breaks those first three rules because you’re jumping straight to step four.

Now paying a marketing agency might actually work, right? You might pay $3,000 and they might get you leads or even paying a VA to do your Instagram stories for you. You might get views on your Instagram stories. But the reality is if the rest of your marketing funnel isn’t set up, then those leads are worthless. It’s not going to work because they’re not gonna go anywhere. And you know, the problem with a marketing agency is that you don’t own the systems. You don’t possess the knowledge because you’ve never done it yourself. So when the agency stops working, and they always do, you don’t know how to fix the problem. And then when you fire them, you’re starting from ground zero all over again, right? You don’t own that knowledge because you don’t possess that skillset.

The reason that you learn how to change your tire when you’re learning to drive a car is not because you’re going to change your own tire forever. You might never change your own tire again, but you’ll have that knowledge so that if you’re ever stuck in an emergency, you know how to do it. And if somebody ever comes along and says, I’ll charge you a thousand dollars to change your tire, you’ll know that you’re getting ripped off because you know what it actually takes to change that tire. And it’s the same with complex systems. You might say, I don’t know how to, you know, get people from Instagram. I’m gonna pay this company a thousand bucks a month to get me people from Instagram. But you will not possess that knowledge. You will not have a sense of what it actually should cost you or what is required. And when it stops working, you won’t know how to fix it. And in the case of an emergency, because agencies do go out of business, you don’t wanna lose that access.

I’ll give you another emergency. Especially with marketing agencies. Sometimes the marketing agencies can run ads that are working really, really well in Los Angeles, but they’re not gonna work in New York, or sometimes they’re gonna run ads that like they work well for a little while, but then the Facebook rules change and they get shut down. And now you’ve lost your social accounts, right? That’s happened. The other thing too is that the agency has no skin in the game. So they’re getting paid no matter what. Their big advice to you always is going to be increase ad spend, because they’re not paid based on the ROI that they get, but you are. So if you’re hiring an agency, you’re getting like a three X ROI on what you’re spending. That’s great. When you have time, learn to do it yourself. Not because you’re gonna fire the agency, but eventually you’re gonna have to have that knowledge.

Marketing agencies are, I think, one of the riskiest things that you can spend your money on in a microgym, because you don’t know the ROI that you’re getting and you don’t know how to replace them. You’re totally dependent on them. And over time , it’s the law of diminishing returns. You’re gonna get less value for that service, but you won’t know how to fix it or replace them. And you’ll be dependent on a service that’s losing value.

Next, should I hire a general manager? Now, this comes up a lot because I’ve talked about it in several books, especially “Founder Farmer Tinker Thief.” So when you’re in the Farmer phase, you are managing other people. You have staff for the first time, you have to grow your skill set to actually manage others, instead of just providing your service of coaching, or nutrition coaching, or personal training. So you’re managing other people. And eventually you’ll reach this place where you’ve got a little bit of extra money, a little bit of extra time. And you think, you know, if somebody else was managing this for me, I could spend my time working on this other stuff. Or if somebody else was doing the billing and the booking and managing the staff and calling clients who hadn’t paid, I could spend more time coaching.

The key, though, is that you are already making what you want to make. The business is already where you want it to be. And you want to make sure that it stays that way. A general manager can manage your business. Manage is another word for maintain. In general, a manager will not grow your business for you. The big mistake that gym owners make when they’re hiring a general manager is they think, I’m just gonna pay somebody to do the stuff that I don’t like doing, or don’t know how to do, like sales and marketing. The reality is that most general managers are not gonna have that skillset . They’re not gonna be as good at sales as you are. They’re not gonna know how to market. They’re not gonna know how to grow your business. And this mistake gets compounded when you promote a coach to be the general manager of your gym. So the mistake doubles, because now you’ve got somebody with a coaching skillset, a passion for coaching, and you’re taking them out of coaching mostly, And you’re putting them in an administrative role where they have no skillset, no desire and no passion.

And unfortunately this happens all the time because the gym owner will say something like, oh, this coach is so great. I want them to be here full time. I want them to give the gym their full attention. How can I justify full time? I can call them the general manager and I can pay them more money to be the manager. But the owner is not making what they wanna make. And so they’re constantly looking over their shoulder to like audit the general manager or micromanage the manager. They are duplicating tasks. They’re frequently saying like, I’ll just do this myself. They’re mad when the general manager can’t grow the business, even though they don’t have that skillset, they’re mad when the manager can’t manage the money or trim expenses or show up in the middle of the night because that person is not incentivized to do it. So when do you hire a general manager?

When you’re making a hundred thousand dollars a year, and you’ve got as much money as you want to make, and maybe a little bit more. When you see other opportunities, like you’re gonna open a second location or you’re going to start your own supplement company, or, you know, you’re gonna learn about investments or you’re gonna buy an Airbnb. In short, when you’re moving into the Tinker phase of entrepreneurship, that’s when you hire a general manager to maintain the business that you built in the Farmer phase, okay?

A general manager might not be your best coach and they don’t always have to be full time . Most microgyms don’t have the revenue to introduce like a management layer. But somebody could be your general manager for about 20 hours a week. And if you’re in the Two-Brain program, we have job descriptions , like a roles and tasks breakdown. We have sample pay structures. We have evaluations. Everything you need to hire a general manager is in the growth phase.

Next is how do I buy a building? So in some of my books I’ve talked about taking the incremental gains that you get from your gym and investing them in things that will give you exponential gains, like cashflow assets.

You know, it could be investments. It could be, sometimes, crypto <laugh> it could be real estate. And the assumption that people make is that they need to buy the building that will house their gym. That’s not necessarily true. And it’s a mistake that I made too. I get it. When you’re buying real estate, that’s going t o cash flow, like pay for itself and pay you a dividend, there are options now, besides just buying commercial real estate, for example, you could buy an Airbnb, okay. You could buy something that you rent out somewhere else.

And these things will create positive cash flow. The last building that I bought was a self-storage building. And that pays for itself because of the rental income that I make every month, which is greater than the mortgage. So think outside the box, literally. You don’t have to jump to buying the big commercial building in which your gym is in.

I did it first. It took me like two and a half years to actually find a spot. It was tough because I didn’t wanna actually move my gym, but you can own a building one place and rent a spot for your gym somewhere else. And that’s okay . Right. Also, another tip, you don’t want your gym to be the only tenant of the building that you buy. Because now what you’ve done, yeah. You’re paying yourself the rent that you would’ve been paying somebody else.

But the reality is that now, if the building has a problem that you have to fix, you have to take the money from your gym because there’s no other money.

Or if your gym business struggles, you still have to pay the mortgage. And so, you know, I did it this way, but if you can have a couple of sub-tenants, that’s probably better, right? It’ll, number one, it’ll help you pay the mortgage off faster. Number two, it’ll give you cash flow ongoing , and number three, it’ll remove the entire burden of the mortgage from your gym. OK. All right.

What about supplements, Chris, in your first books, you said it was a mistake for microgym owners to carry supplements. Yes. And that’s because back then, when I wrote the first book, it’s been eight or nine years now, the only way that you could really carry supplements in a microgym was to stock them yourself. And so you would like, you’d have to balance, do I buy a big inventory so that I can make a bigger margin or do I buy a small inventory? Because I don’t want to tie up $2,000 in cash in product. And honestly, what would happen is like there would always be waste 10 to 20% of your inventory would just like age out ’cause you wouldn’t sell it, or you’d have to sell it at a discount or you’d have to sell it aggressively.

And you know, most microgym owners didn’t have two grand lying around where they could afford to waste four hundred of it or write it off as inventory, or even just leave it on their shelf for a month. And so, you know, back then a decade ago, whatever, buying retail or buying supplements was not a great investment, but now that’s changed. You know, the whole market is different. Now you can do presales so you’re not going out of pocket at all. You can prescribe or, you know, recommend supplements as part of your nutrition program. You can have taster nights, you can educate your clients on what they should buy and just have that available. You can even set up an online affiliate program where you never stock anything, a client orders their own stuff through an affiliate website and you just get paid, and the product doesn’t even touch your hands, ever. So yeah, I do actually think that supplements are probably a good idea for a microgym right now. The margins are better. The product quality is 10 times better. And the risk is almost nil. So yeah, I do think that helps, especially because like, let’s face it. This really hit home when a Popeye’s, which is like a GNC opened up in my town for the first time. And I started seeing clients showing up at the gym with these shaker bottles of crap products that were actually negating a lot of the progress they were making in the gym.

So they’d do a hard workout. That would be the catalyst for their progress. They’d be eating smart. And then they’d be taking a waste supplement that had a ton of corn sugar in it, right. Corn syrup. And they would actually be losing gains. And of course they would blame the gym. And so I said, look, it’s better off for me to find the best supplement for them. Actually tell them what to buy, help them make that decision.

It’s my job as a coach, but also protect my business from the negative effects that they’re getting from these other supplements. Okay. And let’s face it. Like, they go to a supplement store, the sales people are all on commission. They have a vested interest in telling your client that they need hydrolyzed super isotonic whey protein that they don’t. And now your client is, like, spending an extra 200 bucks a month on supplements they don’t need, and questioning their gym membership. You know, it’s a defensive as well as an offensive position to take, to sell supplements. So the last question came up in Gym Owners United. And if you’re not in this group, you can just go to Gym Owners It’s a free Facebook group that we run. I’m in there. I try to answer questions once or twice a day for free. My mentoring team is all in there doing the same. There’s 5,500 or 6,000 gym owners in there who are providing guidance, resources, experience, and advice. It’s just a super valuable, free place to be. And a question came up in Gym Owners United this week about core programs. 

So in one of my books, I think it was “Two-Brain Business 2.0,” I provided this list of supplementary or specialty groups that you could offer at a microgym. And this list was like 30 ideas deep. Most of them, I had run myself and a lot of people saw that list and said, I need to have 30 programs. I need to have very diverse revenue streams . And that wasn’t the intent, but I didn’t explain it well. So the intent is, you wanna have revenue diversity. You cannot just depend on group classes, just like you can’t depend on one-on-one training to have a stable, scalable business , but you also don’t need 30. What you actually need are three core services. You need a group training program, which is probably, like, your discount or your lowest price budget option. You need a one-on-one program, which is your premium offering, and you need something in between. And that might be a nutrition program. It might be like , small group training, something like that. So three core offerings. Make those three core offerings really, really good, like, you know, make your first hundred thousand dollars in net owner benefit on those three core offerings, get into Farmer Phase and through Farmer Phase on those three core offerings. When it’s time to make more money or make an opportunity for a staff person, or it’s time to solve a problem that your clients need solving, that’s when you add a fourth or a specialty program. 

For example, a lot of gyms added online coaching during COVID because that’s what their clients needed at the time. They did not offer online training because they saw that as another good revenue stream, even though it is a good revenue stream. And as soon as their gym came out of lockdown, they got rid of that option. Well, some of us kept the option because we saw that it helped our clients and clients wanted it .

Another great one is kids. A lot of people say it would be so easy to add a kids program. Why don’t I just do that? And they get their kids trained up through Brand X, beautiful. They start marketing it and they find like, “Oh man, it’s hard to fill these classes.” The time to add a kids program is when you have a coach who’s really passionate about coaching kids and you wanna give them an opportunity. Or the time to add it is when you’ve got a bunch of kids who are coming to your gym and sitting around on their phones while their parents are working out, or your gym is next to a high school and you see all these kids who are overweight, you know, getting picked up from school.

They’re not even walking home and getting no exercise and you see an opportunity to serve better. Or your clients are saying at goal review time, geez. I wish I could motivate my lazy kids, get them off the Xbox.  Okay. That’s when you do it, you don’t do it just for the sake of diversifying your revenue, because that will pull your attention away from the core services that should be making you a hundred thousand dollars a year, take home as a gym owner anyway.

So make your three core services really, really good first. And then think about, how do I expand my platform and scale up and create new opportunities to serve my clients first, and then my staff. That’s really the key. A lot of people, they’ve got the core services set up, or they’ve got, like, one service and it gets hard, right? It it’s like, oh , it’s hard to get people into my group program. It’s been a bad month for PT. I need to do something else. Instead of, like, focusing in on the thing that’s gonna scale and actually pay them the most, they get distracted and they set up campfire guitar group, which I’ve done. It’s awesome. But, you know, don’t let it distract you from selling your other thing. Or they think, like, I’m maxed. I can’t sell any more personal training. I’ve told everybody in my gym about nutrition and nobody wants to sign up. I haven’t gotten a new group class member in two weeks.

I need to stop talking about CrossFit and start a bootcamp. Instead when things get hard, we’d look for new things instead of fixing the problems that we have. But really three core services is more than enough. 150 clients is more than enough to pay you a hundred thousand dollars a year as a gym owner. Make those three good before you expand. So that’s the end of our Q & A time.

I get great questions all the time. If you have a question, please email me at I get that myself. I don’t have assistants who read my email inbox. You can join Gym Owners United. You can ask questions in there and get help really quick from other caring gym owners. We curate that group really closely. The stuff that you’re scared to ask in other Facebook groups you can ask in here. The stuff that you’re worried other gym owners are gonna tease you for, or give you a hard time. You can ask that question here. Yeah. There have been jerks in the group. We’ve kicked out over 1300 people who just weren’t a good fit, who weren’t improving the conversation, who weren’t sharing knowledge, you know, who were not even asking or answering questions respectfully, who weren’t tactful and polite. They’re gone.

Gym Owners United is a great place to ask these questions. So just go to Gym Owners and that’ll redirect you to a free Facebook group .

I hope this helps. We produce this to help you. And so if it helps, please subscribe to our YouTube channel, subscribe to our podcast on whatever podcast platform you like. And that will tell me that it’s helpful and we’ll keep producing. All right. See you next time.

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