How To Overcome The Biggest Challenges You’ll Face As A Fitness Business Owner
It’s nearly every fitness pro, personal trainer and strength coach’s dream to one day have their own gym and be their own boss. Unlike the path to getting certified and securing your first job as a trainer, a business owner’s journey is not clearly defined.
That leaves many fitness pros jumping in head first and modeling what looks like success of the people that they admire. You’ll run the same programs as the presenter you admired at a big fitness conference or try to recreate their gym and culture as your start up business without having an idea how they actually built it in the first place.
Without trying to put a damper on your dreams, it’s important that you understand running a business and starting a gym is incredibly challenging. And the challenges don’t stop once you’ve got a few clients. At every level you experience new challenges and issues that you have to overcome to reach the next level of success.
It’s a lot like a video game. There are levels with increasingly difficult milestones to hit or bosses to beat if you want to advance. And just because you didn’t advance on your first try, or maybe you’re completely happy at the level you’ve reached it doesn’t make you a failure.
In a previous article I’ve laid out the Journey of A Fitness Business Owner. That will serve as a great supplement to this article as you build your own successful fitness business.
We’re going to take a deep dive at what’s required for you to navigate this competitive industry and find the success you want. Your chances for success increase greatly by following along and implementing the ideas, strategies and concepts that I’ll be sharing.
The biggest mistake you can make is assuming that you have the most basic skills and competencies covered in your business and jump too far ahead. Do a quick ego check and truly evaluate your business.
Ignoring areas of your business that could cause or are causing problems won’t make them go away. It also won’t make it sting less when they manifest themselves in your business.
The goal isn’t to put a quick fix in place for some of these challenges or to build out everything in your business all at once. The goal is to be a little better tomorrow than you are today.
“Nothing Happens Until A Sale Is Made”
That quote has been attributed to a number of people including Peter Drucker and Thomas Watson. As a fitness pro you may be a little put off by it, maybe even offended. If that’s the case, lean in to that discomfort a little bit. Why do you think it makes you feel that way?
Most fitness pros avoid selling like the plague. You get uncomfortable asking to be paid what you’re worth for something you’d probably do for free.
Those uncomfortable feelings, and negative mindsets around sales and money are the biggest cause of failure for fitness pros in the earlier stages of business. Without being able to generate revenue your business cannot survive.
You’ll hear things like…
“I don’t want to be too salesy”
“I’ll let my experience and expertise sell for me”
“I’m an introvert”
These are all simply excuses for not selling and display a person’s misunderstanding of sales. Selling ethically means that the customer invests in your services on your terms and both parties (you and them) are happy with the exchange.
The biggest shift that you’ll have to overcome is understanding that you aren’t selling workouts or nutrition coaching to someone. You are selling the idea of a transformation to them and that the best way to accomplish that transformation is with your services.
Sales isn’t a talent that you either have or don’t. You can develop sales skills and that is best done by having a process to follow. You reply on a training process to deliver results for your clients, so let’s put a sales process in place to generate results (revenue) for your business.
The Fitness Pro’s Sales Process
Your foundational sales process should be simple. Trying to use advanced closing techniques or overcoming objections by using NLP is a mistake when you’re first starting out.
Let’s breakdown the steps in your sales process:
- Acquire A Prospect
- Discovery Call
- Success Session
- Front End Offer Delivery
Acquire A Prospect
Prospects are potential clients that have indicated an interest or inquired about your services. Someone filling out an application, calling you from your site or filling out your contact form on your site are all prospects.
The biggest difference in a lead and a prospect is their interest level. Many times a lead will become a prospect by the act they took to engage with you. Other times a lead will have to be nurtured to become a prospect (i.e. a person on your email list stays there for months before replying back to ask about your pricing).
Now that you’ve got a name and contact information, both email and phone is best, you can begin to qualify this individual. Typically this happens through a Discovery Call, or a quick 10-15 minute conversation, between you and prospect to determine if you should take the next steps.
During this call you want to control the conversation. The prospect will have questions about your service, and it’s perfectly acceptable to answer those questions, but you should control the dialogue. If you don’t the prospect will ask questions like “how much does it cost to work with you?” and “what do you do?”
As a skilled sales person you’ll take control by asking a lot of questions about the prospect and their goals. You want to find out why they want to hire you, what their end goal is and how they plan on making their decision to hire a trainer or not.
Controlling the conversation doesn’t mean you talk the most! You want to ask questions to steer the Discovery Call and get the info you need, but the prospect should do 80% of the talking. At the end of this Discovery Call the ideal outcome is to schedule a Success Session, FR’s lingo for consultation, and meet with the client 1-on-1 for a more thorough evaluation.
The Success Session
This is your chance to shine and really connect with the potential prospect. However, the focus still needs to be on the prospect and their goals. Simply trying to wow a prospect with your knowledge and expertise won’t guarantee a closed sale.
There are 4 parts to a Success Session:
- Value Building
- The Close
Each of the 4 parts has a defined purpose and sets up the parts that follow. Skipping part of the process, reordering the parts or ‘winging it’ all lead to unpredictable results with sales. Trust the process!
Engagement is all about creating a connection with the prospect, finding common ground and establishing rapport. This is your chance to throw in a little small talk and get the prospect feeling comfortable with you. The more comfortable they are with you the better chance of them being open and honest in the next part of the Success Session.
Discovery is where you spend most of your time. This is about finding your prospects pain, the emotional reason they want to hire a trainer or coach. If you can get the prospect to paint you a clear picture (with their words of course) of how they see and feel about themselves now and how they see and will feel about themselves once they’ve reached their goal you’ve done a great job!
You aren’t trying to solve their problems during Discovery. Don’t wow them with how you will fix the pain and get them to their goals, just let them talk to you about their challenges, obstacles and issues.
Value Building is your place to shine! Now that you know where someone sees themselves and where they want to go, as well as their biggest challenges, it’s easy to create a clear path for them to reach their goals. Show the prospect how you’ll help them and get them to their goal while avoiding the obstacles that are holding them back, but do it using layman’s terms.
Finally, you’re all set to close. This is where you get the commitment from the prospect to pay for your help. If you’ve followed the process up to this point you’ve got a great chance at winning a new client.
There are two options here:
- Sell your Front End Offer
- Sell your Core Offer
The easiest route is to sell the client on your trial, jump start or entry level offer to ‘test drive’ your services. This is a lower cost, low barrier to entry program that allows them to experience what you can do for them without having to make a big commitment.
You’ll have a lot of success by selling through your Front End Offer. However, you must put another conversion conversation in place to ensure the commitment of the prospect into your Core Offer (primary, full priced service). Many fitness pros mistakenly assume a client in their Front End Offer will automatically want to join their Core Offer.
Closing doesn’t have to be complex or complicated. A simple A/B close technique is all you need to have success.
It goes something like this “Mrs. Jones, based off what we’ve discussed today the best program to help you [list goal] is going to be our personal training program. You can either start out at 2 days per week or 3 days per week and our clients that get the best results commit to 12 months of working with us. Which of those two programs would you like to get started with today?”
You’re going to get questions and objections. That’s okay, take a deep breath, stay calm and address them. As long as you don’t get a direct “NO!” from a client you’ve still got a chance to close the deal.
Front End Offer (FEO) Delivery
If you get a prospect that needs to go through your Front End Offer before committing to a longer term commitment you need to put a few steps in place to increase the chances they stay around.
The most basic step to put in place is a scheduled follow up Success Session with them for 3-5 days before their FEO ends. This should be scheduled at the time of the initial Success Session. Creating this opportunity to convert the FEO client into a Core Offer (CO) client, address their questions and present your offer to them is critical.
Throughout the FEO you should have 2-5, depending on the length of the FEO, touch points in place to communicate with and check in on the FEO client.
The simple process above will be enough to help you reach your initial goals. As you get more comfortable selling you can add to your sales toolbox and develop advanced techniques and sales skills.
Upfront Contracts, alternate closes, reversing strategies, questioning techniques and others will compliment your basic process, not replace it.
The Fitness Pro Marketing Plan
Any effective plan requires a good strategy and disciplined implementation. Expanding your reach, building your brand and positioning your fitness business isn’t done through random acts of marketing.
It doesn’t matter if you are a one person show or have a team of trainers working for you in your business, marketing is mandatory for success. There’s good news though! Marketing doesn’t have to be complex or confusing.
Great marketing begins with a strategy, aligned to support your business’ overall objectives and accomplish your business goals. So, what goes into a great marketing strategy.
Your marketing strategy should include:
- A defined Core Offer
- Ideal Client Profile
- Local Market Positioning
These 3 components create the foundation for your marketing plan. Investing the time to create a solid foundation will produce better long-term results for your business. But, you don’t need a perfect marketing strategy in place to begin marketing.
Defining Your Core Offer
The mistake many fitness pros make in their business, especially when trying to generate enough revenue to keep the lights on, is offering too many services and programs. Being a jack of all trades and master of none will burn you out quickly.
Your Core Offer should be the thing you’re best at in your business. You’ll be building your business around this service. It gives you a focal point and purpose for your marketing activities.
This doesn’t mean you can only have one offering in your business, but you should have one primary offering that allows you to grow and scale your business. Supplemental programs can also support your business growth, but won’t be your focus.
As your business matures you can expand your Core Offerings and open up new revenue streams for your business. Until then, relentlessly focus on growing your Core Offer.
Ideal Client Profile
Your Ideal Client is the prototype of the individuals that you will build your entire business around. This doesn’t mean that you will only accept your Ideal Client, but your marketing will be set up to find and attract this Ideal Client.
It seems counterintuitive to zero in on just one profile. By focusing your Ideal Client Profile on one person you are better able to imagine their pains, needs, challenges, objections and lifestyle to market effectively.
Your Ideal Client Profile covers the following:
- Marital Status
- Buying Process
Bring it all together by including a picture of your Ideal Client. This allows you to tell your Ideal Client’s story and use that story in your marketing to attract them. When you’re done you’ll know where to find your Ideal Client, what marketing channels to use and how to market to them.
Local Market Positioning
Your ability to answer the question “Why should a customer choose your business over someone else’s?” can make or break your marketing. You need to know what makes you different and how to communicate that message via your marketing.
Your Local Market Positioning should:
- Differentiate your service from the competition
- Address important customer buying criteria
- Articulate key service characteristics
This can be accomplished by creating a list of differentiators and a powerful positioning statement. You’ll spend quite a bit of time refining and perfecting your differentiators and positioning statement.
You want 3-5 differentiators, that when put together, make your business unique and stand out from the competition. This is done by brainstorming a list of the features, benefits, and statistics in your business.
Once you have your list filter it by running it through the key buying criteria of your Ideal Client. The goal is to get a solid list of 3-5, that when used together make you the obvious best choice for your Ideal Client. Craft these up into statements that clearly communicate the importance to your Ideal Client.
Your positioning statement is like a verbal calling card. It will address who you are, who you help and how you help them. You’ll have to work through a few versions to get to your final, impactful version.
Here’s an example:
“For men who want to lose 20 lbs or more Fitness Revolution is a personal training studio that helps them regain confidence, lose that spare tire and feel 10 years younger in less than 2 hours per week in the gym using our SHRED training program.”
That clearly addressed the needs and concerns of a busy guy that needs to lose 20 lbs but doesn’t want to spend a ton of time in the gym. It also prompts questions such as “what is SHRED” and “how do you do that” which create conversation opportunities.
Building A Marketing Plan
Random acts of marketing won’t produce great results. Unfortunately, that’s exactly how many fitness pros approach their marketing plan. They do a few things here and there when they have time and if things get a little slow in the business they panic and ramp up marketing activity.
What if you had a more systematic and calculated approach to marketing?
That’s exactly what the Triple A Marketing Method does for you and your business. It helps you drill down into focused activities to drive your lead generation. The three A’s of the Triple A are Assets, Arsenal and Action.
Once we’ve identified your action plan you can focus on those key activities and plug them into a marketing calendar that will help you organize your promotions and key marketing initiatives for the year.
Now, I get that this isn’t some fancy funnel or Facebook Advertising hack. Those can be included in your marketing plan, if you have the budget and skills to get them implemented. However, they aren’t the only way to grow your business.
Evaluate Your Assets
Assets are resources, skills or people that are present in your business. By focusing on your strengths and assets that already exist we can get things off the ground a lot sooner. Review your business, your team and yourself to determine your assets.
Here are some ideas:
- Unique ability to network
- A valuable network in your community
- Enjoy public speaking
- Copywriting skills
- Money to spend on marketing
- Technology skills (building web pages)
- FB following
- Email list
Take an inventory of all the assets available to you and include your team members if you have them. Once you have your list, prioritize the top 5 that you plan to leverage to enhance your marketing.
Build Your Arsenal
Your marketing arsenal includes the array of ways that you will generate leads in your business. Arsenal items are typically the tactical marketing methods that may already be familiar to you such as referral rewards, Facebook marketing, and networking.
There should be continuity between your assets and your arsenal items. For example if you didn’t list public speaking skills as an asset then running workshops or seminars probably shouldn’t be in your arsenal.
To complete your arsenal you need to pick AT LEAST ONE arsenal item for each of the three channels of marketing. This includes an internal channel, online channel and offline channel. By diversifying your efforts you’ll create maximum exposure and your activity will be enough to support your marketing goals.
You’ll be better served by doing a few things really well rather than doing a mediocre job on a few things. For example, if you only have $50/mo to spend on Facebook ads you should probably use that money in another channel because you won’t be able to drive enough traffic to your ads to support your marketing goals (we typically see it costing fitness pros $5-10/lead). You should focus on something else and save your money to invest in Facebook ads once you’ve generated more revenue.
As you want to scale your business or shift to working more on the business instead of in the business you may choose to devote more time and energy into your marketing. At that point you’ll scale your marketing arsenal items and increase the number of items you have in each channel.
Below you’ll find lists of potential options for the three marketing channels.
Online Marketing Examples:
- Social Media Marketing
- Paid Facebook Advertising
- Email Marketing
Offline Marketing Examples:
- Direct Mail
- Joint Ventures
- Public Speaking
Internal Marketing Examples:
- Referral Rewards Programs
- Bring A Friend
- Referral Contests
- Review Sites
- Testimonial Marketing
The options and tactics you can use in each channel are numerous, don’t consider this an exhaustive list.
Your Action Plan
Now you need to get to work and build out daily, weekly and monthly actions that will drive leads into your business. This is where we shift the focus from the outcome (leads, new clients, revenue, etc) to the habits and actions (calling your network, setting up public speaking, posting to social media). There is a lot that you can’t control in marketing, so we want to focus on the things you can control and that give you the best chance for success.
A great action plan ties in your marketing strategy. You should focus on the actions that you think will appeal to your ideal client and focus your marketing efforts on the places you can get your marketing infront of these people.
Recently a coaching client that works with older adults (70+ years old) inquired about Facebook ads on a coaching call. After some digging he couldn’t prove to me that his Ideal Client was actively using Facebook or that they actually bought things from Facebook. He needed to go back and research his market to see if that activity would be a good fit. Instead of jumping to a popular tactic we discussed how he could spend the same marketing money to send direct mail to neighborhoods and communities where these individuals lived.
Marketing the right message in the wrong place will deliver poor results!
Below is an example action plan for a fitness professional.
- Ask for 1 referral
- Post 3 times to social media
- Send weekly email newsletter
- Post one new video on blog/YouTube
- Reach out to 5 new Joint Venture Partners
- Host one seminar
- Collect 2 client testimonials
Your marketing action plan will be unique and vary depending on time available, commitment to growth, size and type of business, etc. Don’t try to match what others are doing, but rather model successful habits, follow principles and create your own plan!
Creating Your Marketing Calendar
Your action plan will be about sharing valuable content, building your expert status in the community and creating opportunities to capture leads. Everything has a purpose and that purpose is to move someone one step close to becoming a lead or prospect for your business.
The social media posts should have clear calls to action and next steps for the person reading/watching your posts. The newsletter should have at least one offer in it each month to drive someone to your Front End Offer or have them take the next step with you. Your joint venture calls are to create opportunities for them to promote you and maybe help you set up your seminars. You collect testimonials to share in your newsletter, social media and prove that you get clients great results.
Don’t waste time on random activities in your marketing!
Your Triple A Action items will go into your marketing calendar so that you can track them over the course of the quarter and year. You’ll also want to plan out your annual promotions and big events that will drive more leads into your business. For example mapping out a quarterly or monthly seminar, bi annual referral contest and three transformation challenges each year create opportunities to increase your marketing. You’ll have set marketing for each of these promotions and your Triple A actions should support those promotions as well.
Performance Measurement in Your Fitness Business
There’s a good chance you track your client performance, right? You do regular assessments, weigh ins, body fat testing, etc. Why would you spend time marketing and invest energy into running your business but not track your performance?
No one has taught you how to do it or you don’t see the value. Those are really the only two answers that make any sense. I’d like to change that today and show you how and why it’s critical to your business.
Remember the reference to video game levels we discussed early in this article? That’s very relevant when talking about tracking your performance. At first you don’t need to know very last little detail about your marketing or business performance. However, as you grow data becomes more important and the decisions that you need to make require you to have that data.
The only reason we track performance is to see if what we are doing is working. Wouldn’t your client get really frustrated if they spend 3 hours a week working out and focused on their nutrition only to find out they weren’t making progress? Now imagine that client not checking their weight, body fat or looking at performance improvements for over a year. They just kept plugging along, being frustrated and hoping something changed but not knowing what was going on.
That’s exactly how most business owners go about running their business! Blindly doing things, staying busy, but never knowing if what they are doing really matters or if its working for them.
To get started you’ll only need to measure a few key metrics. They are easy to track and don’t take up a lot of time, especially if you know what they are and have the tools to track them effectively.
If you’re not tracking anything right now start with the following:
- New Leads
- New Front End Offers
- New Core Offers
- Lost Clients
- Total Clients
- Gross Revenue
- Autopay Revenue (amount of revenue from EFT payments)
The first four metrics are what we call your 4 Sales and Marketing Pillars. They give you an checkpoint each week on where you’re at with your marketing and if you are on pace to hit your goals. Total clients is a nice number to know at at all times so you can evaluate growth.
Leads low every week? You’re probably not going to hit your New Core Offer or revenue goals. Losing a lot of clients? You need to focus on retention.
The final three metrics are monthly financial metrics that you need to be tracking so that you have a finger on the pulse of your business financial health. All of these can be used to figure your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for your business.
When you’re ready to take it to the next level and you’ve consistently been measuring and reviewing your 4 Pillars and Monthly Financial metrics you can begin to measure your marketing performance.
This is where things get a little more advanced. You want to be able to track all leads, lead channel and conversion metrics in your business. We provide our coaching clients with a Lead Tracker that allows them to do all of these things including lead/prospect follow up.
If you’re just getting started you’ll need to have a spreadsheet or method to track all leads, critical information about the lead and where they end up in your sales pipeline. One other key piece is tracking lead channel so that you know which of your marketing activities brought in the leads.
This will show you holes in your pipeline and also marketing channel performance so that you can optimize your marketing and sales processes. Without this data you’re guessing, and none of us have the time or energy to guess when it comes to growing our business.
Your next level of metrics will include:
- Core Offer Conversion Rate
- Retention Rate
- Core Offer Growth Rate
- Operating Margin
- Autopay to Expense Ratio
- Lead Channel Performance
As a business owner you’ll be able to run your business off these metrics. If you evaluate these metrics monthly and set goals for them you’ll begin to notice trends and the numbers will tell you if there is a problem to fix in your business.
This is not a comprehensive list of numbers you need to track in your business. From here, as you grow, departments in your business will be responsible for a more indepth set of metrics and individuals on your team will be responsible for metrics. At the end of the day they should all tie back to the bigger plan for the business and support your goals.
Goal Setting & Goal Getting
If you’ve got metrics you can set good goals! As business coaches, we at Fitness Revolution, want our clients to be able to set and exceed big goals. You need to have confidence in the plan you’ve put together and its ability to help you reach your goals.
As your just getting started goals are pretty basic. They are probably short term, monthly or maybe quarterly goals that are focused on revenue or growth. Things get a little trickier as you grow and your business moves into different stages.
With the right planning and goal setting cycles in place you can accomplish a lot in a year. You should be setting both annual and quarterly goals in your business. At first quarterly goals are more important, because you don’t have the experience or information to set great annual goals. As you progress as a business owner your annual goals become more clear and the quarterly goals are used to as milestones to accomplish your bigger, organization wide company goals.
Eventually you’ll get in a cycle of planning for your business (more on that later), but until then you need to create some objectives and goals for your business each year.
The sweet spot for most businesses is 2-4 annual objectives and a clear set of goals for, at the very least, the following:
- New Core Offer Clients
- Retention Rate
- Operating Margin
- Gross Revenue
It would be great to set goals for all of your 4 Sales and Marketing Pillars, and in a perfect world that’s exactly what you’d do. However, the metrics listed above are the key drivers for your business. By focusing on these you’ll have to produce good results will all the others.
Your objectives for the year should be the most important projects or initiatives in your business that need to be done so that you are set up for long term success or help you accomplish your metric goals.
For example, putting a new client onboarding process in place can be a key initiative if you need to improve your retention.
Annual goals give you a big target to try and hit, but they are typically too big and too far away to motivate most business owners. That’s why you’ll need to zoom in a little and set some clear targets for the next 90 days.
This 90-day cycle seems to be the sweet spot for being long enough to accomplish something meaningful but not so far out that you lose motivation or get bored. You’ll use the same set of metrics to set goals for the quarter as you do annually.
Other than your goals what projects do you need to complete, milestones do you need to hit or habits to instill that ensure you accomplish all of your annual objectives? These will be your Rocks.
Your Rocks can be one of your annual objectives that you are going to focus on completing in the next 90 days or a project that will set you up to accomplish your annual objectives.
For example if you have an annual objective to have “All Core Processes developed and documented” you may have a quarterly Rock to “Develop and Document Our Marketing Process”.
These Rocks will be your top priority during the quarter and the most important thing you should be working on as the business owner. In the early stages of your business these will likely be tied directly to your metric goals and revolve around sales and marketing growth. As your business matures you’ll work to develop systems and implement processes that make your business more efficient.
Building Your Team
One of the biggest challenges you’ll face as a business owner is learning how, when and who to hire. At some point you’re simply not going to be able to keep up with all the tasks that need to be completed for your business to run well. Your success and growth has now created a time management problem.
Many fitness business owners hire out of desperation. They get burnt out, stressed and bring on the first person they can find to do whatever it is they can get off their plate. You violate the age old rule of “hire slow, fire fast”.
Before hiring your first team member take a look at your business and see if you can outsource some of the things that are eating up a decent chunk of your time (not just the stuff you don’t want to do) that someone else is better capable of doing. For example, outsourcing your bookkeeping is a great way to stay on top of your finances and offload a few hours a week of tasks. You can also get this done relatively inexpensively.
Avoid the mistake of trying to hire for marketing and sales positions first! Those are high ROI, revenue generating activities. Not to mention those being highly compensated positions, at least if you want good candidates, and tougher to find. The exception to this rule finding a company to manage your Facebook Advertising if you are using that as a marketing channel.
Your best bet as a first hire is to find a good administrative assistant. There are a lots of qualified candidates and you can hire them relatively cheap. The duties required for an admin can also be done just about anytime so their work hours can be flexible.
There are a few key steps you need to get in place before making your first hire though, and I know it seems a little over the top but doing it will avoid a lot of frustration for you in the future.
Building Your Position Description
Consider this your Ideal Client profile for a team member. If you hire before clearly defining what this position will be responsible for and how they will be assessed there’s a good chance you’ll pile a bunch of random things on them. That’s a good way to frustrate them and have them quit.
Your position description should include the following:
- Position Title
- Core Responsibilities
- Specific Duties & Responsibilities
This provides you and the new team member clarity on what they do, where they fit in the business and how they will be assessed. Skipping this step or trying to short cut your way around it ends up bad for the business owner nearly every time.
Core Responsibilities in the position description are the 2-5 primary responsibilities that the individual or position is responsible for completing. They are the 20% of their job that produces 80% of the results for your business.
Every position should also have metrics that are used to measure performance. This may be a customer satisfaction rating, response time, or even retention metric depending on the position.
The Hiring Process
Before you begin to interview and fill the position, you need to define your hiring process. Doing this before you start allows you to focus your efforts on the actual hiring as you navigate the process. This gives you a set of guidelines and some structure to make decisions easier.
A successful hiring process includes:
- Position description
- Budget for compensation
- Recruiting for the position
- Interview process
- Onboarding and training
Defining these items before you start removes having to ‘figure it out’ or ‘think about it’ when questions and situations arise in your hiring. A few hours of prep before hiring will save you a lot of headaches, frustration and bad hires in the future.
After your first hire or two it’s time to build an Organizational Chart. This is much easier to do when your team is small and it seems like an unnecessary step than it is to do when you have a team of 5 to figure out where to place them.
Org charts provide a clear line of communication and help your team understand responsibilities in the organization.
There are a few rules for an Org Chart you should follow:
- CANNOT have more than 1 person per seat
- One person CAN hold more than 1 seat
- Don’t get crazy with the number of seats
- Don’t make it horizontal
Your Org Chart and position descriptions should align. When you get this resource in place for your business delegation and implementing systems becomes a lot easier because of the improved communication and understanding of the organizational structure.
Systems, Automation, Delegation
Fitness businesses are people centric and utilize processes to optimize the peoplein them. Your business will likely never run off checklists and fully automated systems. You need people to run your business and by hiring with care you’ll find the right people to make your business run. While this isn’t as sexy as systemizing and automating your business, mostly because it requires a bit more work, the rewards can be great.
Systems, automation and delegation are tools that you can put in place to optimize the performance of the people in your business. The goal is to make their job easier and more efficient so they can spend more time on what matters most.
Here are a few of the key systems to put in place once you have a small team or need to optimize your own time:
- Follow up systems for leads and prospects
- Client retention systems to increase lifetime value
- Training systems to deliver consistent results
- Employee Handbook to act as a resource for team members
- Cash management system
- Annual Planning system/cycle
Systems are created to deliver a specific result. They are created to support people in their jobs. Delegation should be used to get a task in handed off to the right position, not simply to get something off your plate because you don’t like doing it. This includes tasks that are below your pay grade as the business owner.
Automation can be extremely helpful, but is also the hardest to get set up right. For example, automated marketing campaigns require lots of monitoring and optimization to produce the result you want. Automation is best used when you can remove a step in a process that takes up time and requires energy. For example can you pay your bills on autopay to avoid writing checks or can you deliver information to someone automatically to avoid having to remember to send it each time.
Rely on systems and delegation to power your business and focus on hiring the right people to run them for your best chance at success.
Your Meeting Cycle
“Meetings suck!” If you’re thinking that, it’s okay…
You’re right,most meetings suck. But that’s because most meetings are poorly run and have no purpose. The right meeting cycle in your business can improve communication and help you reach your goals faster than before.
You won’t need to invest much time in regular meetings until you have employees in your business. You will want to build in time for strategic planning early on in your business.
Strategic planning meetings would include:
- Annual Business Review
- Quarterly Business Review
These two meetings take place on a regular cycle to help you review the previous year/quarter, assess the current state of your business and plan your next steps. As a business owner you need to create the time and devote the energy to stepping outside the business for a little bit to plan out your future.
The rest of your meetings should support your goals and business objectives. They give the business owner a chance to take the pulse of the business and deal with any issues that may come up.
Your regular meeting cycle should be:
- Weekly Level 10 Team Meeting
- Weekly Department Level 10 Meetings
- Weekly Individual Huddles
There’s a good chance you’ll only use the Weekly Level 10 Team Meeting and the Huddles for a while. A mature business with multiple managers running departments would require Weekly Department Level 10 meetings.
If you’re in doubt of where to start begin with a weekly team meeting.
Here are the keys to a successful meeting:
- Set time, day and place
- Clear agenda
- Prepared attendees
- Every attendee has a purpose
- Key roles identified
Huddles serve as a touch point for managers to communicate and assist their direct reports. Setting aside 15-25 minutes each week to review your direct report’s metrics, priorities for the week and discuss any questions or problems they have will save you a lot of frustrating conversations throughout the week. Investing this time consistently will help your team members increase their performance quickly and produce better results for your business.
Developing into a Manager-Leader
Getting results in your business through other people is a difficult transition. Most fitness business owners don’t have management experience and it certainly wasn’t covered in your certifications.
You’ve likely been a producer in your business up to this point. Is it fair to say you’ve been self employed and now are ready to make the leap into being a business owner?
That may be a little tough to swallow at first, and you probably will want to deny it. But, if you can’t say that your business can run without you there for more than a few days at at time (which includes generating new revenue) you have a job.
There’s nothing wrong with being self-employed. Nearly every fitness business owner must go through that process to become a business owner/entrepreneur.
Taking this step requires that you have a lot of the components we’ve already talked about in place and you’re working on developing the skills required to be a great manager-leader.
Your focus now shifts on developing your team and the people in your business so that they produce amazing results. You optimize systems and improve processes to streamline the business.
At this level your time is more valuable than ever, so you need to learn to say ‘no’ more than you say ‘yes’. Filtering what is important and knowing your priorities becomes critical. You’re now focusing your work on the things that you are best at in your business.
Telling you that you can master this in a few weeks or even a year would be a disservice. Trying to rush your development puts you a risk of failure, and once you’ve reached this level the stakes are pretty high.
Your vision and the culture of your business will become much more important at this stage. The Long Term Vision for your company will serve as your beacon to make decisions and a guiding post to filter our opportunities. The culture in your business will begin to come to life and you have a responsibility to sustain it through hiring the right people, living your Core Values and nurturing the people in your business.
Evolving To A Fitness Entrepreneur
This is like the holy grail of fitness business ownership. Building a business that can thrive without you being present.
You’ll, onc again, have to level up your skill sets to be successful at this stage. You need to be able to lead and manage managers in your business so they can make decisions that support your vision. You alos need process in place to keep issues from always getting to you.
The position you take in your business is more mentor than manager. You are now able to look at bigger opportunities and spend more time as the visionary for your company.
“Enjoy The Process”
You’ve probably told that to a client or two as they worked to reach their fitness goals. The same message applies to business ownership. It’s a process. Trying to skip steps or cheat the system leaves you incredibly vulnerable.
If you’ve read through this entire post you may be a little overwhelmed. Its okay, know that you don’t have to build this all at once. Comb back through the article and the find the first topic that you feel you’re missing and begin working on it. I’ve tried to write this in sequential order of what you’ll need in your business.
Sometimes you need a little help getting things in order and figuring out what the top priority is for your business…
Or maybe you want to shorten the learning curve and get access to the knowledge and tools to make implementing this stuff easier.