We have all been through some pretty big changes over the last couple months. If you’re in the fitness business, you’ve probably had to make some shifts in the way you generate income, train your clients, and build your brand. It’s likely that you’ve run into some roadblocks along the way. You might even be feeling defeated or a little discombobulated about how to move forward. Don’t worry—you’re not alone.
Because we all know that learning from the best equips us to make smarter, more conscious decisions, Sam Pogue, Vice President of Brand at TrueCoach, sat down for another conversation with Jim Crowell, CEO of OPEX and Big Dawgs. He’s been an adviser for the TrueCoach community for a while now, and he’s back with much more wisdom you can put into your toolbox. Here are six tips Jim has for you if you want to continue beefing up your remote coaching business.
Figure Out Your Financials
This sounds like a given, but you might be surprised at how many coaches don’t take the time to consider the details of their financials. “If you’re going to make an investment, you have to ask yourself, what is my potential upside? How much money can I make in this business over the life of it?” Jim said. “What’s the likelihood of going bankrupt? The interesting thing, and I use that word carefully, is that a lot of people in fitness are seeing investments go to zero right now.”
If you can’t figure out how to solidify your profit on an ongoing basis, it’s time that you change your model moving forward. A business that doesn’t allow you to transition to online will only result in you going to zero. “You need to create a business model that allows you to make more money than you would have made previously at half capacity,” Jim advised. “That has to be some additional service offers—that certainly has to be online.”
“You got two years that you’re going to have to navigate some version of social distancing and all of these pieces and the economics of the brick and mortar facility just changed dramatically,” he continued. “You better make sure that the base of the business can still support you enough to give you a long enough time period to get this off the ground.”
One piece of advice that experts like Jim always recommend is generating a monthly recurring revenue service from all your clients. Put them on a recurring monthly plan so they don’t have to think about renewing with you every three months. Besides, if there’s a set amount coming out of their bank account every single month, they’ll be more inclined to get their money’s worth and actually work for it.
How to Offer Something New
Creating a new program or package for your clients isn’t something you can just do over the course of a weekend. You have to spend every day building it and testing it on multiple clients (or even friends or family members) to make sure it works and it’s a viable addition to your business.
“You have to get feedback from your audience. You have to implement changes based on the feedback that you get,” he explained. “You have to streamline your systems. By no means does that happen overnight.”
Put it on your website to show you have a new offering. It doesn’t matter if the graphic isn’t perfect; you just need to get it out there so that you can start running the product on multiple people in order to get proper feedback. “You need to get as many people into that offering as you possibly can before you even go public with it,” he said. “And then you can do all the social media stuff and then you can improve your landing page online. And then you can improve your email sequence that follows up any opt-ins.”
Jim noted that you can get something up in two days, but it will take you about eight weeks to make it a lot better. “But you got to get it off the ground,” he concluded. Test it on as many people as you can and get tons of feedback so you can tweak it accordingly.
Offer Excellent Service Locally
“You have to develop rapport with your local client base because they want to trust somebody and they have a better opportunity of trusting you because you’re local than some global fitness company,” Jim advised. “Don’t go online and try to reach the whole world. Go online and reach your area, your radius of 12 miles.” At OPEX gyms, he said they don’t even call this remote coaching—they call it digital onboarding.
Focus on connecting with clients in your local communities. Of course right now in the midst of quarantine you won’t be able to train them in-person, but you can get them started remotely. Assess them and do a consultation as much as you can online. Then when your gym opens again, you’ve got a spot waiting for them when they come in.
“Offer them a great service that gets them started today, that gets them connected to a coach,” Jim said. Call them, email them, text them—do whatever you have to do to show them a personable, warm experience that keeps them coming back for more even after the shutdown has been lifted. Offer them nutrition, monthly or weekly consults, lifestyle and habit guidance, etc. Show that you have more to offer than just weekly programming.
Pick Up Your Phone and Call All Your Clients
We live in a digital world and we don’t spend that much time on our phones. But when you aren’t able to meet in person, you lose a big personal connection with your clients that you just can’t match online. This is why it’s important to be in touch with both your former and current clients.
Consider how many clients you need to make the same amount of revenue online. “Let’s just say it’s 50. You got to go get 50 people,” Jim said. “If you’ve been keeping track of all the people that you’ve spoken to over the last four or five years as a gym owner or a coach, call them all. Call them all and what’s the worst that happens? They don’t want to take your call.” And if they don’t want to talk, politely accept it and simply send them a newsletter.
You won’t reach a high level of success if you’re not comfortable being on the phone with your clients. “If you’re a little bit nervous about doing something like that, let me inject something in your brain for a second,” Jim offered. “If you call those people and they start to get healthier now, they’ll be less likely to be massively hurt by the virus.” Being in touch with your clients isn’t only about building your business. It’s about helping them reach a healthier way of living.
“Yes, pick up your phone and call them,” Jim concluded. “Get your shit off social media for a second. You have to actually build a relationship with these people. And the people you’ve already built a relationship with are the most likely to try this new offering.”
Be Mindful of Your Cost Structure
“Let’s say that you technically are worth $300 a month and people are willing to pay $300 a month (which, by the way, we do online coaching through Big Dawgs),” Jim said. “I know for a fact that people are more than willing to pay $300 for that service. But we also know what our cost structure needs to be versus what we can charge.”
Sure, they would love to charge more and they’re always adding in new features and benefits that will allow them to move the price point upwards in the future. But at the same time they also know that the economic profit of this model might get lower over time.
“We have to be mindful of our cost structure,” he said. “We’re going to have to constantly be innovating what the services we offer and the technology, such as TrueCoach, so that we can maintain a profit margin to make the business viable.” Jim said every gym or coach should be asking yourself, “What am I doing today? But more so what am I doing tomorrow?” Because remote training is going to be less profitable each year until a huge innovation is released, so you better be prepared to adjust your product and your cost structure as time goes on.
It’s difficult to attain, but building a system with multiple coaches is nicely profitable. “It can be done for sure but it’s harder,” Jim explained. “You’ve got to understand what success looks like to you, and then you have to go put those components together.”
Don’t Be Afraid of Failing
Too many people in the fitness industry are fearful of being looked at as a failure. “If your business isn’t working, you weren’t making enough profit before, and now you’re in a spot where you still have rent to pay, you might not be able to open for another month or so,” he said. “If you don’t have a great idea to improve those economics, you might just want to look at shutting down.”
If you realize you don’t have a viable model, it’s okay to move onto something else. And then maybe take another shot at it down the road. At the end of the day, you have to make it work for you. If you’re not making any money off of the business you’ve built, it’s time to take a serious look at what you’re offering—without being worried of looking like a failure.
“Spend enough time to think through how you’re going to make the business model viable and then have some outside feedback because you’re extremely biased towards yourself and you’re going to be overconfident just because we’re hard wired that way,” he advised. “You got to get some people to give you some tough feedback.”
Be humble. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback or advice. Everyone has reached a failure at some point in their lives and it doesn’t define what their future will look like. If you’re overly concerned with your image and what people might think about your decision, you’ll be wasting your time. Never worry about what others think. You have to make the best decisions for your business and your life.