Independent in your fitness business?

Happy Independence Day!

Each year at this time I am reminded how fortunate we are to live in the greatest country in the history of the world. We are truly blessed and one of those blessings is the opportunity to pursue our business goals as we choose.

And, for many of us, the opportunity to be free to do our own thing and help other people along the way is what fires us up each morning.

How many of us are truly independent?

Do we own a business or does the business own us? This is a tough question for most of us. I liked to think that I owned my business, but deep inside I honestly knew that the business really owned me. I loved training people and justified long hard hours because I knew I was making a difference in people’s live. I always worked hard with the belief that someday things would be better and I would have more control over my business. But, in reality, I had a job with a very stern taskmaster for a boss.

This was very hard to admit for a lot of reasons and I never really spoke about it with anyone.

Have you heard the saying, “Someday the cows will come home?” Well, that day came and all of the cows came home within a very short few hours.

In spite of being in incredible physical shape my entire life and working out regularly, I suddenly found myself in a hospital bed and I knew that I was not going to be able to work for a couple of months.

I was dumbfounded. How could this have happened? For the first couple of hours I was agonizing over how I would trim my business down (i.e. close it up for a couple of weeks/months). I knew what that was going to mean. I was going to lose my business. I will never forget that helpless feeling. All of my hard work was about to go down the tubes.

As daybreak came and the word of my situation spread, I got a call from one of my staff who wanted to come to the hospital. I knew what this meant. I was going to ask her to help me shut things down for a while. Oh well, I thought, let’s get this started.

She arrived and was seemingly very happy. After a couple of pleasantries, I started the inevitable conversation about closing things down. She just looked at me and said, “I talked to the other coaches and we’ve got this.” I did not understand and I tried to pick the conversation up where I had left off. She reiterated her statement with huge smile on her face. I decided to listen.

She had talked to the entire coaching team and they had a plan. Every class and session was covered. Nothing would change. She assured me that they would miss me, but my job was to get well. And now her smile was even bigger as she told me I had trained them well.

My healing began immediately. I could feel myself sink into the hospital bed a little deeper. The people I cared so deeply about were not going to experience any interruption in their routines and their commitment to new levels of health and fitness.

My team was correct. They were adequately trained. They were ready and they did exceptionally well. I took two months off and business continued as usual. Suddenly my dog was going on long walks every day. I healed and grew even stronger.

This was a pivotal time for me. I vowed that never again would I accept the feeling that the business owned me. I decided to help other small gym owners and personal trainers build businesses that provided them with incomes, lifestyles, choices and independence.

My sudden health challenge exposed more than my staff’s readiness to take over my business. It gave me an opportunity to reconnect with my personal mission and to commit to a personal plan of action to evolve into the next version of me.

Here are three things I did that created greater independence in my business life. You can use these same strategies to gain more independence in your business.

Strategy #1 – Ideal Day. Regardless of what I know or believe at the moment, what would I like my ideal day to look like? Take some time to really focus on this and keep the vision in front of you.

Strategy #2 – Dream Bigger. Get a piece of paper and a pen and start writing. If I could do anything, what would I do? What do I want? Why do I want it, how can I get it, what small steps can I take today to go in that direction? Clip pictures out of magazines and create your own vision board, or update the one that has been sitting around. Read, read, read success stories and motivating books. Allow your imagination to run wild without limits. Rework your answer to question #1 above.

Strategy #3 – Get Help. I found a mentor to help me keep focused. I have always had a mentor but this time I sought out, recruited and paid for a professional mentor, a business coach. Then it seemed to be a fortune that I was investing, but I look back in awe at the benefits I received from that relationship. I’ve had a mentor ever since. The mentor keeps me focused on what I want and where I want to go. They keep me from getting distracted by shiny objects that can easily distract me.

Wishing you great success as your build your business to a cash-producing “lifestyle machine” that I know it can be.

Make it an awesome holiday!

Force Multiplier for the Fitness Professional
6-Figure Trainers and Coaches

Business Emotion follows Motion

I had a client text me yesterday before a training session. She wasn’t feeling 100% and wondered if she should attend the session. I am pretty sure I answered the same way you would answer.

“Yes, come to the workout,” was my answer. In the back of my mind, I was thinking we could always scale the workout back. Besides, she wasn’t really sick. When clients are really sick they send a completely different message.

She arrived and was doing everything written on the white board. When we got to the challenge part of the workout I asked what she thought appropriate scaling would be. We negotiated a little and arrived at an agreement.

The workout was started and she was engaged.  Later that night, she texted me and said she was surprised how much better she felt. Her motion of going through the workout improved her emotions, her sense of well-being.

We see this all the time with our athletes.

It happens in our business, too. The business side of business is not nearly as exciting as training people for most business owners.

Things can get crazy and we can end up “not feeling like it” when it comes to a business task (usually a boring one) that the owner has to attend to.

If the business owner can somehow just manage to get started on the task they will feel much better about it in a very short time. Emotion follows motion. Make the motions to get started and feel the difference in energy and attitude. It all starts with taking the first step.

Ask a long distance runner what is the hardest part of long training run. Most will tell you it’s the first step. Whether in fitness or business, it’s all the same. Overcome the inertia and you are on your way. Overcome the inertia every day and it’s remarkable how much progress you can make in a year. Feeling excited about the business side of our business is an emotion – an asset that helps build the business.

But you may ask how can you do this when most of your business life is a solitary and lonely task. The answer, just like in training, is to start small and build each day.

Below you will find three strategies that will help you take action which, over time, will create momentum and get you ahead of your business and in control. Warning: this sounds so simple but so few people actually follow this simple plan.

Strategy #1 – Start Small. What do you know that really needs to be done for your future? Often these things are not urgent so it is easy to overlook them. Pick only one, the most important one, and determine what the first small step would be. Pick something that can be done in less than 20 minutes max.

Strategy #2 – Time Block. Take your calendar out and schedule a time every day for a week in advance where you will take 20 minutes to work on this all-important task. Continue this every day until the task is complete. Then pick another task and repeat the process over and over for 60 days.

Strategy #3 – Keep a Journal or Calendar. I prefer a big wall calendar where you can put a simple red “X” through each date when you have spent the time working on your most important business building task. One glance and you know. After about three weeks you may find yourself obsessed with getting a red X for the day.

You will likely find yourself really excited about the direction and the speed at which your business is growing.

Make it an awesome day!

Force Multiplier for the Fitness Professional
6-Figure Trainers and Coaches

Should you guarantee a fitness product?

I got a call yesterday from someone who wanted me to consider buying their product.

The product sounded good and, frankly, has some potential, so I listened to the sales pitch. So far, everything seemed reasonable and the product was something that I was interested in.

Then I asked the question that seems to stop most salespeople, “So, do you guarantee this product?”

What followed was that awkward moment of silence when the salesperson was trying to figure out what to say. I often wonder what is in the official company playbook for this kind of question. Based on the responses that I usually get, I don’t think there is a chapter in their playbook regarding this question.

The salesperson retreated to the benefits of the product (at least he didn’t go all the way back to the features.) Once again, he was back on track and following his script.

Again, I asked the question about the guarantee and this time he couldn’t overlook the question. Again, that awkward moment.

Shouldn’t every product have a guarantee? I think so.

Do you offer a guarantee for your fitness product? I do and have for some time. It’s not about manipulation to get the sale, but rather conviction in my product, confidence and a restless drive to provide a superior service and to have happy customers.

It may not always be possible to give a money-back guarantee. If a plumber comes to your house and installs new plumbing throughout, it makes no sense to give you your money back or to take all of his work back out if you are unsatisfied. If the company does have a guarantee it speaks volumes to the prospective customer.

What about the fitness industry? Should we have a guarantee? Yes, I think we should for a variety of reasons that I won’t get into here.

Below you will find three types of guarantees that work well in a fitness business

Guarantee #1 – Money-back guarantee. What about a 60-day money-back guarantee? I have seen it boldly offered on the Website.

Guarantee #2 – An exchange for something of equal or greater (even better) value. What could you offer a dissatisfied customer in exchange for a service they purchased from you? One example might be personal training for someone who was disappointed in your classes. Build the case in advance how the PT is worth more than the original investment in the group program.

Guarantee #3 – A donation to a charitable cause. If it’s simply not possible or practical to give money back or to make an exchange for another product, you can be creative with your guarantee. A donation of $100 to a charity of the unhappy customer’s choice, in their name, goes a long ways in helping the prospective customer feel more secure in their purchase.

These are just a couple of examples to think about.

Make it an awesome day!

Force Multiplier for the Fitness Professional
6-Figure Trainers and Coaches

I was Scared but I Saved his Life

I called a former client the other day to wish him a happy 80th birthday.

He was a client of mine for over 22 years. He would still be my client if I had not moved away. To say he is in great shape for his age is an understatement.

In my call to wish him a happy birthday, he gave me the credit for all the great compliments he gets, his health and his energy to explore the world. He told me we started something really great 25+ years ago.

I remember how scared I was to meet with such an influential and successful person. First, I almost never called him out of fear. Second, when I got to the meeting I was going to quote a rate that was twice what other trainers were charging. I was so nervous that I could feel my shirt getting wet from my sweating.

I desperately needed the money and I was so tempted to drop my rates in hopes of getting the sale.

I held my own and with a shaking voice quoted the benefits of my program and my rate. He said YES and gave a check for 10 sessions in advance! I was elated as I walked back to my car and headed home.

Over the next 20+ years his influence and support was instrumental in helping me build a wildly successful business that generated over 90k a year with very little overhead.

A couple of years ago he introduced me to some of his family and said, “This is the guy that has saved my life.” The next time I saw him, I asked about those comments and he shared parts of his story that were unknown to me. He meant it – I had saved his life.

What would have happened if I lost my nerve in that initial meeting? It frightens me to think how that would have turned out for him, for me and for hundreds of other people.

This week, I want to share the three most important things I did to get this client and many other clients like him to be part of my business.

Here are three key resources to help you stay on track.

#1 – Know your value proposition and identify your target market. What do you really do? Spend lots of time here and be able to articulate what you do in such a way that people want to know more. Who is your ideal client? (Hint: It’s not everyone). Define your market carefully.

Step #2 – Prepare, prepare, prepare. Know your business inside out. Practice your presentation. Practice quoting your price often, until it becomes natural. Find and listen to a skilled mentor that can help you.

Step #3 – Be Bold! Boldness = Confidence. Pick up the phone and ask for the appointment. Your ideal clients are probably not going to call you. When you meet, have a plan, know your pricing and hold fast.

I am throwing a lot at you here. Let me know what you need help with.

Make it an awesome day!

Force Multiplier for the Fitness Professional
6-Figure Trainers and Coaches

Critical Tools for Working on Your Fitness Business

I had a chance to get out on the motorcycle and explore some new areas this past Memorial Day weekend.

I traveled through an off-road area that had experienced forest fires last fall. I expected total devastation but that would not describe what I saw. There were some rough spots but the trees, for the most part, looked very green and healthy.

The fire had destroyed the smaller brush and trees near the ground, but the big trees were green and growing. Very healthy. Nature’s way of cleaning things up a bit.

Of course, this experience reminded me of the fitness industry. Sometimes all we need to do is get the junk cleaned up so the important parts of the business can blossom and grow.

We have been focused on that for the past two weeks. Finding time to work on your business is a challenge for so many business owners. In my experience, it is particularly challenging in the fitness industry.

In this email, I want to focus on tools that can help you in that challenge. Two weeks ago, I wrote about doing a quick inventory about time you spent on building your business. Last week we focused on how to make time to work on your business.

The reality is that most of us still struggle with this challenge. In fact, it is very often a daily challenge, and I mentioned last week the biggest challenge is usually figuring out WHAT to focus on in the limited amount of time available.

You are not alone – 100% of my VIP clients identify these exact challenges as holding their businesses back.

Here are your fitness business tips for the week: (Please let me know if there are other topics that would be helpful to you.)

Here are three key resources to help you stay on track.

Resource(s) #1 – Blank legal pad, small planning book and a calendar. These are used for scheduling your time, keeping notes and writing thoughts down on paper. If it’s not in writing, it does not exist. (Note: Most highly successful people prefer these methods of organization and creativity over digital methods.)

Step #2 – Timing device or stopwatch of some kind. The biggest challenge is focus and there is nothing like working against a clock. Force yourself to get a maximum amount of work done in a short time and then move on to the rest of your day.

Step #3 – Set yourself up for success. We need to associate with similar-minded people through books, associations and a carefully-selected group of people that will keep us accountable. These people are not your members and/or your staff team.

I am here to help. Let me know what you need help with.

Make it an awesome day!

Force Multiplier for the Fitness Professional
6-Figure Trainers and Coaches