One of my very first mentors in business, Jim Franco (a client I used to train) would always say “evolve or perish” pretty much anytime I asked him for business advice.
Jim owned a company called Autologue and they made those computer systems inside auto part stores that would search out parts for your year, make and model car – only thing is he did this for small privately owned mom and pop auto part stores.
And in that industry competition is steep!
First of all he can’t sell his “system” to the corporate owned stores like Auto Zone, Pep Boys, and NAPA Auto Parts – they have their own proprietary version (which according to Jim was crap).
Secondly the big auto parts stores would compete against him by re-selling their parts management system to small mom and pop stores. A brilliant idea since they has the system anyway, so why not leverage it by offering it to other stores for a monthly fee?
And that’s how they competed with guys like Jim…
But Jim’s business was always rock’in no matter the competition or how aggressively they advertised to the mom and pop stores.
For Jim his formula was simple… make a better product, give a better user experience, demonstrate value and always evolve.
I later used Jim’s “evolve or perish” method in my training business to give my clients greater value and a better experience.
– We used to offer one-on-one 60 minute training sessions, we evolved to 30 minute sessions by cutting rest time in between sets by half and incorporating more compound and total body exercises giving our clients 60 minute results in 30 minutes time. This in turn gave our clients an additional 30 minutes a day more time and because we also lowered our price by ten dollars a session, they got better value and we were able to market to a larger part of the community.
– To give our clients better results and user experience (convenience) we incorporated DietMaster into our program for only ten dollars more per month. Now our clients had personalized daily meal plans to follow (something they probably would have gotten from else where) and therefore got better/faster results. And we got an additional $10/month from each client.
– Later on we wanted to do something unique for our clients who were either too busy to train more than once or twice per week or they simply couldn’t afford to train more than a couple times per week with us. I knew that if I could think up a way to give them a solid program to either follow at home or do on their own at the gym they’d get better results and probably appreciate us for it.
That’s when Hitech Trainer was born, a software program that I created and used to craft a workout, print it out, and give to our clients to use on their “off days”. Originally we only used it with our “in house” clients to add more value to their programs and give them a better experience.
Later Hitech Trainer become one of my core products that I made available to the fitness industry. In fact many people don’t know this, but Hitech Trainer was one of the very first fitness “apps” out there – even before the word “app” was hip.
We had a partnership with Sprint from 2003 – 2005 and Hitech Trainer was one of their top selling fitness apps in their Jukebox (yep, that’s what they called their app store).
What Happens When You Don’t Evolve…
Like I said, Hitech Trainer was one of my core products and frankly it was a hot seller. However as technology evolved Hitech Trainer didn’t. And by 2008 the software code that ran Hitech Trainer was cumbersome, clunky, and the program took up a lot of time if you had a bunch of online training clients to train.
So in 2009 I stopped selling Hitech Trainer and only kept it up because we still had hundreds of users on board.
In 2010 I chose not to let the current users renew because the product did not meet my personal expectations. You’d think turning down $20,000 month would have been difficult – actually it was an easy decision to make because the product did not give my clients the experience it once used to. Perished by choice.
After almost three years of being on the shelf, a new version of Hitech Trainer will soon be available – this NEW version not only meets my expectations… but actually exceeds it. More on that in the near future…
My point here is that as an entrepreneur you have an ethical obligation to your market to provide the best service, program, and outcome if you want to stay competitive or better yet create your own “category of one.”
One exercise that I do with my coaching clients is to have them evaluate their business every six months through the eyes of their avatar – their most ideal and preferred client.
Times change, technology changes, the speed of life changes, people’s needs and wants change, competition evolves, new solutions come about and if you don’t evolve, grow, and adjust your business then your business will perish.
How To Do An Evolution Audit On YOUR Business…
Get away from your business – go to a book store or something. Bring your lap top and all of your marketing, operations, and systems manuals, files or documents with you.
Study your website… the headline, the offer, the ethical bribe, the testimonials, the before and after pics, and color, the flow, the copy, the user experience, the auto-responder that they get when they opt in or apply for a consultation.
* Is your website and all it’s moving parts congruent with what your avatar wants or is looking for?
* Does your site deliver the message that you want?
* Are you current services, offerings, promotions, and guarantee adequately represented?
Now study your marketing, operations, systems and services that you offer…
* Is your marketing old and out of date?
* Could you improve your marketing message?
* Does your message resonate with your avatar?
* Are you delivering what your marketing promised?
* Do your clients feel unique, special, and cared for?
* Could you offer your clients other services and products that might add more value to their program?
Now go to your facility and look at it through your client’s eyes…
* What is the first impression?
* Can the place me cleaned up, painted, organized, or lit up better?
* Are your walls covered with testimonials and social proof?
* Does the place smell?
* Do your equipment need to be updated or repaired?
* Are the restrooms clean, well stocked, and not overflowing with trash?
The market place has evolved. You’ve got to evolve with it or face losing market share.
One of the most recent evolutions in my organization took place over the last 11 months. A good product got better. Loose ends were tied. And systems and operations were tightened. A major evolution took place…
In mid 2009 when Fit Body Boot Camp was first launched, it was offered as a licensing program to our industry.
Our goal with the “product” was to teach FBBC owners marketing, lead generation, sales systems, retention strategies and referrals generation tactics. All this was done though twelve DVD’s, an owners manual, and a FBBC owners only members site.
The product included a ready-to-use website, a protected territory, use of the Fit Body Boot Camp brand and logo, ongoing marketing support and materials and coaching.
FBBC was way ahead of it’s time… cutting edge in all ways… but not without flaws.
Since it’s launch in mid 2009 Fit Body Boot Camp grew to hundreds of locations nationwide and into five counties. The growth of the business model was faster than we ever expected. A good problem to have – never the less, painful.
As with anything when you grow quickly and are able to take in a lot of feedback you’re able to evolve faster and improve quickly – while stressful, certainly a blessing in disguise.
Your Lesson: Don’t let stress and set backs, put you on your back.
For a period of 11 months we stopped taking on new Fit Body Boot Camp owners and instead focused on…
– Helping our current location owners grow their business and better systematize.
– We globally trademarked Fit Body Boot Camp(TM)
– We converted the model into a franchise giving the brand more “street cred” (I love that phrase!) and legitimized the model.
– We brought ALL out-sourced services in-house such as web design, Search Engine Optimization, Facebook fan page creation, Facebook ad creation and management, and even brought in a Google adword certified pay-per-click expert to craft and manage PPC ads for our owners – all in house.
– We tippled out support staff at the FBBC headquarters.
– Overhauled the DVD’s, the member’s only site, and the individual FBBC local sites (which by the way are kicking major ass!)
– We now set up google places, yelp, and other review sites for FBBC owners to give them maximum credibility and search engine optimization.
– We handle all Youtube videos and optimize then all for targeted traffic and lead generation.
– By building a strategic relationship with Groupon we now do all of the deal of the day negotiating and setting up for FBBC owners. We do all the heavy lifting, structure the deals, negotiate the price point, and even handle the groupon buyer inquires and questions and even the after purchase scheduling so FBBC owners will never have to stress out with getting a ton of calls and email.
In fact the most recent groupon promotion we orchestrated brought in over 1300 buys… not too shabby.
– And as we continue building the Fit Body Boot Camp brand and recognition we’ve been able to connect with strategic partners such as Spa Finder for Wellness Week (coming up in March) giving FBBC locations exposure to over 10,000,000 fitness and wellness enthusiast along with targeting mailing from American Express and Costco to their customers. Epic!
The new Fit Body Boot Camp model is entirely based on Done-For-You marketing, systems and services allowing our FBBC owners to focus on what they do best – which is delivering awesome results and giving each client an over-the-top workout experience.
Even our application process has evolved. In the beginning anyone was able to buy into FBBC and use the brand and model to grow their business. I guess you can say this was pretty naive on our part, but that’s what happens when you’ve never created a franchise business model before.
During the 11 months of hiatus we took a long hard look at our culture, our core values, what we stand for, and what we want the Fit Body Boot Camp brand to represent and we came to the conclusion that while most of the FBBC owners on board were a great culture fit – we had inadvertently brought on owners who were simply not a good fit with our culture and core values.
Thinning of the herd…
In fact that’s what encouraged us to create this new acceptance process that we have today. It’s entirely different than when you could simply “click and buy” into Fit Body Boot Camp.
The new process goes like this…
Step 1: Expression of interest form.
Step 2: Application to check financial and criminal background
Step 3: “Getting to know you call” (this reveals a LOT)
Step 4: Final approval.
Sure, this process takes an average of 38 days to bring someone into the system. We’re fine with that… and the outcome has been nothing short of AMAZING.
Even then, each and every new owner must attend Fit Body Boot Camp university here at the HQ for five days (three days of operations, systems, marketing, and sales training and two days of hands on training in a live boot camp environment)
Some think this is excessive… we don’t.
Today we accept less than 2% of the folks who apply for ownership into Fit Body Boot Camp. And this has made ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD at the ownership level, core values, and the service and results that every client receives.
Your Lesson: Like my pal Joe Polish says; Sift, Sort, and Screen. The last thing you want to do is to bring on a client, employee, or business partner who simply is not aligned with your vision and core values.
If you’re in business, it’s probably because you feel that you can do something better than anyone else around. If you’re in it for any other reason, then you’re better off quitting and getting a job somewhere.
Evolution in business is not just about making money or being cutting edge – it’s about serving your market and giving them the best possible service, solution, product, or experience available and exceeding their expectations in every way.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and feedback. Just drop me a note in the comment box below 🙂