How to Grow Your Fitness Business In 2013 – PART 1
Recently I was interviewed by the CEO of a certification organization that also focuses on helping their certified trainers grow their business by exposing them to great marketing and business strategies. A very unusual thing since most certifications organizations don’t dedicate more than two sentences to business development.
The “CEO” as we’ll call him (asked to leave his name out of the interview) was kind enough to let me share the interview with you. So down below is part one of the interview. This is probably the most contact packed interview ever.
The CEO: Hey, everyone. Happy New Year! It’s the CEO (name of Interviewer withheld) back with the Ultimate Clients Attraction call for our strength, speed, and functional training certified fitness trainers. As we always do at the start of the year, we have to bring in the big guns business development. So we brought in Bedros Keuilian, the man, the myth the legend and the guy who has all of the answers for us. Bedros, welcome to the call.
Bedros: Hey, thanks, Mr. CEO. It’s good to be here.
The CEO: Bedros is the man. He’s the most generous guy in the fitness space and he’s the only guy out there who’s been in the trenches, owned and sold his successful personal training business for a massive profit, and he’s now helping thousands of trainers become super successful fitness entrepreneurs. He’s got the track record to prove is awesomeness. And that’s where I want to start. It’s on the topic of goodwill and generosity. It’s something that strategic thinkers like Matt Smith talk about quite a bit and something that you do by nature but also in your marketing and helping people get more clients.
Let’s talk about goodwill. That means giving stuff away and building relationships with people. What’s been working in the last year that’s been different than normal for free stuff like boot camps or lead generation? You did human billboards fitness marketing back in the day and shared it with us and it worked really well for our trainers. What’s working these days that is a great way to build goodwill and to build our client base?
Bedros: Well, in that regard, I have good news. The good news is that buyer behavior has not changed. Your prospective clients’ behaviors have not changed, nor will they change for the next hundred or thousand years to come. As consumers, we look for products and services that fill a void or address a problem in our lives, and we want to buy that product or service from someone we like and trust. That’s just how we operate.
We see something of value. When there is a limitation of that, there is scarcity – that heightens the need/want factor. There’s a sense of urgency built. There’s the social proof factor, that whatever this thing is of value that actually works and delivers its promise… that makes us want it more. Whether it’s a car, a personal training service or a food item… if others are using it and like the outcome then we want it, too.
The difference over the last 12 months has been the social experience that clients are getting. I often hear people say, “Free doesn’t work anymore. When I give stuff away for free I just get tire kickers.”
That’s why there is a whole qualification process that should be built into your business. Free does work. In fact the only time free doesn’t work is when you the trainer fail to set up a qualification process.
Let’s say that you were to offer a free week of boot camp or a free session or two of personal training sessions. You’d qualify people by getting on the phone with them and saying, “Look, Mary, I’m really excited that you’re going to come and do this free week. I just wanted to let you know exactly what you’re going to experience during this free week with us.
We’re going to put you through three or four workouts. We’re going to have a nutrition consultation. At the end of the week I’m going to ask you to choose a program that you feel will work best for you to continue on and get additional training from us. How does that sound to you?”
She might say, “Wait a minute. I don’t think I can afford personal training or bootcamp. I don’t think it’s right for me.” I would say, “Mary, I’m glad that we talked about it now. Then is no point in wasting your time if this isn’t something that’s going to work for you or that you will stick with long-term. You might want to consider going to a health club and trying it out yourself. But if you can find room in your budget then I can tell you that you’d get fast and amazing fat loss results working with us.
On the other hand, she might say, “Great. I’ll work out for three or four sessions for that week. I’ll do the nutrition consultation. I’m curious to see what your programs are.” What I would say: “Next, I need a $10 deposit from you. That $10 deposit is to hold your spot. It’s completely refundable when you come in for your first session. If you don’t come in for your first session then you forfeit your $10 and I donate it to charity.”
The reason you’d do that is part of the qualification process. Now we have this person’s credit card information. It shows us how serious they are by giving us their credit card information and committing to $10, which is totally refundable when they come in. On the flip side, when they come in they will go through the three or four workouts, and then you’d present your programs at the end of the week and get them on board.
Assuming that you gave them an awesome experience and you have a great sales presentation/consultation where you build rapport, trust and deliver what they’re looking for then you can say, “Mary, now we just need to decide which of these two programs is going to work best for you. We’ll get you on one of those, and get you on the fast track to looking and feeling your best, okay?”
There is no awkward conversation needed like, “Mary, why don’t you run out to your car and get the credit card? What form of payment do you want?” We already have that form of payment via the $10 deposit that we took.
Having those types of qualified people in front of you will always work out in your favor. The difference is that sifting, sorting and screening process… when we offer something for free, we have to sift, sort and screen. By the time people move through that qualification funnel you’ll have someone who is willing to give you their credit card info. They understand they are going to be offered an ongoing program, so there’s no resistance there, and they know that they will have to make a decision on one of these programs.
If they come in with those expectations then you’ve done everything you can to remove all anxiety. Remember, people don’t want to be sold. They don’t want to be pitched. They don’t want a sales pitch snuck up on them.
If you let them know the expectations then you’ve removed all anxiety. It makes sense that they know after these two to four sessions with you, they are going to sit down and make a decision.
You make the buying process easier for them.
One other way to do this is by sweetening the pot. We’ve been doing this at our Fit Body Boot Camp locations and it’s really paying off. It’s been working amazing well. You simply tell them during the sales process; “Since you’re making the decision today and not procrastinating, I’d love to give you your first month half off. Can I do that for you?”
They almost always say: “Yes, sure. You absolutely can.” Think about it, who doesn’t like a sweet deal right? And if you’ve done your part and delivered an awesome workout experience then this will totally push them over. PLUS with an offer like this, you’ve taken away any kind of buyer’s remorse that might happen once they leave.
Remember, there is hesitation that might happen during the selling process. There is buyer’s remorse that might happen when they leave. If you offer to make their first month half off by telling them, “Because you are a person of decision and you took action today,” then you remove any buyer’s remorse that might happen over the next three, four or five days.
You have a lifetime client. The only way to make that funnel even better is by you and your new client shaking hands. Where you would say; “Mary, over the next few months as I help you to get in the best shape of your life, can I count on you to help me get to my goals?
And that is to get more of your friends, family and co-workers into our facility here so that I can help them achieve their ultimate fitness and fat loss goals. When you refer a friend to me that gives them the chance to get in great shape and it helps me keep my marketing costs low so I can continue to keep my program prices affordable for my clients. Can I count on you to help me with that?”
She would say, “Yes.” We would shake hands and part ways. Then you’ve committed to a process. Robert Cialdini always talks about commitment and consistency. That is when you commit to giving referrals.
The next time I ask you to bring me referrals, whether it’s through a gift card or a referral generation contest, you will want to be consistent with the commitment that you made with me the day that you signed up. That is assuming that I do my part and deliver the workout experience and results as promised.
The CEO: That’s fantastic. The things that you talked about at the start will help people listening to this call ease through that process of getting the right people in. Are people still using GroupOn and Living Social?
Bedros: Yes, absolutely. Early this month (January) we running the largest GroupOn promotion that we’ve run for Fit Body Boot camp making us the #1 most selling fitness training program on GroupOn. It was our big national promotion. We are currently Groupon’s largest independent fitness promotion that takes place and we’re really proud of that and the fact that we have a 93% satisfaction rating with GroupOn customers.
Look, wouldn’t run deals with Groupon if they weren’t working. It’s like how I explained the funnel. It’s offering a free session or two whether it’s from your website, postcards or emails. With 290 Fit Body Boot Camp locations, we have a 31% conversion rate. Meaning 31 out of every 100 people who come into a FBBC location though GroupOn end up on a six or 12 month long program. I don’t know if you know this or not, but those are fantastic conversion numbers.
The process is very much like I described and I have no problem sharing our secret with your trainers.
First off we make sure that we have a schedule set. People who sign up through GroupOn can come in a handful at a time per session or per camp.
The reason for that is you might have a boot camp or group training program that is popular and almost full. So you don’t want to have a ton of unannounced people showing up without an appointment – unless you want to rock the boat with your clients.
Let’s say that you’re running a Monday, Wednesday and Friday schedule. You have 5:00 AM, 6:00 AM and 7:00 AM. You have a 6:00 PM and 7:00 PM. Now we use Check Appointments for our FBBC owners and set it to allow only a handful of new people in per timeslot.
If your 5:00 AM is already full then we block off Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5:00 AM. The folks from Groupon can come in at 6:00 AM, 7:00 AM, 6:00 PM or 7:00 PM on those days. Even then, they have to schedule themselves in on Check Appointments and it’s up to use how many spots we keep open during that time slot. We don’t allow for more than five to six new people at a time.
If you’re running a bootcamp or group training program and 50 people of the 150 GroupOn signups come in for your 7:00 AM camp then you have quite the mess on your hands. You are going to have upset customers and clients.
You want to drip them in. This week there are only five slots open for 5:00 AM, 6:00 AM, 7:00 AM, 6:00 PM and 7:00 PM. Now those 150 people can spread themselves out over the one month. This does two things. It builds a velvet rope around your business. It lets them know, “We’re full. We’re packed. And we’re in high demand. Make no mistake, that creates a sense of urgency in folks.
We’re all about service and results. We’re only going to take on a handful of people at a time. You want to schedule yourself. That is your start date. That’s when you will come in and start the program that you purchased on GroupOn.
Then there are the people who walked in to your facility and didn’t schedule themselves on Check Appointment. You’re going to have a half-sheet of paper that says, “Welcome Groupon member. We look forward to working with you. However, you might have missed step one and that is to go to this website (site with Check Appointment on it) and schedule your first consultation with us. This is by appointment only. Once you do that we’ll start your 14 day or 30 day program that you purchased and give you the most awesome service and results possible.”
When you have people walk into your facility your trainers will not say, “Oh my gosh. What do I do? Do I train the clients? Do I service the GroupOn people and ignore the paying clients?” They can say, “Why don’t you just grab one of those sheets of paper and follow the instructions on there? And also feel free to hang out and watch our training program. We’re looking forward to training you.”
It’s all about being prepared and having a process or system in place. When I hear people badmouth Groupon or Living Social it’s because they’re unprepared. They don’t have a process. They don’t have an offer for these Groupon people and then they complain that GroupOn didn’t workout for them, when in reality they were totally unprepared.
Let me tell you something else about deal of the day buyers. Their mentality is that they’re NOT looking to move from deal to deal like most people think it is. These are normal, everyday people. People imagine them as nomads or something moving through deal after deal. That’s just as inconvenience for them as it is for you.
They are on an email list just like you and I are. They get a deal that might resonate with them. They might be fat and out of shape. They want to get fit and build some muscle tone.
They get a deal that says, “You can do a fitness bootcamp or personal training for the next 14 or 30 days and they want it. Odds are that they shop at the same place. They’re not going from one grocery store to the next. They have similar habits and rituals like you do. We are human. We all have a ritual that we do each and every day. It is a routine. It’s not that they’re looking to go from this boot camp to that boot camp.
They are looking for a home. As trainers, we fail to look at them as regular people, in stead most trainers look at them as Groupon or Living Social nomad who is just passing through like a gypsy. We end up giving them bad service. We write them off as tire kickers, and then wonder why they left.
Believe it or not, they are everyday people who got a great deal. They are looking for a home. Our job is to service them, give them the results as promised and then make them another irresistible offer.
Your offer can go something like this, “If you choose to continue I will take the $49 that you paid for your GroupOn and apply it towards your first month of a training program. Essentially, you get your Groupon program absolutely free. How do you like that, Mrs. Jones?”
You can do that and create the funnel and process of getting them in on a trickle so that it doesn’t disrupt your current sessions. Make them an irresistible offer after giving them what you’ve promised. We have a 31% convert rate and a 93% satisfaction rate with GroupOn. Those numbers are considered high and really say something about the process we’ve created.
Let’s say you get anywhere from 20% to 25% of GroupOn people who convert. Your average location will sell about 100 Groupons. That means 20 to 25 new clients into your business. At $150 to $350 per month, you have the capability of adding another $3,000 to $8,000 per month ongoing to your business.
We’ve seen boot camps grow from zero to 100 clients within three months because of two or three strategically planned deal-of-the-day promotions.
When people write off deal sites instead of creating a flow and process, it’s the biggest disservice they can do to their business and to their community. It’s really a sign of being too lazy to take the time and do things right.
Bedros here again, I’ll post part two of this interview up later this week. Hope you got a lot from this post. If you have an questions, comments, or feedback just leave them down below in the comment section 🙂