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The Five Rules of Keeping It Simple
Originally Posted 03/17/10

Many owners are their own worst enemy. No matter what they are told, they always know that there is a "secretĒ out there that they donít yet possess that will give them the edge in their market and crush the competition. This secret is always the magic combination of words in a sales pitch or that secret piece of equipment that will drive everyone to your business. The secret is out there and if you can only find it you can make money without ever having to work again.

Spending your time, and therefore wasting your money, chasing the secret is better than actually doing the work you need to be successful, and the emphasis here is on the word "work.Ē This is why lottery tickets do well. It is easier to dream about being rich than it is to actually get a job and make money the old fashioned way.

There was a recent article in Time magazine about the new way people will work in the coming years. Traditional work is dead and is being replaced by people who want to work out of their homes, set their own times and control their own lives. More power to them, but somewhere you have to pay your rent and that is where those who work are separated from those who donít. Everyone wants the magic job where I do everything my way, and if you can create that you have my respect, but most wonít be able to accomplish this because they are the ones chasing the easy way out rather than building an income that is dependent on the work they create.

Will Smith, the famous actor; gave an interview to Tavis Smiley on success that is floating all over the web. Alwyn Cosgrove did a nice blog on it (alwyncosgrove.com) and has the clip embedded in that particular piece.

The gist of the interview is why Will Smith has achieved such success in his career. Paraphrasing here, Will answered that you might be better looking, have more money, more talent or even better skills, but he is willing to die on the treadmill, which is his edge. He said that you may have it all over him in nine different categories, but if you and he got on a treadmill, you would get off first or he would die trying to out work you. Put another way, he is willing to die before you can beat him.

His work ethic, an old term that needs to be taught again to anyone who wants to be successful, is what sets him apart from everyone else. His strength is that he never has to get ready for an opportunity because he is always ready.

This mindset can be directly applied to why most owners never succeed. The work needed to be successful over time is replaced by the search for the easiest way, or the magic and secret methods, that are always just slightly out of his grasp.

This is why owners spend so much money buying magic solutions to their problems. Why work when this software will collect all the money from all the members? Why learn to train your members when this new line of equipment will drive new members to your club? And donít forget to buy that magic group exercise class (pole dancing anyone?) that will line up the new members outside of your door.

This is also why so many members fail. What do you mean I need to work out 4-5 days a week forever? I just want the magic workout, coupled with the magic drugs, and get in shape by next week.

Keeping it simple is how money is made, coupled with the simple concept that no one, anywhere, and especially in my market, will ever out work me. Here are five rules to keep it simple in your business:

1. Marketing isnít magic, itís consistency: Marketing is being out there every week with a consistent look and image. I ask people if they are marketing (the ones not making money) and the answer is always: "No, marketing just doesnít work for us.Ē You have to learn how to make marketing work or you will fail because there are few clubs where people just walk through the door everyday begging for memberships. Marketing does work, but lazy, cheap owners fail to master the art. Marketing isnít magic, itís work and persistence.

2. Everyone has to get results: As cited in the blogs prior to this, if your members donít get results they walk away. In the past, we didnít care because we could always replace them. Today, we do care, because we finally learned that we can no longer replace them as easily as we once did. The question to ask yourself is: "Does the highest percentage possible of the members in my club work with a coach of some kind during their visits, such as a trainer or group exercise person?Ē If the answer is no, you will have a retention issue and you will have a hard time replacing those lost members who fail. We have all kinds of lame excuses as to why people leave, but it is really our fault. People sign up to get results, fail, and then leave. It is simple; we didnít do our job and we lost money because of it.

3. We have to convert 65% of all leads through the door into memberships: The national average is still below 40%. We get enough leads in most clubs but canít convert. There are a number of reasons, but the main culprits are: too much pressure on the first visit, no follow up, no ability to train the guests during the first visits, dependency on circuit training as our primary training system and sales people who have no training experience. There is too much competition to survive if you are only achieving 40% or less. Everyone bitches and moans about marketing, but in essence it is almost always a sales issue that is taking them down because you canít convert the leads you do have.

4. Retention is service and service is retention: I have been asking for years in the workshops about how much training owners do with their staff on a weekly basis. The question always generates sheepish grins, a few shrugs and some quiet laughs. The reality is that most donít train their front line people more than an hour a week. And we wonder why we lose so many members. Is there anything more important than training your staff to deliver good customer service? Is there anything more important than learning to keep the members you already have fought far in the system? Retention is not about the amount of equipment you own, the number of treads, the number of classes or the hours of the club. Retention is about the relationship between your members and the people who work in your club. Canít find the time to train your people? Youíll have a lot of time when you lose your club.

5. You have to let go and move on: I saw an honest to God mullet head at the airport last week. The guy was in his 40ís and had a giant mullet haircut right out of a 1980ís Patrick Swayze movie and it honestly scared the hell out of me. There are many owners still living in the mullet head days and their clubs reflect that era. What we did in the 90ís does not work anymore and it is time for everyone to move on. This is the era of retention, getting the member the ultimate results and functional training and it is the end of circuit training, crammed clubs and body builders. Keeping it simple means that your club has to reflect what the member wants to buy, which is easy to recognize if you have ever picked up a Menís Health or been to an advanced training workshop.

All of these ideas rest on the concept of working your ass off. Businesses are like four-year-old kids; if you donít watch them all the time they will pee in your sock drawer. If you want to make money, keep it simple and remember the Will Smith interview. You may have a better location, be smarter, have more money but I am willing to die before I will let anyone out work me in this business.

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