I’ve spent the last six months opening and establishing a boot camp business in a very competitive fitness market. In that time I’ve done every job that you could imagine comes along with running a facility, from cleaning the bathrooms, doing the training, closing the sales, and everything else in between.
The irony in this is that I consider myself to be a pretty good delegator. However NOW, things are a different story.
In my fitness today, almost all of these tasks that were being handled by me have been delegated to the point where I can do what a business owner should be doing: growing the business and sharpening the saw. With the help of a great friend/mentor/coach like Sam, the hardcore contributors on this site, all of the great content on this site (along with lots of elbow grease), I’ve finally been able to delegate, outsource, and automate nearly every aspect of my fitness business.
I’m at the point where I could pull a Dan Go and take three months off and come back to find my fitness business has grown. However that’s not what I’m going to do – I’m still new to this, so I still want to keep my hands on the wheel and do everything I can to keep the business growing.
But what I do want to point is that what you hear a lot of the guys talking about here and elsewhere on the online space of an outsourced fitness business is REAL. When you hear Sam, Dan, Jonas, or Christian talking about how they only work a couple of hours a week in their business, and have an army of trainers and assistants actually working IN the business for them, it’s very achievable. You just need to stay focused on the level of “automation” you’re trying to accomplish, and work every day toward building the systems, and finding exceptional people to implement them.
What I’m going to do now is break down what it’s taken for me to get to this level of finally having my hands out of the day to day grind of running my fitness business. I’m going to tell you who the people are on my team, what their roles are, and what my role is now.
Before I begin, I want to talk about the overarching philosophy I have with my team of employees. One book that was very influential on me in this area and that you’ll probably enjoy is DELIVERING HAPPINESS by Tony Hsieh (founder and CEO of Zappos.com).
One thing Tony talks about in the book is how in his first wildly successful business venture, what made it succeed and made it a highly enjoyable place to work was that it was made up of a team of his friends. It was when the business started to become a typical business that was staffed by people from help-wanted ads or head-hunters that it became boring, and made it clear to him that it was time to get out.
One of my priorities is to make my business a fun place to work, and that’s how I approach the assembly of my team. They must be highly competent “stars” that can do their jobs very well. I’ve had to “kiss many frogs” before I was able to assemble the people I have now, but the wait was worth it. Beyond that, I’m closely bonded to them way beyond the work or the money. This has all of us putting in the extra time and going the extra mile needed to carve out our place in our marketplace.
You’ll notice the same level of comraderie between Sam and his key staff/business partners. There’s something to that.
Hiring a team of good trainers being one of the hardest things to running a good fitness business. And as the business owner, we always have a certain charisma that is hard for an employee to duplicate. That’s a major problem standing in the way of automating a fitness business.
But you know what, when you find a true STAR employee, you should be able to get pretty damn close to what you can do yourself. In fact, in one of the two areas of either charisma or training ability, they should be better than you. That’s what I’ve found with my staff. I remember hearing marketing guru Eban Pagan saying that you can’t find star employees through the typical marketing channels of help-wanted ads, etc. You have to get creative. Always be on the lookout. AND make yourself into the type of leader that attracts that kind of talent.
I also pay them extremely well. They are my thoroughbreds, so I make sure they are well fed and well rested. I then let them loose to do damage and keep my customers happy and create an outstanding fitness product, charm my customers, and keep them constantly wanting more.
When you have a store, which is what I consider my business, this staff is vital. For example, we recently had a hurricane out here in New York that required me to board up the large front windows of the store. It took almost four hours to pick up the supplies and do the job, from 11pm to 3am. I didn’t do this – it was my contractor. He’s a vital member of my team that I can call at a moment’s notice to handle anything wrong with my actual physical business.
I tried the route of hiring a tele-marketer to handle my sales, but it just didn’t feel right. People can tell whether the person on the other line has real passion and belief in the product, and the tele-marketers I hired couldn’t capture that.
Instead I hired one of my top customers to handle the job, and she has been able to do a much better job than even when I was handling it. I had to teach her a lot about sales, but once I did, I just let her loose and the rest is history. She closes sales, gets credit cards over the phone before the clients have even seen the store, and then often times they will find her in the bootcamp taking the class with them. I can’t explain how amazing this is for the piece of mind of the clients and how much it contributes to whether they “stick” or not.
Much of business is presentation. This is even more true in the fitness business, where we have no actual tangible product, so much of customer satisfaction is based on emotions, feelings, and impressions.
I think a lot of fit-biz owners underestimate the importance of their web and art team to their business. You can’t just post a job on FIVERR every time you need some artwork done or something changed on your site. Your web and art people are as valuable to you as any of your staff. Once you find some people you like, tie them down. Give them enough work and pay them well enough so they’re happy and continue doing a good job.
As trainers, many of us have big egos and an “I can do it myself” attitude. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, I can’t overestimate the value of having a good coach.
Just one quick response or a minute of input from an experienced coach that has done it, continues to do it, and continues to sharpen his craft can save you untold amounts of time and error. Every now and then, it can be a COMPLETE game changer.
In my business, that person has been Sam. I’ve known and even taken coaching from nearly everyone out there in the online space. For all results, I take full responsiblity. As for the coaching experience, level of trust in my coach, and character of that individual, nothing holds a candle to SEVEN FIGURE SAM. Invest in coaching with him while you’re still young and you still can.
So there you go. Take all of this for what you will because I have a lot more I want to accomplish and my business is a constant work in progress.
And don’t think I’m getting lazy by any stretch, and have a “fitness business automation” e-book on the way. I’m from New York, so I can’t picture myself taking a full 3 months off. NOT at this point, not with so much more to do, with so much energy, and so much more I want to accomplish.
But what this has allowed me to do is take on the role of chief marketer in my business. It has allowed me to put all my energy into marketing and growth. As I’m sure you’ve noticed I put a ton of attention and care into my customers and my training product. But so do a lot of trainers. The make or break is understanding influence, persuasion, customer psychology, and marketing IN ADDITION to the fitness side. Study those subjects til your eyes bleed. That is one of the reasons you will see Sam at all the major marketing events and slowly becoming close friends with all the worlds top marketers.
That’s it for today. Maybe I’ll have some time to contribute a bit more to this site now that I have everything delegated. Then again, maybe not.
Kaiser “Super” Serajuddin
Original Super Trainer
Kaiser, This Post kicks some major ass bro! I’m stoked on seeing how quick and organized you are building your empire…it looks like you figured out a great bullet proof system.
I look forward to reading your fitness business automation e-book when it comes out.
Hey Jonas – I think their was a typo – what I meant to say is DON’T expect a fit-biz automation e-book from me. However, if you want to JV on it, I’m game.