[spoiler]Erik: Hey. It’s Erik Rokeach and I’m here with the professor himself, Mr. Armando Cruz, and Armando and I are going to talk about something that is really, really important that doesn’t get a lot of coverage, and that is creating value and trust with your clients and he’s one of the masters of doing – he’s great at just taking that person and really developing a long-lasting relationship. I wanted to ask him how he does it so that I can share it with you. So Armando, thanks for being here, man. I appreciate it.
Armando: No, my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Erik: All right. So you’re here at Super-Trainer. You’re writing. Just so everybody knows, what’s your connection with Sam and Super-Trainer, how you got involved with it?
Armando: I’ve known Sam for about three years.
Armando: And I met him in a mastermind and we just clicked and we always bounce off ideas and I always respected what he did and he respected what I did and so when he took over Super-Trainer, he said, “Look, I think you would be a valuable contributor and I would love to have you on my Board of Directors there. Would you do it?” And I said it was a no-brainer for me because we’ve mentioned it before. Sam is always lending out a helping hand so any way that I can always help out, I’m more than happy to do it.
Erik: OK. Before we get into the value stuff, take me through what a typical day is like for you right now.
Armando: Typical day. I usually wake up like at 4:00 in the morning, something like that. I got to get my workout in. I kind of work extremes, the bookends of the day. So I get up at 4:00. I do my morning workout. I see one of my private clients. I don’t see very many. He’s one of the few and it’s a little bit higher level coaching/training. It’s not just going to the gym or anything like that and then we have my boot camps in the morning. I come home, hang out with the family, do some work in the house; and then at night, like 5:30, I head to the gym again, my facility, and I will leave there like around 9:00. The days that I’m there, that’s Monday through Thursday. Friday, I don’t work. Saturday, I work in the morning. We have one boot camp class. I always like to be there if I’m not teaching and then Sunday nothing as well. So that’s pretty much my thing.
Erik: Was your schedule always like that when you first started out? Did you plan it that way or were you really hustling like a lot of trainers were early on?
Armando: It’s funny. When I first started, yes. I started going all over the place. Funny enough, I’ve almost kind of digressed a little bit but with a different end in mind. I started off working mornings and nights and I really like the mornings. For me, I got to the point that I was working only from 8:00 in the morning until 11:00 in the morning, doing privates and so forth and that brought in more than enough but it wasn’t scalable.
So I tell people like I’m not where I would love my business to be right now because I’m working more and making less than I did before but understanding that and I think it’s something for people to understand that. If you understand what the big picture of what your ultimate goal is – and mine is building something that doesn’t necessarily depend on me. It’s built through systems that offer high quality value but easy enough that I can train somebody to do it and then may come in like we were talking about and I can be the greeter and enjoy it. So that’s basically how I built it. My goal is to continue to build it so that the systems are such that I don’t have to go in at all.
Erik: All right. Let’s touch on now – you talked about the greeter. I want you to take me through a couple of steps on processing how you helped to create the value and what is the role of you being a greeter in that process.
Armando: So, I use the word “greeter” because it’s kind of like a story that I have with my brother and my brother, when he was in high school, he started working for a gym because he needed something in the summer and I asked him what his job was. At this point, I was a trainer and he’s like, “Oh, I’m a greeter.” I’m like, “What do you do?” And he goes, “Oh, when people come in, I hand them a towel and I say, ‘Hi. Good morning. How are you?’ And that’s it. That’s my job.” I said, “Wow. OK.”
As I’ve gone more into the industry, what I’ve realized is I love training but training because I want to, not because I have to and there’s a big difference. So when we talked about that greeter, I kind of – my big thing with my clients is I want to know them, who they are, who they truly are, what does that mean. I want to know about their family. I’m genuinely interested. I enjoy people’s stories and so what I tell everybody is my ultimate goal is to become the greeter of my business so that I can just go there and just to shake hands and really learn about each person’s story.
Everybody has something to teach you. Everybody has an amazing story. I truly believe that and it doesn’t have to be that you came from nothing and now you’re amazing. Everybody has these pivotal points or inflexion points in their life that were pivotal and they were able to move that next step and for me is to try to bring that out so that they can see the benefit and use that as a strength and not just put it in a drawer and discount it, so to speak.
Erik: How does that play into the role of actually developing trust with your clients?
Armando: It’s kind of something that has been said before. People do business with you if they know, like and trust you and the better a relationship I can keep with people, I know that that helps to solidify them staying with me longer and I don’t do it because of that. There’s a genuine interest. I always have been interested in helping people and so when I can connect with them in that way, those are the people that stay the longest and if I go through my books and so forth, the people that have left earlier are the ones that the connection wasn’t there as much and that’s fine. You’re not for everybody.
Erik: Some people do struggle with developing that connection with their clients. Actually a lot of trainers do. I hear about it a lot. What can they do to help develop that? I mean you talked about a little bit before. Be genuinely interested in what they’re doing, what their stories are. But what else can they do to really try and just connect with their clients?
Armando: Oh, I think one of the biggest things is that people try to do something that is not them. So that connection doesn’t come off right away. Being genuine and authentic to who you are. When you do that, you will attract people that are more like you. OK? So then it’s easy.
If you’re finding it difficult to connect with your clients, you probably have the wrong clients. You don’t have the clients that fit you because you’re grinding through it just to get through the day or just to get through the session. That’s not a good place to be for you and your client because you’re not going to be giving your client what they really deserve and they’re not giving you what you essentially want which is that ease, that enjoyment, the extra energy. I don’t know if it has happened before in the past. Now, it doesn’t happen because it doesn’t last long but those clients that suck energy out from you, that’s not a good thing to have. That’s a parasitic relationship. It’s only coming from one end. There’s no contribution. You don’t want that in your life. You can only go up to a certain point but if the person is not willing to do it from there, you need to let them go.
Erik: So to avoid that, them bringing those clients, then they pretty much have to know who they are and what their core values are, right?
Armando: Exactly, exactly. We all have specialties that we do but we all have something unique about us. There are plenty of trainers that we’ve gone to meet from Super-Trainer that are really bookends different. I mean guys like Rocco, John Spencer Ellis. I mean those were two ends but they’re almost of the same coin so to speak, two sides of the same coin because they both preach who you are, what you’re about, what’s your promise, that they deliver it completely different.
And so somebody is going to go to Rocco. It’s going to be different. Somebody is going to go to me. It’s going to be different. Somebody is going to go John, different; somebody with Sam, you. All these people, we all have something special that somebody is going to look for and that’s the key, knowing what that is about you, embracing it and sharing it.
Erik: OK. I want to talk about creating value. This is another thing I get a lot of questions with. Everybody says not to compete on price but to create more value based on the price point that you’re at. What can people do to create more value in their business to just make it stand out from the competition?
Armando: I remember doing one post pertaining to this and I think one of the first things you need to do is – so you don’t get commoditized and now there’s not that price comparison is create that category of one. What’s going to set you apart? What’s your story? The story of TOMS Shoes, we kind of briefly talked about. What’s their story?
For every pair of shoes you buy, they put the same exact pair of shoes on somebody else in Argentina, in Africa. It’s something worth spreading. What is setting you apart? What is making you that category of one? That’s number one that you want to do.
The next thing is value-added things. So what I always tell trainers is, “What do you want to make?” Start from there. What is it that you want to make? And then ask yourself the question, “Is what I’m providing worth that and up to 10 times more?” If the answer is no, then you need to reflect and say, “OK. What would it take for it to be worth 10 times more?” and then be able to present it like that.
Erik: Can you give us a few examples of some of the things you’re doing within your business to do that?
Armando: Sure, sure. So number one – and it may seem stupid. It’s free but knowing everybody’s name. I mean knowing everybody’s name is so important. I mean it doesn’t get more personal than that. If you don’t know somebody’s name, that’s like a slap on the face. If they came the first day and you don’t know it, all right. But they’ve been there for a month and you still don’t know their name? That’s not good. There’s no connection there.
The other thing is a simple phone call just to let them know. I’ve gotten so many people that have signed up because the next day that they come in after their first day of working out, we call them just to see how they’re doing. That’s not the only time we call them but that first day right after their first workout, it just solidifies the deal.
What are the things that we do? I know there are a lot of people that like competition and I like competition as well. I know for my demographic of the population that I’m going for my ideal clients. They’re kind of intimidated with the whole working out thing. So competition doesn’t appeal to them initially. It will as they progress but if that’s your thing from the beginning, it may scare them away.
So what we do is we focus on the team building. One of the key things that we have is my business is built with my family. My brother is one of my trainers. My assistant is one of my cousins. My parents go there. My in-laws go there. So you see my family in there and that’s the environment that I [0:12:14] [Indiscernible]. When you’re here, you’re one of my family, just like all of them; and that’s the thing that I like to have, that group where this isn’t about excluding you but bringing you into my family, so to speak.
Erik: I got to ask you this because I don’t know too many people that do this. But what’s it like running a business, working with your family?
Armando: It’s actually great though – it’s funny. My family is great. I love having them in there. The only thing that I would like to do in the future is shift and almost not have them in there for this certain reason. And not because I dislike it. I love it because I know I can trust them. They are always looking out for my interest. They’re like, “Oh, this will be great.” Like I know because I’ve hired other people that weren’t family and it’s a completely different thing. My biggest thing of why I wanted to create a business was so I can go with my family on vacation and not have to worry about it. At this point, if we leave on vacation, we’re back to square one. Nobody is at the gym.
Armando: So that’s the only reason why. You guys have heard I’m big on family. I love family.
Armando: My mother is like – she’s like, “Who do we invite for the baby’s baptism?” I’m like, “Oh, just invite the family.” And she goes, “That’s over 70 some people that live right here that are immediate family.” This isn’t like distant cousins. So I have a big family and we’re together all the time.
Erik: You were talking about it before about knowing who you are, attracting the clients you want. Since you worked with your family and it’s very tied into what you do, a lot of your clients’ family, are you bringing a lot of – like not just the wife but do you bring in a husband together? Do you have a lot of that in your business?
Armando: Funny enough, no.
Armando: We do have some but most of the people in there have families.
Armando: And it’s predominantly women. I would say more than 85 percent is women.
Armando: And so sometimes the husbands come in but usually it’s something kind of like this is the mom’s way of getting out and being able to release and …
Armando: So yes.
Erik: OK. For your boot camps, what’s – what are your price ranges? If I was to come in and you were to offer me packages, what would they be?
Armando: For the boot camp, it goes anywhere from $197 to $297 right now.
Erik: All right. Go ahead.
Armando: A month, yes.
Erik: OK. We were talking about like value so I’m kind of curious. What would I get with those price ranges? You sit me down. Take me through the sales process. What are you going to offer me to like deliver that value and see how much is actually jam-packed in with it?
Armando: So the first thing that we tell people, we tell them –because we’re more than two times most boot camps there. So I tell them. I say, “Look, if all you want is to come in and do a good workout, then this may not be for you, not because we’re not going to give you a good workout. We’re going to give you an awesome workout but if what you’re looking for is something that’s cheap and you can get in a good workout, there are plenty of boot camps that will do it for 90 bucks or less.” OK?
That’s not us. If what you want is an experience, somewhere where you know that people are going to expect you to be there, want you to be there, where we’re constantly going to be checking up on you and making sure your nutrition is the way it needs to, the workouts, the flexibility we don’t have – that you sign up for a certain time. You can come in whatever time, as many times as you want. So it’s unlimited and if that’s more along the lines of what you’re looking for, then this will probably be the best fit for you.
We do work with their nutrition. I’m not a nutritionist but we’ve really worked on common sense stuff. Fruits and vegetables, that’s pretty common sense. You don’t need a degree for that. Lean meats, yes. So we take them through those things and our nutritional strategy is give me your template. Give me what you’re currently doing and now let’s tweak it to enhance it to get the results that you want.
I’m not going to impose a strict diet plan on you if you – like we have nurses. For the most part, most of our nurses can’t really eat meals throughout the day because they’re on the run. So for me to tell them, “Oh, you got to sit down and eat every two to three hours a certain amount,” it’s just not going to happen for them. So I take what they currently do because of their time constraints. See if there’s any maneuverability in there and then tweak it like that. So it’s really involved. We try to get as involved as possible.
Erik: OK. I want to know what – actually this is one of the last few questions. I want to know what your biggest piece of advice would be to other trainers out there when it comes to just building a business or relationships with clients.
Armando: Again, it goes back to that first thing. It’s knowing who you are, who you really want and what you want. What is it you want? I mean I know a lot of people that started boot camps because they thought that they were going to make a lot of money. I know people that do the same thing with training. But I’ve seen so many trainers and to me, it’s a disgrace. When I see somebody paying for training and they see the trainer on their phone texting somebody or watching a video or the person is doing some exercises and they’re looking at somebody else. That is something that really bothers me because that sets the tone for what people perceive as what being a trainer is.
And like anything, you have good – I’m also a physical therapist. I see a lot of physical therapists that in my case, I think it’s the same thing. It’s a waste and there’s not that dedication in there and so my biggest thing is be fully engaged, number one.
Number two, know what you want to get out of this, if this is a true calling; and when it’s not, that’s cool. But do something else. Don’t grind through it just to get through it and then not provide your client with what they really need. Give them the best possible and you receive the best. And then finally, I would say find a niche that works for you where you’re going to be happy. If you didn’t get paid, you would be excited to see these people and those would be the main things.
Erik: I see. That pretty much wraps it up. I was going to ask another question but you just hit the nail on the head there with the last answer there. So I appreciate it. I appreciate the time coming in and sharing all the tips and things that you’re doing that they’re helping you to be successful and I wish you the best of luck with everything in the future.
Armando: All right. Thank you so much, Erik.
Erik: All right. Talk to you soon.