Monday, September 25, 2006

Creative Emulation

I had an interesting weekend. Holly and I went to Florida and started our trip by having dinner with Damon Moschetto and his lovely wife Laurel. For those of you who don't know Damon, he's a real industry expert and a co-author of Fitness Riches. Holly and I made it back to the resort and were checking out the weather channel to see the forecast for the next day when the breaking story came across - flash flood in Elizabethtown, KY (our hometown) - not good. So we got to come home to a wet basement and our lawn tractor being found 3 houses down after the water carried it away. Interesting weekend.

So on to the post of the day...

Before we go any further - please understand that creative emulation should not be confused with outright plagiarism. Creative emulation is art of studying and observing all sorts of effective (and successful) marketing techniques and concepts that companies totally outside of your own industry are using and creatively adapting variations of these concepts to your own business.

Let me give you an example of what I mean to better understand the potential.

It is common for health clubs to use EFT to bill their members each month. This technology has reduced deliquency, made clubs tons of money and simplified the lives of members. We took this same approach and applied it to selling personal training. The clients were already experiencing EFT billing with the health club so applying this approach for their in-club services wasn't a stretch.

Did it work for us?

Did it ever!

We have absolutely no resistance to this approach, over 80% of our clients sign 12 month training contracts and we consistently have penetration rates over 350% better than the industry average when it comes to % of club members using trainers.

I could point out other examples but I think you get the point.

But in case you don't see Creative Emulation for the opportunity it is - here's a couple of thoughts on the concept:

1) It's not only acceptable - it's a great idea to emulate someone else's concept particularly when you see evidence that it is successful.

2) Some of the most successful and profitable breakthroughs I've ever seen were common approaches in one industry that were successfully applied in another.

How can you start using Creative Emulation?
  • Be nosy. Look for ways you can use things you see at the theater, the coffee shop or the video store and apply them to your business.
  • Read, read, read. Read magazines that chronicle success stories and business stories. Read books about business. You'll be amazed by what you pick up.
  • Take action. Test ideas that you come up with based on what you discover. Some will flop, but often you'll be pleasantly surprised at the results. Besides, the odds of success are greater since it's already worked in another industry.

I don't know if I'll be making another post this week. Trying to get caught up after the weekend in Florida, the flood and prepping to be out of town for the Ryan Lee Bootcamp might prevent me from posting. We'll see.

If you are going to the Bootcamp, I will be there along with Nick Berry, Holly and Randy Campbell, our VP of Training Services. Nick and I will be spending alot of time in the lobby catching up with our clients, customers and subscribers - so make sure to come and say hello.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Secrets of Highly Successful Trainers

I'll be hit-and-miss over the next couple of weeks as I'm going to Florida to hang out with my wife for 3 days and then next week I'm off to the Ryan Lee Bootcamp (hopefully you are too.) So today I'm going to give you some "secrets" that seem to separate the best in the industry from the average.

Here goes...

Secret #1 Highly Successful Trainers Don't Sell Training.

No, I haven't been drinking. A big secret of successful trainers is that they don't sell training. Instead, they focus on selling the benefits they offer, the value they provide, and the results their clients achieve.

People don't want to see pictures of you on your site's homepage oiled up and posing. Some of them don't even care if you're certified. They'd happily sit on the couch if it would produce the results they want.

When it comes to doing business with a you or any other company, people only care about what's in it for them.

They have a problem and they are asking you, "Do you have a solution?" Your services are simply the process you use to solve problems and achieve the results.

Don't sell the process - sell the results and focus on the benefits.

Secret #2 Highly Successful Trainers Spend More on Marketing.

I personally believe this is a distinguishing factor between financially successful trainers and unsuccessful ones because of 3 reasons:

1. Spending money on your business demonstrates a level of commitment. It says, "I'm here and I'm serious about growing my business."

2. Consistently investing in marketing displays that you have a financial plan - a budget for growing your business.

3. Investing in marketing is a premeditated action designed to provide a return on investment. As I've mentioned before - success starts with action.

Fitness Together studios typically outperform independents...often by a large margin. I believe that this is based on soley on a commitment to marketing.

Secret #3 Top Trainers Use Business Coaching.

Jim Labadie and Ryan Lee both used Debbie Cohen to improve their businesses. I gather that Craig Ballantyne had / has a business coach as well.

Will it guarantee your success?


Can you be financially successful without hiring a coach?


People can lose fat without a trainer. Would they do even better with one.


Having a plan, accountability, motivation and an objective perspective can go a long way. If you can't use a coach right now - at least invest in information products and seminars. You'll more than recover your investment.

Secret #4 Highly Successful Coaches Leverage Their Knowledge.

Being seen as a fitness resource or “fitness-guru” is increasingly valuable in our society and one of the best ways to do this is to leverage your knowledge — actively find ways to package and sell your expertise through printed books, how-to manuals, CDs, membership sites, CD-ROMs, e-books and videos.

Virtually every top trainer has created multiple products because they recognize creating products leads to several major benefits including:

Enhances their credibility

Creates opportunities for multiple streams of revenue

Opens up doors for speaking engagements and seminars

It can be sold on-line 24/7 and can be sold anywhere in the world at any time

The amount of money you collect is not directly tied to your time

People thirst for information and they are going to get it somewhere. Hell, there are over 4000 diet books currently in print alone. Why not take advantage of this huge opportunity.

Disclaimer – If you have not established yourself as a trainer that can consistently deliver results – don’t start writing e-books and making videos. Master your craft and then start creating products. The world needs another shitty fitness product about as much as it needs another reality show.

Secret #5 Highly Successful Trainers Do More Than Just 1-on-1 Training.

They spend some of their time conducting training or holding seminars.

They offer multiple products and services to clients.

They work with small groups.

They see 1-on-1 training as one of the services they offer to people, not the only service. They also use each of their services to cross-sell and up sell their other services.

Rarely are great professionals a “one-trick pony.” They almost always have more than one revenue stream and more than one way to deliver their expertise.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fitness Business Finances

Since I've recently been sharing how you can apply E-Myth strategies to improve and grow your business, I thought I'd give you some questions that you can use to evaluate to financial side of your business based on questions put forth in the E-Myth. Enjoy.

1. Is your business operating at a net profit or at a net loss?

2. Have your gross annual revenues been increasing, decreasing, erratic, flat?

Why do you think that is?

3. How is your cash flow? Excellent, good, fair, poor or inconsistent?

4. How often do you pay your bills on time? Always, most of the time, not very often or almost never?

5. Are you able to make payroll? How do you pay yourself?

6. Are you comfortable with the amount of debt you have? Is it short-term or long-term debt? Are you on a structured payback schedule?

7. How is your revenue base distributed among your clients?

8. What payment terms do you require of your clients? EFT model, Due on receipt, 15 days, 30 days?

9. How old are your Accounts Receivable collections? Under 20 days, between 30 and 40 days, between 60 and 90 days, over 90 days, don't know?

10. What kinds of financial reports do you generate on a regular basis? Profit and loss, balance sheet, statement of cash flow, budget, projections, none?

11. How often do you generate these financial reports? Weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually?

12. For the reports you produce, how much of the information do you understand and use? All of it, at least 75%, between 50% and 75%, between 25% and 50% or less than 25%?

13. How do you manage and control on-site expenses? Do you have a system to collect, track and reconcile on-site or employee-incurred expenses?

14. If applicable, can your on-site supervisors sign for orders? Do they have a signing limit?

15. Have you allocated funds for care and upkeep of equipment, etc.?

16. Who writes checks, makes deposits and reconciles bank statements? Is it all the same person? Do you trust them? Do you review your bank statements?

Some probably won't apply to you unless you own several locations. Many will. Answer them and learn from them.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Increasing Your Business Profitability

Here's a link to an article I'll be sending out in tomorrow's edition of the Fitness Riches Newsletter. It's long - but it's worth the time.

Check it out at:

Talk to you later.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Business Of Personal Training – Prioritization

In the last several posts and articles I’ve written, I have explored the question of structuring a business for success, but where does one start? Let us assume that you have started working on the business and that you have analyzed the business using the concepts I’ve previously talked about. If so you’re probably thinking “where do I begin?”

Quite frequently confusion arises between opportunities and weaknesses. For instance, you may have incorrectly assumed that preparing systems to operate your business, so as to have a better handle on the business would be an opportunity for improving the business. No! The absence of well-constructed systems actually indicates a weakness in the business. In other words developing systems should be a routine part of every business. Of course systems are likely to improve the chances of success, but their absence only indicates weakness in your current approach.

Not surprisingly, we generally find that there are some under-exploited opportunities in most businesses. It often takes an outsider to see those opportunities because the owners are so caught up in the detail that they see the individual trees and are blind to the forest.

Having mentioned these different items, the next step is to build on your strengths, eliminate weaknesses and exploit opportunities. Believe me, you will have a fair list of things to do, so back to the question of where to start.

Quite obviously some issues will be very important while others, though not as important, will be urgent. Thus we can categorize each item according to its importance and its urgency. Human nature being what it is we tend to handle the urgent, pressing problems first while ignoring those aspects that may have a far greater impact on the success of the business. For that reason the cardinal rule is to always prioritize first according to importance. Building on that idea - I have developed a simple numerical system for determining importance.

An item rated ‘1’ will have virtually no impact on the success of the business. A ‘3’ indicates it would be nice if this could be done but is of little consequence in determining success. Five means this is item is very important to the success of the business while a ‘10’ means this issue will either make or break the business depending upon whether it is positive or negative. There are unlikely to be many ‘10’s in your list but if there are they will most likely fall in the category of opportunity or threat. You better pay attention to them even if they are not at all urgent. Therefore, the next step is to establish how urgent each issue is. It may be that an item which is a ‘5’ in terms of importance is very much more urgent than something rated a ‘10’ and therefore should take precedence.

We use 1 to 10 to rate urgency, where a ‘1’ means not at all urgent but a ‘10’ means it should have been done yesterday. In summary you should now have a list of things that need to be done. Rather than a mere jumbled list each item will be rated first according to its importance and secondly according to its urgency. Instead of simply jumping from crisis to crisis it provides a base for achieving a successful business.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The E-Myth Approach For Fitness Pros

Michael Gerber's classic book, The E-Myth, sets out a series of steps that every personal trainer needs to take to grow a business. Gerber's fundamental belief is that most businesses fail because most business owners are not really entrepreneurs. Instead, they are what he calls "technicians suffering from an entrepreneurial seizure." In other words, they don't own a business; they own a job.

For that reason, these so-called entrepreneurs start businesses that enslave them, causing them to do every job without a break, 24/7. They move from one project to the next, and make no time to step back and think.

Sound familiar?

The way out of this hole is to figure out how to get your business to run without you. That way, you don't have to worry about being in two different places at once!

Gerber breaks down the following steps for shifting from a technician to a true entrepreneur:

Step 1: Think differently about money.

Money has four aspects in his model:

1. Income
2. Profit
3. Flow
4. Equity

Most trainers (technicians) think predominantly about income -- the money you get paid for going to work every day. Income is what you get when you operate as a contractor-as-employee. When you want to shift to a contractor-as-owner, income becomes perhaps the least important of the four aspects.

Meanwhile, profit is investment capital that feeds and supports your growth, rewards people, shores up capital shortfalls, and rewards the owner for taking risks. Thinking about profit instead of income is an essential shift you have to make if you are to move from being an independent contractor to a business owner.

Flow is the way money moves through your business; when you manage the flow of money appropriately, you have the power to grow your business more effectively and efficiently. Every entrepreneur needs to control the way money flows in and out of his or her business.

Finally, equity is the value a buyer would place on your business. Entrepreneurs need to think about creating equity in their business by making it a sustainable, valuable operation -- with or without the current owner. This means having systems, products, processes, and solid marketing methods.

Step 2: Develop processes so that you replace yourself with others.
You have to stop working in the business and start working on it. The best way to do that is to become aware of when you're filling an owner's shoes vs. an employee's shoes.

For jobs that could be delegated to an employee or another trainer, your role is to find the best way to do that job, and then document it. Next, replace yourself with someone who (after being trained on the system you've just created) can do the job and teach it to others. Finally, manage the system by quantifying its success, and improving upon it. Repeat this process every time you find yourself being an employee rather than an owner.

Step 3: Develop a plan.

Gerber introduces what he calls the Planning Triangle, or three types of plans every entrepreneur needs to have. The first is a business plan, which determines what the business is, including its purpose and vision. The second is a "job plan" that documents everything your employees need to know, have, and do in order to get a job done on time, every time, as promised. This is a detailed set of job/process descriptions that rivals a franchise system like McDonald's (a company that Gerber refers to often). Finally, you need a "completion plan," which is a set of benchmarks or standards that tells you that you have completed the job with the budget, quality, and time frame promised.

So you need not one, but three plans. The first tells you who you are. The second tells you what you do. The third tells you how you do it.

Step 4: Understand what it means to manage.

Gerber wisely notes that you don't manage people, but processes. As a business owner, you should develop step-by-step ways of doing things in order to create a consistent system that gets results. As a trainer, you should have metrics for success and processes for the following tasks, among many others:

• Sales presentations
• Assessments
• Communicating with clients
• Program design
• Delivering or supervising the workouts
• Asking for re-signs and referrals
• Upselling the client
• Tracking progress
• Transitioning clients from one trainer to another

A good process allows you to measure whether you're getting the same results every time and, if not, how to change to process to improve it.

Step 5: Change the way you work with people.

Gerber asserts that, without people, you don't have a company. You have a job. To effectively work with others, especially employees and sub-contractors, it is essential to add them in a systematic way.

You need a system that explicitly communicates the talent and skills you seek, a system to teach new trainers so that they know what to do, a set of standards so that you can set expectations, and a process to help them improve over time. Without these systems in place, your people will do more harm than good.

Step 6: Develop a system to understand, communicate with, and delight clients.

Without a marketing system, you won't be able to grow your business effectively.

Step 7: Keep growing.

According to Gerber, a business that stops growing will die. One of your primary roles as business owner is to infuse your business with purpose, passion, will, belief, personality and method (systems again!).

The E-Myth model is simple but surprisingly underutilized in our industry...but it's comprehensive and it works. I'll be discussing it more over the next couple of days.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The First Of My Promised "E-Myth Articles"

Many fitness pros dream of building a training business that is bigger than a one-person enterprise.

They recognize the obvious benefits of creating a business that is more than a "one man band":

- The financial benefits of increased revenues and, eventually, profits
- Building a business with equity value, that can be sold for substantial rewards
- The status and esteem that comes from owning a "real" business
- Leveraging your time, because other people are doing lots of the work (while you retain the profits)
- The satisfaction of employing and developing other people
- The enjoyment that sometimes comes from spending more time on "big-picture" issues, and less time on mundane details and daily "fires"

Unfortunately, many fitness professionals are unsure how to take the necessary steps to build a sustainable business. Just to give you an example, here's what one trainer recently told me:

"My clients rave about me, and I can get anyone great results. I'm overwhelmed with all the clients I can handle, but realize that just training client after client is not the way to go over the long term. I want to build a company, but I don't know the first thing about managing a business. For instance, how can I even find time to grow a business if I am overwhelmed as it is? And every time I look for good people to hire, they want "big money" and then they often turn out to be undependable. What do I do?"

Does this sound familiar?

The issues that this trainer raises are quite common.

So here are some questions that the prospective business owner should consider before they embark on building a business.

Caveat Emptor: Are You Sure You Want To Do This?

First, a few important warnings. Many people would rather dream about building a business than go through the process to actually do it. Put another way, lots of trainers want to own their own studio, but don't want to endure the pain, frustration, and perseverance that's often required to build one.

"Studio owner? It sounds so good! No more fitness director! No more paying half my fees to the gym...and you're in charge!

It all sounds good but before you make the choice to build a business, be sure that you understand the following caveats:

1. It will be much harder work than you ever imagined, and -- at least initially -- will increase, rather than decrease, the time you spend working. A business takes on a life of its own, and can often consume you. Be ready to endure sleepless nights and worried weekends as you obsess about how to pay your bills, grow revenues, handle tough employee issues, and deal with immediate crises. Are you sure you want this kind of pressure?

2. A common rule of thumb is that it takes twice as long and twice as much money to get a business off the ground as you originally thought it would. There are smart ways to grow that can mitigate this rule of thumb, but it is best to be conservative. If you don't have a solid cushion of reserves to keep your business and personal needs satisfied (say, for 1-2 years), you should wait until you have a more stable financial base.

3. You will have to shift away from work you may love (e.g. training clients) and into work that you may find brutally tedious (e.g. bookkeeping, recruiting and managing people, payroll, marketing, human resource issues, legal issues, and putting systems in place) -- but this shift is essential if you're to build a company. Do you really want to spend your time doing this kind of work?

4. While many people go into business to satisfy their egos, they often find that the best way to build a business is to get out of the way and put your ego aside. Otherwise, you'll never "replace yourself." Many would-be entrepreneurs aren't willing to give up this level of control or credit. Are you building a business that's about you, or one that's about a sustainable organization?

5. You'll need to have incredible patience with other people. It takes time and effort to build and manage a team. Many independent contractors became independent contractors in the first place because they don't like dealing with other people (except when they are paying clients). If you don't love working with, negotiating with, resolving conflicts with, and collaborating with others, don't take this path.

6. Those who have families to support may be disappointed to learn that some spouses and parents are not as supportive as you want or need them to be. That's because many family members don't know what it takes to run a business, are satisfied with how things are going now, and are afraid to take on new risks. Be ready for some family strife as you get your business going, and don't rely on family members for support when you hit road bumps -- get that support from other business owners.

7. There are no guarantees. Most businesses don't make it past their first year, usually because of inadequate capital and poor planning. Launching a business is very different from creating a successful company that survives and thrives, and there is a chance that you will fail. Of course, the best entrepreneurs handle this issue by jumping into a new venture only when they have eliminated as many risks as possible (e.g. they have a financial cushion, a stable base of clients already in place, etc.). Do you have the stomach to make a leap with no guarantee of success?

8. Closely related to #7, there will never be perfect information or certainty when you launch your business. Many independent professionals are analytical by nature -- they want to know that a market exists for their services, and intend to plan out exactly what kinds of numbers they can achieve. Planning is good, but you have to be willing to endure ambiguity and incomplete information. That means making decisions and taking action with 60-75% of the information you need, and leaving the rest to your instincts. Lots of people can't handle this kind of uncertainty. Can you?

9. Finally, to build a business, you need to make marketing a priority. Many independent contractors get by on word of mouth, but that's not enough to grow a substantial enterprise. Are you willing to make marketing a priority?

We all know people who talk constantly about how "someday" they will start their own business. Many of these people never seem to take action. Why? The answer is that they get stuck at one of the above considerations. They like to talk about what's possible, because that's a lot easier than taking action and risking failure. While it can be annoying to listen to someone ramble on and on about their dreams, at least they're making the right decision to think hard about these very important issues.

Okay, are you sure you want to do this? If so, read tomorrow's post…

Monday, September 11, 2006

More Reader Q & A

It's been a couple of weeks since I first did a reader Q & A and I was pleasantly surprised to get quite a bit of feedback. Not only that - but I got more questions...So here's my second installment of reader Q & A:

Q: I'm considering launching my own business - either by opening my own studio or contracting with a health club. What are the advantages and disadvantages to each?

A: Well, first off - congrats on getting ready to start your own business. I consider it the best professional decision I've ever made. Off the top of my head, here are the advantages and disadvantages to each:

Advantages of a studio:
  • You have the freedom and flexibility to manage your business independent of a club owners preferences.
  • You aren't at the mercy of the club's success in generating members or their reputation.
  • You have the opportunity to offer whatever "backend" products or services you see fit.
  • You aren't contractually obligated to provide a floor staff, offer free orientations or any of the "baggage" that comes with some health club agreements.
  • You potentially can own your building.
  • You have greater opportunity to build a business for resale. (Though few trainers maximize this in either situation.)
  • You can equip your location as you see fit.
  • You can position yourself as "exclusive" or "elite" as well as "private."

Disadvantages of a studio:

  • You have the a broader spectrum of costs (typically meaning more expensive) contributing to overhead.
  • You have no flexibility as far as creating a lease based on % of revenue.
  • You must do external marketing.
  • You have no "automatic traffic."
  • Managing a physical location involves more "day to day" stuff ranging from custodial tasks to security.

Advantages of a training business in a health club:

  • You can start with virtually no investment. (My first locations start up costs were less than $600)
  • No bank loans, credit, etc.
  • A steady stream of pre-qualified prospects.
  • Flexibility in lease negotiations with the possibility of paying a % of revenue.
  • Limited external marketing costs.
  • No concerns about facility or equipment maintainence.
  • Getting "free orientations" as a sales opportunity.

Disadvantages of a training business in a health club:

  • A landlord that may think they can "do it better."
  • An unethical landlord that sees you making money and then screws you over so they can take the training department over.
  • Being at the mercy of the club as far as driving traffic.
  • Not having an exclusive environment.
  • Being viewed as part of the club.

This is not a comprehensive list, but a good start. When I started my first business coming up with the means to open a studio was not an option. Now, being a club owner and an owner of training companies within health clubs - I can tell you it's a matter of preference and personal strengths. If external marketing or coming up with start-up capital in not your strong suit...go with the club option. If you have a niche you feel you can capitalize on and the means to take advantage of it, maybe a studio would be a better fit. Trust me, you can make money either way.

Q: I don't like sales but I want to make money as a trainer, what should I do?

A: I'll give you three choices:

1. Find a rich spouse.

2. Find a new profession.

3. Find a way to learn to like sales. A lot of times, not liking the sales process is just not being comfortable with it. We rarely like things we're unfamiliar with. As far as I'm concerned, Jim Labadie is the Zig Ziglar, Tom Hopkins and Brian Tracy all rolled into one for fitness professionals. If I were you, I'd check out Jim's Ultimate Sales Kit at:

Q: I've read your stuff about building systems and working on my business, not in it. I'm ready - but where do I begin?

A: Good question. Since I don't really know much about you I'll assume that you have no employees and are starting from scratch. Here's a 3 step process to start with:

1. Start documenting everything you do. The training programs you use with clients, how you market, how you follow up , your approach to sales, your approach to retention...everything. Begin compiling it into a manual that others (your future staff) can utilize to know exactly how to replicate what you do to acquire and service clients.

2. Start delegating something. Put a value on your daily tasks at work. Entering data into the computer - $8 / hour, going to the post office - $8 / hour, supervising workouts - $16 / hour, writing sales copy - $100 / hour, etc. Start delegating the lowest "value" stuff and work your way up as you get more comfortable. As you see that others can be "good enough" you'll soon be more open to delegating more and more.

3. Set a timeline. Set a date which you'll have your operations manual complete, one when you'll start delegating tasks, one when you'll hire an trainer and one where you'll "take the leash off' and let another trainer provide everything to a client from the sales presentation and assessment to the program and supervision.

Q: I've read Fitness Riches and it was great. However, I don't know what direction to take my business. Do you offer any business coaching?

A: First off, thanks for the kind words about Fitness Riches - as far as I'm concerned, it's the best e-book even compiled about the business side of personal training. As for business coaching...yes, but because of a couple of projects that we're working on I only accept a limited number of coaching clients each month. For more information, go to:

Q: Will you be attending the Ryan Lee Bootcamp?

A: Yep. I'm going - along with my wife Holly (the VP of our company overseeing Weight Management and Retail Sales), Nick Berry and our training director, Randy Campbell. If your smart, you'll go to.

Q: I noticed that you're not speaking at Ryan Lee's Bootcamp. Why not?

A: Not good-looking enough I guess. Honestly, I'm honored that you think I should be speaking, but I couldn't care less. I'd sleep in my car to attend. I am certain that the knowledge we picked up last year made us ALOT of money in the 12 months since then. I expect more of the same this year.

Q: You talk alot about "back-end" revenue. What do you think is the best product or service to offer on the "back-end?"

A: It depends on your business. If you're talking about back-end offerings for personal training services then I think the best offerings are weight management / nutritional coach on the service side and autoship dietary supplements on the product side. They both go hand in hand with training...they are perfect complements. Autoship supplements may be slightly better because they require less effort on your part. I'll be talking more about the who autoship thing is a post soon.

That's all I'm answering for today. But before I sign off, I figured I'd tell you that there are several new articles in the fitness professional area on the FCG site. To check them out, go to:


Friday, September 08, 2006

Resources To Help You Grow Your Business

A while back I posted some of the books I'd read recently and got a lot of feedback...I guess it is always nice to be able to have someone else do some of the sifting for you to get to the "good stuff." I'll offer some other books and the audios that are great resources soon, but I figured I'd share some of the sites that I think are great resources for fitness entrepreneurs...Basically the places I check out regularly. So in no particular order, here they are: - Craig Ballantyne is not only provides great fitness / fat loss info, but also provides a great "case study" in how to build your own "fitness empire" rather than just training clients all day long. - I personally think Alwyn is the most well-rounded fitness entrepreneur in the industry. Owns a successful facility, great trainer, popular speaker, leverages his knowledge with infoproducts and articles. Another role model for trainers wanting to be successful. - Allen Hill is truly unique in that he not only understands the technical stuff that can get you results online (and has the ability to "dumb it down for guys like me), but he's also a fitness professional so he understands our needs. he's definitely filled a void in the industry. - Bill doesn't post too often, but everything he says is valuable. He's tremendously intelligent and has done something that most every trainer should consider - he's found a niche (golf) and become the go-to-guy for golfers all over the country (maybe world...I'd have to ask). He's the best "fitness niche role model" there is and he's a great writer to boot. - Ryan Lee has the best fitness business forum online as well as a great selection of articles and interviews. If you haven't noticed, Ryan also always seems to be a half-step ahead of everyone else when trends start to happen or new technology emerges. If he's doing something, it's always worth a second look. - I really enjoy Jim Labadie's stuff. I look forward to his newsletters and articles and have bought ALL of his products. If you want to learn how to sell your services, get more publicity or achieve a mindset programmed for success - Jim's your guy. - Nick's my business partner on 3 separate businesses but I still check out his blog regularly (I had to twist his arm to launch it). He is the sharpest guy I know when it comes to retail and financing and brings a different angle on some of the same things I talk about like systems and building a business so it has maximum resale value. - Craig Ballantyne turned me on to this and it's a great newsletter to get. They offer advice ranging from wealth and business building to health and exercise. They also promote some pretty infoproducts. - One of the best resources online for training and nutrition advice that cuts through the bullshit. - Same as T-Nation...Great training info...Zero bullshit. - David Frey site. He's a great marketer in the Jay Abraham & Dan Kennedy mold that has a forum he regularly posts on as well as a good blog. - John and Chris Mohr are the people I look to for information on nutrition. Great site, lots of content and his products are must-have and reasonably priced. - J.P. has built the best forum on the net for training and nutrition guidance. Many of the people I've mentioned are regulars there. - When you're an info junkie like I am, Ebay is a great place to find deals on those pricey CD Series. Not bad for tickets for Buckeyes games either :) - I'm a book junkie...sue me. They also have this cool deal called Amazon Prime where you pay $80 and get unlimited 2 day shipping on all orders. - This guy is a genius. He knows everything about product development, membership name it. Sharp guy.

There are more, but that will get you started. I should tell you though...when I look for things on guys like Craig's and Alwyn's sites - I'm not only looking for their expertise on exercise but maybe more importantly, I'm looking for the way they approach their businesses. Their copy, their types of products, who they market to, etc. I've heard it said hundreds of times but it's worth repeating: "Success leaves clues."

Have a great weekend!

P.S. - Go Buckeyes!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Two Most Important Attributes

I thought that today I'd shift gears a little and talk about what I think it takes to be a successful fitness entrepreneur (or a successful anything, for that matter). While I believe that there are many attributes that go into being successful, in my mind there are two that stand out above the rest:

The Willingness To Take Action

The Ability To Persevere

Sure, having intelligence is important, but I know plenty of broke, smart people. Often, they are "too smart for their own good" and think they can always beat the system and never have to put in the sweat equity necessary to succeed.

Having knowledge is great too, but I've run into plenty of trainers and coaches that have every letter of the alphabet after their name and will swear up and down that they know as much as "that Cosgrove guy" but strangely enough, they don't own a tremendously successful facility, have a dozen products out and aren't in great demand to write and speak.

Having talent / potential is nice too. Some things come easy for people...good for them. But I recall back in my coaching days - I'd go recruiting and all the other coaches would be raving about this guys potential or drooling about the players time on the stopwatch. I never was too interested in all that...I wanted people who would perform. Ironically enough, my "performers" would almost always kick the shit out of their "potential." Holds true outside of sports just the same.

See, most people are unwilling to take real action. They're "security people." Unfortunately, opportunity and security are inversely proportionate. You know the risk, no reward.

It's no different than people saying that "they'll start eating right next week" - only next week turns into next month, then next year. Every successful achievement begins with a decision to take action. I can't tell you how many people I know that throw out good (or great) ideas for books, businesses or products - that stay just that - an idea. I know plenty of successful / wealthy people that I consider to be of average intelligence...but they took action and continue to take action.

I'll be the first to admit, there have been times that I've considered doing something, only to get distracted, get lazy or simply take the path of least resistance - do nothing. But every success that I've enjoyed has been a direct result of me making a decision and taking action.

The second part of this equation is having the ability to persevere. I promise you that if you launch your own business, take on a new project, embrace a new challenge...there will be stumbling blocks along the way. Construction will be delayed, visitors won't come flocking to your site like expected, a marketing campaign will bomb, a key employee will quit. You name it - it will happen. Oh well. That's part of the deal.

I know a guy that has come up with (at least) three separate business ideas, acted on them and laid the groundwork to get them started and invested a significant amount of time, energy and money to bring them to launch. Each time he has moved on to his next "great idea" without even recovering his initial investment in the previous venture. The thing is, any of these businesses could have been lucrative. They were all good ideas in niches that there was little or no competition. Each time I said to myself: "why didn't I think of that." But he (and my others) couldn't handle adversity. When the customers didn't trip over one another coming to his sites or businesses, he folded.

Let me tell you...I don't care how many great ideas he has - he'll NEVER have success with them until he's willing to "weather the storm."

So that's it - my two "secrets to success" that anyone can utilize to achieve their goals. Nothing profound, but most of the best "stuff" is simply common sense.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Two Ways To Skin A Cat

There are a couple different approaches to pricing services and products - high mark-up and low mark-up. Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about...

The average retail store marks up their inventory 100% and turns their inventory over 1 time per year.

Sam's Club marks up their inventory about 15% and turns over their inventory 15 times per year.

So not only does Sam's make almost double the profit over the course of the year, but they also have better cashflow and are able to negotiate better terms with vendors because of the turnover frequency.

Why do I tell you this?

Am I suggesting that you lower your prices?

Not really. But what I am suggesting is that you create some offerings at lower price points than standard one-on-one training. Offer once-per-month program design and assessment, small group training or something like Brian Calkins 16 week Complete Fitness Transformation program. He gets six people in a group and they meet every other week for 16 weeks.

The semi-private and group offerings are a great way to utilize this strategy. Smaller margins per person - but significantly more people.

You can utilize this approach in selling information products as well - but with a slightly different angle. You could pay more commission to affiliates than others to entice them to promote your products more heavily. You could price your "entryway" products very affordably and get more customers into your "funnel" - then sell then bigger margin items down the road.

I just wanted to present another perspective - different from the typical "raise your prices" approach that we often see. I'm a BIG fan of getting top dollar for your time and effort, but sometimes making a lot on the first sale prevents the second sale from ever happening. If you can truly overdeliver early, you'll be more likely to have a customer / client for life.

Talk to you later.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Tipping Point

No, this isn't about the popular book (certainly worth reading.)

It's my belief that everyone has tipping points. Until you reach your tipping point, you typically don't take action. Once you've reached it - you have to act.

Think about it. How many people drive by the gym saying "I'll start next week" or conclude every week saying they'll start eating right on Monday? I don't know, but it's safe to say that number is much larger than the number of people who actually take action.

Well, for the purposes of selling personal training, my concept of the tipping point is valuable for three reasons. Here they are:

1. If you work in a health club setting, often people join the club because they've reached their tipping point. They saw an unflattering photo of themselves, their favorite jeans no longer fit or their significant other just told them to hit the bricks. This is obviously a great time to help them achieve their goals by taking them on as a client. When people join the gym they're essentially saying that making a change is important enough for them to part with their money and their time. That's the big step for most. Now simply get them to take one more step - investing in personal training.

2. By asking the right questions in your consultation / orientation / introductory session (a.k.a. - sales opportunity) - you can help nudge those people who are on the fence of reaching their tipping point into action. Ask open ended questions and dig deep enough to discover their true pain or motivation. The right questioning will often eliminate the tire kickers and cause people to take action.

3. Follow up. Many people that were "thinking about it" haven't actually reached their tipping point. They are considering making some changes in their lifestyle and habits because they've recognized some things they're uncomfortable with, but they haven't reached that point of no return where they MUST make a change. By following up, keeping a tickler file or sending monthly newsletters, you maintain top of mind awareness for that time when they do reach their tipping point. Trust me. They will reach it. We all do.

Just something to think about.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Can The 'Net Make You Money?

Trainers ask me all the time if I think they can use the internet to make more money. I think they've seen the success of guys like Ryan Lee and Jim Labadie marketing to trainers and others like Alwyn Cosgrove and Craig Ballantyne marketing to the fitness consumer and get dollar signs in their eyes. Well, I have no doubt that any smart trainer can generate a steady stream of revenue through the internet, so I thought I'd list several ways you can improve your bottom line through using the internet...and a couple of the ways that I don't think will work.

1. A Lead Generator For Your Offline Services - This is the obvious and underutilized route for making more money online. By marketing your services online, you know have a 24 hour salesperson working for you. My good friend Brian Calkins has made over $12,000 in a month strictly from online lead generation. Now don't go thinking that just slapping up a site with your bio and credentials will make you money...Because it won't. You need strong, benefit rich copy, a way to drive people to your site and a call to action if you want to have anything more than an online shrine to your business. However, if you do it right, a lead generation site can become one of your biggest marketing tools.

2. A Means Of Increasing Your Lifetime Client Value - If you don't have an online newsletter, you're definintely leaving money on the table. You can keep in touch with your clients each week or two with newsletter that provides valuable information (so they actually read it.) If you provide good enough content that compels your clients to look forward to getting your newsletter, you've already kept them engaged as a customer. They already are more likely to use your services frequently and for a longer period. But you can also upsell them to bigger purchases, perriphial purchases and cause them generate referrals when you present well constructed offers. Another benefit of newsletters is that they allow you to stay in contact with inactive clients and prospects - continually building value in your services.

3. Sell Your Knowledge - If you can deliver results, the internet provides you a worldwide platform to market to. You can package your techniques, systems and strategies into e-books, videos or membership sites (or any combination of those or other delivery methods) and sell them to a much bigger pool of prospects than you could ever hope to reach through other means. The weight loss / fitness market is among the biggest pool of hungry consumers available (just watch infomercials, they keep you up to date about what's "hot.")

4. Create A Niche - Guys like Bill Hartman have found niches of really hungry prospective customers (in in his case, golfers) and developed offerings around that. Niching is a great approach for any business to more effectively target prospects and cater to their needs and online the results can be magnified. If you can position yourself as the (or one of the) experts in a particular niche, you can parlay that into sales and profits pretty easily.

5. Forums - If you can put together a successful forum, you now are the gathering area for a particular group of people. You can monetize forums by selling ads, making the forum membership based or selling relevant products. This is a little less popular approach, but it can be one of the best because it keeps people engaged and returning.

And what I think won't work:

  • Selling shitty stuff. It's no different than offline businesses...the best marketing in the world will just put you out of business quicker - people will soon figure out that it's all sizzle and no steak.
  • Try to jump on the bandwagon when you have no new or relevant information to share. Whether your marketing to trainers, golfers or martial artists, there are already established, reputable "experts" in those and most all other niches. This doesn't mean you can't have success selling to these markets - or any market - it just means you better have something new, different and valuable if you're going to break into the market.
  • Gimmicks. All the stuff like link farms and work clouds are shit. You may make a quick buck but you'll soon establish yourself as someone with no integrity or credibility.

If you want to start integrating online streams of profits into your business or want to improve the internet presence that you already have - in my mind there is one expert and one alone - Allen Hill. He's the guru of fitness websites. Allen just launched a new product, The Ultimate Fitness Website Profit System (I was fortunate enough to be asked to interview him for this kick-ass product) - a comprehensive approach to building your own online fitness empire. Everyone from Eric Ruth and Alwyn Cosgrove to Jim Labadie and Craig Ballantyne have sought out Allen for his expertise. You now have the chance to use his strategies and techniques to help you enjoy the same success these guys do. Check it out at:

You'll be happy you did.