- Small group training – class of choice
- A small group stands out in local competition
- Use 1-on-1 during off-peak hours
- Integrate supplement and nutrition sales
- Set clear targets
- 20-25% profit margin after salary
- Don’t overwhelm with too many moving parts
- Offer bonus sessions to sell more
- Create visibility and create awareness
- Membership contests to build list
- Get involved locally
- Local Facebook group and 3x weekly detail
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Hey, Pat Rigsby here. And in this episode, I wanna talk with you about what I’d do if I ran a local business, let’s get started.
Welcome to the fitness business school podcast. The show for fitness business owners who want to grow their income, increase their end impact and improve their lifestyle. Be sure to listen to the end of this episode, because we have a brand new special offer exclusive for listeners. So stay tuned.
Over the years, I’ve owned a couple different local training businesses. I’ve been a partner in still yet
another, I’ve been a franchiser for gosh, over 275 locations and then coached thousands and thousands
of local businesses. And as I record this, I’m actually in negotiations to become a partner in a
local business now. So I get asked a lot. What would you do if you were in my shoes now?
You know, invariably it’s by clients who I have a relationship. So I don’t get asked that by just
random people. I get asked that by people who value my opinion and that we’ve talked and there’s
some commonality. So I’m gonna take a stab at doing this, not knowing exactly who’s gonna hear this.
So let’s let let’s talk through. So the, the first thing that, that I would tell you is that the driving
force for my decisions and running a local business would be based on my personal values, my
strengths, what I’m shooting for, what I think of is ideal. Now you may call ’em core values or whatever,
but for me, I would be making my decisions kind of running through the filter of having a
family friendly, like family friendly business and, and being a relationship oriented business that still
created some flexibility for me.
I wouldn’t want to be tethered to the gym 60, 70 hours a week. And I would play to my
strengths. I would focus on connecting and coaching and creation and marketing and selling, and I would
do my best to delegate everything else. So, I’d build my business and my role around that
stuff. And then for my business model, I would choose small group training as the model that, that I
would offer. And my logic’s pretty simple, like in my, in, in my neighborhood here, we’ve
got a planet fitness, we’ve got an F 45, an orange theory there’s a club Pilates, there’s a cycle bar.
There’s a, a, a bar method type of business and then there’s like a one on one training studio
down the road a little bit. And that’s just in my neighborhood not to mention there there’s a CrossFit as
So all of those are kind of at the, that high volume approach. They’re all volume with the exception of
the one on one. And so for me, I would look to offer something different. I would look to do a small
group model because it would stand out. It would be discernibly different than the rest. So I wouldn’t
necessarily have to fight over large group training clients with people. In fact, I, I would fully expect to
get people who experienced some large group and say that wasn’t exactly what I was
looking for. I want something a little bit different. And so I could get people who might quote unquote
graduate from that. Now during off peak hours, I’d mix in some one on one as a secondary offering
because I think that the way that I look at this there’s like this continuum, it’s tough to run one on
one, and semi-private, it’s tough to run semi-private and small group.
It’s tough to run small group and large group. Basically. It’s almost like you have to skip one along that
continuum. So like one on one and small group works great semi-private large group works great,
but running two offerings that, that are the most similar to one another are, are pretty tough. So, you
know, I’d, I’d focus on small group. I’d mix in a little bit of one on one, just to make sure that
some of those off peak hours we derive some revenue from I’d also integrate
nutrition, coaching and supplement sales, that was a hallmark of my previous
businesses we sold out all of our nutrition coaching classes. In fact, that probably
played a big role in my desire to partner with Dr. Micro sale to create nutrition OS like a kind of a
turnkey nutrition coaching model and supplement sales.
I mean, your clients are going to buy supplement. So having a high quality supplement that you’re proud
enough of that you’re a user of and recommending it to other people is a simple profit center. And, you
know, you’re providing good insight and direction for your clients in theory, I might bolt on
something else like a stretching offer or something else done line, but those would be kind of my, my
foundational elements. And then I would have very clear targets. I would set a target of 150 clients
paying an average of two 50 a month. Ideally, this is probably going to yield 37 5 a month,
or a little less than a half million annually. Now, is this a, a powerhouse, a giant gym? I mean,
I’ve got clients who four 50 annually we’d probably make ’em cry but for me in a small kind of
boutique business like this, I, I would think that would be fine.
And it would even be the type of model that could be replicated and not have a massive overhead. Now
at this level, I’d expect to run at at least 25, 20 to 25% profit margins after paying myself
a comparable salary for my day to day role. So there’s gonna be a nice pre-tax profit. There’s
going to be compensation for the impact I’m having but it’s going to be a business that isn’t
overwhelming with tons and tons of moving parts. Now, my pricing, I would probably have something at
the 1 99 mark all the way up to 3 49, 3 99, because I want to keep that per head number at at least two
50, but I’d also recognize that they’re gonna be times that I need a down sell or times that
clients need to throttle back. And so having something under the $200 a month, mark would make
sense, my ideal client, my positioning, like I said, I, I would be looking at doing
something in my local kind of market here, which is I mean, it’s an upper middle class part of
Louisville, Kentucky, so there’s disposable income here. I’d focus on attracting that
type of audience, typically over 40, a lot of people over 50, who may not necessarily want to jump
into 40 person classes, right. And ideally I’d be marketing within a three to five mile radius of my
location and, and really harping on this. Hey, who wants to feel young, continue to look good, stay active
mentality. Right. So to throw a little shout out to the functional aging Institute
guys, I’d probably be borrowing a little bit of their approach because
as somebody who recently turned 50 I want to continue to have a
meaningful quality of life for not just immediate future, but the foreseeable future.
And I’m not really looking at throttling back, the things that I’m able to do. And I’m probably at a stage of
life where investing a little bit more in training. I wouldn’t be looking for the cheapest option. I’d be
looking for the best option for me. So that would be who I’d be targeting from a marketing
standpoint during my, my pre-opening my grand opening, there’d be like a founder’s
membership. That’d be discounted from the basic rates, but rather than steeply discounting it, right?
Like it may be discounted a little bit, but still with those original rates that I shared not, you
know, wouldn’t be a problem to keep that average per head at that two 50 number. And then I’d add
bonuses like the nutrition coaching, or some bonus one on one sessions. So it’s
kind of the gift with purchase incentive rather than just relying on discounting and pulling that average
per head number down.
I would work to get as many people in the pipeline as possible. I’d use a contest for a three or six month
membership to draw people in that had an interest in coming, then I’d offer a nice consolation
prize to everybody who didn’t win to, to build a list. I’d probably go try to do popup workouts anywhere
that I could, right? Whether it be at local shopping venues or at schools PTAs anywhere
where I could find my people I would try to create some awareness and try to be seen to
build some relationships I’m a big advocate of what we call in our coaching programs, the
connection database. And it’s basically just reaching out to everybody that, from the neighbors you have, the friends you have to, to your dentist, your hairstylist, whoever, and I
would reach out to everybody and invite people into the facility.
I would be working to create speaking engagements, generate publicity form strategic alliances, and the
fun part about it during that kind of pre-opening grand opening stage is there’s that great reason why
there’s some novelty to being new. And, and then anything that we could do from a
budget standpoint to promote like that contest on social media or something like that, I would, I would
certainly document the entire build out and pre-opening process online and share it to create some
excitement, some anticipation, some curiosity. And then ideally I would be looking at trying
to generate at least about 20 leads a week, and that could come from multiple sources,
whether it be referrals or organic social stuff, or offline networking or strategic alliances or through
paid ads. My goal would be to get five people to come in and experience what we do each and every
week as a guest.
And knowing that the goal is to get to that number of one 50. I might even cap the top end
at one 50. If the objective is to build this business, make it healthy and successful, and then
find other ways to scale. Then I would use that scarcity to, to help facilitate more referral
generations, because if I’m getting five guests a week, I’m probably gonna be able to generate at least
two new clients per week. Out of that. Now, one of the things that I’ve always tried to do in the local
business world is try to become like the mayor of fitness in my respective community. So I’d probably
write a little book and I, if you’re familiar with the old bill Phillips body for life book, I’d probably
use that a as a framework to follow kind of a mix of our philosophy, our success stories, and a little bit of
a, an overview of the program.
I, I don’t think I would be particularly territorial about what we do because ultimately people have
access to an abundance of information. They’re not gonna do it on their own nearly as much as you’d
think so, I’d be happy to, to pull back the curtain. So it feels doable. But the nice thing about this is I
could write it for our local market. I could write it for the, that 40 plus 50 plus person I’m trying to serve
and speak directly to them. And, and what’s great is this book, I could use it for local positioning and to
get media appearances, speaking engagements, get on podcasts. I could use it as kind of a get past the
gatekeeper for strategic alliances. And then ultimately this would probably replace that contest is my
lead magnet. So I could use a digital copy and ads and then hopefully get hard copies for sale
and local stores.
And even somebody who wanted a dig, like download a digital copy on the thank you page. I could say,
Hey, if you’d like a hard copy, happy to give you one free of charge, just come in to the facility and pick it
up. And you can also use it as a referral tool. You can tell your clients to share it with friends.
So it’s a really easy way for them to spread the word about what you do now. I’m big on the relationship
building stuff. And I kinda laugh about it because Holly we’re out at the
youth baseball team that I coach Alex’s team, and Holly’s very active doing some of the strength and
conditioning stuff. And people come up constantly and are asking her fitness advice and we go places
and do that. And it’s all relationship marketing.
So I would be trying to organize more of that. So I’d be going to the local neighborhood the
popular real estate agents or the local insurance agents or the financial planners. And I’d be starting
with my own and asking them to spread the book around, invite people in, promote the contest, all that
stuff. I’d get involved with local PTAs, local, local youth sports organizations, the HOA, and then try to
form strategic alliances with health wellness, self care type businesses. And if I can be
valuable to them and ultimately get them to spread the word about me, I should have no problem
building up that clientele of 150 people. So my marketing probably in
summary is a combination of running ads to my book and periodically mixing it up with a gift card or a
contest or something like that, a lot of local relationship building, and then my internal referral
And then for getting people in from a conversion standpoint, I’d probably just alternate
some stuff and mix up like an evergreen front end offer where people could come in and try things out
for 1 99. So it’s enough money to, to probably qualify people financially, but it’s still under that $200
mark. And then I would run periodic like dead deadline driven stuff that not only would be easy to
promote temporarily through like ads, but it would also be something that my, my clients could refer to
and I’d do the, the same stuff you probably see me do frequent emails, like three time a
week emails probably have a local Facebook group for my demographic. And with that sort
of approach, I think I could consistently stay on track to getting to that 150 number. Now, personally, my
role, ideally, I’d probably train no more than about 10 hours a week coaching, which is it’s
probably about the amount of coaching I’m doing now in, in my offline or in my online business and then I’d handle sales and marketing and leading a team of probably two to four
additional coaches with some administrative help.
I’d be paying myself as a coach for those 10 hours as a manager and I just pay myself the
appropriate wage that it would take to replace me in that role. So eventually I could, and then that’d
gimme a true profit margin. And the nice thing is the size of that staff. And my role
would allow me to be able to get out and Hey, if I wanna go coach my kids baseball games or go on
vacation, I could do it. And the business doesn’t shut down just because I’m gone I’ve
already mentioned some of the other stuff. I’d probably sell the nutrition coaching some
supplements and we could probably generate an extra several thousand dollars a
year profitably from that if other options present themselves, I mean, I’ve run small
We’ve done like satellite stuff where we’ve sent people during off peak hours to do in-home training in a
local market I’d explore it if that’s an opportunity that made sense for my team. And then in
all, if you can package up some of the things that you’ve done and sell to the local market, that’s fine,
but none of this would be an overnight success, but I, I mean, I think this would be my ideal
version of a local business I’d be able to take home between 120 and $150,000 a year
between the salary and profit it’s a nice balance of income and security
without feeling like my business owned me. And ultimately it’s a systematic enough approach that, you
know, you could hand off some of those coaching or managerial responsibilities once things have
traction and find other ways to scale.
So I know that was kind of a long talk through, but I think it’s a valuable way to, to
look at a business and your ideal doesn’t have to look anything like mine, but that’s how I would
personally think about it. And I’d encourage you to kind of put your business under the
microscope with that same type of methodology and, and see what you come up with. So that’s what I’d
do if I ran a local training business.
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