- No one could have seen what we’re going through coming, that’s why building on solid foundations is important
- Start with a foundation, then tack on new technology and tools, etc
- People will always want to be better than they are, to improve
- Clients will always need accountability
- People will get better results when they are coached
- Convenience will always be valued
- Community will always be desired
- Value is always appreciated and expected
- People always want to feel like they are important
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Hey Pat Rigsby here and in this episode I wanted to talk with you about building your business around things that are not going to change. I think there’s a lot to unpack in this episode and I’m excited to get to it. So let’s not delay. Let’s get to it.
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Let’s talk about it, about this concept of building your business around what won’t change. You know, a couple of years ago I did a talk at a couple of the Perform Better summits about how to compete in an ever changing market. Now, obviously I could have never foreseen the things that we’re experiencing right now. But one of the things that I really focused on during that talk was this idea of building our business around the things that aren’t going to change. The things that if you look back 20 years, 50 years, even in many cases a hundred years you know, the way that humans behave, the way that humans think, what humans want, a lot of that still holds true today. And so there’s a pretty good likelihood that a lot of it’s going to hold true moving forward for the length of all of our careers and well beyond. And, you know, for everything that I get asked, especially right now when people are saying, well, what do you expect to happen? What do you think the future’s going to look like? Any of this stuff, you know, I mean, like anybody, I’ve got educated guesses and you know, I’ve got opinions, but you know, they’re, there are still a number of things that I think that we can comfortably build around that we don’t have to guess about.
I think there’s some things that we can really set as the foundation of our business and kind of tack on to whatever technology or whatever economy or you know, whatever kind of constraints that we have to play by this stuff isn’t going anywhere. So let me walk through a few of the things that I believe will not change during the time that your in business. And so even if you’re an early stage business owner, you know, I think that the things that I’m going to talk about now are going to be true. 20 years from now, 30 years from now, just like they are today. And in fact, when I talked about this first a couple of years ago, we were in very much a heyday period for our industry. I could have never guessed that we’d be going through what we’re going through now. Yet every one of these is still true today in the most extreme circumstances I think our industry’s ever faced.
So the first one is the fact that people are always going to want to lose weight. They’re always going to want to look better and feel better and ultimately become a better version of themselves. I mean, this has been true for really, as long as I’ve been able to go back and research it. People have always wanted to have some sort of personal development, some sort of self improvement. That’s not going to change. So if you’re painting a picture for a perspective client of taking them from where they are to where they want to be and you’re clear about that and you’re not trying to sell your program or your process or your equipment and you’re focusing on that client and you’re, you’re making sure that they understand you were speaking specifically to them about where they are today and how you can be the guide and you can be the partner on their journey to take them from that place to where they want to be. That’s always going to be valid now. Sure. The way that they, the language they use to describe it or maybe what the optimal look is for somebody or what’s important to them. Like for, for now I suspect with all the health concerns that we’ve had as of late things like wellness and and, and really just being healthier in general, general may, there may be an uptick in the interest in that over. Just things being purely aesthetic, just being weight loss or looking good in a swimsuit or something like that, that’s always going to kind of evolve a little bit and kind of swing back and forth about what somebody exactly is looking for. But they’re always going to want to be a better version of themselves. And if you can speak to that, you’re going to get their attention, you’re going to get clients and you’re not really going to have any trouble growing your business.
The second thing that’s not gonna change is the fact that people will always need, they’re always going to do better with accountability. I mean dating back to like you can go read old muscle magazines or watch documentaries about you know about fitness, a while back before personal training ever really gained a whole lot of steam and you know, people would always have training partners because it would push them to do better. People, you know, they, they go to universities to study and go to class because they have an appointment with a professor and they’re, they’re in part, graded on, you know, the, the attendance and the completion of assignments. People need accountability. They need that sort of, that structure and deadlines to, to, to move forward at a meaningful pace. You know, almost without exception, we all do better with deadlines. We all do better with accountability. Now, does that mean that you’re always going to have to micromanage somebody? No. It may mean that simply somebody else knows that you know, the client knows that your paying attention, your watching, so they’re going to be better.
The third thing that I think you can count on never going away is the fact that people will always do better with coaching. In fact, I think a lot of what we’re seeing now is just reinforcing this belief that I’ve long had that you not renting access to equipment at a health club or having access to attend a group training session is a commodity. And in a lot of cases it’s been overpriced. You know, I think Planet Fitness has kind of pulled the overpriced model down and helped the marketplace better understand that maybe it’s not always worth paying a bunch of money to just rent access to some selectorized equipment and some cardio machines. But I think we’re going to see a lot of that same stuff with these classes where the instructor never really knows the client, never really cares too much about the client’s actual, you know, actual results and doesn’t, in many cases they don’t even know what the client’s goals are. The person that signed them up or the form that the client filled out when they joined has never even been viewed by the person doing the instruction. But you know, the flip side of that coaching is always going to be valuable. Personal service that is really focused on the client is always going to be valuable. People are always going to do better with coaching. So the more coaching centric you can make your business, the better off you’re going to be.
The fifth of, well no, I guess the, the fourth of this list here is I kind of worked down would be the fact that people always want their solutions delivered to them as conveniently as possible. People you know, are in a convenient society right now and this is nothing new. We’ve always wanted things, you know, we always have wanted things more convenient to be made more convenient I guess. You know, we want things delivered to us. In fact you know, you’ve seen the demand, the reason that a business like Amazon you know, pre pandemic kept moving the delivery stuff up or same day delivery of, or having groceries delivered to you within a couple hours is because they knew that was important to the client. Meal delivery services, things like Stitch Fix, Butcher Box. I mean people want things delivered to them as conveniently as possible. And we’ve seen, you know, the emergence of all these businesses like Uber or Lyft or Door Dash or Uber eats, it’s not going to change. People want what they want and they’re not going to be apologetic about it. So understand that if you can deliver the solutions to people as conveniently as possible, you’re always going to have a leg up on the person that it just requires a lot more friction for the client to get what they want. Now what does that mean? It could mean any number of things. You know, it could mean making sure that you’ve got on demand services that are accessible for clients if they, you know, if they can’t make it in today, can they access something to do a workout at home? Do you offer in-home training? Is it easy to register for a training session? Is it easy to actually, you know, like log on and be part of a community? All of the things that people want. The easier it is to do business with you, the more likely a client is going to want to do business with you.
Now, the fifth item would be that people are always going to feel like they got great value in return for their investment. No matter what the circumstance, whether we are headed into a prolonged economic downturn or whether we’re going to bounce back relatively quickly, it’s not going to matter like people are still going to want to feel like they got a good deal. It doesn’t matter if somebody is paying $10 a month for Planet Fitness or if they’re paying a thousand dollars a month for a one on one personal trainer. Nobody wants to pay $10 and feel like they only got $5 worth of value. Nobody wants to pay a thousand dollars and feel like they got $500 worth of value. Your job is to make sure that the client always feels like they got more than they paid for and that’s never going to change. Now, yeah, the economic circumstances may change and the way that we price services, it could change. It doesn’t necessarily have to because there are always going to be some people who are doing well financially, but those people aren’t doing well financially because they are frivolous with money. So whatever you’re doing, make sure that it’s very clear to the client that you serve, that they’re getting a good deal, that that whatever they’re paying for, you’re giving them back 50% more, a hundred percent more. You know, as much value as you can give. And sure. You know, I’d like to think that if you deliver the result they want, that’s worth easily 10 times what they pay. But at every step in the process, even in that first week where maybe they have not generated a whole lot in the way of a result, they need to feel like, you know what, I’m getting a really good deal here. This is more than I expected.
The next one on the list of things that I feel very confident aren’t going to change is that people are always going to want to belong to a sort of a community that makes them feel connected and valued and appreciated. And you know, I think that’s, that’s so much of what our industry has done, right. The people who’ve done well during the, this whole pandemic is they, they’ve really leaned into the community side of things and so many cases, yeah, sure. Some people are more independent and they don’t want any part of the bigger kind of group group training group fitness opportunities. But still people, even if their, their social circle is small, people want to belong somewhere where they feel appreciated, where they feel connected, you know, where, where they feel like they’re valued and you know, and I think that we can provide that, but we’re not needing to do it passively. You have to proactively facilitate this community where everybody is rooting for one another and you know, somebody wants to go to a place where they do feel like everybody is for them. And if you can, if you can cultivate that, it’s going to be valuable as long as you’re in business.
And then finally, and this, this is probably the most common sense, one of all, people are always going to want to be made to feel important. You know, I’m actually recording this on mother’s day and this, this idea, you know, we’ve got mother’s day to recognize, to make moms feel important. And you know, there, there’s so much that goes unnoticed and unappreciated with a mom, with a parent, with a teacher, with, with really all of us. I mean, there’s very, very few of us that I can think of that, that feel appreciated for all that we do. And you know, can, can you imagine if somebody feels unappreciated home, if they feel unappreciated work, if they come in and they’re made to feel important in your place of business, if they’re made to feel important in that relationship with you that you have with them as a client, they’re not going to leave that. They’re going to gravitate to that. In fact, they’re going to become your biggest advocate for it. So remember, there are so many things in this industry that, that are going to kind of cycle through over time. I mean, I remember early on, right when I was kind of moving from being a college baseball coach, college strength coach to the fitness industry, most everybody was doing one-on-one hour long sessions. They were you know, it was holding a clipboard and walking people around equipment a lot of the time. And you know, training was sold in 12 packs and 20 packs of sessions. And I remember when I started my first training business, we sold everything on subscriptions and over 90% of our subscriptions were 12 month memberships that were paid just like gym memberships were at the time. And we did half hour sessions. And I, I remember distinctly mentioning that to two, the two probably most prominent business coaches or business, I guess consultants in the fitness industry at the time. And they both told me it wouldn’t work and you know, they were looking backwards. And the reality is you’ve got to be looking forward and things are always going to change. And it worked great. I mean we had 420 clients in a town of 23,000 people within 18 months. And then not long after that, the whole kind of boot camp training explosion happened. And then, you know, before you knew it, it seemed like everybody was selling on a subscription, on a recurring revenue revenue membership. And then more recently the group training franchise model has exploded. Things are always going to change. Tools are going to come and go you know what’s popular. There, there’s always going to be some sort of fat and I’m not telling you to not take advantage of trends and you know, marketing opportunities that have come along like Groupon was at one point. And you know, when Facebook ads, when you could get, fill up a challenge in 72 hours by just putting up an ad to a Wuform. I mean, all that stuff, take advantage of it while it’s here, but that shouldn’t be the foundation, the bedrock of your business. The stuff that I just covered should be those things that aren’t going anywhere. And then you just use the, the, the current technology that allows you to do this stuff easier and more effective, and you, you can ride whatever waves that come along, but built around what won’t change. And you’re going to have a business that serves you well for a long, long time.
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