In this episode, Pat shares some insights on what may to come after the Coronavirus isolation is over.
- Pat admits he doesn’t have all the answers as this seems to be an ongoing struggle, but he does have valuable insight to share
- You and your business need to be adaptable
- The people who were able to smoothly transition online have been – and will continue to be – more successful
- You are going to need to be adaptable not only in your offerings, but in your billings, your staffing, etc
- Don’t wait until you are desperate to start looking for help and answers
- Be wary of these “experts” that have popped up. Look at their past offerings before trusting what they are currently selling
- Online training may be “a wave” we can ride that the market has created
- Pat discusses what he has done now that he has been forced online-only and what he is planning on keeping when this is over
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Hey Pat Rigsby here and in today’s episode I’ve got some thoughts and insights on how you can best navigate the new social landscape and potentially new economy we’re going to be facing. So let’s dig into it.
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In this episode I wanted to talk with you about some of the thoughts and insights that I’ve had about where we are today and where potentially we, we need to be moving forward, some things that I think are helping me plan how I’m going to navigate our future circumstances and maybe these can can serve as prompts to get you thinking about some of the same stuff. So I am going to preface things by saying I don’t necessarily have all the answers to this. I mean, it’s something that I’m thinking about on a daily basis to not only set my business up to succeed and put my family in a, you know, in as optimal, uh, circumstances as we can be, but also to help my clients succeed. So here are a few things that I, that I have in mind.
The first would be, you know, the need to be adaptable. Now obviously we’ve seen this thus far, the people who were proactive in communicating with their clients and set things up where they could adapt quickly to delivering live streaming workouts, adapt quickly to delivering on demand workouts and then do other things to fill the needs their clients had. The um, you know, the social aspect of things, that connectivity that, that I think is so, so important right now. Those people have clearly done a better job in retaining their clientele than the people who kind of drug their feet and couldn’t really come up with a way to make themselves valuable in the eyes of their clients. Or, or maybe we’re just kinda stuck believing that online was an inferior solution to, um, you know, offline coaching. When the reality is it’s different. Nothing’s better or worse. It’s just a different solution to different problems or challenges. And those problems or challenges are the ones we’re facing today. So we’ve seen those people adapt, um, and, and do well and, and some people just haven’t. And you know I think that the thing that, that we have to learn from this is we’re going to have to keep adapting. I mean, let’s face it, so many us went through this massive shift in a span of two, three, four days and basically reinvented our business.
But, you know, the adapting isn’t over, um, we don’t know exactly how long things are going to drag out. Um, we don’t necessarily know how long, um, you know, our, our clients are going to want to keep paying their normal rate if that’s what they are. We don’t know how long they’re going to want to keep doing that, no matter how much value we’re providing because some of that is dictated by their income, their financial circumstances. So, um, you know, we may have to adapt program fees or payroll or um, we may have to secure outside funding. I mean, we’re going to have to be agile and you know, that stuff that we were able to do in such a short period of time should be evidence to us that we can do this, we can succeed. And in fact, I would tell you the more proactive you are and thinking about this like, okay, if my clients come to me and say, you know what, I want to keep working with you. I want to keep coaching. But right now I’m, my income has been cut back significantly. So I need to be able, um, to still feed my family and take care of our basic expenses. You know, we’ve got to have a plan in place. I mean, do we want to just kind of kick that person to the curb or is there a way that we can keep serving them at a reduced rate? You know, is there a way we can keep our, our team employed and um, you know, delivering value, not necessarily us just paying them, but making sure they’re doing something valuable in exchange for compensation. Is there a way we can do that and potentially reduce it rather than going from, you know, their, their full current compensation to zero? I think there are potential ways that we can kind of find a happy medium, but it’s something that we probably need to be thinking about now. It’s something that we need to be preparing ourselves for.
And you know, just from my perspective, I think that, you know, we need to be thinking about, okay, what can we do to retain our current clientele and keep them paying something? Even if the time comes that they do need a reduced rate because it’s much, much easier to get that person back to a full rate when things are in some state of normalcy, it’s much, much easier to keep them than to go re-acquire them as a client from scratch or to replace them. So, um, being adaptable in that regard. Understanding what sort of, um, stimulus or relief funding our, our team may be getting and seeing if maybe that can offset some of the things that we can cut so they aren’t necessarily going to, um, be in financial distress, but the burden doesn’t fall to our shoulders nearly as much because let’s face it, if we can’t stay in business, they’re not going to be employed with us anyway. So we have to maintain the ability to be in business. And so, you know, being proactive, you know, I know that a lot of things, um, have been shared in the fitness and small business community about outside funding relief funding, whether it’s grants or loans, um, lines of credit. But so few of the people that I’ve actually interacted with have been proactive in doing something with that. My suggestion would be go do whatever you can with that right now because it gives you flexibility. Don’t wait. Don’t wait until you’re in a moment of true desperation.
The more options you have, the more cashflow you have available to you, the more flexibility you have, the better off you’re going to be. You know, what have you take out a loan and you don’t have to use that money. You can pay back that loan very quickly and easily, but having things at your disposal makes you, um, much more adaptable and resilient as we move forward. So, you know, the other thing that I’ve seen not shockingly, is this rise of people who are instant expert. Boy that has, uh, been nothing if not expected, right? I mean, there are so many people in our industry, some people that have been relatively credible, um, teaching offline business models, but have never mentioned online business models in the past, now professing to be experts in online training and selling high priced solutions and that sort of thing. You know, more pseudo experts popping up out of the woodwork that, um, you know, are just trying to capitalize on this, this shift, this change in the tides. And, you know, the, the problem that that’s going to create is they’re going to go and encourage people to max out their credit card or they’re going to encourage them to use some of this funding that they have to create some security and stability and flexibility and they’re going to prey on this desperation and give people this, pretend lifeline, if you will. That in all reality probably is not going to set them up to succeed.
So my recommendation to you with that sort of thing when you’re navigating these instant experts, if you will, is go back and look and see how much they were talking about online training two months ago, three months ago, if they didn’t mention it at all, if you can’t go back and find anything about them talking about serving you in an online, uh, or serving you and helping you build an online business or, um, you know, an online component to your business, if I were you, I’d probably run because that person is trying to exploit a situation instead of trying to truly help somebody move forward in today’s landscape.
Another thing that I’ve been considering about is the fact that, you know, a lot of times there, there are things that I think that we get excited about. We see an opportunity that maybe the market’s not ready for it yet. You know, it’s really hard to, um, do what I call kind of create the wave and change that marketplace’s perception and, um, you know, and help them kind of see, you know, see where something might be a great opportunity. You know, the thing that this reminds me of is back when I was, um, you know, early in my entrepreneurial career I owned a couple of locations and was just getting started in business coaching. So few people had really been, um, personal training clients. It always seemed like it was for the rich, for celebrities, for professional athletes. It wasn’t for the average person, but then, you know, bootcamps came along and people could work with a coach instead of being self directed. It was a, a levered situation for a coach, but it brought the price down significantly. And then, um, Groupon and living social and those sorts of deal sites came along. And so people could, uh, essentially get this massive discount to test drive group training. And then, um, CrossFit became very popular and that helped popularize the, the move from high end real estate and exclusive one-on-one stuff to people working out in a warehouse environment.
And so there was this big shift and now, um, you know, the, the percentage of people that have actually paid to join a gym and have experienced some sort of group training, whether it’s, um, you know, an independently owned group training business or a semi-private training business or even a one on one business coupled with all the franchises and all the boutique things like, um, you know, the plotters are cycling franchises. Those, all these coach driven businesses, it’s not abnormal now. It’s, it’s as common as having a traditional gym membership. And you know, I think that right now that’s probably going to be the same thing when it comes to, um, online training. I think that for the longest time it was very foreign to, um, very foreign to people who are interested in getting help and support to reach their health and fitness goals. They, they were very much kind of rooted in the traditional mindset that if I’m going to hire a coach, I’m going to meet with them in person. No different than if I’m going to go to the doctor, I’m going to meet with them in person. And now, um, you know, I think that with this, uh, kind of explosion of telemedicine, that’s going to be something that’s going to be far more widely accepted moving forward. And so as online training, online training is going to be more of a viable option for clientele.
And you know, the other thing that I think is potentially a wave that maybe it would have been hard to create initially the way I’m really creating an online training wave might’ve been difficult, would be, um, promoting wellness. Most people don’t really think much about prevention. They think about, um, you know, solving problems once they have them. But now people have spoken so much about stress relief and um, protecting our immune system or are strengthening it and overall health and wellness, it’s become, you know, clearly a much more visible topic just in the past few weeks. And I think that’s another wave that we potentially will be able to ride moving forward. So, um, if you were interested in more of a, a holistic, well-rounded approach to wellness, I think this will be something that’ll be easier to market. If you were somebody who was interested in online training, I think the market will certainly be a lot more receptive than it was in the past. But, um, you know, the, the thing that I would tell you about this is, especially with online training it, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy because what it means is because it’s going to be more widely accepted, they’re going to be a lot more people vying for that market. You won’t get the first mover advantage that a few people, um, were able to get, uh, a handful of years ago. There’s going to be this surge of people who want to go online. I’ve spoken with so many or emailed with so many fitness professionals who now say, Hey, I’m going to move my entire business online. The reality is, is it’s not going to be simplistic. It’s not going to be easy because there will be plenty of competition.
And, you know, one of the things that I think a lot of people overlook is, you know, we had a way to differentiate ourselves locally in the past and, you know, at least in a partially geography, people weren’t going to come see you if you live two hours away from them or you, you know, your facility was two hours away. You know, there was this convenience factor where somebody would potentially be a client if they were in a 10 minute drive time or something of that, that nature. But, but now if we’re saying, well, Hey, the whole world’s my potential client, what we have to find some other way to differentiate and we’re going to have to find some other way to stand out. And, um, you know, I, I think that you’re going to need to keep that in mind if your, your plan is to truly go all in on online training. I’m not saying that you can’t do it. I mean, my wife’s had an online coaching business for 13 years and so she’s done quite well. She’s served tens of thousands of women over that timeframe. Um, but she had a, a strong value proposition, a strong differentiator. She served busy moms and um, you know, I think that she was able to separate herself in a pretty big way. And I think all of us are gonna need to find that deep point of differentiation if we’re going to compete in what stands to be a pretty wide open, um, you know, market that a lot of people are going to try to attack, but, um, they don’t necessarily know how they’re going to sell themselves because it’s going to have to be different than the way that they sold themselves locally.
And then, you know, because of this, I think that there’s going to be this rise of a fusion or a hybrid style of business. I think that people have, um, you know, now they’ve gotten over the hump and have experienced more uh, virtual engagement. They, they like being more connected. I think that the, uh, a lot of the businesses that were not equipped to truly display that they cared that didn’t have a personality, they weren’t, um, doing a good job connecting with their clientele and building a sense of community and making those clients feel valued and important. I think they’re going to struggle. I think that not unlike what we saw in the health club world a few years back when the Planet Fitnesses of the market came along and said, look, we can rent you access in an unlimited way to a bunch of equipment for like $10 to $20 a month. So you don’t need other people to charge you $49 or $79 a month, the same stuff and lock you into three year contracts. Well, I think that that’s going to happen a little bit in the services market as well. People are going to recognize that those people that only host workouts that you can attend in person, that’s not going to be worth $150 a month anymore. It’s going to require you to evolve and add some other ways to engage your clients, add more value to those clients lives, keep them connected, hold them accountable, um, you know, really build more of a community and you can drive a lot of that virtually. The people that don’t adapt to this I think are going to see their prices driven down. They’re going to be seen as more of a commodity. Now, does that mean that offline businesses are going to really suffer during the, the next, uh, kind of phase in what we’re going through when we get back to some degree of normalcy? Man, I don’t think so. I think that people are going a little stir crazy in their houses already and they’ve been cooped up for a week or two. They’re not going to want to be, um, chained to their house and do all their workouts at home and all that stuff forever. They’re going to want to be out out having some flexibility. They want to feel like they get to go out and live their life again. So I, you know, I think that offline businesses are going to have a strong place in the market like they always have. I just think that that line between offline and online is, if it’s not completely erased, it’s blurred. In the past it was almost like this completely different service and now it’s just you’re coaching, you’re not coaching.
And then, you know, the, the last thing that I would acknowledge here, because I, I think it’s important to, to, to kind of pull back the curtain on what I’m doing. I mean, my business is a lot like your business, right? Um, I’m a coach that serves people virtually and, um, in person, I mean, I hold live events. People come to my house for one on one coaching sessions. Typically between the coaching meetings and the one on one meetings, I mean, you know, there are 40 or 50 days a year. I’m face to face with clientele, not counting, going out and doing public speaking and that sort of stuff. So, you know, my business is a lot like yours. I need to find ways to continue to be more valuable. I need to adapt to the market. And so, um, you know, some of the things that I’ll be doing to adapt are making sure that the stuff that, that I provide teaching people how to integrate online or how to integrate this fusion style approach, um, how to create products and sell. So your expertise and knowledge to people who want it on demand, you know, more of that stuff. I mean, I’ve been teaching that stuff, um, for over a decade now. Fortunately we were pretty early adopters just by necessity. Um, my first training business was about 10 minutes from the Fort Knox military base. And so just to retain clients when they would move or get transferred, um, you know, had to put together online programs and serve them that way so that, you know, that stuff that I’ve been comfortable with for quite a while and we’ve done a lot with, in addition to Holly’s, um, much bigger reach doing it, but making this, uh, something that’s blended into the core curriculum, what I do instead of just kind of a la cart and people ask about it, sharing it, you know, that’s something I’m going to need to do moving forward.
And then I’d say also, um, man, I, I’ve really liked the additional connection getting on video with groups of people. I mean, I, I typically do, um, at least a couple dozen, one on one coaching calls a week and at least a couple video conferences with groups appliance. But being more accessible to groups and having more touch points with a broader spread spectrum of our clientele, uh, has been a lot of fun for me. So I’ll adapt in that way as well. And then, um, kind of knowing that there’s a little bit of economic uncertainty, man. I mean, I’m moving my programs towards a lot of things where there’s no, um, additional expense if somebody wants to come on board for the first time with us. They, you know, we’ve always offered $1 trials for, um, a lot of our programs, we’ve extended them a little bit longer so people, um, didn’t have as much fear of like, Hey, well, you know what that first regular billing period is going to hit, um, before we’re even allowed back in our gym. So extending everything out until the summer. Um, man, I’m even, uh, putting the finishing touches on a program that will be entirely a pay for improvement thing where, um, you know, we only are compensated a small percentage of the increase. We help somebody attain that way. Um, you know, we can assume more of the risk and just kind of bet on ourselves and doing good work. So, you know, I didn’t want to just say, Hey, you should be evolving and adapting and changing. No, I am too. I’m going through a lot of that same stuff. And frankly I’m excited about it in many ways because I know that the people that are proactive, um, and embrace this sort of change are going to be the ones who thrive. And the fact that you’re listening to this probably puts you in that category. And so many of our competitors aren’t going to embrace change and they’re going to just kind of hope everything stays as it was before, but that just seems really unlikely. Things are going to change a little bit. And the people who are on the front end of that are going to be the ones who thrive and succeed and their businesses probably are going to be better off five years from now than they would have been if they didn’t go through this sort of sort of turmoil. So hopefully that help, hopefully those, uh, those kinds of insights or thoughts on where we potentially are headed. Um, get you thinking and um, you know, hopefully this episode was a little bit of value to you. So I’ll wrap it up here. Talk to you soon. See ya.
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