ELEMENT CROSSFIT: BUILDING CLIENTS, BUILDING COACHES
Alex Cibiri, owner of Element CrossFit, thought he was the only one having business problems when he reached out to Madlab Group member Devin Glage of RAW CrossFit.
“I thought I was alone and nobody else was experiencing problems,” he said. “But as soon as I had a conversation with Patty (Founder Craig Patterson), I knew I had to check this out,” he said.
One of the issues Cibiri was having was that his coaches – who were mostly all part-time employees working for a half-ass hourly wage to coach the odd class – weren’t that invested in Element CrossFit’s long-term success.
“As the owner, I had to open the gym in the morning, and I’d be there still at 9 pm,” he said. “And our least invested staff was there at the busiest times, so it started to affect our quality in our gym.”
Cibiri realized he was the only one truly holding all the relationships with Element’s clients because most of his coaches weren’t being incentivized to really take care of them. In short, his community was breaking down and he wasn’t happy about it.
Enter Madlab Group.
Like the story goes, step one was for Cibiri was to implement a new fundamentals program that puts people through 12-20 personal training sessions before graduating them to group classes. At first, he was scared to ask for $650 for 10 sessions, but was glad he did.
“My first intro session – My jaw dropped. I didn’t know what to do when the guy wanted to pay me right away,” Cibiri laughed at the memory.
What happened next was that current members, who were already in group classes, even started seeing the benefits of personal training, something they missed out on when they joined Element CrossFit.
“Current members were like, ‘How does this new guy know how to climb a rope so well?” Cibiri said. Current members started asking for personal training, and for $45 Cibiri would take the time to teach them things like rope climbs. It was clear that there was something to this one-on-one coaching thing.
“That right there was a culture shift of education…That’s when the light bulb went off. This is the way is has to be. I can’t go back,” Cibiri said.
For Cibiri, personal training has helped not only the quality of movement in his gym, but also the quality of client because each client is more invested in his personal development. “No longer am I getting the client whose credit card expired and says he’ll get back to me in a couple of weeks. Now we have the clients who tell us their credit card is about to expire,” Cibiri said.
In terms of the numbers, personal training instantly increased Cibiri’s monthly revenue by 40%, and Cibiri started earning a profit for the first time. “I’m finally in a position where every month I can make decisions that benefit the business and not out of a scarcity mindset,” he said.
After his fundamentals program was in place, the second thing Cibiri did was turn his coaches into entrepreneurs responsible for his own stable of clients, which has incentivized his coaches to care about retaining their own clients.
“Now people see, ‘I have this book of 30 clients to keep track of, and if two leave then my pay cheque is less,’” said Cibiri. And ultimately what tying clients to compensation has done is it has increased coach quality significantly. “Coaches are taking care of their clients,” Cibiri said.
As of January, 2014, Cibiri has three coaches on the Madlab compensation model, as well as one part-time coach and one associate coach who earns around $5,000 a month – up from $3,000 before Cibiri implemented Madlab Group’s system.
Cibiri knows that to keep his coaches for the long haul, they all need to be making professional wages upwards of $75,000 per year. And now he has the template to get them there.