5 Shifts to Help Your Business Thrive in the Unknown and Unknowable


This is an unknown time. Nobody has all the answers. But here’s what we do know:

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

This means we stay calm and focused—focused on the fundamentals. Now, more than ever, in the midst of a crisis, it’s the professional gym model that’s going to get us through this.

Consider this:

Professional gym versus commodity gym:

A professional gym is designed to survive any conditions, even the hardest ones, as it’s during those times that people need a relationship with a professional coach and a supportive community more than ever. Strong relationships and coaching services are what will keep your clients supporting your coaches and your business financially through thick and thin.

On the other hand, commodity gyms—Orange Theories, F45, Curves, Zumbas—are not designed to do this. They are designed to provide a place to workout. To take on 300 new members on opening day and make investors money in the short term. They are not designed to be sustainable or even profitable in the long run, and they are certainly not designed to cope with something like COVID-19 and a gym closure, as they are not built to retain clients or to create a professional class of coaches with the ability to earn a professional wage.

One week into the global pandemic and all Globo gyms are closed completely—not able to offer any services period. Memberships are canceled. Same for other types of functional fitness gyms, such as OTF, F45 and Orange Theories. Memberships canceled.

In other words, commodity gyms—ones that merely offer hard workouts = closed. 

This is not the case if you’re a professional gym with a professional coaching service. We still have much to offer during this time and beyond. We provide a professional coach to each client—a personal coach for life, who can continue to provide coaching, individualized training, nutrition, lifestyle guidance to their clients. This guidance can continue even if the physical location closes, as is the case right now. 

And in the long-term, once we get through this crisis, we have the opportunity to change the face of the fitness industry by developing a professional class of coaches—coaches who build relationships with endocrinologists, neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, Registered Dietitians, etc, and work to bridge the gap between the medical community and the gym. An endocrinologist isn’t going to refer a patient with Type 2 diabetes to an Orange Theory.

Three billion people around the world are overweight or obese, and are currently more at risk of suffering should they get COVID-19. $2.5 trillion is spent annually on diabetes treatments. We have the opportunity to make a real difference in that growing health crisis, now and in the future. 

During COVID-19 and beyond, these 5 shifts will make your business resilient, and will allow you and your coaches to make a difference in your clients’ lives:

Shift 1: Switch from short-term to long-term thinking

There needs to be a mindset shift away from mass scalability, and constantly searching for new leads to creating a sustainable business that retains coaches and clients and can function even if you, the owner, are not present. And even if the physical facility has to close temporarily.

Again, this mindset shift means moving away from offering workouts to providing a professional coaching service, where each client has a coach for life.

Shift 2: All business decisions must be designed for everyone to win

This means every decision must consider the success of the coach, the client and the business. Never is this more important than now. 

This success can be measured through these 6 key performance indicators (KPIs):

  1. Client retention
  2. Average client value (ACV)
  3. $ per coach hour
  4. Total coach pay
  5. Business profit (EBITA) (earnings before interest, taxes, and amortization)
  6. Business value

OK, so in this weird time, you’re probably asking, “How the heck are we going to get those 6 KPIs now?”

We need to become excellent at delivering value without a physical location.

Right now, MadLab gym owners are meeting with their implementation manager regularly, coaches with their instructor coaches and support groups. They’re sharing best practices among them. This is no time to live in a vacuum: It’s a time to come together even more and share what’s working and what isn’t.

What’s working so far is having coaches continue to be responsible for their individual book of clients, ensuring they can still service them, and retain them, during this time. At MadLab School of Fitness, for example, coaches are in touch with each client on a daily basis. Meanwhile, the coach co-op is still functioning: Coaches are continuing to share the workload amongst themselves, and are continuously meeting virtually to brainstorm new ways to serve their clients during this time.

Though it might not seem like it right now, this is an incredible opportunity for the professional gym to rise above and fully demonstrate to your clients what it means to have a coach for life. 

Shift 3: Attract and retain high-value clients

KPIs #1 and #2: The focus needs to shift from being about bringing in as many leads as you can to being about client retention and increasing ACV. In the current climate, focus on keeping your ACV as high as possible despite not having a physical facility. 

Good long-term numbers to strive for include:

  • 80 percent annual retention (the industry average is 30 percent)
  • ACV: The online training industry average is between $200 and $300/month

Shift 4: Attract, develop and retain professional coaches

KPIs #3 and #4: To create true professionals, you need:

  •  A coach compensation model that allows them to earn a professional wage (percentage of revenue on all clients for the lifetime of that client),
  • a coach co-op that allows coaches to share the workload and operate like a co-op in a law or engineering firm, and
  • professional coach development through mentorship and education (including both technical training and sales training).

Shift 5: The Business must be profitable

KPI’S #5 and #6: The business needs effective client and coach development processes (measured by KPIs #1, #2, #3 and #4) to flourish and be profitable. 

This means the business needs a minimum of 20 percent business profit. Secondly, the business value must eventually be high enough that owners can one day sell their business, retire comfortably, and leave a legacy of having created a sustainable, ethical, profitable business for the next generation.

Making these five shifts will put your business in a place to be successful in the long term during regular times. And a professional coaching service, versus a commodity gym, is the best approach to mitigate the damage in this unknown time.




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