The 6 things I would have told my younger self before opening up my first gym...Tactics & Theory Ep 80

Summary Notes


In this episode, the host reflects on lessons learned from opening his first gym, offering tactical advice and theoretical insights to aspiring gym owners. He suggests specific business strategies, such as limiting memberships to three days a week and setting precise pricing tiers, to maximize capacity and revenue. More importantly, he emphasizes the need to focus on customer experience over sales and marketing, suggesting that a truly exceptional service will naturally attract clients. Additionally, he advises hiring a skilled operator early on to manage the business effectively, underscoring the importance of valuing and listening to their input for sustainable growth.

Summary Notes

Personal Introduction and Podcast Theme

  • Speaker A expresses excitement over wearing a favorite Star Wars-themed Pinky and the Brain shirt.
  • The podcast is presented as a fun and informative session aimed at sharing insights with the listener.
  • The theme of the podcast is "six things I would have told my younger self before opening up my first gym."

"On everyone. I am wearing a Star wars themed pinky in the brain shirt. This used to be my favorite looking shirt for a very long time and I just found it in my closet, so I'm very excited about it." "So today I wanted to make a fun, I guess, presentation podcast for you. And I'm calling it six things that I would have told my younger self before opening up my first gym."

The speaker begins by sharing a personal anecdote to engage listeners and sets the stage for the main topic of sharing key lessons learned from opening a gym.

Opening a Gym: Initial Challenges

  • Speaker A reflects on the challenges faced when opening the first gym, including receiving equipment late and in poor condition.
  • Emphasizes the hard work and lack of sleep involved in preparing the gym for opening day.
  • The experience, despite being challenging, is remembered fondly and valued for the memories created.

"The first day actually. I didn't sleep for like four days because all my equipment got there like two days before I was planning on opening it and it was disgusting. It was all like dusty and nasty and covered in dirt because I got it off some back of the truck somewhere. It was super sketchy."

The quote describes the speaker's initial struggle with setting up the gym, highlighting the effort and obstacles faced just before the launch.

Tactical Advice for Gym Operations

  • Speaker A would advise against offering unlimited gym access.
  • Recommends limiting gym sessions to three days a week to double capacity.
  • Suggests only opening more sessions when there is certainty they will be full.
  • Advises setting prices between $170 and $210 for the lowest session and $500 to $700 for semi-private sessions.
  • Encourages billing weekly instead of monthly to increase revenue.
  • These tactics are presented as solutions to avoid the "pain in the butt" issues that Speaker A encountered.

"Tactically, I would have said don't do unlimited. Do three days a week, you'll double your capacity." "Make sure that your prices are like between 170 and 210 for your lowest session. And if you want to offer semi private, you need to have it between 507 hundred." "Then I would have said, bill Weekly, not monthly, so that you can make more money that way."

These quotes provide specific tactical business advice for gym operations, focusing on maximizing capacity, setting appropriate pricing, and optimizing billing cycles for increased revenue.

Theoretical Considerations for Gym Owners

  • Speaker A initially focused on making money and sales without a genuine passion for the customer base.
  • Realizes the importance of liking your customers and embracing the need for improvement.
  • Highlights a common issue among gym owners who boast about their facilities but struggle to attract customers.
  • Suggests that if a gym truly has an amazing culture and community, it should naturally attract more members through word-of-mouth.

"The two things that I would have said to myself is, first, you need to actually like your customers, and you need to embrace the fact that the reason that you don't have people storming into your gym right now is because you aren't that good." "If it were so amazing, people would tell everyone they know about it, and then your gym would be full."

The speaker emphasizes the importance of genuinely liking and understanding the customer base, as well as recognizing the need for self-improvement when the business is not attracting as many clients as expected.

Self-Reflection and Business Improvement

  • The speaker emphasizes the importance of self-awareness and continual improvement in business.
  • It is noted that many business owners overestimate their performance and fail to recognize when they are below average.
  • The concept of "category economics" is introduced, highlighting how market dominance is often held by the top performer in a category.
  • The speaker suggests that instead of focusing on marketing and sales, businesses should concentrate on creating a memorable and exceptional customer experience.
  • Achieving a level of service that naturally encourages customers to bring friends and family is a sign of a successful business experience.

"his thing where we want to protect our own egos and say, we're doing so well, we're so good, but the reality is you're probably not."

This quote underscores the tendency of business owners to protect their egos by overestimating their success, which can hinder objective self-assessment and growth.

"Like, half the gyms are below average."

The speaker uses gyms as an example to illustrate the statistical reality that many businesses are performing below the median level, challenging owners to critically evaluate their own standing.

"even if you're above average, it doesn't mean you're good, right?"

Here, the distinction is made between being above average and actually being good, suggesting that mere above-average performance is not enough for true success.

"economics of any category flow to the king of that category."

The quote explains the principle of category economics, where the market leader garners the majority of benefits within a specific category, leaving competitors with significantly less.

"I would have not focused as much on the marketing and the sales and would have focused a lot more on what we could have done to truly create a memorable, unbelievable experience."

The speaker reflects on past priorities, indicating that an exceptional customer experience should be the focus over marketing and sales efforts.

"You're not that good. You think you are, but you're not."

This direct quote is a hypothetical message to the speaker's younger self, emphasizing the need for humility and the recognition that there is always room for improvement.

"Soulcycle does not have an EFT. They do not have recurring memberships."

The speaker mentions Soulcycle as an example of a business that has thrived without relying on traditional membership models, instead focusing on the quality of the customer experience.

"Their food's so good that people are like, you've never been to Chipotle?"

The mention of Chipotle serves as another example of a business that has succeeded largely due to its product quality, which naturally drives word-of-mouth marketing.

The Importance of Customer Experience

  • The speaker argues that creating an exceptional customer experience is key to business success.
  • Soulcycle's strategy of focusing on a high-quality exercise experience is highlighted as an effective approach.
  • The goal of a business should be to offer such a compelling experience that customers feel compelled to share it with others.
  • The speaker suggests setting business goals centered on customer satisfaction rather than short-term financial targets.

"how can we make an experience that's so good, so memorable, so exceptional, that people can't help but tell everyone they see the rest of the day about, that was their goal."

This quote describes the ambitious goal of Soulcycle to create an exercise experience so outstanding that it would naturally prompt customers to share it with others.

"how could I, if I was not allowed to market, how could I create an experience that was so good, so amazing, so five star, that everyone would tell everyone else about it?"

The speaker challenges the listener to imagine a scenario where marketing is not an option, thus forcing the focus on enhancing the quality of the customer experience to a level that drives organic growth.

Engagement and Community Support

  • The speakers encourage listeners to actively participate in the growth of their podcast by leaving ratings and reviews.
  • They highlight the importance of community support and word-of-mouth in expanding their listener base.
  • The speakers playfully guilt-trip the audience, then quickly clarify it is a joke, emphasizing the value they place on listener feedback.

"Hey, if you're a return listener and you have not rated or reviewed the show, I want you to know that you should feel absolutely terrible about yourself and everything else in the world. I'm kidding."

This quote is a humorous attempt to motivate listeners to engage with the podcast by leaving a rating or review, signifying the role of audience participation in the show's success.

"But it would mean the absolute world."

The speaker expresses genuine appreciation for listener support, indicating that audience feedback is highly valued and impactful for the podcast.

"the only way that podcast grows through word of mouth, and this is you joining hands with me and helping as many entrepreneurs as we possibly can, because no one is coming to save us."

This quote stresses the significance of word-of-mouth promotion for the podcast's growth and the collective effort required to reach and assist a broader entrepreneurial audience.

Accepting Personal Limitations for Growth

  • Acknowledging one's limitations is crucial for personal and professional growth.
  • Accepting that one is "not that good" can motivate efforts to improve the customer experience.
  • Specific attention to detail in service provision can lead to exceptional experiences.
  • Creating a welcoming and personalized environment is key to enhancing customer satisfaction.

"And ONLY by accepting the fact that you're not that good will you be able to grow."

This quote emphasizes the importance of self-awareness and humility as a catalyst for improvement and growth.

"What does the first 5 seconds look like? What are the exact things the trainer is supposed to say? What energy they're supposed to have? What are they wearing? Where is everyone located in the room? Are they saying hi to each other? Are you greeting everyone by name?"

This quote illustrates the level of detail that should be considered in crafting a customer experience that stands out as truly exceptional.

The Importance of Hiring an Operator

  • Hiring an operator is crucial for the management and growth of a business.
  • Operators handle the day-to-day details and infrastructure that entrepreneurs may overlook.
  • Paying operators what they are worth is essential for their effectiveness and the business's success.
  • An operator balances the entrepreneurial spirit with operational excellence, benefiting customer experience.

"The second thing that I would tell myself is, you need to hire an operator."

This quote highlights the speaker's realization of the importance of an operator in running a business effectively.

"Hire a great operator, because if you have this big vision of what you want this to be, you're going to need someone to operate that."

This quote reflects the understanding that an operator is necessary to turn a business vision into reality, especially when it comes to managing details and routine operations.

"I would probably say if you can try and start somewhere at like high thirties, forty grand a year and go from there, every market is different."

This quote suggests a starting salary range for hiring an operator, indicating the financial commitment required to bring in a skilled individual to manage business operations.

Business Reflection of Personal Growth

  • A business reflects the characteristics and growth of its owner.
  • Personal development is mirrored in the business's development.
  • The speaker's past focus on sales and marketing led to a business that primarily aimed to increase client numbers and revenue.
  • The partnership with Layla introduced a different approach, focusing on operational excellence and customer care.

"And to be fair, the business was a reflection of who I was as a business owner at that time."

This quote implies that the state of the business is a direct representation of the owner's skills, values, and priorities at a given time.

"And for your business to grow, you will have to grow, and then your business will grow as a reflection of your growth."

This quote conveys the idea that personal development is a prerequisite for business expansion and success.

Value of a Supportive Team

  • Having a team that genuinely cares for customers is vital for business success.
  • The speaker's company, gym launch, thrived due to a team that nurtured gym owners.
  • The team is compared to "moms" who provide attentive care, highlighting the importance of a nurturing approach to customer service.

"The reason that gym launch, like I said, is what it is, is because we have an entire team of moms, and I hope I'm not trying to sound sexist, but we have a whole team of moms who take care of our gym owners."

This quote describes the supportive nature of the team at gym launch, attributing their success to the maternal care provided to their clients.

Self-Awareness and Personal Limitations

  • Acknowledging personal shortcomings is crucial for success.
  • Being candid about what one is not good at allows for targeted hiring to complement those weaknesses.
  • Aggressively hiring people who excel in areas where one lacks is a strategic move.

"A lot of times, and I would fail people even with the best of intentions. And so it's just being candid with yourself and knowing what you suck at and then aggressively hiring against that and hiring people who really are good."

The speaker emphasizes the importance of self-awareness in recognizing their own lack of patience and attention to detail. They suggest that understanding one's weaknesses is critical to hiring the right people who can perform better in those areas.

Customer Experience as a Priority

  • The speaker advocates for a customer-centric approach where the experience is so outstanding it naturally attracts more business.
  • Building a business model that thrives on word-of-mouth and high-quality service is highlighted.

"Understand that I'm probably not as good as I think I am and really heavily invest in thinking, like, how can I make this customer experience so good, so amazing, that if I had no ability to market that people would be banging down my door."

This quote underscores the necessity of humility and the focus on enhancing the customer experience to the point where marketing becomes secondary to organic growth driven by customer satisfaction.

The Importance of Hiring the Right Operations Person

  • Finding a first follower who aligns with the vision and is dedicated to the customers is key.
  • The ideal operations person should be detail-oriented, dominant in character, and able to challenge the owner constructively.
  • This individual should be seen as an equal partner rather than just an employee.

"It would really be finding that first follower who really buys into the vision, who really, really cares about your customers, even almost to the point where you're like, sometimes I worry if they care more than I do."

The speaker highlights the importance of having someone on the team who is deeply invested in the company's vision and customer welfare, to the extent that their dedication could even surpass that of the owner.

Learning to Listen and Value Feedback

  • The speaker has learned the importance of listening to others, especially when they say "no" or advise patience.
  • Being receptive to feedback and understanding the timing of certain decisions is a valuable skill.

"And that's probably the last thing that I've learned in the two years of scaling gym launch has been learning to listen to people telling me no."

This quote reflects the speaker's personal growth in accepting and valuing the opinions of others, especially when it comes to making strategic decisions for the business.

Tactical Advice for Gym Business

  • The speaker would advise their past self on specific business strategies for running a gym.
  • Key tactics include billing weekly, having three main sessions per week, setting appropriate price points, and ensuring capacity to fulfill demand.

"So if I had to go back in time, I would obviously have given those little quick tactics of Bill weekly, have three times a week be your main session that you're selling so you can double your capacity, run into capacity issues, make sure your price points between 172 ten and then between 507 hundred."

The speaker provides specific tactical advice they wish they had known before starting their first gym, emphasizing efficient billing, session scheduling, pricing strategies, and capacity management.

Summary and Encouragement

  • The speaker concludes by expressing hope that the information shared is valuable to the listeners.
  • They encourage engagement with the content and wish the audience well.

"So anyways, guys, I hope you found this valuable. Drop a comment or drop a like so that someone else can hopefully find it valuable. But otherwise, have an amazing day, have an amazing week and I will see you guys soon. Bye."

In closing, the speaker invites interaction with the content and extends well wishes to the audience, indicating a desire to provide helpful insights and foster a positive community.

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