3 Strategies We Employed to Double Group Training Foot Traffic in 3 Months

Today's guest post comes from CSP Strength Camp Coordinator, Frank Duffy. I think it is pretty cool that he's managed to 2X our group training business in under 12 weeks without spending a single dollar on traditional advertising, so I've asked that he share his secrets. Enjoy!

We all want to develop successful training businesses. As much as we love wearing gym clothes and training people every day, none of us got into this industry with the intention of living paycheck-to-paycheck. However, dreaming about future plans while tolerating flaws in the infrastructure of your service is a surefire way to fail to reach your true potential.

I took on the role of Strength Camp Coordinator at Cressey Sports Performance (CSP) this past January. I was fortunate enough to inherit a nice core group of dedicated members as I arrived. Outside of gaining trust from the existing clients, my goal at that time was to figure out how to expand to size of our program while also improving the quality of the client experience.

I’ll admit that I did not start off on the right foot with the current campers we had. On my first official day on the job, my car broke down on my way to work and I was forced to miss my first session as the “guy in charge.” How’s that for a bad first impression? Moving forward, I did everything within my power to create the best possible product for our paying customers to makeup for this less-than-optimal situation.

Less than three months later, our program has more than doubled without spending a single dime on advertising. I’ve learned a lot in just a quarter of a year, and would like to share three practical steps you can implement today to improve retention while simultaneously expanding your program. Make sure to double down on these three categories before worrying about optimizing your latest Facebook advertisement and you’re sure to see revenue growth in the near future:

1. Over Deliver on Day One

The first day of anything is daunting. Can you recall your first day of kindergarten? I’m sure the moments leading up to it and having to say bye to mommy and daddy weren’t exactly a walk in the park. I know they weren’t for me. I recently took up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with a few of the other coaches at CSP. As the new guy and not really knowing what to expect, being nervous was a generous way to describe my mindset. While these two memories took place during very different stages in my life, both scenarios featured a quick transition from anxiety to enjoyment.

Keeping these past experiences in mind, I do everything possible to develop a comfort zone for any new client that joins our Strength Camps. On day one, I focus on gathering as much information as I can about our new camper, while emphasizing the fact that we’re here to help them, not hurt them. I couldn’t tell you how many times the phrases, “pace yourself”, “how are you feeling,” and “less is more” have come out of my mouth during the past three months. CSP Strength Camps do not feature an environment that demands a hardcore training mentality. We want to have fun, while keeping the client in the driver’s seat.

I’m fortunate to have a handful of great interns that rotate their Strength Camp shifts throughout each week. All of them have a firm understanding of our core values and help to make our campers feel welcomed and successful through genuine positive feedback. Whether you have a collection of quality interns contributing to the training experience or not, you should always have a good attitude that rubs off on those around you.

2. Follow-Up, Follow-Up, Follow-Up

After a camper completes her first session, I always write an email the next day to ask her how she’s feeling. Outside of the typical soreness responses I receive back, most clients are quick to point out how much they appreciate the outreach. If you haven’t already, build this two minute task into your client on-boarding system. All it takes is a couple of sentences to demonstrate that you care and value the individual who has decided to bring you their business.

I also reach out to campers that miss three consecutive training sessions without informing me in advance. By implementing this type of follow-up email, you’re developing a form of accountability that keeps your inconsistent clients in check. It’s also another way to show the clients that come and go that they’re not just another face in the crowd. In February, we had 9 campers attend at least 80% of the scheduled training sessions...that number jumped to 25 in March following the implementation of structured outreach emails.

Consistency leads to results, we all know that. It also helps keep your training floor fun and exciting on a daily basis, which is what all of us strive for as coaches.

Always have a plan for reaching out to your clients. It’ll go a long way in helping solidify the rapport necessary to maintain a healthy client-coach relationship.

3. Acknowledge Achievements & Identify Long-Term Goals

A quick story: I started up a new client in January who told me that she’d never be able to deadlift without hurting her back. Instead of hitting her with a knee-jerk “you’re probably doing it wrong,” I told her that I understand completely, and we'll find a way to work around it while improving the way she feels. Less than a month later we were gradually learning proper deadlift execution in a pain-free manner. Today, she’s deadlifting and kettlebell swinging heavy with zero hesitation.

Great, but how does this apply to your training business?

In our monthly newsletter, we acknowledge a CSP Strength Camper of the Month. Guess who earned that nomination for January? You guessed right, our deadlifting camper from the story above.

The smallest things, as silly as they might seem to coaches that lift heavy weight daily, have the biggest impact on our client’s morale. By simply acknowledging the fact that a client lifted a certain weight, or showed up for a week straight, you can help cultivate the intrinsic motivation we want to see within our clients.

Keep in mind, motivated clients typically have specific goals they want to accomplish. If you discuss what they’re trying to achieve, you can outline a plan of attack with a reasonable timeline to help them understand the course of action. Whether it’s losing weight, crushing pull-ups, or anything else that comes to mind, establishing a realistic date to smash this goal helps create buy-in.

If you’re a coach with the dreams of running a successful business, you need to genuinely care way before stressing about things like social media strategy or tee shirt designs. Understanding exercises and knowing how to coach them will always enhance your product. At the end of the day, however, it means nothing if you’re unable to connect and create an enjoyable experience for the people you expect to pay your bills.