Keytags: Now or later?

First off, thank you all for your support and great comments! I’m glad to be able to share some of what we’ve done and do (and are still learning to do!) I want to respond to a couple of comments from yesterday:

From Brian PCF regarding MBO’s online signups/barcode scanner and keytags:

Something we haven’t done yet is require online signups or buy the barcode reader and hand out keychain membership cards. Do you guys do either? We’re class based, but we just let people show up.

So question is do you guys do class signups/signins and what do you see as the benefit?

We don’t currently require folks to pre-register for a class they want to attend. They just show up according to which one fits their schedule best for that day. We do have our classes stratified according to skill levels (Big props to Dave Werner of CrossFit Seattle for doing all the work on that!) so folks can only come to a class they are eligible for. We like to keep our classes right around 15 people…too many more and we feel the quality slides a bit. Right now, when a class is consistently at that 15 mark it tells us it’s time to open another class (give more options and spread folks out a bit). We also have enough space to run 2 concurrent classes and we do have our On Ramps scheduled at the same time as some of our other classes. Thus, we have upwards of 30 clients in the gym at one time.

At some point it will make sense to try to control when folks train. If you have 200 clients and all of them want to train at 5:15pm it could be problematic.

The online sign-ups seems to work for the Yoga/Pilates world, but I honestly have no idea how CrossFitters will like it. I guess one of us will try it out at some point and report back.


We started using the scanner and keytags last August. Depending on your size, you can likely hold off on them for awhile. It’s easy enough to manually sign folks into a class. (I do think it’s important to sign them in…just to track attendance and frequency of visits…good data to have.) When it becomes helpful is when you have multiple classes of upwards of 10 folks…it’s time consuming to manually enter everyone. I would find myself running from the whiteboard and looking at the names and running to the computer to enter them in. It’s just an extra thing to do after class when you could be chatting with someone about their diet/kids/soccer tournament, etc.

It’s also important if your clients pay different rates to train 2x or 3x or unlimited classes and you have trainers teaching some of your classes. Your trainers are focused on training and likely will not know how many times a particular individual has trained in any given week. (If you are the owner you likely have some section of your brain that functions almost supercomputer-like and is devoted to just this…prior to MBO I would have all of this random info rattling around in my head…so and so’s payment is overdue, etc….all of it setting in when I would be trying to get to sleep! Fun experiences that you get to have as a business owner!)

Essentially, the keytags save you work.

I had one affiliate mention concern that if they got keytags it would sniff too much like a globo gym. We haven’t found that to be the case…you are still greeting your clients, it’s still a community of folks training hard together…there are no mirrors (at least I hope not!)…AND there is expert coaching. Nothing at all like a globo gym!

Regarding Megan’s comment on MindBody University:

MBU is a great resource and the combination of technical support for the software as well as best business practices, and the ability to network with other business owners (albeit they were mostly yoga/pilates studios) was more than worth the price. I believe it is intentionally scheduled M-W so that business owners actually leave their businesses, step away for a moment and look at it from a distance. You really do need to do that once in awhile to assess if you’re taking it where you want it to go. Emyth talks about this a bunch…the need to work ON your business instead of IN your business, so that your business serves your life and doesn’t enslave you (if any of you have been running your box for over 2 years you will be feeling this a bit). Andy Petranek of CrossFit Los Angeles commented on this at the affiliate gathering…he said that up until he created the systems he uses to run his box he had essentially created himself a more than full-time job. (BTW Andy and John Burch offer training in their business systems and I’ve heard great reviews.)

The secret is to create a business that you will never grow to hate or resent cuz it sucks the life out of you. It sounds crazy, I know…how could running a CrossFit gym and training cool people all day EVER suck the life out of you? Believe me…it can. There are too many hats to wear as business owner/trainer. That’s why I feel it’s super important to learn as much as you can early on about how to structure and systematized your box so that you have less busy work to do and you can focus more on what you love…training people.

MBU really helped Robb and I look at our business objectively and make the decision to create it in a way that it would give us more time and not be all-consuming. Who knows, maybe the folks at MBO will host a CF focused MBU at some point??? (Hint!)

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8 Responses to Keytags: Now or later?

  1. Matt Beaudreau says:

    Thanks for the great insite. I will be opening a new Sacramento affiliate this summer, and as a Chico State grad, I appreciate the genius that comes out of a Chico chica!

  2. Brian PCF says:

    Thanks Nicki! Great info. I’m going to talk to the partners and see what they think. I’ll bring up any pros/cons that we can come up with, but again, thanks for addressing this!

  3. Hey Nicki,

    Thanks for the shout-out in your entry about us! You’re putting up some great info and advice about growing and building your business… great contribution to the community! Thanks!


  4. CraigH says:

    Fantastic site. Just found. Thank you Nicki. We’re at the 3yr mark in our affiliate and the 6mo. mark of getting serious. Frustrated MB users – this is helpful. Love the marketing stuff too!

  5. saulj says:

    Thank you Nicki, this is awesome. I may have to get a keytag reader. One rule that I have learned is that if want 100 clients you have to have behave (create businesses processes, etc.) like you have 100 clients even if you only have 25.

    Also I am going to be using a sign up for morning classes in March, so may be able to let you know how it works.

    Thanks for a great blog!

  6. We aren’t using key cards yet and it is a headache. . . but I might have found a short cut.

    The Credit card scanner (magnetic stripe reader) that you get can also read Driver’s Licenses. You can actually upload your athlete’s DL as their card number and it works great for checking people in (I have tested this a few times so far).

    The only drawback is that their “id number” is a really long string of characters including their name, address, etc. But is is a good fast/cheap option for those people who don’t have the resources to shell out the $ for the scanner, artwork, 500min order of cards, etc.

    I do expect that we will go to the cards in the future. But I think this option might get us through in the interim.


    Hey Jeremy,
    That’s super interesting! I can imagine some folks might not be too keen on giving their DL info out…or maybe I’m too much of an identity-theft-phobe:) If folks don’t mind it definitely seems like a good option for the time being.

  7. RobVDH says:

    Great information across the board! I’ve been planning on opening a box, but felt that I needed more “insider” information about the running of a box! I’m excited that I’ve found your blog Nicki and look forward to future posts!

  8. Steve Smith says:

    This is good stuff. Two of my kids and I were at the nutrtion cert in montrose and it was great! My kids said they learned more in a day from Robb than from a year in school. I will keep checking back for more good stuff.


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