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:
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!
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!)