How Plateaus Happen in Business

We often talk about training plateaus, but plateaus can also happen in your business. Imagine your business growing steadily and then, all of a sudden, your growth stops. The number of clients or members that you have levels off and you’re left wondering, “What just happened.”

Sometimes these plateaus happen because you got comfortable with the amount of clients or members that you have and stopped actively seeking more. Maybe you decided to spend less money on marketing, or you went to fewer networking opportunities, or stopped asking for referrals. Those things that you did so diligently when you were trying to build your business have fallen by the wayside and… so has the growth of your business.

plateauOther times, you have continued marketing as you have always done and that’s the reason that business has slowed. If the public sees the same ad, picture, sign, or campaign, they can become blind to your marketing efforts. You can think of it as becoming desensitized to what your marketing is saying because they’ve seen it so many times before.

One more reason that you may have hit a plateau, is that something has changed in the market that you may not have noticed. This could be an economic downturn, seasonal change (this often catches new businesses by surprise), or maybe a new competitor opened in town.

These can all be avoided with some due diligence.

Never stop marketing. Even if you are currently comfortable, things change and it’s better to have too many people wanting your service and have a waiting list, than to have too few and leave yourself open to plateaus or downturns.

Always change up your marketing. Think of how often you change your clients’ programs (generally every 4-6 weeks). You can use that same kind of thinking when it comes to your marketing. You can literally periodize it. Plan out your macro, meso, and micro cycles for marketing.

Finally, pay attention to what’s going on in your community. What’s happening in the economy, what events are taking place, who’s new in town. Knowing what’s going on can not only prevent a loss in business, but can show you new opportunities for growth (what might you do if your realized a competitor was actually closing?).

This isn’t to say that you can prevent all plateaus, but these are some common reasons that they occur and some solid ways to prevent them.

Advertisements

Should You Start Podcasting?

Podcasting are digital recordings (usually audio ) that can be accessed on demand either by streaming or downloading. The topics range from comedy (most popular) to fitness to education. They can be any length, although from everything that I’ve read, the sweet spot is about 30 minutes.

men's Fitness after 50

One of my upcoming podcasts

I’ve been thinking about podcasting for about a year now because the podcast market has been growing every year and is a great way to reach your target audience. This is one more way that we can reach out and inform, and, in doing so, help more people to reach their goals.

There are some exciting statistics on the reach and effectiveness of podcasting.

In recent research from March 2018, PodcastInsights notes that:

  • 50% of all US homes are podcast fans (Nielsen, Aug 2017)
  • 44% (124 million) of the US population has listened to a podcast – up from 40% in 2017 (Infinite Dial 18)
  • 17% (48 million) listen to podcasts weekly – up from 15% in 2017
  • 16 million people in the US are “avid podcast fans” (Nielsen Q1 2018)
  • 49% of podcast listening is done at home, down from 51% in 2017
  • 22% listen while driving (in a vehicle), same as 2017
  • Podcast listeners listen to an average of 7 different shows per week, up from 5 in 2017
  • 80% listen to all or most of each episode, down from 86% in 2017
  • 65% of monthly podcast listeners have been listening for less than 3 years
Fitness,Business,the Fitness Business,and Random Stuff Inside My Head

Another of my upcoming podcasts

If you’re unsure of how to go about starting, there are online courses and even podcasts on how to start a podcast. I just finished taking an online course from Adam Carolla (#1 podcast at PodcastOne). ADAM CAROLLA Teaches You Podcasting!

I know, you probably are thinking that you’re already spending too much time away from your clients to jump into something new. I get it, but here’s the thing, building your business requires that you spend time ON your business, not just IN your business. ON your business includes building your (or your company’s) brand. That includes social media marketing, blogs, videos, and yes, even podcasting. It all adds to your credibility and helps build an audience that knows, likes, and trusts you, and when that happens, you become their preferred choice with whom to do business. The payoff in new clients and more loyal current clients, will be well worth the extra time investment.

 

 

Create a Business Referral Network

A huge part of building your business is getting referrals from your existing clients and/or members. Referrals don’t stop there, though. You should be creating a network of other professionals that you can refer your clients to.

referral boardThe reasons for this are twofold. First, when you refer a client to another professional that can further enhance your client’s health and/or wellness, they get even better results and will appreciate you all the more.

Second, when another professional receives a referral from you, they will feel compelled to reciprocate (as long as you are good at what you do). These professional referrals are a low-cost way to get qualified (someone that’s already interested) leads.

Start by finding other professionals that don’t offer what you do, but complement it. Look for them in the areas of health (medical doctors, physical therapists), fitness (maybe yoga or a swim coach), nutrition (RDs, personal chefs), bodywork (chiropractors, massage therapists), beauty (hair, nails), etc. Meet with them and explain what you do and that you are looking for other professionals that you can refer your clients to. Ask about their qualifications, philosophies, and references to make sure you feel confident in referring to them.

Refer your clients when appropriate and review their experience afterward. Their experience will either support your use of this professional or let you know to look for someone else. The right professional referral network will benefit everyone involved.

 

The Best Marketing Medium is Personal

At a conference last year, I was asked what I thought was the most effective marketing tool. Having presented at other conferences on social media marketing, I was pretty sure they wanted to know what the next hot social media app was and how to use it. My answer was probably a little surprising.

social-media-mobile-icons-snapchat-facebook-instagram-ss-800x450-3-800x450

If you are a business that relies on the local market, i.e. health clubs, personal training and/or group fitness studios, the best marketing is getting out and getting active in your community. Remember that what you are really marketing is you. Yes, this includes your expertise, but also your demeanor, your caring, your sense of humor, etc.

They say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” That is because the extra layer of sensory engagement that a picture offers tells us a lot more. Video gives us the ability to hear as well as see and creates even more engagement. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that real-time, face to face interactions give others the greatest sense of who you are and what you are about. When you meet someone in person, you note their eye contact (or lack thereof), their smile (or lack thereof), the grip of their handshake, the tone of their voice, all in an instant. Nothing is truer than that. Others will walk away feeling like they have a sense of the kind of person you are.

meeting-580x300

Now, taking that meeting and turning it into acquisition of a client or customer requires more. You need to build a relationship first and that takes time. This is where social media apps can be particularly effective. After meeting someone in person (I’ll discuss how to seek out those opportunities in my next post.), immediately send an invitation to them to connect on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. This allows you to follow-up on any conversation that you were having, helps you remember them, and them remember you. With each additional verbal interaction, their initial face to face impression of you will be reinforced.

Of course you can still make initial contact and build a relationship through social media. However, it will rarely be as strong as meeting in person. If you first connected online, find an opportunity to meet in “the real world”. Your relationship will only become stronger because of it.

What’s In A Name?

So, I’m in the midst of writing a chapter on creating your business plan, and I realize that you should really have a name for your company picked out by now. But, it’s not as simple as you may think. Choosing a name should take some careful consideration.

nametagThere are a couple of different ways of naming your business:

Using your name in the business name. I could name my club Nutting’s Gym. There are many examples of this in the fitness world, from classics of Gold’s Gym, and Vince’s Gym, to the more contemporary Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning, and Parisi Speed School. When your name is part of your business name, it is a constant reflection of you personally, so you must live your philosophy. You should also consider that if you want to sell your business, the buyers will most likely want to continue to use your business name and the reputation that it carries. If your end game is to build a business to then sell, how will you feel about selling your name?

Name by location. Whether it’s 72nd St. Fitness or the 92nd St. Y, these names make it easier to locate them. Easier to find is always a good thing. However, what if you need to move or add other locations? All of the name recognition that you’ve built will be lost if you change your name, and you would want to change your name. 72nd St. Fitness now on 34th St. would be very confusing.

Choose a name that says what you are. For me, this is the best bet. Come up with a business name that speaks to your target market. i.e. if you are targeting the baby boomers, you may choose “Forever Fit” or “Fit Again”. Or, you could name it based on your training philosophy as in “Full Function Fitness” or “Hard Core Lifting Club”. Of course you want something that is unique. Watch out for existing names or one’s that are very similar.

Once you choose a name, claim it as a web domain and register it with your county clerk or with your state.

I’d love to hear what you’ve named your business. Write your business name in the comments section below. Happy naming!

Making Resolutions for Your Business

Starting to work out, eating better, or taking better care of yourself are all personal resolutions you hear proclaimed every year. Let’s put them aside for now and talk about your business. What resolutions have you made for it? We should be going into the new year with changes in mind to better our business.

2015resolutions

Not unlike personal resolutions, these should not be a simple wish list, but a list of what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Hmmn? Kinda sounds like creating a S.M.A.R.T. list of goals, doesn’t it? That’s really the key in a nutshell with the added layer of how you’re going to accomplish them.

Just like any goal, these need to be defined as Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time bound. So let’s take a goal that you may have. Let’s say you want to increase the profitability of your boot camps. Let’s define that

Specific: Increase the profitability of your boot camps by 25%

Measurable: Through use of a Profit/Loss worksheet

Attainable: Yes (let’s assume)

Realistic: Yes (again, let’s assume)

Time bound: By the end of the first quarter, March 31st, 2015

This is where the real work begins. We’ve defined our goal. We know precisely what it is, but how, again specifically, are you going to get there?

Can you define the reasons your boot camps are not doing as well as you’d like? It could be lack of space, equipment, or instructors. Let’s, for the sake of an exercise, say its lack of space. Your class is at capacity for the size of the room. What options do you have to increase profitability?

1) Charge participants more for the class

2) Reduce the overhead:

-what you pay for the space

-what you pay the instructor for the class

-what you pay for the equipment used

3) Increase the capacity of the class so you can take more participants by:

-Be more efficient in the use of the space that you have

-Rent a larger space

-Take it outside in a park

Which of these suggestions or combination of suggestions can you implement that will get you to your profitability goal? If you choose to increase rates for participants by $2/class, negotiate a lower facility rental agreement, and increase capacity by using activities that require less space, would that get you there? When will you implement by to reach your goal?

profit

This is the process to create real resolutions vs a simple wish list. It is your game plan for building your business for the upcoming year. Spend time on this.

I’d love to hear what the top resolution is for your business in 2015. Please share what it is in the comments below.