3 principles for 5-10 times growth

Sean Greeley reveals the secret recipe to taking your PT business to unprecedented new levels of success, even during the tough times. 

When you’re facing a challenge with a lot of unknowns, what’s the best way to move forward?

When you don’t have a lot of information, and the situation is murky, what do you do?

This is exactly what happened to the fitness industry during the pandemic. Lockdowns, social distancing, tightening and loosening of government policy… the unknowns and inconsistencies wreaked havoc on fitness professionals and studio/gym owners’ business models.

Despite these conditions, we’ve actually seen some fitness businesses grow over the last 24 months, many of them achieving their highest revenues ever.

So, what did they do differently?

When there isn’t a clear roadmap to the future, you need to be guided almost completely by your principles. Since 2006, NPE has worked with more than 45,000 studio/gym owners and fitness professionals in 96 countries. And we’ve found that people who practice three key success principles (with a full commitment and consistency) can thrive, even in difficult situations. Here are those principles and how they work:

Success Principle #1: Own It

When you’re unsure what to do, there’s a tendency to make tentative efforts, only willing to “give it a try,” and playing “not to lose” instead of “playing to win”. But guess what? You can’t succeed that way. Because all of those approaches indicate a lack of ownership. They guarantee failure.

It takes courage to fully commit to something. And that’s especially true if something is unknown. But it’s the only way to succeed. That’s why Success Principle #1 is OWN IT:

  • Clarify the objective.
  • Take personal responsibility for your actions and results.
  • Ask for help when needed.

Nicole Calvino is a certified Pilates instructor in Gold Coast, Queensland. She came to NPE in January 2021 in “survival mode”– down to $1,000 in monthly revenue. But she wanted her own bricks-and-mortar Pilates studio and OWNED doing the work to fulfill her dream.

She learned the systems, asked questions, used the campaigns — and relentlessly executed. She increased revenue month after month, campaign after campaign, sales consult after sales consult. She opened her dream studio, Little Sanctuary Pilates in Robina, Queensland. From there, she hit $10,000 in monthly revenue… then $12,000… and she has kept going.

That’s what OWNING IT does.

Success Principle #2: Lead with Empathy

Here’s a hard truth: No one really cares how much you know until they know how much you care. Prospective clients need to know, like, and trust you in order to do business with you. The more they trust you as a leader who cares about serving them, the more they’ll engage.

But you can’t trust a leader who isn’t asking the right questions or who isn’t listening to the answers. This is why Success Principle #2 is Lead with Empathy:

  • Ask questions and listen to understand.
  • Create trust.
  • Support and challenge with care.

Matt Carroll and his wife Marcelle were almost knocked out of business during the pandemic. Their Broome, Western Australia, gym relied on the tourist season, and they had every reason to believe the loss of a single tourist season meant the loss of the business. With lockdowns and restrictions, the business suffered.

They tried to sell their gym, but the sale fell through. They were both under tremendous stress and pressure and in reality, they were half-checked out of the business already. So, to improve the situation, Matt and Marcelle decided to double down on leading the business. They began to listen more – to each other, to clients and to staff. They began to ask useful questions and they created a new strategy to manage the business. Within three months, the gym was growing so fast they described it as being “on fire.”

Staff morale improved, too. The gym grew bigger than ever and became an attractive buy. They sold the gym for an incredible multiple, with great profitability and cash flow, and fulfilled their plans to move to Exmouth, Western Australia, where they have now bought a new home and opened their dream gym.

Here’s a hard truth: No one really cares how much you know until they know how much you care. Prospective clients need to know, like, and trust you in order to do business with you.

Success Principle #3: Faith over Fear

It’s normal to be afraid. There’s a lot at stake: your livelihood, your business, and your ability to provide for those you love. But being afraid doesn’t work. The key is to overcome fear with a stronger faith, which means:

  • Facing challenges head on.
  • Making growth choices.
  • Doing your best.
  • Trusting the process.

Hassan Abdallah ran a CrossFit box in Kogarah, NSW. Growth stopped. Hassan trusted the process: “faith over fear.” It took a lot of guts to completely change his business model and rebrand to become Volume Fitness (with CrossFit classes being an offering under the brand), but that’s what he did.

He focused on serving a higher quality client, now with a tremendous focus on private and semi-private training services. Then he started executing systems to attract a “busy professional” client base. In just four months, he grew from $27,000 a month to $41,000 a month, and he’s been going strong ever since.

In summary

The pandemic was one of the greatest challenges to the fitness industry most of us have seen in our lifetimes. Yet the success principles when wedded to the right leadership, business, and marketing systems can produce great results, even when times are tough.

Like our clients, you can take ownership of the tasks you need to succeed, lead with empathy to build trust, and practise faith over fear. When you do, you’ll drive yourself to new levels of success!

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Sean Greeley

Sean is the Founder and CEO of NPE, has an unrelenting passion for inspiring fitness professionals and business owners to realise their unlimited potential. Since 2006, NPE has helped over 45,000+ fitness professionals and business owners in 96+ countries grow their client base and income to the next level.