Hey, Carlo here from Fitness Marketer and I’m here with Jeff Sherman. How’s it going today?
I’m good. Thanks.
Awesome. Listen, a lot of people want to know who you are and I’ve got to tell you that I was honored when you asked me to do this live with you today because … I mean this sincerely. Jeff and I both come from the same town in Maryland. How we met was actually that my wife was an attendee of his boot camp and some of the things that most people don’t know is how generous Jeff is.
That’s actually how we got to meet was because I kept showing up at Starbucks picking his brain on marketing stuff. I used to not leave you alone. I’m just like, “Hey, what’s going on? I’ve got a question about this. I’ve got a question about that. How do I do this? How do I do that?” Every single time you were more than generous and you always answered questions. But the thing I want to share with everyone is that you had this amazing boot camp but you were never in it.
You were never in the boot camp but I was just blown away. I’m thinking, “All of these other business owners always tell me about how they have no time, they’re stressed out all the time. They’re sitting there and look like they’ve just went 10 rounds with Tyson.” And every time I ask you, “Hey Jeff, do you have a few minutes to get together?” You’re like, “Yeah.” Literally this is no BS. I think in the 4 years that I worked with you, I saw you in your gym twice and one time was to pick up steaks, and that was it.
So, “What did you do? How did you build this successful business that you don’t even need to be in because you started out,” so let’s get to it. When did you start? How did you get into to being a personal trainer?
I was in the air force and I had a job as aircraft mechanic which I hated and luckily my first sergeant was a coach for a big soccer team and he got me an extra duty assignment as being a personal trainer, so I would work half the time as the aircraft mechanic for 4 hours and half the time in the base gym. My job was to get people that were overweight or out of regulations that couldn’t get promoted or were in the verge of getting kicked out, back in shape or back within regulations. That’s how I got started.
I also worked part time for a friend of mine who had a personal training studio when I was stationed … I was an international guard at the time and I used the Montgomery GI Bill to open up my first personal training studio.
A lot of your fans and followers are already personal trainers. The million-dollar question is how did you make the leap? How did you go from personal trainer into your own boot camp?
Before the boot camp I had a one-on-one studio and we did okay. Really the reason I started the business was because I wanted a place so I could train my clients the way that I wanted to and charge what I wanted and do things my own way. I wasn’t really a business person at the time and my business model was to get my other trainer friends to pay me a flat fee, pretty much they’re subleasing from me to train their clients out of there as well which paid for my overhead and I just got to keep all the money from my own clients. That was a great job.
It made me some money but it wasn’t scalable at all and it was all dependent on me being there. Since I was in national guard I got deployed for 2 years I wasn’t able to train my clients so how was I going to make money? That’s actually how I met Bedros. I searched for a solution where I would still be able to train my clients from the Middle East. I found his software, Hitech trainer, but then I started following Bedros and then when I got back, I started doing small group trainings, like pushing the equipment to the side, training 2, 3, 4 people at a time, turning that into 5, 6, 7 people.
Then I went to the Fitness Business Summit and signed up with Fit Body Boot Camp and closed up my one-on-one studio 3 months after I opened the boot camp and wanted to leverage my time that way. That was great because now I’m making the same amount of money as I was with one-on-one training – with 6 other trainers out of my studio, all stepping on each other’s toes and each other’s way – to just me working 2 hours a day making the same amount of money. I was really able to leverage my time but it’s still wasn’t a real business.
I was subleasing the gymnastic center in the beginning and we used the gymnastic center before they opened. We had a 5:30 session in the morning, a 6:30 and a 9:00 and the gymnastic center started using the area around 10:00am. Like 2 or 3 hours a day I had 50 clients. It was doing really, really well. After being in the gymnastics center for a year, I did an in-house promotion where I did paid-in-fulls for a year, got a really good offer for my clients, and used that money to open up my own boot camp studio.
Nice. So that’s how you went from personal trainer to getting in and having your own boot camp. It seems like you have a knack for finding good talent and putting in systems – they call you the Automation Master for a reason – so what did you do once you had your own boot camp??
So you really need to leverage the actual business and build your business without you and not around you. Up until that point everything was around me. I was the face of the business, the leader and kind of just started with hiring a part time assistant. It was actually one of my members who was there for a while and she had some bad luck with her job, couldn’t afford it anymore so I just offered her 4 hours a day of making phone calls and scheduling appointments for me in exchange for boot camp and that’s how I really got started.
Not only did it save me hours a day of making phone calls which I hated but also my conversion rates went up because now people looked at me as more of an authority rather than me saving my own appointments and stuff. I started there and then I hired a trainer to help out with some of the sessions. Then once my daughter was born, I really started implementing systems. You don’t want to micro manage. You want to put everything into a manual or a video, some kind of training series, but then you also want to have ways that you can micro monitor, so that way you know all the numbers coming in.
I could tell how many leads we were getting a month, how many of those we were getting into our trial membership, how many of those we’re converting to a full paying member, how many people were canceling. I could just look at the numbers and monitor and know whether they were doing their job or not. If I saw a hole in any of those numbers, I knew exactly what the problem would be. I would just call a meeting, go in and update the manual, fix whatever they’re doing wrong, re-train them and then look at the numbers again.
You want to create systems that are going to do the work for you. Once I figured that out, everything started coming into place and working really smoothly.
Another question, at what point – this might seem like a silly question but I think it’s a very important one – is at what point should a business owner start thinking automation? Right away? Because some people that I talk to they’re just like, “Well, you know hey, I can’t even think about automation yet because I have a lead problem.” What’s your suggestion for that?
I mean, most people start their business on word of mouth. If you’re a good trainer, word of mouth for the first year can give you a good foundation just because you’re giving people great results. It’s a great experience. You’re likable but after that year you probably kind of reach what we call your soft market or people that you’ve gone to school with or people that you used to work with or relatives or whoever, then you really have to start marketing. Then at that point they hit that plateau, and the problem at that point is leads.
When you don’t have the money to hire other people so you want to figure out how to get leads, that’s why we created our agency. We solved that problem for hundreds and hundreds of trainers. Getting leads is never the problem – there are more than enough people out there. Once you figure that out and you know how to generate the leads, and they start coming in fast, it gets really … People start freaking out. Like we have ads clients that have quit because we give them too many leads.
That’s when you need systems, when you have all these people coming in and you’re not able to meet with all of them one-on-one, or you’re not able to call and follow-up with them so your onboarding system has holes in it. People may be coming in, they sit down with you, they sign up and then you never talk to them again 3 weeks later, 21 Day Rapid Fat Loss is over and they’re gone.
They’re not coming back, so … You’re trying to manage all this, you’re working late hours, your income is going up, and your lifestyle is going down. That’s when you know you’re ready to start implementing systems, start what I call buying your time back. Spending the money that you have coming in in order to hire somebody that’s just as good or if not better than you at that one specific task and training them and letting them do it.
I know that you have people that come from all over the country, sometimes as far as Canada. They come in and they work with you for one day, and learn how to automate their business. A lot of people obviously can’t afford that. I think it’s like between $5,000 and $10,000 depending on how much they want you to do. What about people that may not be able to afford that but want to come and learn how to do it, are you going to do anything?
Yes. I’ve actually been thinking about this and I’ll be putting together a workshop, kind of like the Implementation Boot Camp but for automating your business, but the way that you know you need business automation is that you’re on the verge of getting burnt up. Most people when they’re hungry and need money and they need leads, it’s because they’re not working so hard and not getting leads.
They don’t know what to do with their time but once you start figuring out how to get leads like we were talking about in our other Facebook live, how you’re getting out there and doing the offline marketing and networking, you’re meeting people of influence and the Facebook ad’s running, you’re constantly getting emails, constantly selling trial memberships. You have all that down.
You have all these people coming in and you’re working like 5 in the morning, or like back in the home back at home 9 or 10 at night and you’re just like, “Oh I got to do this again.” That and your bank account’s going up and your stress levels are going up, your lifestyle is going down. That’s the person that I am creating this workshop for, and you can find more details here.
That’s a really good point. As always, really great information and is there anywhere where people can get more information or to just express some interest because obviously you’re not going to take your time to put something together unless there’s an interest out there for it.
Yeah, I’ve created an event under the Fitness Marketer Fan Page called Fitness Business Automation Workshop. You can join the event group on Facebook to be notified about more details. But one of my first products for trainers, it was called Boot Camp Underground. It was all about systems and I launched that back in 2011 with great success and it’s evolved over the years so we have a lot of new content, a lot of new stuff. That would be pretty much it.
Nice. Very nice. All right, well thanks for reading and if you have any questions, please comment below.
Talk to you later.