11 Jun How to develop relationships with CrossFit gyms….the right way.
NOTE FROM ZACH: I’m constantly asked for advice on developing relations within the CrossFit community. My friend Danny Matta has done a wonderful job in that so I asked him to share his top tips for building a successful relationship with CrossFit boxes. The tips Danny shares below are universal for building any sort of business relationship and I hope you enjoy Danny’s thoughts.
In the summer of 2014, my entire life changed.
For the previous 7 years I had been in a very stable job in the United States Army. I was a Captain working as a Physical Therapist. I had a great salary and amazing benefits.
I decided to leave all of that behind to open a cash based Physical Therapy practice in a CrossFit gym.
To make it even more challenging, I decided to do it in a city(Atlanta, Georgia) where I had minimal to no contacts or personal relationships.
Oh and one last little change. We had our second child about 5 months before opening this practice. Diapers and baby food are expensive!
Over the past 4 years, my practice has grown from just me, to now having 2 locations and 3 full times PTs. We still are a 100% cash based clinic and I see no reason why that would ever change.
Early on, much of this growth was directly related to my ability to develop relationships with coaches, trainers and gym owners. 90% of my business came from these relationships in my first year in business.
If you have aspirations of starting your own practice and would like to work in a CrossFit gym or with CrossFit athletes, keep reading.
I’m going to lay out the strategy I have used successfully to develop relationships in this niche for the past few years.
There is no shortcut. This strategy takes work and you will get turned down by some people.
Get over it, you’re an adult. Some people will say no to you. Some people won’t like you or want to do business with you. You can take that rejection and head back your empty office with your tail between your legs. Or…..accept that fact that you will be turned down and commit to success no matter how many times your turned down.
When I started in Atlanta, decided that I wanted to be known as the go to Physical Therapist for any CrossFitter in the city.
I decided I would do this by getting around to as many gyms as possible in the first 6-12 months that I was in business.
I taught “mobility nights” which were basically simple, self treatment classes for common problems.
Think how to deadlift without back pain, improving your overhead position, how to get your first pistol squat and other topics similar to these movements.
When I got a chance to meet a gym owner, it was always about how I could help their members. I could teach them how to take care of themselves. If they took better care of themselves, they would have less injuries. If they had less injuries, they would stay as members and the gym owner would make more money. It was kind of a no brainer when you pitch it to gym owners that way.
The other variation of courses I taught was to the coaches at the gyms. I would set up courses to teach continuing education to the coaches.
This was a huge way to build trust, goodwill and get your name out all over the city. These coaches would learn some cool advanced concepts. They would look like geniuses because they were helping their clients get better results. Oh, and if they did have an injury, I was the first person they thought of.
In the course of 6 months, I taught variations of these courses at over 30 gyms.
We would get between 5 and 45 people attending each of these clinics. We averaged about 15 per clinic for that first 6 months and taught about 8 clinics per month.
That’s 120 people we got in front of per month. That’s over 700 people that spent an hour with me during the course of that first 6 months.
The average attention span of an adult is about 6 seconds. The average attention span of a goldfish is 7 seconds. Ok, I just made the goldfish part of but point is people have short attention spans! That means that these 700 people spent about 600x longer with me than the average adult will pay attention to something.
I couldn’t have paid enough money for that kind of exposure in a new area.
Now, you’re probably thinking, how the hell did you get 30 gyms to say yes to you coming out and teaching in the first place. Well, that’s a great question and can be the difference between this strategy working and being a complete flop.
The best way to get in touch with decision makers is either through warm introductions or in person.
By warm introductions, I mean try and get an intro from someone that that owner already knows.
The best strategy that I found was the leverage the relationships of the gyms I was teaching at.
The first gym I taught at was the one where my office was. After teaching the first time, I asked the gym owner if he could introduce me via email to two other gym owners he thought would enjoy a clinic like I taught at his gym.
Once I got introduced to those owners, we set up clinics.
When I taught at their gyms, I asked the same question and was introduced to another two gym owners per new gym I taught at.
You can see how this can snowball pretty quickly.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most people are afraid of someone saying no but I would be more afraid no one knowing who I was.
The second strategy I used was also very effective.
I would go to a gym, pay the drop in rate and get a WOD in. After training, I would introduce myself to the coach or gym owner and let them know what I did. It may take more than one drop in for me to get connected with the right person but I would hit up WODs all over the city just to meet coaches.
Also do not show up for a drop in at 6am if that coach has to also run a 7, 8 and 9am class after that.
Drop in during the 9am class, so you can have a few minutes to chat with them during their break in between classes.
The worst thing you can do is show up to a busy class and start pitching a coach/gym owner on why you can be a benefit to their athletes.
They’re very busy, respect their time.
It also gave me an opportunity to show them that I not only knew their sport but trained CrossFit myself.
This allows you to build huge amounts of credibility both as a subject matter expert and a as a provider who practices what they preach.
In summary it’s pretty straight forward. You have to put yourself out there. You have to get involved in the community and you have to add value to others first.
Do not show up with your hand out asking for people to do things to help your business. Add value to others. Help the coaches and gym owners make more money, have bigger impacts and improve their gyms.
If you can do that, you’ll build long term relationships with local influencers in your niche.
If you’ve been thinking about starting a cash practice in a gym or you recently started a practice in a gym, I highly encourage you to check out The Gym PT Blueprint. This is a system of starting, running and growing a successful cash practice in a gym.
As a special bonus, we are including our Gym PT Workshop Secrets bonus. This gives you our exact strategy we use to not just book local clinics but actually convert athletes who attend into paying clients.
If you’re honestly looking to start a clinic the right way or bring your clinic to the next level, invest in yourself with The Gym PT Blueprint.