One of the best resources a fitness business owner can take advantage of is becoming a member of a mentor or business coaching group. With dozens of excellent leaders in the industry offering their knowledge and expertise to eager and motivated, as well as struggling, gym and studio owners, there are plenty of excellent groups to choose from. However, not all coaching groups are the same, so as you start your search, it's important to determine what you want to achieve to find the best fit for you.
We sat down with Kelly Coulter, owner of Fit Pros Connect and the very successful Facebook Group, Grow Your Fitness Business, to pick her brain about coaching groups and what fitness business owners can gain from them. Kelly coaches fitness instructors, personal trainers, and small facility owners to build their direct-to-consumer businesses through community building and organic marketing. To learn her insight, how she started her group, advice for business owners looking to enlist the help of coaches and mentors to grow their business, follow along with our interview below.
How are coaching groups structured to teach fitness business owners?
Coaching groups are structured differently, for example, mine is structured to be an online learning environment. There's a curriculum that you go through, there's homework to do and assignments that you have. But past that, you have a real person as your business mentor coaching and leading you. One of the biggest things a coaching group can offer on top of the learning is support.
You have a group of people working on the same goal, and you have a coach that can come behind you and say 'Hey, instead of trying this, why don't you do it this way? Or stop switching course and keep going."
What are some of the main struggles and needs fitness business owners typically come to you with?
Usually what a business owner needs is different a lot of times from what they want. What they want is information about how to get more leads, information about how to sell their leads information, and information about how to grow their group. However, what they need is something much more substantial.
They need to really define what they're building their business around and who their audience is. They need to know what they even want to do and achieve for the people their business services, and what they offer in a solid way. In my own business, I call it chocolate covered in broccoli. They think they want chocolate, but you have to give them a little bit of broccoli before they can have the chocolate.
What are the benefits of growing your business with the guidance of a coach or business mentor?
One of the biggest ones is showing that their numbers are actually right on target. People are very focused on numbers and if they don't hit a certain number they are failing. We begin to assume as entrepreneurs that if we don't hit these huge numbers that we hear other people talking about that we failed. A lot of times we give up when we were right on track. Exposure to your own thought loops and patterns and self-destructive behaviour can be a huge benefit to a coaching group.
What kind of curriculum do you cover in your coaching program?
It has evolved over the last year and a half based on the sophistication of the industry, and instructors and personal trainers. The knowledge of how to get something started has really changed. It used to be, I would talk about really basic things such as how to set up a PayPal subscription and how to set up your video equipment and how to find the best lighting and things like that. Now we're pretty dialled in.
Defining the offer
We talk about defining the offer and figuring out what they bring to the table.
- What exactly is the offer?
- What is the result that they get from that offer? Because people don't care about your offer. They hear about what they're going to get at.
- What do you do with these people that come in and pay you to coach them?
Number two is pricing. Fitness instructors are all in their heads about pricing. Personal trainers are all in their heads about pricing. They're comparing themselves to other people. They cannot wrap their head around charging a substantial amount of money. We talk through all the issues around pricing.
Number three is your marketing. How are you going to grow your audience so that you have a larger and larger pool of people to sell this offer to?
How to sell
The fourth is how do you sell without being sleazy or slimy or salesy? How do you have basic permission-based conversation-based sales?
Keep reading for Kelly's advice about guiding business owners with plans for long-term growth
How do you explain to business owners that growth is a long-term process and not a quick fix?
What I want to see is iterative progress. I want them to come into the Bootcamp and define their offer and learn about their pricing. By the time we talk about marketing and sales, I want them to be ready to actually go out and have some conversations and make some sales.
But from there, I do want them to back off once they've made the sale. Let's say you take the Bootcamp, you've made some sales and you decide to go on with me into my business accelerator, which is my 12-month program. From there, once you've made your first sales, I'm going to want you to back off and look at your system, your audience, your strategy, get a higher-level overview, make sure we're on course and go back and make more sales.
I really believe in getting in the weeds, getting your paid clients, because nothing's going to make you a better coach faster than coaching. I want you to be doing the thing and then I want you to be working on the business and repeat.
What has been your own experience working with a business coach and mentor?
When I started my coaching business I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. I posed vague offers to general audiences - trying to get attention from potential customers while staying flexible enough to work with anyone that needed my help. I had no idea what my real offer was going to be - I just knew I wanted to coach.
It was painful and frustrating. I would create a big plan for a coaching program, record videos, and spend days creating lessons. I would create sales pagers where people could register, advertise it on social, and pick a deadline for signing up. Of course, I had no customers or anyone enrol. What a waste of time! It was humiliating, but I also learned some valuable lessons.
I had been seeking my business growth out on the information I could piece together from free workshops, webinars, and podcasts taught by gurus. I augmented all that with free mentorship and coaching from government small business resources. Then I made a decision. I was finally ready to invest in someone who had done it before. I hired a coach. And it changed everything for me.
Where should business owners look to find coaching groups?
There are all kinds of podcasts that different fitness business coaches have. There are a few really good Facebook groups. My group is the biggest vetted group, which means that we check everybody out. We make sure that not only are you human, but that you're an actual fitness professional.
If you search fitness business coaches, there are a lot of people out there doing it. If you decide that you're going to invest money in a fitness business coach, check them out thoroughly, talk to their customers, make sure that they are the real deal because during the pandemic a ton just popped up out of nowhere.
Find out how Kelly markets her business coaching group
How do you market your coaching group?
I participate in many speaking engagements and opportunities to work with other large fitness businesses. That's a really great visibility strategy and way to learn about my free Facebook group. On Instagram, I host a Thursday show where I have a guest and that helps me get in front of other people's audiences as well as get in front of mine.
(Pssst. TeamUp's Tim Green recently was a guest on Kelly's IG Live. Check out the episode about how to use management software to grow your business, here.)
I am always looking for ways to add value to my audience. That's the key to growing your audience is adding value to that specific niche.
Then once you're in the group, you'll be in the know on when the next Bootcamp is happening, and I largely market my paid services through my Bootcamp.
What other resources do you recommend to your coaching clients when they're building their business ecosystem?
I recommend reading Profit First by Mike Michalowicz and Profit First for Micro-gyms by John Briggs. That will teach you everything you need to know about setting up your accounting and structuring your money correctly from the very beginning.
I also recommend a downloadable workshop on my website on Fit Pros Connect called Grow Your Group, which can help figure out how to reach audiences beyond the audience that has already listened to you and bring those people into your orbit.
What is the biggest takeaway that a business owner could learn about growing a business?
The cold hard truth about growing a business is:
- Someone who doesn't have the same mindset as an entrepreneur can't speak to that tangible mix of confidence, skill, and determination it takes for you to grow your business. You can learn specific skills related to entrepreneurship such as web design or Facebook ads, but it's the confidence and commitment that will lead to success.
- Gurus know the real transformation comes after you commit. They will teach you snippets, but they aren't going to step you through specific skills until you are in their paid course or program. This isn't their fault. They can't teach you everything in one episode a week. When you commit to the process and journey, because growth isn't linear, that's when you'll begin to learn the things you need.
- There are hard and soft skills involved in building a fitness business using online marketing methods that can't be taught by someone outside the industry.
What makes your coaching group different from others?
A lot of people are out there selling one of two things, either coaching, where they're going to ask you to do three months of setup work first or funnel building. Or they're going to build this whole complicated marketing system that is supposed to take an audience member from stranger to client in some sort of automated fashion without you ever being involved.
I think both of those are drift approaches. I don't believe in that. I believe that you need to start coaching doing the thing and then start setting up your business. The iterative approach is different in the way that I teach things. The best way to become a better coach is to coach.
What is the best advice you have ever received when it comes to coaching clients?
The best advice that I've been given about coaching clients is to plan your work and work your plan. Last year in November, I sat down and looked at my year and I planned every marketing event that I was going to be doing and when they would happen. I planned out all my speaking engagements as best I could at the time. I had a real structure for my year.
That became super handy because around June, my year really started coming off the rails. I had a death in the family. There were a lot of stresses and different things that happened. Had I not had that structure in place from the beginning of the year, I very easily would have been cancelling a lot of events. It's very possible that my business would not have brought in any money from June to October or November.
What are some of your favourite success stories of your clients?
One of my clients came into Bootcamp and she really latched onto all of the ideas, but specifically the idea of having conversations to make sales. All of a sudden it became clear to her that she doesn't have to have this huge funnel or she doesn't have to automate anything. She can just talk to people and figure out who is right for her business. She literally went out and had around a couple of hundred conversations over direct message, text message, all the different things. And she made $2,000 the week of Bootcamp.
Since then she has gone into my accelerator program and has continued that kind of trajectory. She paid off her investment in the accelerator super early and has just kept going and going. I'm so proud of her and impressed, and she is going to be a millionaire before she is 30, I'm sure of it.
Another one of my clients has helped me check in on everybody and make sure that everybody's gotten all their questions answered. She was able to take the strategy of checking in and having direct conversations, making relationships with the people that follow your business page, as you bring them over into your business group, she did this process where yes, it was a little manual, but she had all these conversations and she scaled up her business right away by doing that. On top of that, she went from charging zero and being just donation-based to instead creating a high-end monthly subscription offer. She is on the high-end for a lot of fitness instructors and is making a couple thousand bucks a month.
To learn more about how Kelly can help you grow your business, register for her Sell Out Your 2022 Business Kickstart Bootcamp for $47 happening November 15 - 19.
Thanks for sharing Kelly!