185 Travis Barnes Critical Systems for Fitness Business Success

185 Travis Barnes Critical Systems for Fitness Business Success

A picture of title banner that reads “How to build systems for your fitness business success

Owning a fitness business, whether a gym or a studio, has become a lucrative venture that many pop up here and there. 

However, in just a few months, many fitness business owners are at a loss on how to operate well, or find themselves struggling to take their business to the next level. 

What most fitness business owners need to understand is that a well-defined system must be in place in order for them to meet their targets and maintain a great team… and even build a franchise. 

We spoke with Travis Barnes, an ACE-certified personal trainer, author, speaker, franchiser and teacher, about the critical systems for fitness business success. 

Travis may be a great example of a success story, but his journey was far from easy. 

He recalls making “poor choices” that led to a 10-year stint in prison. 

But while many would think that incarceration is a humiliating story to share, Travis thinks otherwise, and he is honored to share his story in the hopes that it could inspire another individual to succeed in the face of adversity.

It was while he was in prison that he wrote his first operations manual: he systemised a fellow inmate’s role, which made it easier for Travis and inmates new to the job to take on the tasks. 

This manual – this system – would be the same that he would use after his release to set up the first business he worked for, his first fitness business, and grow it from one to four locations in less than four years. 

Now, Travis is one of the fitness industry’s top players. He is the CEO of Journey 333 and the founder of Fitness Mastery. He is also the author of two books, Journey Fitness and 52 Amazing Journeys.


Pictured is Travis Barnes who is a CEO, franchisor, founder, author and presenter


Areas of Your Fitness Business to Systemise

Travis believes that every area of your fitness business needs to be systemised, from sales and marketing to operations, administration, and finance. And all these systems in place are put together in the business’ operations manual that should be made accessible to your employees. 

He uses the example of global franchises, and why 80% of franchises succeed and 80% of small businesses fail– it’s because every franchise follows a system that makes the customer experience similar, whichever location they go to.


A Great Example of Business System Success

When we think about systems, franchise-based businesses are one of the things we first think of because they’re a good example of where systems work incredibly well.

The E-myth by Michael Gerber talks about how 80% of franchises succeed, while 80% of small businesses fail. It’s a really interesting statistic and we might be misled to think that franchises succeed because they already have a brand and a name.

But if you show up at a McDonald’s drive-thru and suddenly it takes an hour to get your meal, you’re not going back. The reason they succeed is because they have a playbook of systems they follow that allows them to run that drive-thru in 90 seconds or less.

A cup of coffee in a Starbucks in Kenya tastes the same as it does in New York City because they have a system they follow. When we look at franchises, what we’re really looking at is a business that has decided to streamline their work and run on a playbook of systems.

And that’s the big difference.

A cup of coffee from a Starbucks Franchise


Breaking down Business Systems: FITBIZ Style 

Travis shares that systems can save fitness business owners some stress, time, energy, and money, and breaks down the components of an operations manual through his FITBIZ acronym. 

F – Figure out your organizational structure

Accountability in every role of your business is critical, and that’s why an organisational structure should be in place.

For each role in an organisation, Travis suggests to determine five key performance indicators in order to place the right people in the right position. This also avoids confusion on who is in charge of which task, as every role and responsibility is clearly outlined.

I – Invest in your talent

Besides hiring the right people for the role, Travis also thinks that providing adequate training to any fitness business staff is essential. Part of being a great boss is making sure that the staff is given the opportunity to continually improve because what we want is “a great company that’s made up of great individuals”.

Investing in your talent starts early on, from the interview to onboarding them, and the way we educate people as we bring them aboard. 

T – Tailor your Marketing

While marketing is another buzzword in the fitness business industry, there are at least 18 different forms of marketing that business owners should think about. Travis suggests that business owners identify three points: who they serve, the three customer types, and the words that they own.

These three main points should be reflected on the message they want across their marketing campaigns. The focus should be more on the customer and their needs, and less on the company. 

Phone showing social media marketing beside a cup of coffee


B – Boost your sales.

The success of your sales team not only relies on the profits but also how your staff is trained to handle each and every call, from generating leads and confirming appointments, to nurturing them in order to secure and sign another client. This is why Travis believes that systemizing your sales processes, including phone scripts, is essential to boosting your sales.

I – Initiate operations

Travis shares that writing down the systems in place in an operations manual doesn’t have to be a tedious and arduous process. As a team, each member can write down their roles in their field of expertise, and this list is then put together in the manual. 

Basically, when the fitness business owner initiates operations, they are taking the things that they do well and that other people do well and putting it down into something similar to a bullet-pointed checklist.

Shown is work done on budgeting for fitness business owners and personal trainers


Z – zip your financials

In the podcast, Travis quotes personal finance personality Dave Ramsey, saying, “Don’t ask your money where it’s gone, tell it where to go.”

Successful fitness business owners understand that setting different budgets for each department is essential to the overall growth of the company. Monthly financial reports merely confirm these expenses. 

And in his course, FITBIZ, he talks about how to set those numbers and what is appropriate based on the company’s size. 


Why Systems Are Important for ANY Business

We can take a look at two different life stages of a fitness professional:

One, of a personal trainer who has just bought and opened their very first studio to start their business.

Another one is a more established business owner who has enjoyed a few years of success.


Build your Foundations RIGHT

For those who are like the first example, industry experts say that you need to have a clear vision and mission for your business before starting on any systems. In fact, your vision is actually a critical part of your systems. It outlines how your business is going to make a difference in the fitness industry.

The mission supports this vision by systemising the business, and within the mission are processes that underlie how things will be done. 

Much like your vision and mission, your core values have to be clearly laid out because every decision you make about what systems will be a part of the business will reflect these principles.


Keep it FRESH

For the more established fitness business owners, Travis suggests updating their operations manual as needed.

Normally, these should be reviewed quarterly since business owners are always learning and getting new information. 

It’s also important to look at the three main components of the business: sales and marketing, operations, and finance and admin.

Sales and marketing are the front end of the business, making sure that there is a steady stream of new customers.

The operations are in charge of customer retention and ensuring excellent customer service. 

The finance and administration that ensure profits and losses are checked.

If any of these aspects are not functioning well, then it’s time to revisit the systems, even retraining staff in order to refresh their knowledge.

An operations manual too often becomes a dusty book on the shelf. One thing that the Ritz Carlton does is they have a credo card and they carry that with them every day. It reminds them of their processes, and their service values. Travis suggests doing the same to make the operations manual live and breathe.

People management is another critical system that should be implemented in the fitness business. Travis suggests systemising productive meetings and introducing scorecards for employees to measure against their performance.


Man on his laptop updating systems for fitness businesses


3 Important Factors for Systemising a Fitness Business

Travis shares the three most important factors for systemising a fitness business: 

1. Take a good look at who your best players are, what they do so well and systemise their process. It’s very important that you start writing it down and teaching it to other people. Otherwise, you have someone indispensable and in high demand. 

2. Explore other forms of marketing. While everybody is learning about social media nowadays, other people are forgetting about grassroots connection. Social media is only one way of connecting with people. Making genuine connections in person through organised chamber events are just as powerful a marketing tool.

3. As your business grows, you have to scale in order for it to adapt and change with time. You may need a team that will help scale what needs scaling, so you’re always prepared when changes come around or conditions in the market change. Since your business’ ability to adapt and grow is one of the most important factors in determining its success, adapting your systems and processes is also crucial.

To summarize,  you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just write down what you do.

Don’t try to do things alone. If you have an employee that does something well, tell them that they are doing something well and have them teach it to someone else so that another person can take over the responsibility. This way, you will always have time for other things while somebody else does what needs to be done.

While this is not a fitness-specific business strategy, everybody who owns a fitness business could benefit from this system or at least take some of these lessons into consideration when running their fitness business. And remember…no fitness organisation is too small to incorporate systems.

There are many components of success in any type of fitness business and this is only one of the many factors. Having a system isn’t just about having a set of processes in place to make sure your fitness business runs smoothly without you there—a fitness business system is about creating your own legacy, and being able to share your work with those that want to take part in it.


Resources Our Experts Shared in the Show

Special Offer from Travis Barnes

Travis is offering his FITBIZ course that is normally $1497USD for only $597USD for the #FBPFamily (or you can purchase in 3 easy payments of $199USD)  Simply Click this Link to take advantage of this great offer

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