Chantal: Hey Frank, welcome along. Thank you so much for joining me today.
Frank: I’m so happy to be here. Thank you.
Chantal: Now we have a huge range of topics that we’re going to talk about and the place that I was hoping we could actually start is on the topic of branding because for anyone that doesn’t know you’ve actually rebranded your business twice I believe, you started as Platinum Performance and that went to Frank Nash Training Systems and now you’re called Stronger Personal Training. Can you give us a little bit of an insight behind what it was that motivated you to make those changes?
Frank: Oh, of course. There’s some great stories behind some of these. Platinum Performance, that goes back to 2002. Before I opened my business, I worked at a big box club and it just happened to be a Gold’s Gym. Now, like most of us trading dudes and dudettes that happen to move on to own our own business, normally we’ve worked at a big box club before we start that studio type model. I just hear it all the time. Now since I worked at a Gold’s Gym and the transition wasn’t as smooth as I would like it, I was going to show them. So what’s better than gold? Platinum. So we went Platinum Performance, 100 percent, I swear on my life. It was just spite. It really was. So that was the name, Platinum Performance. I was going to one up them and show them, you know, clearly I was just being young and salty. But that was really the reasoning behind the name of Platinum Performance was just to show them that I’m going to one up you even with the name.
So what happened over the years is again, it’s Platinum Performance, but you know, I’m Frank Nash. I’m training 5:00 AM to 9:00 PM, Monday through Friday. I’m working every weekend. Every holiday. Though we evolved to have multiple coaches, it still was all about me. So though my club was called Platinum Performance, nobody called it the Platinum Performance, they were like, “I’m going to go train with Frank. Hey, do you work out at Frank’s? Yeah, I’m going to Frank’s. Hey, you heard that place, Frank Nash?” So it really was all about me. And again I’m being honest, in a very selfish move I decided to just say if everyone’s calling it Frank Nash anyway, let’s just call it Frank Nash Training Systems. So it was really a way for me to selfishly build my brand, my personal brand, and so we evolved into that.
So, we fast forward years later and I kind of grew up and I woke up and I go, it really, though it was about me, it shouldn’t be about me. What if something were to happen to me, let’s just say I got in a car accident. I got hurt, injured. And the clubs still was there, I’m not around. Or, I don’t know about you, but I was having a hard time collecting a check or payment from someone who I’d never met. They’re writing a payment to Frank Nash Training Systems, I didn’t even know this person. And I really, really want to challenge my staff and my employees to become bigger versus of themselves. I want them to flourish. And I think it’s kinda hard being a part of a company that has just a person’s name on it who may not be there all the time, who may be doing other things.
So looking forward and being more of an adult. I said, okay, how can I position this club where it’s an entity by itself, where maybe at some point, not that I have any plans of doing this, if I wanted to sell this club or somebody wanted to buy, it, hell, maybe I want to sell it to one of my employees. A Stronger Personal Training, which is a new name, is a lot more advantageous to buy or sell than a Frank Nash Training Systems. So any of you trainers or coaches out there, if your name’s on the door, just keep this in mind. If you ever want to sell your club, if you ever want to franchise or whatever, if your name’s on the door, you’re tied to it. They’ll never let you out. So it’s an exit strategy as well too.
So it really, if you think about it, it was an evolution between me being a salty trainer to a selfish trainer to maybe growing up and being more of an adult in this world.
Chantal: It’s funny you use the word evolution because that’s exactly the word that popped into my head and I think anyone that has either launched a brand or been through a rebrand can appreciate just what a massive job that is and plus quite a costly job as well.
Frank: Oh my God, it’s so expensive.
Chantal: So expensive. You know, there’s so many things to take into account. So give us a bit of an insight on I guess what the impact was on your business and perhaps some of the challenges that you faced when you did make those changes.
Frank: Well, ultimately it’s very expensive and you’ll be shocked in the world of technology and social media, everything that’s tied to your brand. And I’ve told everyone right now, if you want to put a dollar amount on it, it’s going to cost you a minimum of $50 grand if you rebrand. Just minimum, that’s you being cheap. And it could cost you up to $75 to $100 if you’re trying to be like some crazy wizard.
Now, the most challenging thing, and especially for us club owners out there, is when you rebrand, though just the name may change on the door, let’s just say for me for example, when we went from Frank Nash Training Systems to Stronger Personal Training, I actually thought our club got better, but we did lose some members because of just the name change. People fall in love with your brand and the name on the door and though it’s just a change of the name to you, there is a feeling of loss for that member. And there is some mourning internally that goes on, not just from the member but from the staff as well too. They didn’t sign up to be a member of Stronger Personal Training. They signed up for Frank Nash Training Systems. And though you may just say, “Well listen, the club’s actually better. Nothing changed. Just the colours. We’re actually offering new programmes.” There is a sense of mourning and loss for that client internally that you have to really take into account before you make the move or when you’re making the move.
So if you decide to rebrand, I would let your members know literally, four, three months beforehand, tell them why you’re doing it. Have an open door policy, explain to them you individually why you’re doing this, make sure your staff feels like they’re involved with the change. There are so many intricate details that I overlooked the first time that helped me rebrand the second time. Because you will lose people. You think it’s simple, just change of the name on the door. It is not. It’s a complete culture shock for some of your clients in their view.
Chantal: That is such a great insight and thank you for sharing that with us. If you, and I’m sure that you’re not going to rebrand again, but if you were, was there anything that you learned the second time around that you would do differently?
Frank: Oh man of course there is. [crosstalk 00:07:36]
Chantal: Or do you think you have to down now?
Frank: No, I don’t have it down. I would even have a bigger open door policy for my clients. As trainers and owners, we strive ourselves on being leaders. So we think that we always know what’s best for our clients. I would really extend that open door policy even more and make my members, even just have the illusion that they have a say in me changing their club, not my club, their club. Because either way it’s coming, you’re forcing it on them. I would have a more open door policy where they can have, make them at least have the illusion that they have a bigger say on this massive change in their life. I mean, people think it’s just a change of the name on the door. These people sometimes come to your club every single day. I see them more than I see my family. So for them it’s their family, it’s their escape, it’s their second home. And for you to just change it without asking them is honestly, it’s pretty shitty.
Chantal: So when you refer to open door, what you’re saying is that you would literally reach out to them and get their input, get their views, get their opinions
Frank: 100 percent, I would say do it electronically. In the club, if you own a club, I want you to park your ass in the lobby and I want you to ask every member how they feel. And shut your mouth and listen to them. Whether it’s good or bad, nod your head, smile, and fake them. It sounds like it’s a big task, but it’s not. It’s very important. There’s a lot of great interviews out there when it comes to rebranding and the feeling of loss and remorse, which again is probably the biggest obstacle that any of us are going to run into.
Chantal: You know, Frank, one of the things that you mentioned in there is he did talk about the people within your business, you mentioned your team and I actually was listening to an interview that you did where you said if you want to build or grow your business, you need great coaches. So I was hoping that you might be able to give us a bit of a view about the structure of Stronger Fitness and the role of your coaches in your business.
Frank: Yes. As a business owner, any business owner, you can’t do it by yourself. You don’t want to do it by yourself. There’s only so many hours in the day and at some point you got to sleep. And you need teammates and people around you to drive that culture.
So the structure of Stronger Personal Training’s coaches is what I need is I just need rock stars. I mean the X’s and O’s, lunges, squats, pushups. That’s easy. I just need the really cool, fun, sometimes weird people, in a good way, that are just those light bulbs that all the moths are attracted to. So we spent a lot of time on the personal experience, the personal, just making sure our members are having the best customer experience they possibly can have. So it sounds so silly, but we practice high fives. We practice fake laughing at a member’s joke, smiling while you talk, remembering every single member’s name. These are way more important than any sort of [inaudible 00:11:03] fitness programme any stray coach can come up with.
Chantal: I couldn’t agree more. Just a couple of more questions, Frank, in relations to your team. Because you’ve been in business for such a long time and you’ve obviously gone through a few different transitions over that time. Where the business is at currently, are your trainers employees or do you have contractors in the business?
Frank: We have all employees. I used to have, way back when as Platinum Performance, all independent contractors. And it’s a much better move to go with employees because we always use the word culture. You are building a culture. You are building that place that your members go to. It’s their second home, that they love. And you want folks around you who believe and want to be a part of your culture, who are always driving your message. If they’re an independent contractor, they’re really just renting space in your gym and they’re not building your culture. Believe it or not, they’re hurting it. They have their own agendas. They wear their own brand. They talk their own trainer language, and it’s just confusing and it’s really hard to retain independent contractors. I mean, you’re not really paying them. They’re kind of making their own schedule, their own hourly wage. You’re just facilitating a place for them to train.
So you always got to go big picture and think three steps ahead and you’ve got to get these people as employees. Maybe at first, they’re not busy, you have them on some sort of salary or low hourly rate, but you’re thinking to where the business is going to be, not what it’s doing right this second. So you might be biting the bullet to start, but it’s way worth it. The juice is worth the squeeze. Get everyone as an employee so they can be a part of your culture. But you also want folks who want to be part of your culture.
Chantal: Frank, you mentioned earlier that with your employees that you’ve got unique, different people within the business, different personality types. So what is it exactly that you’re looking for when you’re going out and recruiting new team members?
Frank: Oh, it’s just that human interaction. Do you [inaudible 00:13:23] want to hang around with you? I mean, like I mentioned before, are you that light bulb that all the moths are attracted to, do you have that care bear stare? Do you take that shining light from your belly and just turn the bad things good? That’s what you’re looking for. Charming people. When people use the word charming, what does that mean? They have good energy. So, again, the fitness end of it, lunges, squats, I could care less what you know, I’m looking for those attractive personality type folks that you just want to be around.
Chantal: So with that in mind, Frank, tell me a little bit about the professional development that you do with your team because you’re hiring based on these awesome personalities, people that you know are going to connect with your members. What do you guys do when it comes to professional development, skills, development, that side of things?
Frank: Well, for my onboarding process, we have a very robust internship. We have every semester. Again, from that standpoint, it’s really funny. When we started our internship like 10 years ago, it was all X’s and O’s. I mean literally flooding these poor kids with all these books, knowledge of the anatomy, physiology, kinesiology and exercise. It’s funny now, we do really none of that. It’s crazy. We spend the first week of them just standing in the lobby, smiling, introducing themselves and remembering members’ names. We spend a whole week just on names. The next week we spend a whole week on the tone of their voice. Then the next week we spend a whole week just on smiling when you talk. It is crazy. We teach all these basic skills now through our internships that really they have nothing to do with exercise, but it teaches them just to be good human beings and successful human beings. So they could take the skill set anywhere and be successful.
So that just from an internship standpoint and how we develop them. What we do from an ongoing standpoint for the entire staff is we meet every Thursday. We used to meet once a month, we used to meet every other week, but I’m a strong believer in you have to have that belly to belly at least once a week with your employees, especially in a gym setting. So our development, it could be anything from fitness, exercise to someone from outside the industry we bring in. Just talking about basic business and their experiences. So it used to be I would always bring it an exercise person, we would learn kettlebell snatches. We don’t really do any of that anymore. It’s more bringing in other gym folks, other business folks to really just share their experiences, their triumphs, their challenges and how they overcome them.
Chantal: There’s nothing that quite compares to that, is there?
Frank: Absolutely not. I mean, you got to go through the battle and it’s so funny. I use this joke all the time. I bring in some speakers and some of my friends in the industry who will legit, Chantal, tell me the exact same story I told the week before and they, “Oh my God, I can’t believe they told that, it’s so funny. It was such an inspiring.” And I’m like, “I told you that,” I go, “Not only did I tell you that, that person stole my story.” Of course they said it, so it’s Gospel.
Chantal: The funniest thing, Frank, I always think it’s like when your mum or dad tells you to do something. You know, it’s like when it’s your club and you’re telling them to do something, they shut off. But when an outsider comes in, it’s a whole different story.
Frank: Oh yeah. So, funny story, my whole family is like completely out of shape. Everyone’s says oh your family must, they must love working out. No. Exercise is kryptonite to them. And so, my mother, she could walk down the street and a homeless person could roll over and just yell at her like, “Did you know if you consume less calories and you work out more you’ll lose weight?” And she’ll like, go, “Oh my God, did you know that if you just watch your food intake and you move your butt a little more, you’ll lose weight.” And I just stare at her and I’ll say, “Yeah, imagine that.”
Frank: Isn’t that something.
Chantal: That’s brilliant. Hey Frank. So I want to chat to you about technology. We did touch on this briefly during your prequel quick fire five last week. And I know this plays a major role in your clubs. So can you give us a bit of a view inside your club? Talk to us about how you use technology.
Frank: Well, we try to get everyone hooked up to our tech as soon as possible. We challenge our members before they even join our club, before they set foot in an orientation, to download our app. So right away we’re hitting them with it. So they come in, day one, they have our app, we’re hitting them up with a Myzone belt right away. For those who don’t know it’s the most craziest, awesome wearable technology belt in the known universe. It’s absolutely crazy.
Chantal: We are Myzone [inaudible 00:18:34] here on the fitness business podcast.
Frank: Oh, my God. Yes. So we get them hooked up so we can gamify and track their exercise, from day one we have them involved in that tech community of challenging other members. So right from the get go we have them hooked up to some sort of tech. But from an ongoing communication standpoint, whether it’s social media, whether it’s our text message, email marketing, if you’re not using technology, it is such a time sink filler. It’s going to streamline your business that much faster. And it’s going to gamify and make your members have that much more of a fun experience. Now, I would just warn people, tech is great, but don’t over-tech people. You want to make sure you are personally talking and touching them as well too.
Chantal: Yeah. So I want to know more about your app because you said that you get people joined up to your app before, you know, just during their sign up process, their onboarding process. So what’s in that app?
Frank: You know what? My app is very simple. It just gives them a vehicle to book appointments, us to hold them accountable to that appointment, and from a business standpoint, it’s an easier way for them to give us their money.
Chantal: Right. Okay. So they’re basically using that, you can set up their direct debit through the app?
Frank: Yes, they can buy, purchase, they can make appointments, cancel appointments. But also they can receive our push notifications or our tech certifications directly from that app as well. So it’s super simple and again, it’s just trying to make it easier for them to get their butts in the door of the club. And cancel, reschedule, etc.
Chantal: Okay. And how about the usage of Myzone? Because you mentioned the word gamification, do you run-
Frank: Oh yeah, so-
Chantal: Yeah. Tell us a bit more about that.
Frank: Yeah, we run tonnes of challenges. We run weekly challenges and monthly challenges and sometimes we do pop up daily challenges. For example, I could say, “Hey, tomorrow we’re doing a pop up challenge.” Everyone who gets 100 MEPs, which are Myzone effort points, we’ll put into a raffle and I’m giving away some protein powder. What we’re really trying to do is just make sure our members are engaged, not just the hour they’re with us in the club. I want to engage them the other 23 hours as much as possible and just keep their attention span always with us. And plus challenge and fun as well too. Everybody likes challenges, everyone likes fun, everybody likes gamification. That’s exactly how we use Myzone. And we always tie in some sort of cool prize and usually gym owners tell them that story, like “Man it’s so expensive”. Listen, it’s part of your marketing budget. Spend the money you cheap … You know what I mean?
Chantal: So when you just said there that you want them interacting with you 24/7, the time that they’re in the club and outside the club. Just for anyone at home that’s not familiar with Myzone because, so for me, for example, I use my Myzone belt as an individual because my club, my gym doesn’t have Myzone in the club.
Frank: Shame on them
Chantal: I know, right? So I use it and I use the app. So I connect to the app. But what you’ve got in your club, you actually have the screens in the club, so people can actually see their results as they’re training. Right?
Frank: Of course. I tell you what though, but we like to get them to use it when they’re on vacation, if they go away for a weekend, they’re on a holiday, whatever that is, we set up some sort of structure behind Myzone so we could still have them interacting with us and be a part of the club. So those of us who have members who might say, you know what, I’m leaving for a month, I want to put my membership on hold. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Here’s what we’re going to do. Just because you’re leaving the area doesn’t mean your fitness is going to leave you. I’m going to set you up with a programme, both exercise and nutrition wise, and I’m going to keep track of you and hold you accountable through Myzone. So you don’t have to put your fitness and health on hold. You’re still part of our family. Let’s go, baby.
Chantal: Yeah. And that is a massive win as a club owner.
Frank: Oh it’s huge. Actually, know what. Forget about that. It’s a massive win for the member. Let’s be honest. We’ve all had these members, who say they going on vacation for a couple months. If they take two months off of exercising with you, really what are the chances of them coming back and jumping on board? No, they’re embarrassed, they’re ashamed, they gained weight, they’re “Oh, now I got to get in shape before I come see you.” That’s what happens. So we’re really helping them help themselves.
Chantal: Yeah. And I love that about Myzone, that you can totally spy on someone and just see what they’ve done with their exercise. You can give them a thumbs up, you can give them an encouraging comment. Anything else like that. You can have all your connections right there on the app.
Frank: Oh, it’s super engaging, it’s super fun. Here’s a funny Myzone story. So I was travelling one [inaudible 00:23:55] Chantal, and I was one month away from getting the hall of fame ranking, which for those of you who are listening, it means it’s like four years plus of you wearing your Myzone every single month and achieving a very simple milestone. Here’s the thing, but if you don’t hit it in one month, you go back to zero. So I was one month away from hitting the hall of fame [inaudible 00:24:21]. Four years of hitting that step, that milestone every single month. And I was landing in Boston. I had to get on another plane a couple of hours later. I drove an hour just to get my belt so I can go back to the airport because I’m not wasting four years of my life. So that’s how addicting something like this can be, how fun it can be, that you will drive an hour to get your damn belt. So you don’t lose four years of progress.
Chantal: I can completely relate because I recently was travelling overseas and I left my belt in my suitcase. And I [inaudible 00:25:03] my workout and I got there and I was like, well, might as well not work out now because I don’t have my belt with me. So I understand completely.
Anyway, let’s get back to it because I’ve got one very last very important question to ask you and I’m hoping that you can finish off today by sharing with us three tips that you would give to fitness business owners who want to stand out in a crowded market.
Frank: Oh, great. Actually, that’s the story of my life. I’m always trying to stand out in the fitness business world.
The single most important thing is just don’t do what everyone else is doing. It’s such a saturated business environment and if you scroll through Instagram and you look at other gyms or fitness space and it kinda looks like yours, I think you should try to break the mould and just do something a little different. I think everything is starting to look exactly the same. Just an example, so you have rubber flooring and you have green turf. Wow. You’re just like every other gym. “Yeah, but I’m a better trainer.” No, your members don’t care. From a marketing standpoint, dare to be different. That’s my advice, and whatever that means to you, dare to be different, from an aesthetic point of view, from a personality point of view, be different because it’s such a crowded space, Chantal.
Number two is try to think to where the ball is being hit and run there. It’s kind of very similar to the first one I said, being different, but from a business point of view, really sit down and they grab a cup of coffee at your local shop and just really sit down and think, where is this business going to be two, three, four years from now, and start planning for that.
And again, I would say my advice would be, you’re really not in the fitness industry, my friends, you are in the entertainment business. Think about that. And run with that. You are in the entertainment business, not the fitness industry. Anybody can squat, lunge, push, pull, and get someone tired and sweaty. Can you entertain them? Can you take that member who is deciding between cancelling country club membership or cancelling training with you? How do you keep them? It ain’t through lunges and squats. You’re in the entertainment business.
The third thing I would do is don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. If you’re the industry, you probably do have a bit of an ego. We all do. But eat some humble pie. It’s very easy in this world now with technology to reach out to almost anybody, get ahold of anybody. You’d be surprised of how many people in this industry who you may look up to are very generous with their time. And reach out. Ask for help, save yourself a lot of the trouble. I’ve been in the business since 2002, and I wished I would’ve done this sooner. Don’t be stubborn. Be humble. Ask for help. Get there sooner. And you’ll be surprised. So in a lot of ways, I would say hire a coach. Get an appointment once a month with someone you look up to who maybe inspires you and say, “Hey, can I hire you maybe once a month to get on a call and you just hold me accountable. I mean, my whole life is holding people accountable. Can you do the same for me as I do for my members and get me to that place I need to be?” So yeah, Chantal, those are my three.
Chantal: They are three fantastic pieces of advice and I especially loved the last one and I couldn’t agree more with you and I think that, you know, people always think about the investment of a coach, but really it pays you back tenfold when you have that person to bounce ideas off and to learn from and to be guided by. So thank you for sharing those with us, Frank, and I just want to say a massive thank you. You have an amazing energy. And I’ve had an absolute blast talking to you today, so thanks for coming on the show today and thank you for sharing your years of experience with us, giving us an insight into your business, into everything you’ve gone through with the rebranding, with hiring your amazing team, and also with that amazing tech in your club. So thank you so much for joining us on the show today.
Frank: My pleasure, Chantal. Thanks everyone for listening.
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