Intro: Welcome to the Gym Heroes Podcast guest. I am your host Josh Peacock. Today show is brought you by Gymdesk. The easiest gym management software you are every use. Take payments, create marketing automations, track attendance, and much more. To try the software out free, go to “Gymdesk.com”. No credit card or painful sales call required.

Josh: Our hero today is Pete Piranio, owner of EmpirePreneur, a company that helps fitness business owners scale their studios into multiple self-managing locations. Today, He reveals how business systems are the key to designing a business, you don’t have to slave over to keep running. Without further ado, Pete Piranio.

Alright. Well, welcome to the Gym Heroes Podcast. Pete, if you could introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background and how you found yourself talking about the subjects we’re going to be talking about today like self-management, building self-managing businesses.

Pete: Yeah, for sure. Well, first, I appreciate you having me on. Excited to talk about this and talk about the topics that you guys share on your podcast. Thank you guys doing a great job with it. Yeah in terms of my background, I mean I started personal training in 1998. I believe as a personal trainer first three years in the gym I think a lot a lot of people start but I always had kind of a vision for starting my own studio at some point. And also just the fact for me it was to be honest with you I kind of was a little bit disappointed in the industry. When I first kind of came out, I just had this this really vision of a much more professional position as a personal trainer and I think some people in the field to discount that their expertise, right. They don’t hold themselves to the same standard as a lawyer or doctor or whatever and that wasn’t me.

So, the problem was is that when I was in the setting and some people had this different idea of the profession. It was quite unsatisfactory to me in terms of that. so, I knew I couldn’t change the industry I was like, well I’m going to change my corner world. So, I started my first studio in 2001, grew quickly and actually opened a second one a year later. My second studio. Then it was just a few years after that. I opened my third studio. Ended up opening five locations. Had franchise partners in multiple States. I’ve been involved in helping a franchise grow from 10, 20 locations to about 400 locations.

Josh: Wow.

Pete: So yeah, I’ve been in a lot of different aspects from the personal training side of things to really developing skills to be a multi-unit owner. Which is a whole another skill set and be involved in franchising and supporting franchisees and helping a franchise with their operations. So, a lot of different aspects that brought me here today, sold my business in 20 15. Kind of took some time away to really just think about, okay, what’s the next entrepreneur journey? I mean, that’s just kind of in my blood is entrepreneurship and I’m a big believer in purpose. If you don’t really, that purpose is what lights my fire and kind of gets you through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship because it’s always going to be there.

Josh: Yeah.

Pete: Especially if you’re pushing the limits to grow and so I kind of had to find what was that going to be. And it really kind of came back to, if I was going to do this all over again what would make it more attainable, easier for me to grow, faster for me to grow and that’s really kind of where I came up with the idea for EmpirePreneur was, hey, if I could provide a literally plug and play system for operating a fitness business from A to Z basically, not just marketing. Which is what you kind of see out there. Because that was really the key for me was the idea of you know systems and systemizing your business was really what changed my world.

So, the problem is it’s took me like 4 or 5 years to create the systems and other 11 or so refining and evolving and it’s hard to do. It’s hard. It’s kind time consuming. Most people don’t do it because of that. So, for me it was, man if I could kind of crack that code for fitness businesses like where they could plug in a system and still customize it where they need to or whatever. Like because even for me if I felt like if I would’ve just even had some templates or some best practices at that time it would have been super helpful instead of a blank sheet of paper.

Josh: Just direction.

Pete: Yes 100% and so that’s really what’s EmpirePreneur about is so we like to say the franchises without the franchise. I mean allows people to still customize what we provide them if they want to. Clients just flat out plug and play if they, most of it because it just fits exactly what they need. So, we’re able to really accelerate people’s growth. Create the freedom that really we all seek as entrepreneurs but we often get stuck in the trenches and stuck in the weeds and grinding it out. And we don’t know how to get out. And so, as we like to say we help fitness entrepreneurs build highly profitable, high impact businesses that run without them. So that’s kind of the goal is to have a business that can run without you.

Josh: Yeah, that’s an impressive background. Yeah, that stuff is exciting to me too. I like to think about the stuff from the top and I know you’ve definitely had to have read the E-myth. Oh yeah.

Pete: Yeah. That was the influential book. And it triggered me. It was like, whoa. I’m like, okay. That’s exactly how I really got into systems. That was mentor recommended it to me. Because really for me, it was actually in that, I actually grew pretty quickly like on the sales side and things like that. So, that wasn’t an issue. My issue was in kind of my first couple of years. I had employee turnover like crazy from a trainer standpoint. And I felt like every six months, maybe a year, I’d lose a trainer and so, and I had a high standard for our service. So, I’m just pouring into, you know, every trainer, right. Trying to share my knowledge as much as I could to help them grow and be more successful and better. That’s just so fatigue, you’re right, when you’re hiring, recruiting, training, hiring recruiting.

Josh: Expensive too.

Pete: Yeah, expensive. So, mentor recommended that book and that’s what really like the whole be systems dependent not people dependent like that changed my life basically. And that’s why we bring what we bring today. So, yeah because that was one thing to have a book is one thing but then to go to build it, right.

Josh: Yeah. It’s all like different levels of abstraction. E-myth talks about like the broad view of building systems and then the systems is the broad of the actual business just moves up and down.

Pete: 100%.

Josh: And its practice, getting your hands in being involved in the business is what allows you to understand what needs to be systematized and can be made into something that’s more, I get, I keep using the word abstract. I don’t know a better word. Something that’s that is more I guess representative of on a higher level of what’s going on in the actual technician aspect of it.

Pete: Well, there’s different levels of systems too, like you said, I mean often people I think at the very tactical level which 100% you need that most of your systems are front line, right. But there’s systems as you climb that org chart too I mean I hear this debate a lot of times too, oh you don’t need systems SOPs it’s empowerment and it’s like it’s not really one or the other to be like. Because even as you climb that org chart, like in our program we have a what we call a strategic management process. Which is kind of the main process for the owner that I mean it’s like it’s the main driver to execute your vision and that’s a system.

Josh: Yeah.

Pete: But yeah as you move up the org chart of course now you’re empowering people you’re delegating decisions not tasked. So, I get what they’re talking about but then they want to just throw out the baby with bath water which isn’t very smart.

Josh: Yeah and people are always trying to be like against the grain.

Pete: You’re right.

Josh: It gets tire them sometimes. It’s like this works. Just do it.

Pete: See, and I was the opposite. What I did was kind of how I was, as I like to say the fitness expert is one of our goals in our program is to take the technical expert and help them be a business expert. Because that is the challenge for all small business but particularly in the fitness industry is and again personal trainer or martial arts or whatever. They’re the technician. They know that expertise really well but now bridge that gap is the difficult part to get to be a business expert and so.

Josh: Yeah.

Pete: For me, I recognize that fairly early thankfully but I looked outside the industry. So, my point being is like I looked at a lot of big companies and like you said people want to be anti. But there’s a lot of like especially for early entrepreneurs, like there’s a lot of examples out there that you just need to go model. Because they’ve proven it like don’t anti, people look for the silver bullet, I think is why it’s the anti.

Josh: Yeah. Or they’re trying to sell something.

Pete: Exactly.

Josh: So this is a great Segway actually. So, like, I want to dive right into the whole idea of work on the business not in it. So, how do you gradually remove yourself from daily operations of a business. Because today, we’re talking about developing a self-managing business. So, how do you do that, how you systematically work yourself out of it?

Pete: Yeah, so I think it’s what I teach our clients and it’s what helped me is first of all having a vision of what your business is going to look like when done, right. You got to know what that’s going to look like. I know a lot of times there’s talk about vision, but I see people too often is just they’re trying to come up with a cute one liner about their vision. And so, we work I would call enhanced vision statement which is literally a two pager we really help them flush it, and like really get super clear on what is that business look like. If you’re going to say, my dream business looks like X tomorrow right.

So, once we have that clarity then we can start to kind of reverse engineer it so to speak and that’s again where systems come into play is we want to think like reverse engineering that business. But also we got to think about, well, what would that org chart look like right, that org chart to run that business that now we what it looks like, what it’s going to be. When it’s done, we know what it’s going to look like, what people are going to need, what’s that organization look like, right? What’s my team look like?

Then, from there, we say, okay. Well, what boxes right now do you occupy? If you’re going to look at that org chart. Well, most people and I know it was for me. It was all of them, right. So, if I had a paper org chart, if it had names in it, it would be you, you, you, you, you, you, you, you, right. But at least again what that path looks like and then you start to say, okay, I got to start at the front lines and I got to create what we call role agreements which is an agreement on what are all the systems that that person is agrees to execute upon, right. And so, in most of the businesses right, it’s a personal trainer let’s say. We need to be able to have that role fully systematized, then we can take a step out, right. So, if we’re training right now then we can step out of that and we can move more into a management position, right.

Now the next step is now I need to sympathize that. Maybe it’s a team leader or maybe it’s a manager position. What’s that role agreement look like? Right, boom. Now I can step out of that. So you work your way up the org chart as your systematizing the business and that’s for most again there’s several ways to do it. But I would say probably most of your audience or most personal training studios, gyms that we work with, maybe they’re starting with themselves and a couple employees or one in four. That would be typically the process. So, when you can visualize that and you and I like to think of it as just sometimes you’ve got multiple hats on you. That’s what you got to recognize first too.

I think a lot of owners just don’t recognize that they’re wearing a lot of hats. So, sometimes it’s like hey I am wearing the personal trainer hat right now because my business needs me to wear that right now, but that’s temporary, right, Imma tell that hat off when I can, when the time’s right, when we’ve grown to a certain point and that’s kind of we help our clients with making those decisions along the way too. But I would say in a broad view for a podcast that’s kind of how you would do it.

Josh: Yeah. Yeah that’s a good approach. You got to have something to aim for. You got to know where you’re headed. And then that then you start to engineer the systems based on where you want to, what you want the output to be.

Pete: Well, in a big step in that like so creating that like what’s that business going to look like, right. When it’s completed right if you think of it that way. You know what key so many people in the trenches is their business is a part of them, right. It’s like them, right. Instead of they got to be able to separate it from them. Like you got to think of that as an abstract to use the word object, right? It’s the product, the entire business. If I got a gym or studio, it’s everything in that box and it doesn’t entail me. So, once I can carve myself out, then, I can kind of start to build my machine, like we like to say, your franchise Type whether you want a franchise or not.

I think like again, I said Because I was in franchising and you have systems, right. If you buy a franchise, you’re supposedly or hopefully buying a complete system, right. And so, you need to be able to think that way. If you truly are going to have a business that runs without you. Because if you can’t mentally separate from that and you’re stuck on the idea that clients won’t work with anybody but me, you’re never going to grow your business, you’re always going to be stuck. And I get it. I had to go through those transitions too. So I’m not criticizing. I understand the mental roadblocks along the way.

Josh: Yeah.

Pete: Because I tell my clients all the time like you know what, I’m sharing with you is because I beat my head against the wall every step of the way right. So I got the bruises and the scars.

Josh: Yeah. I think most people have to kind of go through that phase of like beating their head against the wall. And some people figure out how to do the systems and then some people hire you.

Pete: Yeah, well, we create and I think it’s really important as we create the aha moments for our clients, right. Where sometimes where it’s all that light bulb blows off. It’s like, oh, and just like that, like, apart the business guy separates from me or whatever at the time they’re stuck on. When you’ve been through it, it’s been, it’s easy to identify those and then, we coach them through, so they can have that, that discovery themselves, and so much of it happens there. And then when it clicks, it’s like, boom, okay, now I know what I need to do, where that otherwise is a big obstacle for him.

So, I tell people all the time one of the biggest things that for me that I would say like people ask, hey one of the biggest mistakes or whatever else is like not seeking like mentorship and coaching and stuff early enough, right. Because trying to figure it out all myself which is slow you make a lot of costly mistakes and all that kind of stuff. But people also got to be careful today too because there’s a lot of folks like you said they’re just selling stuff out there versus real coaching as I like to say.

Josh: Yep. Coaching from a place of knowledge and experience rather than what they read in a couple books.

Pete: Yeah.

Josh: So, how does technology play into the process of beginning to remove yourself from daily operations and build a self-managing fitness business?

Pete: It’s huge. I always tell a lot of our clients all the time like I’m jealous, because like when we had the systems and everything it was on paper, right. Like it was binders and stuff and so now for our clients, I mean all of ours is on a platform, right. So, it’s a software platform that’s literally makes it plug and play and so I think that’s a big piece of it is being able to have processes, systems, procedures built into technology. But then also automation is really taking off, right. So, being able to integrate with other platforms too. So, like your guys’ platform for being integrate with things like that’s huge.

One of my biggest frustrations too in my whole business. I was about to build my own thing was the lack of that. I felt like I had 10 software programs or something. So, but I think a lot of that’s changed now with integrations and Zapier and APIs. So, I think the ability to not only systematize but automation I think is get information too, right. Your KPIs, get information at your fingertips more easily. I have to crank out spreadsheets like I did in the early days. I think that really streamlines and makes business operation much simpler.

Josh: Yeah, absolutely. Being able to know how your business is doing and if it’s meeting the KPIs that you’ve set for it. Even if it’s just at a glance, like not necessarily being knee deep in a, in a spreadsheet, but just be able to pull up a dashboard, or pull up a really easily readable report can be big. Could be really big for making sure that you stay on track and on target every day, every week, every month for the growth and the health of your business.

Pete: Yes, I mean, one of our doctrines that we teach in our program is the doctrine of objectivity, right. So, we want to help owners be objective about their business not emotional or we can sometimes make bad people decisions or just bad decisions in general because you just let a little too much emotion get involved in it. And so, yeah, having that dashboard, having KPIs allows you to see the numbers be objective of it over it. That’s again where having that systemization like that the machine or franchise prototype like I talked about is so critical. Because it’s one thing to have numbers, but if you don’t have systems underneath that, like you don’t have like I like to say it’s like two science experiments, right. Like I got to have one that’s a consistent experiment, right. Before I can test innovate tweak to see if that had any impact. But if I don’t have systems below it and it’s just kind of a happen chance and it’s kind of more again people dependent. Like Johnny does this good. Sally does that well. You know whatever.

Josh: Yeah.

Pete: You can definitely monitor your numbers but to be able to change them is much more difficult is really a guessing game. So, now you’re throwing stuff on a wall and seeing if it sticks. So, again having a business, having an operating system and then having that dashboard. Now, I know where to go. Oh, my frequency is not good. Oh, here’s my systems that are related to the frequency that our clients come in on a weekly basis. Oh, my attendance isn’t good, right. Or my sales aren’t good. Okay, well, how’s our conversions? How’s our average ticket sale? What systems are related to that?

So, now, it becomes very objective and you can again kind of reverse engineer those numbers too. Oh, do we need to retrain people on those systems it’s just we’re out of standard on it or is it broken that we might need to improve that system? But otherwise having numbers alone without that operating system, like I said then you’re kind of, I mean it it’s better than nothing by sure because most people don’t personal, but to impact those numbers becomes more difficult right.

Josh: Yeah absolutely. So, what are some of, you mentioned the fact that that a lot of owners have trouble transitioning from being a technician inside the business to being more of a manager or a systems engineer who works on the business making the business a more productive and more consistent. What are there other sort of mental blocks that keep owners from moving from the technician to the systems engineer?

Pete: Yeah, I mean, I think, yeah, like we said, I mean, the first couple are, first of all, being able to kind of separate them from the business. I mean, the first step often is because they are working with clients, right. Like, oh, well, if I don’t work with them, they’ll leave, I can’t afford to do that Because I’ll financially lose that, right. To be honest with you, again, if often that’s what we call head trash.

Josh: Yeah.

Pete: And I know I had to go through that transition and when I explained it to my clients at that time. And you got to do it at the right time too and you’ve made your team stronger right. So, that’s the thing too is you got to have the time to pour into your people as we like to say win the people game. Because in our business right, our people are our product, right. In any gym right you got service any personal training studio yoga Pilates whatever product your people. So, if you don’t really pour into your folks, then, it’s your people, it’s going to be very difficult for you to remove out. So, if you start that, you know that my number one job is to make them better so they can train all our clients if I’m going to use that example better. Then, I can start to extract myself and it becomes easier too to then tell a client like you’re growing to a certain stage like, hey, my job now is to make sure that all our clients get the service they deserve, right.

Not just a handful unfortunately that I’m abdicating my job as the owner. If I’m only taking care of a few versus everybody. And plus I’m not taking care of my team if I can’t spend the time with them. I think most of the time we’re working with successful people, right. If especially if you’re in the personal training world they get it. I know my clients did and they saw that and at one hand they hate to see it, but the other hand they’re like, I get it and congratulations on most of us or some of them were happy with our growth, right.

So, that’s on a very tactical Because I know that’s a big one. So, I wanted to get real kind of nitty-gritty on that Because I know that’s like one of those head trash items for a lot of people. But beyond that, if you’re kind of already past that stage Because again, we’re working with entrepreneurs at different levels. I think the next barrier for most is then delegating decisions, not just tasks.

Josh: Yeah.

Pete: Right, so the helping the decision-making process. So, we kind of help our clients think through, if you think through your org chart kind of along the lines to your kind of the front lines if you will is your implementers. They’re thinking about how we do what we do. Next step is up is what are we going to do. So, that’s usually a manager’s role right, but now you got to start to so you’re delegating some decisions right there at that manager’s role right. And then after that, you’re going to people at that the next level up have to make the where decisions where are we going. And then the top level you, is the why right why are we doing it. And often the entrepreneur too is of course part of the where are we going as well. But there’s different levels too of decision making delegating if you will.

So, it’s you’re delegating this decisions not just tasks. Later on, now you’re delegating even like where are we going, I think those are super important and so you got to let go of different things at different levels. So letting go of tasks like I said. hen even letting go of decisions and then even when you get further up you’re letting go of success, right. So, like when I had multiple locations owners, the success of the location was no longer my success. It was their success, right, of those folks. So, you’re kind of you’re letting go of different things at every level if that makes sense and so tasks, decisions and success. Like you got to be just happy that other people are succeeding. And help them succeed I could go on and on about this but that I’m trying to give you a bullet point version.

Josh: Yeah. I get you.

Pete: See that? Like it is a mental thing too as you’re working your way through.

Josh: Yes.

Pete: It’s important to have the systems but you have to consciously say like, okay, I’m going to coach them but I got to help them. They’re going to now make those decisions, right. Like I said consciously giving up success. Like I said consciously like great, man Josh did this and you’re praising their achievements and you’re just the cheerleader now.

Josh: Yeah, it’s a natural progression because the first thing you do is give up control over the task. But that is going to have a limit as to what you can do within a reasonable time frame. So you have to give up the decisions. And then you give up the next step which is that’s success, right. That’s the after decision. So it’s like working through almost like a really good story where the point of view character. The world gets a little bit more complicated and a little bit more dangerous every time they have an epiphany about how things work in the story. It gets a little bit wider and a little bit more and then that’s what the next problem that the character has to solve in order to be successful within the confines of the story.

Pete: You’re supposed to have a problem with it because you can’t give up the control, right.

Josh: Yeah.

Pete: The control aspect of it and I don’t mean that in a negative way. It’s kind of one of those subconscious things sometimes. But that again is where systems come to play because if you have systems, you can trust like, oh, that’s how we make the macchiato at Starbucks. They have a way they make it, right. There’s like the barista doesn’t just decide every day how he’s going to make a different macchiato, right. So, like, I can trust that services being delivered this way. But even as you get higher up that’s where like we have a strategic management process for our owners. Like that’s how leadership, now you’re giving them frameworks to make decisions. You’re not just saying oh make any willy-nilly decision. You’ve created a frameworks for decision making.

So, that’s it like I was saying before it’s not you can’t just empower people like to me that’s abdicating versus delegating too, right. That’s where a lot of people get in trouble. They hire people okay great I’m empowering you, and they have a massive mess later on. And so, you still have processes have you move up like and one of them could be that like what’s our decision making process, right. So, that we’re doing it in the right way that fits our vision or our strategies as we go along. So yeah, it’s the most challenging part and I think is that those mental shifts along the way and then getting your organization to do that most really gets stuck right at that delegating tasks but they’re still making all the decisions. So, they’re the bottleneck, right.

So everything’s still flowing to them and they don’t get beyond the decision making piece of it. But you can break through that easily if you got the systems in place, right. Now you can trust and so therefore you give up control.

Josh: Absolutely. So, are there any myths surrounding systematizing your business? Like I would kind of touched on them I think with the mental blocks, but are there any bad pieces of information, fake news floating around in the blogosphere as it were about how to systemize your business into a self-managing organism.

Pete: Yeah, I think some of the most common that we’re working through as client is number or I shouldn’t even say clients, just people in general, when we talk about it is. But yeah, I mean, we did mention earlier, like, first of all, like systematizing your business is hard. I can’t even, it’s overwhelming. I can’t even possibly see how I could do that, right. So, that just like is a stop for most people like boom, right. And I think that is where like we talked about earlier technology. Kind of the old way of thinking about SOPs and big manuals and all that stuff is really outdated, so you can still systematize your business today’s technology.

Again, if you have best practices that you can work from that accelerates it. That’s a lot of what I did too early on. Like I said modeling, I modeled the even the Gs of the world at that time. Their leadership development was really good all that stuff. So, that’s kind of number one is don’t let that idea of overwhelm. I mean stop you from doing that. Number two is I think often is in personal training anyways and I think in gyms is that you can’t personal or you can’t systematize personal training for instance, right. Like you can’t make a cookie cutter. And I’m like well that’s incorrect.

First of all, we’re not going to make a cookie cutter, but examples of Systems that we have for clients like right like how do how’s that system or what we call results session, right. So, how do we run an effective session, right. Like there’s a framework around that and are we saying like we’re telling them every word to say no. But if you look at the best trainers out there, they have a method that they’re just that’s why the clients love them and why they get great how do they conduct a session. So, we kind of discover that in early days when my trainers would watch what I was doing. They’re smart enough to say like, hey, we know you’ve been successful. Like how do you run a session, right.

But think about program design like in personal training, right. That’s very systematic. I mean if you don’t have systems and structure and periodization and all that, then you’re kind of a hack when it comes to that stuff. So, you should have those. I think that’s again like they’re definitely should be systems there and where people I think get off track is, I mean it’s just actually allow you then to engage with the client more. Allow you to personalize things more, adjust on the fly more, right. Because when you have a method kind of underlying methods of how we do certain things it actually frees up your ability to be creative. If that makes sense.

So, like because if you’re worried about everything and you’re consumed by every little detail or whatever doesn’t allow you to be creative and to be able to adjust with the client a fly. So, I think that’s just a big myth around you can’t have systems for that. I think the other thing too is it actually increases the value of your business and being a coveted employer for personal trainers. Because if you have systems in place now you’re a school for trainers, right. Most people spend a lot of money for certifications and things like that. But now you can be a school for them and most people especially early in their careers. They just, I was just a sponge. I just want to learn as much as I could. Be awesome on my craft.

So, if you as a business can provide systems on like, here’s some of the best practices of some of the best trainers, right? That we know of that do these things in a certain way. I would ate that up when I first started, right. So, it’s I think people put a negative connotation on it instead like they think of rules, regulations, and the police.

Josh: Yeah.

Pete: No, no, no, no, no, that’s not, that’s not what it’s all about.

Josh: It’s going to make my business into McDonald’s most time.

Pete: Yeah. Exactly. I’d say the other one too is and it kind of falls in line with this is that, well, even if I could put systems in place, my employees, won’t follow them, right. Or they won’t want them, right. Completely the opposite. Most people actually leave businesses because of the lack of direction, the lack of clear expectations, the lack of good standards, right. Well, that’s what systems provide. So, a system says, hey, here’s the result, like ours have what we call results statement on it. Here’s the objective, the result we’re trying to get out of the system, oh, like, okay, that’s clear, here’s how you do it, here’s the standards by which we do it, right. All of that makes it very unclear. That’s called good delegation, right.

Most bad managers don’t know how to delegate, don’t delegate well, right. Well, that’s to me, systems is really is the perfect delegation. It really helps a manager perfectly delegate. So, it that’s again a falsity. I mean, most I think if again, if you go into it thinking I’m giving rules, regulations, and policies, sure, but that’s a leadership issue on your part. Your leading system’s wrong, right. But if it’s good delegation and this is how we do it here. This is our secret sauce, right. People like your teams will love at. They’re going to love clear expectations and standards. Because really most people just want to win at work, right.

You want to be successful, right. You want your boss to say, hey man, you’re awesome. Great job, right. And your job as the owner, the boss or manager depending on kind of what level you are is to help facilitate that and so systems help facilitate that, right. Help them it’s as we like we and we like to say it’s you’re giving them the playbook to be successful. That’s how I used to give it to art when I was in my facilities. That’s what we’re explained it to our trainers. This is your success playbook, right. And then also we want you to contribute by the way in using your brains and knowledge and experience to help improve them, right.

So, that’s again where now you can be involved in innovation, right. So, we want them engaged in the business. We want just them to be robots. We want them to also improve the system through their experiences as they go.

Josh: Yeah, absolutely. So, you’ve mentioned that you, well, you’ve talked quite a bit about having experience with multi-location ownership. What makes that so difficult and what causes most people who try to go from, okay, I have one successful location to failing at building a chain of locations or a franchise even.

Pete: Yeah, I mean I saw it all the time. People go literally from one to just two and it like, right. So they had a super successful location. They go to second one and it can destroy their entire business. It’s what we talked about before really is they have to change how they think about their business again. They got to think of it as being a part from them not a part of them. And then going back to what we talked about earlier too. It’s delegating now they can’t be just delegating tasks or they can’t be doing tasks. A lot of tasks to themselves or at least they got to limit what those things are.

So for example, with me when I went from one to two studios, I was born and raised hard worker right. And so, like I was able to like I said kind of just manhandle that right? Like I mean I remember splitting time between studios every day. I was doing consultations at both, right.

Josh: Wow.

Pete: It was crazy if I knew what I knew now, right. But when I opened my third, it literally, so again, thankfully, I survived that. Most of you didn’t survive that and I survived it through just nothing that I would recommend to anybody. It was just long days, hours working hard, right. And I did, I mean, I had good team members too that we were really starting to build the foundation. But once I went up three, it was when the world change because now I couldn’t split myself, right. Three ways. So point being is that I really discover okay well now this is where your focus is no longer about like just sales. It’s no longer about just training clients right. So, most people get stuck training clients and sales. Like that’s their focus right.

Josh: Yep.

Pete: Well, you go to multiple locations. It’s really about building great teams. It’s about winning the people game. So it’s you’re you have to have leaders each of those locations, right. So you got to have leaders that you’re leading to be great leaders and those leaders have to be great people builders and build great teams. So, it goes kind of that shift in focus most people don’t make that transition they’re still stuck in task they’re stuck in the weeds. All they did now is just double their work, right. If they open a second location triple it, if they open a third, all they did is double or triple their work. They added people thinking that that would be the solution, right. If I just add people, but often that just ends up they might grow their revenues but it actually masks. Like they end up being less profitable than they were with one location and it’s because they’re not leading those folks.

So they’ve brought in people but they’re not getting a return on that investment right. It’s a human resource. Because they’re not leading it properly. So you got to be able to step up that ladder that we talked about before. And work your way out of it. Now if you have a systematic process to do that again easier said than done but that’s kind of what we help our do is there’s a step by step. You got to get the systems in place to be able to make that.

Josh: Yeah. Absolutely.

Pete: Yeah, you got to change what you’re working on, bomb line, if I was to sum it up.

Josh: Yup, critical. What are the biggest mistakes that business owners make as they try to build self-managing fitness businesses?

Pete: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s and I hate to repeat myself. I like to come up with some new but I think it’s abdication, right, versus delegation. So, they’re thinking, everybody, every guru is telling me to work on the business not in it. So, I’m going to hire people and they’re going to be responsible. I shouldn’t be doing that stuff anymore, right. But the problem is going to they hire that person but they abdicate it, right.

Okay. Now, Josh is on my team. Josh is our marketing person or whatever or our manager of this location. So, Josh he maybe had some gym management experience somewhere else and so, well, he’s got experience. Alright, Josh. Be my manager, right. Like, oh, you got to have X amount in sales.

Josh: Yeah.

Pete: Josh is like, great. Okay, so just, again, abdicating that, thinking that hiring people is the solution. Where, again, even at any level, you have to delegate, it’s just what you’re delegating. So, yeah it’s just the abdication of that, those, those, those rules, I think is the biggest mistake people make as they’re trying to grow.

Josh: I’m actually interested about hiring. What should business owners be looking for and hiring the different positions? Do they need a lot of, I mean systems can kind of pick up some that? Do they need a lot of experience? What sort of experience are they looking for? Because you want them to be able to understand and execute on the system especially at a managerial level. Sometimes if you don’t have any managerial experience, it’s difficult to understand the systems that go along with managing. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Pete: Yeah, 100%. I mean it’s critical. So, this is most fitness businesses. I mean if you look at their retention rates they’re horrendous right.

Josh: Yeah.

Pete: They’re terrible and I made a decision a long time ago like I said earlier because I had that issue very early that that was going to be my competitive advantage actually. It was going to be like having better retention than kind of the industry average on a whole, right. So, that actually starts with your hiring and it does start with what you’re talking about the profile of that person you’re hiring and so.

Josh: Yeah.

Pete: Now, that’s different at different levels of the organization but we’re probably a lot of listeners if it’s let’s say again a personal trainer frontline position, which is where most of the turnover comes from. We tell our clients that we’re looking for a new grad one year out right, and that’s if again do you have the systems, right. So, this is what’s key is we can be systems dependent not people dependent. If we have the system, I want to hire somebody, the degree gives me the base knowledge for that position right that I’m looking for, but I want somebody that is coachable, right. That isn’t kind of stuck in their ways of training for 10 years and don’t want to do it a different way, right. That they’re hungry.

So, again, they’re going to be hungry for those systems to learn new in the position, right. Plus, often, when we’re new into, if we’re talking about personal training or in new into the career. You’re talking about for me, it was like three years in the gym, like I said, because the only thing I was focused on was improving my craft. So, by the nature of having somebody less experience you can have somebody in that position longer. If you have the systems, the systems can make up the gap, right. That you’re sometimes looking for an experience. And in today’s day and age too, it actually from a recruiting standpoint there’s more of a pool to fail to recruit from, right.

Now, as you move up the ladder, yeah, I mean, it definitely changes, and so that’s a little bit different in terms of positions. I always like for team leaders or branch, location managers, ideal to promote from within if you can. Sometimes you can’t, right. So, I think then it’s first and foremost you’re looking for in alignment with your core values your vision your purpose. I always, we teach it in the program and I always did it I start the first 10, 15 minutes of an interview talking about our vision our strategic objectives are values. And my first question is based on what you’ve heard from me so far, what excites you if any, right. And if, if they’re leaning forward in their chair and they’re like this and I love this and this, great. Now, I’m going to get to the regular questions, right. The regular, right.

Josh: Yeah.

Pete: If they’re like, oh, this sounds pretty, there’s no like light up, like I don’t see them light up, that interview will be done in another 5 minutes. So, I would say, the higher up you get, of course, you’re higher up the org chart, you’re looking for specific experience and examples of success in other businesses. And if they have exam of success in other businesses, and again you’re obviously checking references about that. But they’ve got performance, they’ve shown performance in other jobs when I’m moving up the org chart. The very next thing is really are they alignment with again those vision values purpose, right. Because they can be a performer, but if they’re not alignment with that you got a problem in terms of within your culture. So, it’s important in any part of the organization but even more as you move up the org chart.

Josh: Absolutely. So, I saw elsewhere that you’ve cautioned against as pretty big gear shift, but it’s related to growing the business. You’ve cautions against Funnel Mania for marketing. I’ve been in marketing for a while, so I’ve seen the growth of that. I’ve seen with pop out of the ether as it were from like a sort of niche direct response thing to like a very mainstream marketing practice. You said, even you even described it as actually killing business owners. What’s the what’s the problems you’re seeing there with people trying to put these funnels together for member acquisition?

Pete: I mean first going back to what you’re talking about it’s the wrong work, right. So what I mean by that is a gym owner you’re sitting there and every guru in your feeds, they’re talking about this funnel that or the secret silver bullet marketing thing.

Josh: Yeah.

Pete: And so, you’re sitting there trying to learn how to build funnels etcetera. That’s the wrong kind of work. If you’re working on that piece of it as the internet, like so that’s what’s killing businesses. Because you’re working on like the wrong work. So, as we like to say you got to go beyond marketing. It’s important don’t get me wrong marketing is important it’s critical to business you got to have acquisition, but it’s 25% actually right in terms of. If a lot of people that are I see it all the time in our program they’re really marketing sales driven and the other part of it, the people and systems, often they’ll come into our program and maybe they’re at 30,000, right. But they’re of course, want to be seven figures, right. And they’re like, more marketing, more marketing. It’s not, they, they didn’t have a marketing problem. They had a people and systems problem to break through to the next level, right. Because their time is limited. If they’re only focused on that, they’re so limited on it.

So, that was actually a barrier to it. I think from a basic level, being focused on the wrong kind of work is the biggest thing from a marketing strategy standpoint as well. I mean, I’m not like poo-poo on funnels as a whole, but especially in today’s digital age with iOS changes now, right. So, privacy changes, you have to take a much more kind of broad funnel of approach like not, I don’t mean a specific like landing page to landing page. That’s what I mean when I say Funnel mania. But you got to have a top-of-funnel TOFU, right? MOFU, BOFU, bottom-of-funnel approach with all of your marketing, right.

Josh: Yeah.

Pete: So you got to be able to take people through what we call the purchase decision chain and help them go from unaware of their problem or even your business to the problem down to the fact that they’re already like these guys have a solution for me. They’re pre so ready to buy when they walk in your facility because your marketing took them on that journey, that purchase decision.

Josh: Yeah.

Pete: To the point where they’re like I’m just going in now to kind of verify my decision and what I’ve seen done. And that’s how we help clients to sell higher ticket more easily. Because if your marketing strategically is set up to help facilitate the buy the buying criteria, help to facilitate their decision making and try to trip them or be super slick or all these 21 day, this, that whatever. People don’t want gimmicks right, they want to make a change in the problem they have in their life.

So, if you can help them move towards You that you or this is the solution that I want and make an informed decision. You’re not only going to sell higher ticket but it’s going to be easier. So at my point with the funnel mania pieces like, hey, most people are just simply focused on the wrong work. That’s why like for us we actually have an in-house agency that helps our clients do it because we tell them like you should be delegating this, right. So we get them to different levels.

Josh: Yeah.

Pete: We get them to different revenue levels where they can just be like okay yeah you guys do the marketing, right. So, we’ve helped them develop the strategy, right. So again, but they’re now delegating the task to like my team to just fulfill that side of things, right. Get it done Because you shouldn’t be focused on that as an owner. If you want to grow, you’re stuck in the weeds. Building out of funnels, the weeds, and so, you got to get beyond that.

Josh: They can work well but they’re time consuming. So, it’s absolutely and you have to learn how to use the tool and I’ve seen, I have friends that have worked in their entrepreneurs and they’ll spend an entire week piddling round in a funnel making software and trying to figure out how everything works and then putting together an offer and then trying to test things out. So yeah absolutely.

Pete: Yeah, and I think again because of the online kind of marketing world, right. I think sometimes in the fitness industry we confuse, sometimes we’re modeling people that are online marketers that are selling products, right. There’re some things you can model but there’s other things sometimes that we’re kind of modeling. Like oh build a funnel but you know they’re selling a product and it’s different than what you’re doing to sell your service.

Josh: Yeah.

Pete: So yeah, if I’m a one man from a small team and I’m selling a course or supplements or something like that. Sure, well I spend more time maybe in the into that really strategy and the details in the funnel or whatever else. Sure. But if you’re like what we work with which is a client, lot of clients that have brick and mortal locations but also online businesses. They’re trying to scale verticals. Whatever they’re really trying to scale their businesses up and they have to build great teams to do that. You really shouldn’t be trying to figure out like how to drop that script into a landing page or something like that.

Josh: Yep. Absolutely.

Pete: And some people might say well I got to do it at first or whatever else. Not necessarily actually. I think that’s again a misnomer too is that at first I have to because I don’t have the money well I would say well first of all then look at your pricing strategy. Let’s look at how your economics are built because your economics are hindering you from outsourcing this to getting it out of your off your plate, right. So, the lack of money thing that I have to do these things is actually false. I mean. And I get it where they’re coming from but again somebody’s got to kind of give them that aha moment to be like, oh no this this is how you can do it. So, if you can change your pricing and your economics then You can get that damn funnel building off your plate like tomorrow.

Josh: Yep.

Pete: And I’m sure most would be like please.

Josh: Yeah. Absolutely. Awesome. Well I appreciate your time and where can people find you?

Pete: Yeah, they can find it. Empirepreneur.com is our websites on Instagram. Pete Piranio on Instagram, LinkedIn, pretty active on LinkedIn as well. So find me Pete Piranio on LinkedIn. So, it’s probably the main areas, but we’re kind of on all the social channels as well. And actually we’re launching a podcast coming up here in a couple weeks, EmpirePreneurs. So, look for that. I think you can even, yeah, I think you even subscribe already. I think it’s out there but we have episodes coming up in the next couple of weeks starting to load up.

Josh: Absolutely. I can tell that you practice what you preach because you don’t someone else handled that for you and you don’t even know if it’s up or not.

Pete: You are correct.

Josh: You just know when it’s going to launch. Which is what you should.

Pete: I just know when I’m supposed to record episodes.

Josh: Yep. Exactly. Awesome. Well, I thank you so much for coming on. This has been incredible information Dan’s very valuable episode.

Pete: Oh, well I appreciate you having me on. So I hope your audience found it super helpful and yeah, we will love to help them out if they’re struggling with some of the things we talked about.

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Published by Josh Peacock

Josh is a lifelong martial arts fanatic, taekwondo 4th dan, BJJ player, writer, and marketer. In addition to helping martial arts school owners market their gyms more effectively, he also holds an M.Ed. in teaching & learning and has a passion for improving martial arts instruction.

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