Over the course of five years, 500 people came in and signed up at Glen Oliver’s gym. But after five years, where were those 500 people? Most of them were no longer at his gym.
It was clear to him a predominantly group class facility leaked clients as fast as they were coming in.
“We had all these people come and go and I started to wonder what we could have done to keep those people,” said the 38-year-old Oliver. “There was such high turnover in that system. I realized I didn’t even believe in what I was promoting anymore.”
At the same time, Oliver had become involved with OPEX and did the OPEX Coach Certificate Program (CCP) in 2016, and then started dabbling with individual program design. That system made way more sense to him than the group class model he was currently running, he explained.
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“I didn’t believe in the one-size-fits-all approach anymore. I wanted to get people in and look after them forever and OPEX fits that model,” he said.
This led Oliver to decide to switch from being a CrossFit affiliate to becoming OPEX Gatwick in the UK.
He knew making the transition would cause him to bleed some clients—people who wouldn’t want to pay more money and people who loved the group class—but he knew the short-term pain of losing some clients would be worth it in order to create a facility more conducive to long-term client, coach, and business success.
“It was a bit hard. In the midst of telling people we were changing, there was a bit of a feeling that you’re ruining someone’s life because you’re taking away something they love—the group class,” he said. But he knew it was the right long-term decision.
Before Oliver switched over, he had 120 members paying $110 British pounds a month. He became OPEX Gatwick at the end of 2018, and now has around 80 individual program design clients who pay $200 British pounds. His goal is to get back up to 120 members by the end of 2019.
“The people we kept when we made the switch are the lifers. They’re happy to have conversations about sleep and nutrition and stress. They get what we’re trying to do,” Oliver said. And they’re seeing bigger fitness gains than ever.
“There has been massive progress for the people who have been with us for years. A bunch of ladies who have been with us for two years have all gotten strict muscle-ups. People are getting continued results, whereas before it was a bit of a guessing game. And they don’t have to worry about their workout because their program is their program. They don’t need to be like, ‘Oh I can’t do this because I have this (ailment) going on,’” he said of what used to happen during group classes.
The result: His clients are more consistent in showing up and retention is on the rise.
“February (two months after the switch) was the first month we didn’t lose a single member,” Oliver said. He credits some of this to the closer relationships that have been formed between himself and his clients.
“Before, people would just disappear because the relationships weren’t there, so now there’s a way better chance of keeping them long term,” he said.
On top of this, the new clients he’s bringing in are the right fit for his gym.
“Anyone we attract now wouldn’t have come in to do CrossFit. All our marketing is aimed at people looking for personal training, so we’re getting people in who want a personal coach rather than a group class,” he said.
Not only does the OPEX system work better for the client, it also works better for the coach, he explained.
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“It’s making the coach a professional. You know, in the CrossFit system, coaches come in and do their hours and they cheerlead through a class. With the OPEX model, the coach is a professional and there’s a lot more longevity,” Oliver said.
To those looking to transition to an OPEX gym, the advice Oliver gave is to take the time to properly educate your community why you’re making the change and how it will benefit them.
“You have to lay the groundwork ahead of time, so people aren’t like, ‘What is this?’ Create awareness around it before making the switch,” he said. Offering individual programs before you even make the switch is also helpful, he added.
“We had people who wanted specific stuff from us, so we slowly started doing more individual stuff alongside classes and that really helped lay the groundwork,” Oliver said.
As a business owner, it was a hard decision, but it was the right one, he said. And he’s more and more sure of this every day.
“It’s the long-term game,” he said.
Our professional coaching education does just what Oliver stated it provides coaches with the knowledge they need to succeed in the long-term game. Get a free introduction to this professional coaching education with The Free Professional Coaching Blueprint.
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