Do you own a business and train with CrossFit Ireland? If so then I want to know what it is you do and how I can get you a great customer. I want to start this all off by asking you to drop in at least ten business cards at reception, we will have envelopes here for you on the notice board all you have to do is pop them into it and I will take care of everything else for you. If you want to bring it to the next stage write me a small note outlining what your ideal customer looks like but cards on their own will be a great start.
Where you are today, right now, was once your dream
This was said to me recently about CrossFit Ireland and where we are. The funny thing about it is that I had forgotten that, getting too caught up in trying to get more done and bring this further. I had forgotten that less than a year ago we had 20 clients and were hanging on by the skin of our teeth. No paint on the walls, no paint on the floor and a list of jobs that went on forever.
Now we are a long way from that point, investing heavily in improving the premises and equipment and arranging a full calendar of events for you all. We always look at new ways to make this better for you all, pushing one another past our comfort zone in the pursuit of the perfect box.
This is one of the funny things about human nature, you are never content. If you told me a year ago we would be here I would of been over the moon, now that I am here I am looking to double the number of CrossFitters that are with us in the Institute. Do you think we can do it?
Take a moment to look at 2010 and where you started, then share your dream to comments.
I was chatting to someone at a Crossfit Level 1 Seminar recently and I mentioned that running an Affiliate was my full-time job. They asked me the question in the post title – “Do you love it?”
I was a little taken aback – it honestly didn’t occur to me up to this point that this is something you could possibly do if you DIDN’T love it.
I consider it a privilege to do what I do. I’m lucky enough to get to spend every day of the week making people’s lives better. Sometimes it’s just in small ways – like when they come in fed-up from a long day at work and then leave the gym with a giant smile on their faces after nailing their first kipping pullup. Sometimes it’s big stuff – like “my doctor says I don’t need my blood pressure medication anymore!”.
We get one or two emails per week that really humble me. They’re usually from folks we train who want to tell us how much they enjoy it here and how thankful they are for the help we’ve been able to give them. Believe me, this never gets old.
I come from a background of being quite out of shape and unhealthy myself – I know what it’s like to get out of breath walking up a flight of stairs. I’ve been there, done that and worn the XL t-shirt. I also know what it’s like to make the journey from there to being in the best shape of your life and feeling like you can take on the world – and I’m driven by a desire to share that with as many people as I can.
In practise this means long hours. It means coming home from work, going straight to bed, getting up and repeating for 6 days a week. It means your own training becomes something you’re lucky to find time to do. It means daily hoovering floors, mopping bathrooms, cleaning equipment, designing programmes, answering emails, making phone calls, tracking attendance and 1001 other pieces of legal mumbo-jumobo and admin that makes you want to break something.
This stuff is not all glory. It’s putting the rest of your life on hold and making the people you train come first. It’s wiping the urine off the toilet and cleaning the sink every time you walk into the bathroom. It’s living in the certain knowledge that all it takes is a couple of bad months to wipe out your business and put you back on the dole queues.
And yes, I love every damn second of it.
I think a huge reason why we survived year one is the fact that I like people, and I want to see them thrive. Really it gives me no greater joy than to play a part in someone’s victory. It’s always been a goal of mine to make someone else truly successful and happy.
I’ve made a huge effort to get to know people on a personal level, gain their trust and be a friend as well as a coach. For a start this makes my job more rewarding and fun as I’m working with people I like and get on with. From the customers point of view, they’re more relaxed around me, and therefore communication is more productive in class. This also helps them feel part of something down at CFI, and not just another customer. People want and need to feel like they’re important and not just another number. And to me everyone has their story, their own challenges and their own way of being motivated.
When you genuinely care for people, they’ll recognise this and as a result, be that bit more loyal to you as a result. When I worked for O2, they had a campaign to turn their customers to fans. One of their slogans was “Customers complain, fans forgive.” Now whether this was lip service or not I don’t know, clients of ours who we’ve made a real effort to go above and beyond the call of duty, have been a lot more forgiving of our mistakes when we make them. They’re also the customers who are quicker to point out when you’ve slipped up, which is a great thing, since we can go about correcting them. Customers who aren’t that involved will simply leave without saying anything when you mess up.
Tony Hseih, CEO of Zappos, a company which was sold to Amazon for close to a billion, has this to say on building frienships with people versus trying to get something out of them:
“If you are able to figure out how to be truly interested in someone you meet, with the goal of bilding up a friendship instead of trying to get something out of that person, the funny thing is that almost always, something happens later down the line that ends up benefiting either your business or yourself personally.”
A drawback of this approach is having those uncomfortable conversations, chastising people or bringing up awkward topics where you have to be the bad guy. The familiarity you have with them can make it difficult either for yourself or them. Being able to draw a line and stop being their friend so you can be their coach or ensure your bills gets paid on time is a tricky one to recognise.
But, to me and CFI so far, the drawbacks are far outweighed by the positives.
PS: I have a copy of Tony Hseih’s book “Delivering Happiness” in the office if anyone wants a loan of it.
PPS: “Scaling Caring” by Gary Vaynerchuk
Early in 2010 I was offered a chance to become an intern in CrossFit Ireland. Needless to say I jumped at the opportunity. I was working in the fitness industry for the past year, had started CrossFit in September 2009 and I couldn’t get enough of the stuff (still can’t!).
I was hooked and considered coaching CrossFit to be my next port of call. This was an unbelievable opportunity to be landed with. I’d been curious as to what was involved in the setting up and running of a successful CrossFit Affiliate, the business, the coaching, everything.
Not only was I being offered a chance to learn from two great coaches, Colm and Will, but also from the business mind behind CrossFit Ireland, Tom.
Very early on the guys outlined how I would progress as an intern and what was required from me at each level. I would be tested and regularly given assignments to carry out. I was impressed by their professionalism from the word go.
I remember very early on sitting in on a meeting with between Tom and Colm and Sami Dowling. The guys were giving advice to Sami who was setting up his own strength and conditioning facility. This really gave me a huge insight into the processes involved in starting a facility up, the planning, the research, and the costs. I have to admit I was a little scared by it all, but this is reality of the business end of things. Still it was exciting to see someone setting up a business doing something they loved.
This holds true for the guys in CrossFit Ireland. They love what they do, they believe in what they are doing and they have a great vision of what they want to achieve. This really struck a cord with me and has stuck with me since.
I’ve learned so much in the past few months and still have areas I need to improve.
There is a lot more to booking someone in for an introductory session than meets the eye and I have certainly learned a lot more about the systems that make CFI run smoothly. I’ve practiced phone scripts and intros over and over and still need to work on them.
On the coaching side of things my knowledge and expertise is growing everyday. I qualified as a CrossFit Level 1 Coach in July of this year but interning has really allowed me to gain experience as a CrossFit Coach. It’s been invaluable. There is so much more involved in teaching a CrossFit class than I first expected, making sure it runs on time, group organisation, cueing. Colm and Will really do make it look easy.
Another great advantage of interning is that I can be critiqued as a coach. I’ve been given the opportunity of coaching one or two classes under the supervision of Colm, Will and Tom.
This has been great as it has allowed me to find the areas where I can improve my coaching skills. In CrossFit we are regularly humbled by our weaknesses. We all know we are only as strong as our weakest link. This is a belief that I really take to heart and I am working hard on those areas that I feel I need to strengthen, for example VOICE PROJECTION. This might sound easy to fix but it is something I struggle with. But I have no doubt that I will get there, the personal challenge in all of this is what keeps me coming back!
“Good, better, best; never let it rest till your good is better and your better is best.”
There are so many things I love about interning in CFI. The atmosphere is always friendly and when I coach, people are always eager to learn. I really enjoy helping people achieve their best, whether that’s a better position in their air squat or getting their first kipping pull up. I love seeing people do things they never thought they would do and pushing their limits. I love seeing the improvements people make over time. All of this inspires me and it makes me push harder in my own training. Getting to see the inner workings of CFI is a privilege and I’d like to thank Colm, Tom and Will for their continued support, patience and encouragement. If I come away with half the knowledge of these three I will consider myself very lucky.
James “Jimminy” Sunderland