Chad and Gina C
2. City, State
Long Beach, CA
3. Name of Your Affiliate
CrossFit Long Beach
4. Describe the first moment when you decided to open your affiliate. Where were you? Who did you tell first? What was their reaction?
We had been CrossFitting on our own since 2006. In 2008 we joined CrossFit Long Beach. At that time, we had a small boutique web design firm and were working around the clock, making very little money and not enjoying it at all.
After a particularly crappy day, we sat down together and laid out on paper everything in our lives that we wanted to be different. We both knew that we didn’t want to do websites any more, and the only thing we felt passionate about was CrossFit.
Even though we weren’t sure where it would take us, we decided to get Level 1 certified. Shortly thereafter, Chad started coaching under Travis Downing, the original owner of CrossFit Long Beach and coach extraordinaire. Long story short, we ended up taking over the business in October, 2009.
When Travis decided he wasn’t able to continue CrossFit Long Beach, Chad came to me about wanting to take over. I have to admit, I wasn’t sold on the idea. It seemed risky financially and we’d never run a gym before. But Chad laid out his vision, we crunched the numbers, and ultimately we decided to go for it.
5. Did you start as a hobby or did you plan on running a business from the beginning? Describe how you made the distinction between a hobby and a business.
We planned on running it as a business from the start. We had a transition plan to scale back our web business slowly. For a while, I ran the web business and CFLB part time. Chad ran the gym and squeezed in web work when he had to. As the gym grew, we continued to scale back the web business.
In the summer of 2011, we both went 100% CFLB. Having a small business background helped us tremendously as well. We did a significant amount of financial planning and carefully monitored our cash flow goals and projections before we did anything. We immediately started using an online gym management system to automate payments, we did not go the cheapest membership route, never gave away our product, always paid our coaches, and had everyone sign coaching agreements with us. We also took the orderliness and cleanliness of the gym seriously.
6. What inspired you to incorporate The BIZ principles into running your affiliate?
Although we had grown steadily, we hit a wall. We knew we needed to run things differently to handle the growth of CFLB without compromising the quality and tight-knit family feeling we had. We tried, but it wasn’t working. We needed resources and the BIZ had them – quality vendors, tools for new members, a bigger array of programs for current members, training programs for new coaches, the best ways to attract and retain quality coaches and staff.
We had been spinning our wheels trying to pull all of this together and we were making very little headway. And being able to ask Jennifer anything every week is fantastic. Lastly, Chad and I were heading toward meltdowns personally. We had worn ourselves into the ground and it started to become apparent to members that we were burned out. Not good… So Chad called the BIZ just in time. Had we waited another 6 months, we would’ve crashed and burned. And it’s nearly impossible to come back from that.
7. How has The BIZ helped you Raise Your Game?
Where do we start?
Keeping our members is most important to us. We’ve implemented different level classes so now our members can get coached/challenged at the right level; we’ve built out a cool retail area that carries the retail products our members want; we’ve implemented a range of clinics and seminars with both in-house coaches and external subject matter experts; we have systems in place to keep track of our members when they don’t show up. Every issue we’ve had, they’ve had the answer.
We also completely overhauled how we introduce new folks to CFLB. The BIZ’s program here is excellent.
We’ve implemented our Instructor Training Program. Our current coaches plus two others are going through the program now as well. We’re looking forward to opening this up to the rest of CFLB. We know we have some talent out there.
Chad and I are working on duplicating ourselves. We have a fantastic team who has really run with taking over many aspects of the business. And they want to do more. So we’re working on transitioning to and partnering with them.
Our revenue has increased by 50% since joining last fall. We’ve started a healthy retail program that our members love.
We’ve grown by 60 members in 6 months time.
We have also streamlined business processes so that we get a lot more done within the same amount of time. And our staff now helps here, too. We are still busy and stressed, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel which helps us stay motivated tremendously.
8. How is owning an affiliate different than you expected?
It’s far more work than we thought.
Chad had the web business for 8 years and I came for the last 2 of that. We thought we knew the demands of a small business. For some reason, we thought this would be less demanding, and it’s not. It’s more. But we do enjoy it. That’s the huge difference.
However, we’re also looking forward to a vacation together, somewhere tropical, for at least 2 weeks. On our first mentoring call, John promised we would have this in 2 years tops. Can’t wait!
9. What advice do you wish you’d received before you opened your affiliate?
Become a BIZ Mentoree and don’t worry about the cost. Seriously.
Don’t be afraid to charge more.
Use Zen Planner not MindBody.
Start duplicating yourself from Day 1 in all that you do. Create a checklist for everything.
Get your ITP program going right away.
When and where you can, hire someone to help you with maintenance, cleaning, accounting, etc.
If you know you need to make a change, just do it! It will always feel like it’s not a good time, but there will never be a good time. And if you wait, it just gets harder.
And if you’re a couple, have clear lines of responsibilities to avoid conflict.
10. What is the toughest lesson you’ve learned as your affiliate has grown?
You can’t take it so personally if/when members leave, even when they go to other gyms.
When you change, not everyone will be happy with the changes. But many others can and do see the positive and are really happy. So focus on them, the positive, and don’t lose sleep about the rest. We have to remind ourselves that CFLB is a business and they don’t owe us anything. It’s on us to make CFLB as awesome as possible and all we can do is hope our members see that too. But if they’re leaving because something needs to be fixed, then fix it.
11. Tell us about your favorite moment running your affiliate to date. Funniest moment?
No doubt, our favorite moments are when we get that email or Yelp review that someone has changed their life through our program at CFLB. We get emails saying how a member is thrilled that they ran their first 5k, got their first pull-up, got a PR or lost 20lbs after trying for 10 years.
It’s the highlight of our month when we get these. And no doubt, it keeps us motivated to keep going and do more. There are so many funny moments. You get Chad and Carlos together and they are hilarious. My favorite was the 2010 Open where somehow the warm up turned into a dance party. Chad and Carlos did flying ballerina leaps across the gym floor. It was quite special, to say the least. And it’s always a good laugh when we do bottom-to-bottom Tabata squats immediately followed by a mile run. That moment when they finish the last Tabata and start to run is some of the best fun a coach can ever have! Make sure you roll video if you try this.
12. Describe in one word the kind of business owner you are.
13. What other person deserves to share the spotlight with you thanks to their input and value to your business? Why?
Chad: My wife Gina who makes all of this possible.
Gina: CFLB’s success is due to Chad’s vision and passion to be the best. I’ve learned not to hold him back and instead, trust him, and help him keep moving the business forward. He’s pretty amazing. We both are extremely grateful to have Melissa, Alfredo, Fernando and Sandy on our team. They’re awesome and we would not be where we are today without them. They’ve stuck with all the changes we’ve made this past year, pulled us up when we needed it, and have demonstrated loyalty and desire to be the very best. We can’t imagine CFLB without them. We’d take a bullet for each and every one of them any day, any time.
Chad and Gina hit the nail on the head: there is NO better feeling as a business owner than reading glowing Yelp reviews, genuine thank-you emails and enthusiastic Facebook messages.
What better way to measure the success of your box than by how many stark raving fans are telling the world about how irreplaceable you are?
In 2013 you’re going to have the opportunity to learn directly from our superstar SMEs Tim, Chris and Meghan how to keep steadily increasing the number of people your box is touching.
Keep an eye out – This Friday November 16th is your opportunity to go ALL IN with Tim, Meghan, Chris and The BIZ!