A lot of what we teach at The BIZ is based on the two following ideas: 1) Bring more value to your members, and 2) Earn more money for yourself. In a perfect world, the two are symbiotic; more value means you can charge more, and earning more allows you to provide more value. Separate the two and you find yourself skiing the slippery slope of poverty versus greed. I want to address the latter.
Some affiliates, for various reasons, are host to products sold on multi-level marketing (MLM) platforms. MLM is a sales program where Seller A offers distribution memberships to Seller B. When Seller B makes a sale, Seller A gets a small fraction of that sale. If Seller B sells a membership to Seller C, then Seller A gets a piece of Seller B and C’s pie. Individual profits are driven not by selling products, but by expanding the membership network underneath you. This is also known as a pyramid scheme.
The primary issue with these programs is not that the affiliate wants to make money. (Don’t we all?) The issue is that the quality of product being sold to members is often overlooked. These products are usually marketed with flashy claims and names – e.g., “New DREAM’N’GROW drink mix! Stimulates muscle growth and fuels your recovery while you sleep!” And the ingredient list is typically long and distinguished. But while you and I may be immediately suspect of such advertising, your members have been ingrained to trust you. When you say “Do this workout, you will be better for it,” they follow your advice. Most members don’t have nutrition or kinesiology backgrounds; you are the Subject Matter Expert on health and fitness.
If you’re selling products that go against the basic paleo diet that CrossFit advocates, you’re putting that bond of trust at risk. When I trained at another gym, members would ask, “Do you or the other coaches take those supplements that [the owner] sells?” I had to be honest: “No, I take fish oil and protein. None of our coaches use that stuff.”
So do these products follow the first rule of adding value to your program?
You may find an MLM program that sells quality products, but I have yet to see one. The corporations that create these programs are driven by sales, not nutrition.
Your pro shop is a reflection of your brand; does it reflect the healthy lifestyle you teach or just sell products? If you run a great program, have an active and fun community, sell useful products, and host memorable events, no amount of MLM sales will equal the revenue you’ve created for yourself.