But Nobody Can Do It Like I Do!

Admit it. Even if you don't say it out loud, you rehearse it in your mind. After all, you are the one who started this business, and without you it would all fall apart. 


NOBODY AROUND HERE CAN DO IT LIKE I DO!


Well whose fault is that?

You see, there's a big problem (or two or ten) with this line of thinking, and even bigger problems if it's actually true.

What happens if suddenly you aren't around? 

If 2020 has taught us anything, it's that "stuff" out of our control does happen. We get sick, we have an accident, we need to take care of our kids or our aging parents. Or maybe, just maybe everything is going really well and we just want to take a nice vacation to somewhere warm. (It's possible this could be autobiographical, as parts of the state where I live, NH, just got dumped on with 4 feet of snow. Just saying.)

This brings us to Need #4 on the Order Level of the Business Hierarchy of Needs; Linchpin Redundancy

Question: Is your business designed to operate unabated when key employees are not available?

In his book "Linchpin", author Seth Godin describes this role as somebody in an organization who is indispensable - who simply cannot be replaced because they are just far too unique and valuable. The point of the book is to teach you as an employee how to become that in the organization you work for. 

Most of us know who the "linchpin" is in our company. As described before, many times early in our business it is us as the owner. As the business grows often it is the office manager or "admin" who is the glue that holds it all together. 

This is a dangerous place for a company to find itself in, for the reasons described above. When "stuff happens" in your business and pulls a key person out, what happens? Does the work just pile up waiting for that person to come back, if they ever do, or is there someone else in your organization that can step up and get it done? The bottom line is that no business should have a dependency on any one person that is so critical things come screeching to a halt if they are out for more than a couple days.

And that's why it's so important to have documented systems in your business, and more than one person trained on those systems. The key words here is "documented" and "trained". If you have been following this series you'll recognize every business has a way of doing things, those are their business "systems". But not every company has documented those systems so best practices can be followed by everybody, every time. And it's not very fair (or productive) to ask someone to take on a task they know nothing about or maybe didn't even realize someone else did. Training and cross-training takes care of that problem.

There are many ways to document systems so they can be easily taught. You don't have to write huge step-by-step manuals. One of the most effective ways is to record video walkthroughs and screenshots of everyday tasks, and then make them available on a shared drive.

So think about it. Who are the key people in your company you just can't imagine not having there? What would happen if they walked into your office today and told you they needed some time off? Or quit? Is your company prepared for life without them? 

And what about you? Are you able to take some time off when you need to without things falling apart? If it's true that "Nobody Can Do It Like I Do", you have some work to do taking care of that. I promise that the short term pain of creating "linchpin redundancy" in your business is more than made up for when it hits the fan. 

Start small. What's one system you could document and teach today?

Now Make it Happen!

What Being Profitable Really Means

Do you know how profitable your business is? To be clear, your profitability isn’t the revenue you’re bringing in or even your net income, after expenses.

One of the biggest mistakes we see business owners make is over-simplifying the profit in their business. It doesn’t have to be a complicated process, but it does take a little bit of thought.

And to actually see real profit month over month and year over year? That takes a plan.

For us, Profit First is the plan.

It allows us to take a profit every month, regardless of our revenue, because we take our profit first. The revenue matters, the net income matters, but the fact that we’re profitable means more.

We’re not going to talk about how to be more profitable here; that’s a blog post for another time. 

But we are going to address why your bottom line revenue isn’t what matters when trying to grow a profitable business.

It’s easy to get excited about having a big revenue month. As bookkeepers, we know better, but we get excited too! To see a five-figure month is exciting. To hit $20k, $50k or more for the first time in a month is cause for celebration.

But once the confetti settles and the champagne goes flat, what does your bank account look like? Have you paid out all that revenue to expenses? Did you pay yourself a livable wage this month? Do you have anything left over?

Usually the answer is yes, all the money is gone. No, you didn’t pay yourself this month (again) and no, there’s really nothing left over.

So while the revenue looked and felt pretty good while it lasted, there was nothing left for profits and nothing left for you, the business owner. And our guess is that you spent much of that big month feeling pretty stressed out as you made sure the work was getting done.

Being profitable means a few things:

  • You’re able to reserve a percentage of your revenue as profit each month, usually because you set it aside first.
  • You’re able to plan out and/or control your expenses so you’re not spending every dollar every month.
  • You have enough cash to pay yourself and your employees a living wage. Consistently.
  • You enjoy a quality of life where you’re able to spend time with loved ones and enjoy some of your own hobbies. In other words, you’re not working all day, every day.
  • You don’t stress out so much about revenue because you have a really good handle on your expenses–and you know where your break even point is because you hit it regularly.

Profit is so much more than your revenue and having a profitable business will help you feel more relaxed and comfortable about where your business is and where it’s going. If this feels out of reach for you, we can assure you that it’s not. It just takes a plan and some accountability.

Let us help you find the way. Book a call with us today so we can show you how.

It’s Time To Let Go

There comes a point when you can not and should not be doing everything in your business. When you have to let your inner "control freak" go. You have most likely heard this referred to as "Delegation".

Here's the problem when many, if not most, business owners start "delegating". We hand off a task or responsibility to someone on our team and then proceed to stand over their shoulder and try to make sure they do it exactly the way we would. That's not delegation, that's micromanaging. You don't like it, I assure you, your team members don't either.

You know what else frustrates your employees? When they have responsibility without authority. If someone has to come running to you to get your permission to do something all the time, you haven't delegated. You've simply given a job to do without all the tools to get it done.

Which brings us to Need #3 on the "Order" Level of the Business Hierarchy of Needs (BHN) - Outcome Delegation.

Question: Are the people closest to the problem empowered to resolve it?

When a team member is truly empowered, that means that you give them leeway to not do it exactly like you would, and also to accept the outcome. If the problem wasn't resolved in a fashion consistent with existing guidelines or values, that is a conversation you can have to help decision making in the future. But unless they did something that is illegal or jeopardizes the business in some way, you need to stay out of it.

Another key phrase is "people closest to the problem". As your business grows, that won't be you anymore. For instance, if you own a gym and are consistently hearing from your admin that the check-in process isn't working, you have two choices:

1) Insist that it's not being done because of X, Y, Z, and tell her to just "get it done".

2) Ask her why she thinks this is happening and how she thinks it could be made better.

I think we can agree number one isn't going to win you any "boss of the year" awards. The second is probably more powerful than you realize. When an employee knows you are willing to listen to ideas, they feel good about themselves and about you. It brings out creativity and problem solving, and often the solution is much better than the current process and better than the one you would have come up with.

It would be no surprise to those who know me and those who worked for me that I struggled with this as we added team members. I like things done my way, and it caused conflict until I realized that just because the idea wasn't mine, or wasn't like I would do it, didn't mean that it was a bad idea. Usually just the opposite. They were closer to the problem, which meant they had perspective I did not have. And it can work the other way. Sometimes explaining (or reminding) why you do things the way you do them brings your team a better perspective and you get better cooperation. Just don't get caught in the trap of "that's the way we have always done it". That leads to stagnation and frustration.

For the business owner, it all starts with the willingness to listen, learn, and when appropriate, let go.

How are you doing with that?

The Right Person For The Job?

One of the biggest challenges I have had in my journey as a business owner is hiring. It's this weird dance of the applicant trying to convince you they are THE most qualified, THE most enthusiastic, with THE best work ethic you have ever seen.

And you are trying to figure out all the reasons why they aren't. In my experience it often comes down to making a gut decision. I've been right on those, and I've been wrong. 

But if your hiring process is solid, and you know how to filter through the pretenders, there are gems to be found. Really good people, with great work ethic, who put in their all to grow and get better. When you find someone like that, it's your job to keep them!

And the key to accomplishing that is to the second step on the "Order" level of the Fix This Next Business Hierarchy of Needs (BHN).

Need #2: Role Alignment:

Question: Are people's roles and responsibilities matched to their talents?

Another way to ask it is this; Do you have the right person doing the right job?

When you hire, you hire for need. It just makes sense. If you need a coach in your gym, you put the word out in the marketplace that you are hiring a coach. 

But what if you find out later that this particular hire is an absolute superstar when it comes to sales? And has the ability to lead? And is hungry to learn and grow?

You see, it's usually not until weeks and months after you bring on a new team member that you actually know who you really hired. Get rid of the ones who don't fit, and help the ones that do fit, shine. 

The "superstar" I mentioned earlier is a real live person, and her name is Meagan Sbat. I hired her as a very part-time coach, but she didn't stay there long. She eventually became the GM of one of our gym locations, and a couple of years ago she bought that location from me. Good decision, Dean. I have watched her flourish and navigate this pandemic as well as anyone could. She even just recently moved the entire gym into a bigger location so she could serve her clients better. Truthfully, she is absolutely the right person at the right time for owning and operating that gym. I am pretty sure I would not have had the guts to do what she has done. Under her leadership Get Fit NH has thrived.

In her case, I got it right. By recognizing and developing her skills and talents, the whole business got better. And she isn't the only success story at that business. About a year before we sold the business, I started working with one of our coaches, Adam Gray, on program design and development. That was harder than you think because I am very protective and picky about program design. But he too has stepped up and developed a world class coaching program. And again, the business is better for it.

Sometimes that story won't have a fairy-tale ending. Sometimes the hire doesn't work out and you need to let them go. Other times you will end up developing a person only to have them leave because they have outgrown your company. I am not saying that's easy to take, but you can and should take pride that you helped that person flourish and succeed. 

Here's your action step for today. Take some time to think about your team and if they are really enjoying and flourishing in the role they currently occupy in your company. Would someone be better suited in a different role? Is it time to create a role that would benefit both parties and drive the business forward? Is that task you are holding onto really something "only you can do", or is ego getting in the way of letting it go?

When you have the right people doing the right jobs they are happier, customers are happier, and you are happier.

Who can argue with that?

More Marketing Isn’t the Answer

There’s a lot of marketing noise and advice out there in every industry, but in the gym and fitness industry, there seems to be even more. After all, we’ve had to close up shop this year, bring on more health and cleaning expenses and even pivot to the online space–changing up our offers and searching out new prospective clients.

It’s not been an easy year. But yet, some small gyms have thrived. And others? They continue to struggle.

For many business coaches who serve the gym and fitness industry, the answer seems to be marketing. If you can just get in front of more people…if you can just sell more services…if you can just…if you can just…

Sure, more customers and more revenue is great, but it’s not the answer. Not by a long shot.

Before we get to the solution…

We know you love what you do. Your happy place is working with your training clients, developing training programs, and teaching classes. You want your clients to meet their health and fitness goals, and you know how to get them there.

You opened your business–your gym, practice, studio–because you wanted a space where your clients could gather and you could help more people. Working for someone else wasn’t working for you because you couldn’t create and launch the programs you wanted to. Working out of your garage could only get you so far–and the weather got in the way a lot of the time.

But you knew what would help clients so you opened your own place. And while it’s been a lot of hard work, you’re proud of what you’ve built.

Now, with COVID causing all kinds of chaos, you hear from business coaches, friends and family, heck, even your competition, that more (or better) marketing is the answer to making ends meet this year.

Throwing out more marketing isn’t going to get you over this hump. In fact, chances are that more marketing and more sales (aka more revenue) isn’t what you actually need.

What you need is to keep the revenue you already have.

It feels really good to look at your revenue and see that you have a $250k business. Or a $500k business. Especially if you started off training clients in your garage or at the park down the street.

But those great revenue numbers are just that–numbers. They don’t tell the whole story of your business or your lifestyle.

We’ve had the honor to look behind the scenes at some amazing fitness businesses and we see a lot of the same challenges again and again. When revenue increases, expenses also increase. That’s nothing out of the ordinary. But we see expenses increase at a rate that’s not aligned with the revenue.

If you’re building a scalable, sustainable business, you need to have systems and processes in place that help to make your life easier. Having 20 personal training clients should feel very similar to having 10 personal training clients because you have automations that take care of scheduling, billing, follow-ups, and more. Going from 10 clients to 20 clients should double your revenue, but it shouldn’t double your work (or your expenses).

We believe that before you throw marketing at your business to try to make up for the COVID gap, you should take a close look at your numbers and determine where you can make cuts and where you can tighten the belt–as well as where you’re wasting time and money because the operations side of your business isn’t efficient.

Yes, this is one of the less sexy sides of business ownership. But it’s a lot sexier to have money in the bank and some free time on your hands than it is to feel the stress and frustration you’re feeling right now.

Book a call with us today and let’s talk about how we can help!

Create Your Own Easy Button

Remember the Staples "Easy Button"? We keep one around the gym so after a grueling set of squats or KB swings I can go over and press it, with the cheery voice saying...

"That Was Easy!"

Clients love it, really!

Seriously though, Staples was on to something. They were communicating to their customers that doing business with us is better. Simpler, hassle free, pleasant. Easier. It was a big brand promise, and you can decide for yourself if they live up to it. 

I was reminded of the Easy Button as I worked my way through the "Order" level of the Business Hierarchy of Needs (BHN).

Need #1: Minimize Wasted Effort

Question: Do you have an ongoing and working model to reduce bottlenecks, slowdowns, and inefficiencies?

In other words, are you actively looking and working to make things easier?

This applies to both the way your customers do business with you, and the way your team delivers your services. As we discussed last time, documenting and following systems is important. The danger is we get caught in the "that's just the way we do it" trap. Look, I don't like change any more than the next person, but when you discover a way to do something that makes someone else's life easier and it still accomplishes the end result, try that instead!

And remember it's not all about you and your team. Sometimes in our attempt to make things easier for us, we make it harder on the client. Not a good idea. For years in our gym we took attendance manually, you know, on actual paper. That meant the client never had to do anything except walk in the door. Sometimes we would check them off as they made their way in, or make a mental note and check them off later. It worked pretty well, but it wasn't perfect. We would invariably miss one or two throughout the day. Eventually we moved over to a new software that had attendance built in. This would surely make things better! We explained to our clients it had an app for your phone, so when you walked in the door all you had to do was open it up and check that you were here. Easy peasy, right? People are used to using their phones for all sorts of things, surely this would not be a problem.

Except it was. Clients left their phones in the car, "forgot" to do it, or just didn't care. We had added one more thing to their plate in order to get it off ours. The new system ended up being less efficient and less accurate than the old one. After a few weeks, we tweaked the system so we were doing the input again, just using software this time. The important take home here is we listened to what clients were saying. If we were stubborn and insisted it be done our way, it would have just led to bad feelings on top of it not getting done.

Often reducing bottlenecks and being more efficient is amazingly simple, if you are willing to listen to what your clients and team are saying. Sometimes "complaints" are key insights into what is causing friction with the way you do business, and wisdom listens, not dismisses.

If you want a happier team and happier clients, what is the one thing you can do today to make them want to press the "Easy Button"?

Why You Need to Reverse Engineer Your Cash Flow Goals

As a gym owner or someone working in the health and wellness industry, you know that revenue fluctuates throughout the year.

During the fall and the holidays, clients aren’t as responsive or working out as much–either because they’re busy with work and family or because they don’t want to feel bad about not following their health plan. At the beginning of the year, things pick up as people set resolutions and goals…but then taper off after a few weeks or months. Then, of course, there’s beach season where clients are ready to dive back in. And around and around it goes.

All this fluctuation in client commitment results in a fluctuation in revenue. And it’s enough to give you a headache.

After all, your operating expenses don’t fluctuate that much, and you’d like to collect a regular paycheck that you can count on.

That’s why reverse engineering your cash flow goals can help you stay on budget month to month and ensure you’re spending (and saving) the right amount to meet your operating expense needs.

This is why it’s so incredibly important to have a bookkeeper on your team to help explain your financial data to you and what your financial reports mean. A bookkeeper can also ensure that you’re staying within your budget each month, even on those slow months.

Here’s how reverse engineering works:

  1. First, you’ll need a profit assessment to determine exactly what you’re making in your business right now.
  2. You also need to take a good look at your P&L statements–over the course of a year. Determine what your average operating expenses are each month (total OPEX for the year ÷ 12 = average OPEX each month).
  3. Are you making your average OPEX each month?

Typically, the answer is no. But the idea is to allow your busier months to make up for your slower months.

And if you’re spending more than 45% of your revenue on OPEX, chances are you’re not paying yourself enough. It’s time to find ways to lower your operating expenses.

But I can’t lower my expenses any more than I already have.

That’s what you’re thinking, right? I get it. Ask yourself this: Are you legitimately getting 100% value out of everything you’re spending on right now?

  • Do you need two team members covering the front desk when the gym is slower?
  • Is it necessary to buy that equipment this month?
  • Can you negotiate a better rate on your insurance?
  • Is it possible to let go of some of your equipment leases?
  • Can you reduce the frequency of equipment maintenance because usage is lower?

With your Profit First advisor, go through your expenses line by line and look at ways to reduce spending so you can get your OPEX more in line with where it should be. You’ll be surprised at where you can find money!

We’re happy to help you with this process. Schedule a call with us today and let’s reverse engineer your cash flow so you can start hitting your goals.

What’s the Big Deal About “Systems”?

If you've been in business for any significant length of time, you've probably heard and read it over and over - you have to have "systems" in your business. Systems for sales, and marketing, and service delivery. Systems for finances, and hiring, and team management. 

What you may not realize is regardless if you have all these things documented in a fancy manual, you already HAVE systems for each of these. As Mike Michalowicz writes in "Fix This Next", these systems are "In many cases...simply the routines you and your colleagues follow."

The question then becomes "Are the routines we are following efficient and predictable, leading to reliable outcomes?"

If so, the work becomes documenting those systems. You can write them in a manual, take screenshots, do video screen captures of the task being performed, or all of the above. The important thing is that the system is documented and able to followed by anyone.

On the other hand if your systems aren't working, the job becomes to find out why and work on improving it. 

The goal here is not to take hours and hours to write fancy manuals that nobody ever looks at and are hard to understand. 

The goal of creating (if necessary) and documenting systems is to help you Achieve Organizational Order.  

And not coincidentally, that is Level 3 on the Fix This Next "Business Hierarchy of Needs" (BHN). 

The way we define "Order" in this context is important. Order is not only about efficiency, productivity, and getting stuff done faster.

It's about creating a company that is not dependent on any one individual. Including you. Maybe especially you. 

A business that achieves organizational order is a business that runs smoothly when you take a vacation, or your admin is sick, or a key employee has to rush out of town on an emergency.

Here's a challenge for you. The next time you walk into a Starbucks, or Dunkin Donuts, or whatever your favorite place to get coffee is, ask to speak with the owner. Chances are, the team member standing at the counter won't even know who that is, never mind run out to the back to get them. How is that possible? Because these businesses run on systems, not on any one person. That is organizational order.

As we discovered on the Sales and Profit levels of the BHN, there are 5 key questions and needs on the "Order" level as well. Over the next few weeks we will cover each one in, you guessed it, Order.

See you then!

How to Plan Now for Quarterly Profit Distribution

Here’s the thing about quarterly profit distributions: They’re meant to be used. And by “used,” I don’t mean reinvested in the business–as much as you might want to do that.

Every time you do your Profit First allocations, you should be taking 5% and depositing it into a Profit account. This the target distribution based on the Profit First system, and what we recommend to most clients.

Being a business owner is challenging. Being a business owner in 2020 has been exhausting. You’re working long hours, adding extra responsibilities to your plate, stressing over quarantines and lockdowns, and possibly even having really difficult conversations with staff and clients.

Through all of that, we hope you’ve still been setting aside your profit allocations. Because at the end of the day, you deserve it. You’ve done something that not everyone is born to do: you own a business.

The profit distribution is meant for you, the owner. It’s designed to reward you for your work; it’s not designed to reinvest into the business (that’s for a different account).

At the end of each quarter, take half of the balance in your profit account as a distribution and use it for something in your personal life. Something fun, something meaningful, something necessary. You get to pick!

You might be wondering… “But how do I spend it?” Here are some ideas, depending on how large that profit account is:

If your distribution is less than $250

  • Treat yourself! It’s okay if your profit distribution is just enough for a celebratory dinner with your partner or a friend. Go somewhere you wouldn’t normally go and order something fancy.
  • Visit the spa (or car spa). You deserve a nice massage or a facial, away from the office for the day. If that’s not your thing, treat your car to a detailing job that makes it feel brand new.
  • Invest in learning. Here at Fit For Profit, we’re all about learning new things–personally and professionally. What’s something you’ve been dying to learn that you haven’t taken the time to do yet? Sign up for that gardening class or take that Rosetta Stone class so you’re prepared when we can travel again.

If your distribution is less than $2,000

  • Beautify your home. There’s a lot you can do around your home for $2,000 and less, including some small remodeling projects or buying some new furniture or appliances. We’re spending a lot of time at home these days and we should enjoy it!
  • Take a road trip. If you’re able, take a weekend away at a nearby destination. Sometimes getting out of our normal four walls for a few days is enough to rejuvenate us for months to come.
  • Pay down debt. Personal debt can change how we think about money in our business too. We love the thought of using profit distributions to pay down (or off!) some personal debt so you can feel better all the way around.

If your distribution is more than $2,000

  • Divide and conquer. Consider gifting part (or all) of your distribution to a favorite cause.
  • Invest and save. If you’re not ready to spend the money, open a separate account and save it for a planned vacation or so you can pay cash for that new car. You may also want to invest it in a college fund for your kids.

I personally don’t always have a solid plan for my profit distribution. In fact, I really like to save it for a larger purchase. I’ve saved up for a car before, and I’m currently remodeling my kitchen with several quarters’ worth of distributions.

Whether you choose to spend it or save it, if you’re following Profit First you do need to remove it from your business accounts and put it elsewhere.

Not sure where to get started? Book a call with us and we can help!

Cash Reserves for the Business Win

Cash reserves in your business are what will not only keep you afloat but also ensure that you have what you need to prevent an inevitable crisis should…I don’t know, a pandemic hit.

It’s something we need to…we must talk about.

If you have a copy of “Fix This Next,” go to page 115 and read (or re-read) that section. In fact it is so powerful that I am going to include the first paragraph here:

“Desperate people do desperate things. This is not a position you want to be in. Cash will help you avoid it, and generally speaking, more cash will help you avoid it more. An adequate reserve of money enables you to navigate unforeseen circumstances with confidence. To allow business operations to continue unabated, or to take advantage of an unexpected opportunity, your business needs two to six months of your average monthly revenue reserved in a VAULT account.”

The last question on the Profit level of the Business Hierarchy of Needs is:

“Does the business have enough cash reserves to cover all expenses for three months or longer?”

Most businesses we start working with would have to answer “no,” even before the present crisis hit.

For many business owners, these are desperate times. And while we can’t change the past, we can learn some lessons in order to help us prepare better next time.

And keep the ensuing panic at bay a bit.

Trust us, there will be a next time. It may not be pandemic level, but even the normal business cycle can cause a cash crunch on our businesses. And we can’t and shouldn’t count on the government to bail us out every time.

The good news is implementing the Profit First cash management system systematically and reliably starts building this long term savings (VAULT) account, month-by-month, by creating the good cash habits your business needs. The initial goal is to be able to cover three months of Operating Expenses, and then three months of Sales Income, into that account.

You may be thinking “no way can I do that,” and frankly you need to check that thinking at the door. Instead, start thinking how life would be different if you had been working on this before 2020.

I’ll wait while you think that through.

It’s not all negative, either. Your VAULT account has two primary functions: to cover expenses in case of unexpected business disruption and to take advantage of an unexpected opportunity. Imagine having the amazing property you have had your eye on forever come up for sale cheap, and you could pay cash for it, or even just put a huge down payment on it. Or paying cash when a closing business has a fire sale on their equipment. It’s a great feeling and so worth the effort.

Now that we have had THIS talk, give me a call and let’s talk about how to set it up in your business. Click here to tell us a little about your business and schedule an appointment.

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