Automation seems to be a big topic these days. I’ve seen this in all industries but especially in fitness.
And it makes sense. We’re all looking for that edge. The way to free up our time and not get bogged down with mindless tasks.
The emergence of countless automating technologies and software make it even easier for us.
Heck, I am even the co-founder of an automation software so you know I believe in it.
But like most things in our industry, I’ve seen the pendulum shift too far for some.
Automation is great! It helps you leverage your time, get the right thing to the right person faster, and is supposed to create a better user experience for everyone.
But there are things you should automate and things you probably should not automate in your business.
Use this common theme: Is this a core part of my business?
If the answer is yes, DON’T try to automate it.
Things You Shouldn’t Automate
- New leads follow-up
Yes, it’s fine to send an autoresponder to someone who opts in for a lead magnet or sends in a general inquiry. But what about a person who genuinely wants to start training with you? Do you think a generic auto email is going to entice them to choose you over the countless other options out there? They’re already receiving dozens of auto-emails a day from everyone else. How is this making you stand out?
I’ve seen this time and time again with coaches and gyms. And they complain about their conversion percentage and default to the same “they’re just a tire-kicker” excuse. Instead of spending your time researching the best converting follow up sequence, here’s a thought… call them. Text them. Send a personal follow up email. Do something that shows you’re a real human who cares about their experience.
Don’t ever forget, people don’t buy coaching – they buy coaches. If you try to automate this process, you’ll never be as successful as you’d like.
- Your coaching
If you’ve ever read the book Delivering Happiness (if not, go read it now), you might remember the story of Zappos outsourcing one of the items they deemed their core competency. This ended up being a huge mistake that cost them dearly but they figured it out and vowed to never again outsource something that was the core of their business.
I look at automation the same way. I’m guessing you wouldn’t outsource coaching your clients to someone outside your business. So why would you try to automate it?
Sure there are many tools out there that can make it easier, can help you scale your coaching and save you time/effort in the process, but don’t ever forget there has to be someone behind these tools.
They’re meant to enhance the coach, not replace them. The relationship your building with your clients is what keeps them coming back. Don’t replace this with automation.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not against making things easier in your business. I just think you need to really think hard before jumping to automate a part of your business. Especially when it’s part of your core business.
Things You Should Automate
Sticking with this common theme: Is this a core part of my business?
Yes = DON’T try to automate it.
That means the actual coaching of clients and selling into your offerings.
However, don’t for one second think I’m against automation. Oh no, not in the slightest.
I have built a whole new business based around automating the RIGHT things in our fitness businesses.
Here’s what I believe are the right things to automate:
- The initial intro
What I mean by the initial intro is the story you tell about yourself or your business to brand new people. The most common way this happens is when someone joins your newsletter list.
Hopefully, you already have a way, or incentive, for people to join your list but if not, do it right now.
What happens after they join your list? This is where you automate. Set it up so they receive a set sequence of follow up emails. All you’re trying to do here is tell your story and get them to know, like and trust you.
It’s not realistic for you to personally email every single person who signs up to your list and in fact, you’d just be repeating the same stories and emails over and over again. This is the perfect place to use automation.
I use an awesome email provider called ConvertKit, which makes this super simple. But honestly, almost every provider has this capability. Find the one that works best for you and go with it.
Now you might realize, I didn’t say automate all of your newsletters. Just the first sequence when a brand new person joins. After that, you want them getting your real-time, authentic updates. All the automation does is help get them up to speed and helps move the relationship along quicker. You can’t automate a full relationship so please don’t try.
But bringing them up to speed right away will help you deepen that relationship as you go.
- Educational content to your members
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve referenced one of our handouts with a new client only to realize I never sent it to them. It’s really embarrassing how often this used to happen…
Once our gym grew above 50 members, it was really tough trying to remember what was being sent, who received it and when they got it.
We didn’t have a sustainable model. Here is where automation comes in again.
Now, whenever someone joins our gym, joins one of our challenges or even signs up for our nutrition coaching program, all of the content is automated.
I’m not sitting there every morning sending out personal emails to everyone with the exact information they need. We have a system that does it all for us.
I can set everything up at the start and then just assign it to our members at the appropriate times. This way, I can save my time for what really matters (coaching our members) not sending them information.
Why can I do this?
I don’t view information as one of our big core competencies. Is it important? Yes! But if information alone was enough to make people change, no one would smoke cigarettes and everyone would be thin/healthy.
The education on the harms of smoking is pretty dang clear. But people still do it anyway.
Education alone does not create behavior change. There needs to be something else behind it.
Which leads me to the last piece of our business where automation plays a key role…
I firmly believe the number one reason someone joins a gym like ours is accountability. They’ve tried to lose weight on their own and never been able to stick with it.
Why? They’ve never had someone hold them accountable.
Now accountability does not mean checking in with your members once every two weeks to see how things are going. Accountability is a daily practice. Something that needs to be on their mind all the time. Not just the three hours they’re at your facility per week.
So that means you need a way to reach them outside your gym.
Here is where automation comes into play. You need to create a system to find out what you’re clients are doing on a daily basis.
This could be through daily emails, daily text messages, handouts they put on their fridge or through an accountability software. The method isn’t as important as getting something set up.
The key here is WHAT you’re automating. You’re automating the data collection. That’s it. Make it super simple to find out who is rocking their plan, who is doing ok and who is struggling.
Then, use that information to coach the heck out of them. Don’t try to automate the coaching aspect of this. That’s a mistake that won’t move your business forward.
If you do this right, the benefits will include:
- Saving a ton of time following up with members. Time you can now spend with your family, friends or doing something you love.
- Members will getting better results.
- Scaling your coaching and making it easier to coach not only 50 but 100, 200, even 300 members with the same effort it took when you only had 30.
- No one will slip through the cracks again.
Automation can be a very powerful piece of your business. Just make sure you think hard about WHAT you’re automating and WHY you’re doing it.
By Kane Sivesind