Kati & Caleb Terray, Results University Biz Owner of the Year finalists!
Here's the Biz Owner of the Year essay submitted by finalists Kati & Caleb Terray of Breakthrough Strength & Fitness in Woodland Hills, California, and check-out their video presentation as they share the details of the three key areas that helped them survive and thrive this past year.
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With gyms in the Los Angeles area still shut down for over seven months, this may seem like an odd time to throw our hat in the ring for your consideration as the RFU Business Owners of the Year. However, we know beyond a doubt that without what we’ve learned from Alwyn and Rachel and the whole RFU Team, we wouldn’t be here right now. We’ve seen fitness studios and gyms in our area close permanently, and multiple fitness colleagues with long time businesses decide - or feel like they had no choice but to close their doors.
We won’t lie, we’ve had some scary moments and some tough conversations about what the future might look like. By the time June rolled around our income was only 59% of what it had been at the beginning of the year. Despite that, because of this group, we feel poised to rebound from this year’s challenges with a better and more successful business than when 2020 started.
If we are chosen to be one of the four finalists, we would love to share the details of these three key areas that have helped us survive and thrive during these past seven months:
- Obstacles are Opportunities - For years we thought about doing many of the things we are now doing. The support and inspiration of the RFU Rocketshippers helped us immediately take action to:
- Offer virtual class options for our members. Now we have months of classes available for our members to access in strength training, endurance, rollouts, and yoga! Not only is this a huge benefit to our members to be able to access these sessions anytime, it’s a big time saver for us to be able to direct them to a pre-done session on how to roll their rotator cuff, a bodyweight workout they can do on vacation, or a mobility practice they can do for recovery.
- Move to online scheduling. We now have hours and hours of time we no longer have to spend going back and forth with emails on scheduling. And our members really love being able to book on their own without waiting for us.
- Create an exercise library with videos using the Bridge. We had thought about doing this on YouTube for our members to access… but then along came the Bridge! Now our members can access the videos right along with their program. We even took the time to re-vamp our garage at home to look like the gym so that we can shoot videos in both locations and have them look consistent.
- Offer a remote coaching membership. We’ve long thought about doing this - especially when we have members we love move away and ask us about it. Now we are doing it! We’ve been able to reconnect with and reactivate several members who had moved away and were no longer training with us to join our “Road Warrior” program. This will bring in $16,200 in annual income that we would not have had otherwise.
- We're Creatures Who Crave Connection - In the first few weeks of quarantine, we had a few moments of worrying that people might discover they didn’t really need a gym, and preferred to train at home. We very quickly discovered how wrong we were, and set ourselves to the task of looking for ways to connect people and help people know they are not alone.
- Semi-private Zoom sessions. We initially were scheduling 20-minute calls individually with our members. Once we started moving to semi-private, we noticed people would train harder, were excited to see each other, were more consistent, and seemed happier overall.
- New challenges. Before we were allowed to start seeing people in person in June, we created the Breakthrough Anywhere Challenge (taking inspiration from the Results Everywhere Challenge) to give our members easy ways to keep some focus on exercise, nutrition and mindset, as well as stay connected with each other. At the end of this month we will have another new Challenge - The Breakthrough Strength Challenge. Our members love the Tactical Strength Challenge, but we knew it wouldn’t be possible for us to adhere to the safety requirements we have to follow, and successfully train for and host the TSC. When we announced our BSC, we were overwhelmed by the response and had to close the registration within a few days. This challenge is bringing in around $1,600, but the boost in inspiration for not just those participating, but the whole gym is priceless! We are also putting the finishing touches on a new year-end challenge that will kick off just before Thanksgiving.
- Pivot in any way you have to. Initially, our members were so thankful that within the first week of quarantine we had started virtual classes, sent them home workout plans, and scheduled Zoom sessions. They were overjoyed when we were allowed to see them in person, inside the gym for a few weeks in June… and then we got shut down again and only allowed to train outdoors. We were exhausted, but couldn’t give up. We moved our sessions that same day to outside, and had our members show up crying tears of joy that we weren’t going to close again. We are one of the few things right now that feels even slightly “normal” where people can come and do something good for themselves and connect with other human beings who really care about them. That has the power to change lives!
- Say Yes to You - Even before the pandemic, we had decided this year needed to include some restructuring of how we invest our time. We celebrated our 5th anniversary in May (with a virtual Zoom celebration, of course) and we knew going into this year that the pace we had been keeping for the first five years of business needed to change so we didn’t burn out.
- Saying no to things that aren’t right for us. Being stressed and worried about the future, I’m sure we’ve all had our fair share of crazy ideas during the past few months. There were moments we might have been tempted to say yes to things out of desperation: we’ve had clients asking for house calls, asking for discounts. We’ve been lucky to remember one of the things Rachel says often, “When emotions are high, intelligence is low”. We’ve kept this in mind throughout these challenging times so that we don’t end up saying yes to something that ultimately isn’t in line with the kind of business we want to have, or our core values. Sometimes this means having to let go of members who maybe were a good fit before the pandemic, but we all know that having a member who is no longer a good fit can be toxic. Ultimately letting go of what isn’t for you only makes more room for what is for you.
- More delegating so we can focus on the bigger picture. We started the quarantine in March with one of our coaches on paternity leave and the other on disability - it was just the two of us for about a month! So once our team members came back we were really ready to have them take the lead on a few things. We delegated the entire set up of online scheduling to a staff member. We restructured our coaching hours so that we are coaching less, and as we continue to rebuild our membership base, any additional coaching times that get added go to the other coaches. We are also bringing up one of the other coaches to start writing programs. This has allowed us the time to create the new challenges, turn our garage into a “Virtual Breakthrough”, build our remote coaching membership - as well as have some more personal downtime and allow for personal projects that are important to us.
- Embracing what makes us who we are. In a virtual mastermind several months ago, Alwyn mentioned to all of us that the gym itself is only a part of who we are as fitness professionals, and being fitness professionals is only a part of who we are as people. What a gold mine is in that statement! It really resonated for a variety of reasons. Over the past several years, one of our big focuses was to bring more of our unique personality into the gym so that we were attracting the type of members we really wanted. But we realized during these past several months, that without knowing it, sometimes there were elements of us that we felt we shouldn’t show. We met studying music and theatre in college, and while some of our members knew that, we often felt like we would have to apologize for not having studied kinesiology. We’ve spent the past 12 years taking fitness courses and continuing education and learning from some of the best in the business, but still felt like if people knew we were “artsy people” they might not take us seriously as coaches. That still might be true for some people, but during the pandemic we stopped caring, or possibly were too tired to care. We won’t be for everyone no matter what we do, so we decided to just be us. In a coaching call with Rachel she encouraged us that using what we’ve got to keep people connected was an important thing - especially now! We started dressing up in costumes for our Endurance Classes every “Whimsical Wednesday” - and it became our most popular online class! Yes, sometimes people joined just to see the costumes, but at least they were connecting and having a laugh if nothing else. We also started sharing music on our personal social media on Sundays - which helped us make a commitment to include something we enjoy in our week, as well being something to inspire our community.
As of September, we are back to 79% of what our income was pre-pandemic. That’s up 20% in three months! We know it won’t be an easy road ahead, but we do know that we have the tools and the support in our RFU Family to re-build and be even better than before!
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