Episode 327

Do You Need a Virtual Assistant? with Scott Rammage, Owner of VAs for Gyms

In this episode, Scott Rammage, owner of VAs for Gyms, joins me to talk about the question: do you need a virtual assistant?

[00:00:00] Hello, my friend on today’s episode, I have a special guest. It’s Scott Rammage, who is the owner of VA’s for gyms. And we use VA’s for gyms at Mark Fisher fitness and business for unicorns. So on today’s episode, we talk about whether or not you need a virtual assistant to help run your gym. We talk about how to find a great virtual assistant.

What you can use them for in your gym, common pitfalls to expect when working with a virtual assistant. So if you ever thought about getting virtual support or you already have a virtual assistant, this episode is fantastic for you. So keep on listening, my friend.

Welcome to the business for unicorns podcast, where we help gym owners unleash the full potential of their business. I’m your host, Michael Keeler. Join me each week for actionable advice, expert insights, and the inside scoop on what it really takes to level up your gym. Get ready to unlock your potential and become a real [00:01:00] unicorn in the fitness industry.

Let’s begin.

Hello, fitness, business nerds. What’s up. Welcome to another episode of the business unicorns podcast. Before we dive into today’s episode, I just want to give a quick shout out to our YouTube channel. We’ve been crushing some amazing content on the YouTube channel. Mark is amazing on that fucking thing.

And so if you’ve not subscribed to our YouTube channel yet, go check it out. He’s giving you actionable, tangible, tangible, Tips that you can implement in your gym today. So click the link in the bio and go subscribe. Click that bell on our YouTube channel. You won’t regret it. Which brings me to today’s episode, which I’m so excited about.

We haven’t had a guest on this podcast in a while. So our first guest in a while is a big one. It’s Scott Rammage, who is the owner of VA’s for gyms, which you’ve heard us talk about this podcast a million times. So I’m sorry for not having you on sooner, Scott, but welcome to the podcast. Thank you so much, Michael.

It’s a pleasure to be here. And I need to check out that YouTube channel because. Mark is very entertaining person. So I can only imagine. [00:02:00] Yeah. It’s entertaining. It’s informative. We try and keep them short and focused on things that people really need. So yeah, go check it out. And so I wasn’t kidding when I said, I’ve been talking about you and your business on those podcasts for a while because Mark Fisher fitness has used VAs for gyms for, I don’t know, Years now.

And we also use the business for unicorns. We have recommending to everyone we work with. So I’m just stoked to talk to you today because y’all do great work. And I think most gym owners listening to this podcast at some point, we’ll need to hire some sort of virtual support. And so how they do that, how they find the right people, how they make that work operationally is such an important topic.

And I’m so glad we’re here to cover it today. Dive in. Let’s just say a little bit about what is VAs for gyms? What do you do? And we’ll start there. Yeah, thank you so much for asking. Uh, obviously I’d love to talk about that. The Ace for Gyms is like our, our first virtual assistant company. We, we have two arms to it, but it was how we started because it was in the fitness industry for years.

I’ve been a gym owner, obviously, if we’re doing this line of [00:03:00] business and I saw a need working with business owners doing Mastermind calls for another company that I was working for. I realized there was this big need that I had fixed with virtual help. And it basically was just born from that. And I saw really early on that a lot of gym owners were just struggling.

They were either spending all their time doing all the admin stuff or would offload the admin stuff and then have to take it back because the work wasn’t consistent or the coach doing it wasn’t good at it and Where there’s a need, if you can provide a service, then everything goes well. So that’s what I did.

I built a service around the need that I saw just filling that at that time, mostly the admin gap in the gym industry. Yeah. Yeah. Said, I think I’m so glad you did because I think you’re right when with small businesses, gyms, they’re only have so much, so much money for people. And there’s a lot of administrative costs.

Once you get past a hundred members or so, [00:04:00] there’s a lot of just management of schedules and billing and freezes and termination. There’s a lot to manage behind the scenes and gyms can’t always afford to have a full time office manager or things like that. And so that admin piece is huge. I know you recently, relatively recently have expanded beyond just administrative services and offer something now called virtual professional.

Can you just say a little bit about what the difference is between those two services? Yeah, so I, I got a call one day from a gal and she was explaining her needs. She wasn’t a gym owner. And I’m like, okay, here we go. And I get referrals of all sorts. And I made this observation through the call of she doesn’t need the service that I have.

What am I going to do? I love solving people’s, you know, helping solve people’s problems. I know the answer to her, to the solution to her problem. But I don’t know. I don’t offer that. So just off the cuff, I’m like, you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to hire someone specifically for you because what I realized from her was she needed someone who understood her core values, her cultures to her business culture to [00:05:00] very deep level.

She needed someone like solely focused on her full time. She was going to over utilize anything that we would have to offer, which we can, we do a lot for Mark Fisher and business for unicorns. We’re heavy into it, but she needed even more. And so that’s where HireVP was developed, was this need for business owners who are like, Hey, like I love your service, but I want someone specifically through me.

I want my, I want somebody who’s going to know our core values, who’s going to know the way we speak within our business, can talk to my clients who can work my hours. And so I developed HireVP. And it’s interesting, Michael, I was like, these aren’t assistants. Like we’re moving way past the virtual assistant.

This is a professional because we started. hiring executive assistants, like a high level operator, we started doing the crystallizer assessment, seeing what their integrator level was. And then we started using the Colby assessment. We started getting really scientifically nerdy. It’s a background. I love that stuff.

[00:06:00] And I realized we’re hiring professionals. These are vetted individuals that have very high level skills that are proven. And so I coined this term virtual professional. In the last month, I’ve seen three VA services change their language to virtual professional. So it’s really cool to see this pivot.

And so that’s, that’s a very strongly growing sector in, in our business. Yeah. It makes so much sense because sometimes you truly just need. What we’re calling a virtual assistant, someone who’s going to take repetitive, sometimes wrote tasks off your plate that don’t require a super high level of skills, just someone who can follow instructions and do that thing.

So you don’t have to do it. And sometimes you need someone who comes with more batteries included, who is going to know your values, who is going to be able to problem solve, who is going to be able to take more initiative. And I think having both of those services makes so much sense, knowing. All the gym owners out there in the world, so that’s great.

Let’s just start at the beginning here, which is a lot of folks who, when they think about hiring a virtual assistant or even someone like a, you know, more [00:07:00] executive assistant at higher level, they often think they should just go out and do it on their own. And in some cases, Maybe some people should, but I think in a lot of cases, like we did, we said, I’d rather do it through an agency.

There’s lots of reasons why I think hiring through an agency like yourself is better than going out and doing on your own on Fiverr or Upwork, though we use those platforms sometimes too. So you just talk a little bit about when people are deciding to hire a virtual assistant, virtual professional, what makes working with an agency in your opinion, better than doing it on their own?

Oh, there’s just so many smoke and mirrors. When it comes to hiring somebody, they’re. I’ll tell you just a real quick story. We have hired, we have interviewed folks. I don’t even know how to get into this without getting into big stories, but there are so many organized groups, especially in the Philippines.

So we use the Philippines because of the loyalty factor, the work ethic, the language, they’re willing to work graveyard shift because it’s pretty standard in their, in their culture. in their economy. But I, [00:08:00] I remember I was interviewing this guy and I’m like, holy cow, I found the unicorn. He knows all the answers to everything.

He’s incredibly brilliant. His resume is insane and hired him. And this is early on in my journey and real later, like months later, he’s actually. I have to come clean. I’m not actually the one doing work. We’ve got this person over here. And so since then, I’ve realized a lot of people are duped by this.

They’ll hire, they’ll find one person who’s an incredible, um, English speaker communicator to do interviewing. And then they’ll have an entire team doing each of the different assignments. They’re actually, you’re actually hiring an agency and things go really bad, really fast in that model. But also there’s 7, 000 islands in the Philippines.

And so if you’re wanting to hire from the Philippines, you have to know where to hire from because there’s different levels of education who group in different areas, just like in the US, right? There’s different levels of infrastructure for internet and for power. [00:09:00] And then There’s a lot of people with a lot of big promises and you’ll waste a lot of time and people just disappear.

There’s a lot of cultural differences. So we navigate the cultural differences. We navigate the location, the infrastructure, like we just have so many systems and checks and balances in place to make sure that the people that we’re hiring are who they say they are. And we’ll perform to the way that they perform, but also we provide that assurance that if someone does not work out, you’re not going to lose work.

We’re going to be right there. And there, when I first started down this path of VAs, I interviewed a bunch of people because that’s just the way I operate. I’m like, I’m going to find out why this doesn’t work. And everyone’s, they just disappear. They don’t work hard or they make big promises and nothing comes through.

They can’t speak English. Their written English is really bad. That’s just lack of knowledge. And many hundreds, if not thousands of hires later. We get it. And so you’re saving yourself massive headaches. Yeah, 100%. And I think, you know, that’s the big thing that made so much sense for us at MFF and business unicorns is that we just [00:10:00] didn’t have the experience hiring at this level of person.

And I think that so much about what the people pay an agency like yourself for is that you’re, you’re not. Buying your experience, the thousands of interviews you’ve done, the, the thousands of people that you’ve already worked with, knowing that you have a proven system for vetting, vetting people and making sure that work gets done.

And that last piece also was, is critical because it’s small business owners. You don’t want to be wasting your time in, in replacing people who don’t work out. And so I think the fact that when you work with an agency, it’s now it’s on the agency to do that replacement if things don’t work out that all really tracks with my experience.

So let’s talk about who VAs or VPs are right for. So what are like the most common problems that you’re solving at the VA level for gyms? At the VA level, and thank you for the differentiation because there really is, you know. Yeah. We’ve had our VA team in place for years now, and they’re, they’ve moved into the VP in the areas, they’re professionals, but when they started, [00:11:00] they’re definitely VAs.

They’re just administrative people. task doers. They are show me how to do it. I will do it. And so a VA and like VAs for gyms, the services either shoot me a loom of how you do something or send me instructions and how often you want it done. And we will do that’s a VA, a VA is that taskmaster. That person is going to every morning.

You’ve got this reporting on your desk every morning or every time a cancellation comes through. Hey, think about this gym owner, a cancellation comes through. That’s an energy drainer, like now we have a system in place where someone grabs that email, has a decision tree, does X, Y, and Z and moves through the process and you just get the report.

So it’s someone who’s taking these proven systems or semi proven systems, building them out, creating SOPs and then operating on them. So it’s just an operational machine, if you will. Virtual professional, I won’t get nerdy because we do work way outside of the gym industry as well, but we have like [00:12:00] electricians.

Working, not electricians, excuse me. Oh my gosh. Engineers and drafters and 3D drafters and billing specialists for the medical field. But when it comes for like a gym, it’s somebody who can Answer the phone, who sounds phenomenal, who has very good English written, spoken, can interact with the client.

That’s not always, but sometimes who can send those emails and say, Hey, we haven’t seen you in two weeks. What’s going on? We’d love to check in with you. Or someone who can place orders for refurbishing the fridge or whatever, refinishing, filling it up or whatever the case may be. Someone who understands you.

Also, like for me, I will start with, let’s just take a higher VP, for instance, when I started that, I created the entire system myself. I walked through it. I’m like, okay, I’m going to do this. And then I’m going to do this. And then I hired one person. I happened to hire a virtual professional and with a virtual professional, as they learn your business, they also [00:13:00] learn you.

And so these are high level operators who are very technical, educated, think, think on a higher level. So I’ve been able to literally replace myself in both businesses with Filipino, um, workers. And so I say workers, professionals. And so those folks that hire a VP are often filling a very, uh, like professional spot or an executive spot where that person is literally coming in beside you, either as a duplicate of you or as a person filling in the gaps for you.

So we have a lot of visionaries, a lot of gym owners are visionaries and they have all these ideas and they need that one person that’s like wrapping up everything in a bow and say, okay, today, here’s this, make sure this gets done and then I’ll deliver it to the team or whatever the is. So a lot of integrator skills.

come in at that level and it’s a game changer. Yeah. 100%. I’ve already heard that [00:14:00] some Unicorn Society members who work with you have also used a lot of their VAs and VPs really for marketing and sales activities too. Socially, there’s a lot of owners who just waste a lot of time just editing their own Instagram reels or at the VP level, I know you can have people who come in and have that kind of expertise.

Oh yeah. We have media buyers. It gets really in depth what you want. We, but we’ve hired, um, funnel builders and people take it all the way from building the funnel to the automations to actually fulfilling on the other half. So it can go to very skilled system of way beyond what people really think.

Yeah. A virtual person can do. Let me ask you this, Scott, because I know that one of the questions I get when this topic comes up in my coaching conversations with Unicorn Center members and gym owners generally is they’re afraid that they’re not ready yet for a VA. They think that they have to have all their systems figured out, [00:15:00] dialed in.

documented before they give you a call. I know that’s not true, but let me hear it from you. Why is that not the case? Yeah, that’s not the case because you’re doing a lot of things that you haven’t done them yet. So you’re probably not real good at them. And so a lot of times if they’re in your program or they know what they’re supposed to be doing and they may not how to do it.

And so the development of those systems. Sometimes it’s, Hey, let me get on my computer. I’ve been doing this forever. So sometimes they’re like, I just don’t have my SOPs ready. You’re doing it. So there’s an SOP in your head. So why don’t you just record yourself doing it? And then the VA will create a much nicer, Operating procedure than you would let them do that and build up over time.

And a lot of people, I don’t have enough. And then the question is, is have you done a real audit of your time? Because as business owners, we just go into automatic mode. Hey, it’s only going to take me 10 minutes. This is wasting my time to explain to anybody else. If you [00:16:00] started stacking those 10 minutes, as well as the task switching time, man, we’re talking about hours and hundreds of hours in a year, at least.

Yep. Not thousands. And I’m a, I’ve been a victim of this for many years in the businesses I’ve done is you just think it’s just really quick. If you take all those really quick things and say, look, I don’t know that I’m ready for this, but I’m going to start recording each one of them. You’re going to find out how much you’re actually doing.

And uh, So when people come on, I’m like, Hey, look, just start recording everything you do and talking through it on a loom and create a loom video and pass it on. And you will be absolutely amazed at how much you’re passing on. And then the other end of that is. Are you running any, do you know your financials?

Do you have updates of your membership? Do you know which members aren’t showing up? Do you know which members have anniversaries this month? Do you know whose birthday it is? Do you know the referrals? Has somebody sent a referral? Are you tracking those things? Because if you miss one of those things, you’ve spent a lot of money to get that [00:17:00] client.

Why aren’t you spending the time and effort needed to keep that client? Which is really simple. Usually it’s just an acknowledgement. Hey, this is your hundred times checking in. We are so stoked. How cool would it be to have something on your desk in the morning say, Hey, the next time Susie Ann shows up, it’s her hundredth class.

And then you become that special person who they’re like, Oh my gosh, these people know everything. This is insane. I am so valued by them. And that’s what you want in your gym industry or in your gym. And everyone’s probably doing enough to have somebody doing everything for them or they’re failing at it.

And not doing it when it really could be the one thing that, that really made a change in their business, because if you can keep two clients a year, think of what that, that revenue is per year. That’s pretty, pretty great. And it’s a lot easier to keep a client than it is to. Get a new one. I think that’s so well said Scott.

Cause I think that the idea of that to get started, just start recording yourself, doing the things [00:18:00] that you do, right. Just get a free loom account. Just record the things that you do on your computer every day. And if you can record it, you can pass it off. If you can record it, you can delegate it, whether it’s a simple loom video, or at some point you need to work with your VA to make more of a decision tree.

There’s more that people can pass off than they even realize. You don’t need to have it all figured out before you pass it off. You can figure it out together. Uh, and I found that I’ve been not just working with VAs, but generally with working with humans, I find that we get to a better product when I include the person I’m delegating it to when we’re making the tasks.

So if I include the VAs early on, and they’re part of making that process with me. They’re going to have more buy in. They’re going to understand it better. There’s going to be less hiccups. Would you agree? Absolutely, there’s several factors to that. One, a lot of times when I send, especially in the beginning of my journey, when I would send a loom in, I’d be like, okay, here’s how to do this.

Quite frequently, The VA would come back and say, Scott, I made the SOP. Here it is for your approval. I made a, [00:19:00] another version. If you take a look at that, I found a different tool. It’s either going to save you money. It’s going to save you time, or it’s a lot more accurate. That has happened so many times because we are as business owners.

We’re operating on so many levels. We are marketing all the time, just in our interactions. Sometimes we’re coaching, we’re running staff, we’re cleaner, sometimes cleaning up, or even just where the guys that are walking by, Oh my gosh, the floor needs to be taken care of. Who’s not doing this? Like our brains are all over the place.

So when you sit down to do something. You’re going to do it in the way that you know how as fast as you can to get a close outcome to you want what you want when someone from the outside sees that they don’t have all those other decisions happening and all those pieces of input coming in and they can look at it and be like, let’s improve this.

And so a lot of times just getting it down on a loom, like you said. allows someone else to come in and say, Hey, this is great, but let’s do this better. Then most likely they’re going to execute on it better because they don’t have all those pieces of incoming information. [00:20:00] Distractions. Yeah. Yeah. 100%.

Okay. Last question here. When hiring anybody, whether it’s VA VP or real people in real life, a physical space, hiring’s messy. And there’s going to be hiccups and mistakes and row bumps along the line along the road. Talk to me, like, what are like the common kind of hiccups people experience early on? And what can they do to help navigate those?

Yeah, communication’s big, right? And I tell people this is front loaded work. Whether you use VA’s for Jim service, which is a plug and play service, you tell us what to do. We do it. and repeat, or you hire a VP to work with you specifically, there’s front loaded work. You got to record, you got to talk, you got to mold.

So like when you’re bringing on an executive assistant, for instance, like they, they should be like, just with you everywhere and learning the way you talk. We’re learning the way you make decisions. So a lot of the mistakes are not spending enough time. And knowing that like an two hours a week of input is going to give you [00:21:00] thousands of hours over your lifetime, if not more.

And so the front loaded work and then also on the other end of that spectrum is taking your time. But if you’re paying for a service that gives you X amount of hours or X amount of work, and you’re only getting a third of that. Don’t stress it because over time you’re going to learn and you’re going to get, you’re going to understand it takes training to offload things from yourself.

And so you’ve got to give yourself some grace on, okay, take a deep breath. Now, what am I doing? And I still do this. I’m a professional in this area and I still, A couple times a week I’m doing something. Why in the world am I doing this? I switch on loom and I record and I’m like, ha, this is good. That’s the last time I have to do that.

So there’s a lot of mental training. And then the trust thing is a big deal. And that goes two ways because once you, someone knows that you trust them, they actually perform. even better. It’s just like any of your staff. If they know you’re in it to win it with them, they perform, they get [00:22:00] something out of it, a paycheck, a place to belong, fulfilling their purpose in life.

You’re going to get so much out of it as well. And it’s the same with someone that’s virtual. And so that giving yourself some grace, doing the upfront work, and then being in it for a long run and share vision and let the person know that you are, you’re in it with them and that they are really a part of your team.

Those go for a very long way and they really A lot. That’s such great advice, Scott. At the end of the day, even if the person is virtual, you are forming a relationship with them. So building that trust, spending time together, having them get to know you and the business and how things work is critical.

And it is an upfront investment, just like hiring anyone. And so while, while people come to this as often as a quick fix, it is fast, but you don’t form a relationship like that overnight. Right. So you do need a little bit of investment of time and energy upfront and then it can really last. Uh, and as you said, give you thousands or hundreds of thousands of hours of your time back over the lifetime of this relationship.

Let’s leave it there. I’m sure we keep talking about this topic all day, but I think we [00:23:00] covered a lot of ground. Anything else you wanted to share before we wrap things up? No, I just really appreciate you guys. Uh, we love doing this. We take incredible pride out of giving some business owners a little bit more freedom or a little bit more space to think or more room to work in their own working zone of genius where they get to enjoy their day a little better.

So anytime we can do that, we’re really thrilled. Yeah, I’ve seen you doing it both for us and for lots of other gyms. Thank you for the work you do and dear listener, if you wanna, if you wanna learn more about, uh, VAs for gyms and connect with Scott, how do they find you? So we’ll do a VAs for gyms.com/bfu.

Great. How’s that sound? I love it. We’ll put it in the show notes, click the link down the show notes. Go let Scott know you heard about him from this podcast, and I hope you get started soon. Thanks again for being here, Scott. Really appreciate it. Uh, dear listeners, hope you found this valuable and I’ll see you on the next one.

Have a kickass [00:24:00] day.