Episode 245

The Art of Client Gifting with Matt Guffey

In this episode, Matt Guffey joins me to talk about retention and giving highly personalized gifts to his clients. He walks through his strategy and the results he’s getting so you can do it too.

[00:00:00] Hello, fitness business nerds. What’s up? Welcome to another episode of the Business Unicorns podcast, and today I’m here with a brand new guest. First time on the podcast it’s Matt Guffey, who’s the founder of Victory High Performance in San Jose. And I’m so excited to welcome to the podcast my friend.

Welcome. It’s so good to have you. Yes. How did we connect? How did we find each other in the world? I’ve been following the Business for Unicorns podcast for, yeah, now it seems like several years since I really started my gym, which was at the beginning of Covid. So this was I’ve always been consuming the content that you guys have been putting out and obviously between you and Mark Fisher and.

Yep. And now Pete, I, I followed Pete, when he was just with just ar just, Eric’s business partner. And I’ve, I have you all to thank in a lot of ways for a lot of the things that I’ve done. And then I guess we’ve connected a couple times previously. I did, I had a call with you about [00:01:00] the yeah, report card, like the, I remember owner report card.

Which was super helpful and I’ve been, I’ve been keeping up with that and every quarter Try to, just move one of those xs over. Yeah. It’s been so great. Just hear little snippets of you growing your business from afar and the fact that you listeners, Matt reached out and was like, Hey, I have some things that are going really well at the gym in terms of retention and I love to just share them with your listeners cuz they’ve really been working for you.

And I was like, yes, I love that. I love that energy. So I love that so much that I wanna say, listeners, if there’s things that you are doing well at your gym that are really working for you, Email me, michael episo unicorns.com. Just like Matt did. I’d love to have you on the podcast and share some things that are working so that all of us can be inspired by it or steal it.

And so thanks for doing that. Before we dive in, Matt, just wanna say a little bit about your gym in San Jose. A little bit of what you do there. Yeah, so we’re a sports performance gym, and our main clientele is Jiu-Jitsu athletes. We work primarily with grapplers. That’s where I spend most of my time.

If I’m not at the gym coaching or at home with my wife, I’m at the [00:02:00] academy training. And so those are the people that I really love to work with. The ones that I love to help the most. That’s not to say we don’t have other athletes. We do have other athletes. We just got done talking about when the summer comes.

We’ve got a group of hockey players who comes back for the summer. Amazing. So that’s always really fun. But Jiujitsu athletes are our main our main focus. All of our marketing efforts go toward We’re getting more. That’s amazing. Athletes. That’s amazing. Good for you. And Jiujitsu has been growing so much in the last five, 10 years.

And so if there’s any other gyms out there looking to connect with other gyms that serve ju Jiujitsu athletes, reach out to Matt. Go find them. Because I think it’s great for y’all to share notes. We need more people serving that audience. Let’s dive in today. The thing that you reached out to me about saying what you saying, it was saying that Hey, I have some really great retention strategies that I’ve been using to keep people in the gym and specifically around gifting.

And celebrating milestones. So you just talk a little bit about just 10,000 foot, what’s this approach that’s been working for you in terms of retention? Yeah. As far as gifting goes, it’s we try to give[00:03:00] highly personalized, high touchpoint gifts. And we do it, we can get into kind of who we give to, but.

More or less our, it’s our culture people, the people who we could coach a thousand of and never get sick of. And so it serves as not only a great retention tool, but also a great referral tool. Because when they use those gifts, they think of us, they think of us. Hopefully in a public setting.

And then they start talking about it and next thing you’re a part of the conversation. Yeah. Said. I think you were inspired by the Booked Giftology, is that right? Yeah, which is a great book I’ve mentioned to you. I don’t think I’d read it, but I know enough about it to know this is really using a principle of reciprocity, right?

That when you give people a gift, not only it celebrates them and creates, a real milestone in their life. But it celebrates your relationship as well. And what they’ll do is they’ll talk about you more. And the impact you and your gym has on them more, which means more referrals, and which means they stay long, which means they make more friends and connections at the gym.

So I think the premise of gifting, I think is a, is a principle we should all lean into more in terms of keeping [00:04:00] people around. So can you just talk a little bit about when you first started to take action on this idea? What did it first look like? What were some of your first steps? The first step is identifying who, and so we said it’s our culture. People, he talks about in the book it shouldn’t be everybody. There should be a level of exclusivity there. Where, because if everybody gets, it takes away from the, what takes away from the sure. The gravity of the situation.

And you want it to be, you want it to be heavy. And so we started figuring out who we were gonna gift to. We gift to more or less our top 5% of members. And that could be it could be from like how often they show up to the gym. It could be how many referrals they’ve given.

It mean, it could mean how active they are on social media. We work with a lot of athletes and so they post a lot, and There are a lot of different, it’s not it’s not a science. There’s definitely is there are some people some people who they have no referrals. No referrals, no social [00:05:00] media at all.

Yeah, they’re just good vibes to show up every day. And they’re great people and we love to have ’em there. And they’re great in the gym. They’re great for the culture. And so we’ll gift to them or, and then on the other end of the spectrum, there are people with, five, six referrals and, they just they’re referral machines and so we gift to them. And so it’s never quite there’s not a really clean or clear cut box. Got it. That person fits in. But like I said, ultimately it’s the culture people, it’s the people we want to coach more of. Those are the, yeah, I think that’s a really great way to think about a first step, Matt, is just get really clear about who are the kinds of folks that we want to celebrate and keep around.

Who are the kinds of folks, if we multiply them times a hundred, that we’d be so stoked to just train those folks in the gym. And I think even if it’s not highly systematic, I think you are describing a bit of a system, which is you identified a few behaviors that you wanna celebrate. A few behaviors of showing up.

Having a great attitude connecting and making friends with other people, being social posting on social media, referring other people, even if you start that list of, what was it, five things, [00:06:00] like that’s a good start of a system. Yeah. It doesn’t have to be, as you mentioned, it doesn’t be black and white.

Doesn’t be, we only give people who do all of those things, but there has to be some level of exclusivity to it, because I imagine if you’re doing highly personalized gifting, it takes some time and energy, so it can’t be for everyone who. Ever posts on social media, it has to be for the people as you enter the top 5%.

So I think it’s a great place to start. Once you were clear on who it was you wanted to give to, what was next for you is it’s figuring out figuring out how much your allowances to spend. And so we use, it’s about 5% of their annual spend. So if somebody spends a thousand dollars, you’re got it.

Your budget’s 50 bucks. Ours we’re, I would consider us one of the higher end gyms in San Jose, and so our price point is much higher and therefore the budget is much higher. That being said, it doesn’t have to be expensive things. Like just because it costs a lot doesn’t mean it means a lot.

I guess, if I were to backtrack just a bit, one of the things that we built into our system is building [00:07:00] relationships with our members. And so we have a daily debrief form all our coaches have to fill out at the end and on one of the questions on that form is, what did you learn about somebody today?

You have to. Write out something that you learned that you didn’t know before. So that we’re constantly looking for information. We’re trying to learn about these people’s lives and make sure that, they feel seen and heard. And it’s not, they’re not just a number.

They’re, it’s a family. And I think we’re talking about. Yeah, I think that thing that stands out to me about that, that I love so much, Matt, is that you really can’t give highly personalized gifts if you don’t know them in a personal way. You can’t give a gift that you know will be meaningful to them.

Or even if it’s a handwritten card, you can’t write something into it that’s really. Personal to them, unless you know them personally. So I love the idea that one of your kind of right kind of key standards for trainers is to every day learn something new about the people we work with. I think that’s a, it’s a great start and it feeds directly into this strategy of giving highly personalized gifts.

Yeah. Keep on going. Sorry. Yep.[00:08:00] I, so I think, We learn about the people, we figure out who we want to gift to, then we figure out what our allowance is, and then it becomes, yeah, figuring out what to give. And so obviously that has a lot to do with them and their lives and how they spend their time and we’re constantly looking for that information.

I guess from there, once we figure out what we want to give, or I should say the way we figure out what we want to give we’ve got a few criteria that we go through. The first is we never give consumables. So we don’t give consumables Totally. Because once they’re gone, gives away some Yeah.

They’re thought about once and it’s gone in 24 hours. Yeah. And everybody gives those things and so it doesn’t stick out, right? We never give what are called ABC gifts. So anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas. We try to avoid giving at those times because that’s when everybody gives and we want to make sure our standout.

And then the third thing is we never give anything with our logo on it. So in the book he talks about, if you give something with your logo on it, it’s a gift for you. [00:09:00] Yeah. Hoping they wear it, and then they start talking about your thing. It’s not necessarily a gift for them. Also, if you’ve ever been to Goodwill, how many logos do you see in there that it’s, just chockfull of shirts from businesses that either defunct or, yeah.

They forgot about ’em and so we never give anything with our logo on it. We try to give if as best we can, we try to personalize it. We try to put their name on it. Cause that’s another thing you don’t see get thrown away, right? Things with people’s name on it tend to stick around a long time.

And we’re looking for touch points ultimately is how many times is this gonna get used? So those are, I would say, the main criteria before we decide what it is we’re gonna give. And if it checks all those boxes, yeah, then I love those are great criteria. Lemme just repeat it back for our listeners, if I can remember all of them.

Nothing consumable, nothing that can be, eaten or used and thrown away. Quickly try not to give around anniversary’s birthdays, Christmas, kind of major holidays so you can stand out. Try not to put, your logo on it. If you can put their name or something [00:10:00] identifying with them on it most so they’re more likely to keep it.

I think I got them all. Did I miss one? The other ones were Okay. Their name. Oh, yeah. High touch point. We’re looking at how many times are using things they’re gonna be using on a regular basis. Yeah. I see. I see a lot of people giving away Yetis these days, so it’s like something someone will put, keeping their hand all day, every day at their desk in their car.

That’s the kind of vibe we’re going for. Yeah. So let’s gimme some more examples. Yep. What checks all those boxes for you all? What are the kinds of things you’re giving regularly? I, we’ve given so we, at one point we had a golfer. We’ve had a couple of golfers actually where they were juujitsu people, but who like to golf.

And what we did is we went to fairway leathers.com, I think that may be from the book Fairway Leathers. And we had a, like a custom. Golf valuables bag. It’s like a nice leather bag. We put it in his alma mater colors. He went to Humbolt State. So we’re in his, his college colors.

And then what we [00:11:00] did was we turned a picture of him. Yep. It’s a picture of him golfing. He just finished his swing and we sent it to a designer on Fiverr and just had them make it a silhouette. And then we sent that over to the, to Fairway Leathers and we turned ’em into a logo. Basically. If you could think of like the PGA tour logo.

It didn’t cost us much at all. I think the total spend was maybe a hundred bucks, maybe 150 bucks. But. He golfs twice a week, and so that’s a hundred touch points if you average it out and and then it’s got his name on it and a nice like collegiate collegiate script and yeah.

Mean that’s, and spend hundred bucks on someone. I’m sure it spent thousands with you. It’s just like such a no-brainer. Yeah, exactly. It’s totally no-brainer. Absolutely. We had one member he’s really into the data and analytics and the wearables, stuff like that. So we we got him a whoop nice strap with his name on it.

So it didn’t take a lot. It’s, I, we just listened to him, he was like I’m really interested in my sleep data and all that stuff. And I was like, man, like I wear whoop I like it, so I, why not? [00:12:00] And so I, we put his name on it and when he got it, he’s this is the coolest thing anybody’s ever got for me.

And that’s 365 touch points. It’s every day for him. We’ve given maybe another, I guess a nuanced approach to this is giving to family members or in this case, pets. It’s like we had a member, she was our longest tenured member. She’s sadly moved across the country and so she doesn’t train with us anymore.

I would, I should say she trains with us online, but she doesn’t train in the gym with us. But she loved her dog, Ralph. She talked about her dog Ralph all the time, always on Instagram. And so we got we went through BarkBox which is a subscription dog toy service. And so we got her a three month subscription to BarkBox, and when it showed up at her house, she’s oh my goodness.

Now every time Ralph plays with a toy, she associates that toy or the joy that she sees with her dog. Amazing. Amazing. Us. We’ve also done. We’ve also done we’ll give to like network partners, strategic network partners give to our coaches actually. You can use this as a, [00:13:00] not just a member retention strategy, but also a an employee retention strategy.

We want to make sure that they know that we care and we listened to ’em. And so we did. As one of our coaches he loves to play on his Xbox and. When he first joined, I had noticed he carried this water bottle around. That was Patrick Starr Pink and it had Patrick Starr stickers on it. Like it looked like Patrick Starr, his eyes, and the base was kinda like his shorts.

And I was like, that’s his own little personal brand. And I was like, man, that’s really, that’s cool. And I went on, I found you can customize Xbox controllers on, you can customize Xbox everything these days. And so I went on, I customized one. Yeah, exactly. And so it’s a, it’s Patrick Star pink.

It has his name on it, and he’s the only one who will ever use that, right? Like he, he’s it’s his controller. And those of you who game know that’s a really personal thing. And so that’s another example of yeah. Looking for high touchpoint, personalized. Yeah. Those are all such great examples, Matt and I can imagine, I’m sure our listeners can too.

As you’re talking through and sharing this, I can [00:14:00] imagine the reaction people have when they get these things that are highly personal, right? It’s like the best Christmas gift. Ever’s incredible from their gym. Not even family members or friends. Yeah, I think so. Like you’re going above and beyond to really give them something highly personal.

Yeah. Little side note, this wouldn’t be a good example of one to give, but I just learned literally last week that you can customize Oreo cookies. You can go on Oreo’s website. Whoa. And put like an image on an Oreo. Change the flavor or color of the inside. Anyway, you can customize everything. But you know what though?

Even though it’s consumable. Oh sure. For the right person, of course that could work. If it was somebody who was like an Oreo fanatic, right? That would be cool. We had one. We had one member. She would I kept seeing her steal kettlebells so she could put her camera up so that she could film her lips, and I just realized that was really important to her.

So I was like, I’m just gonna get her a tripod. So I got her a tripod. She was like, this is the best day ever. I’m like, yep. That’s what she cares about. It didn’t. It didn’t have to be this super elaborate, expensive. Thing. It just had to be something that was[00:15:00] yeah. Dear to her. I love all these examples.

I think, it’s super clear, I’m sure to anyone listening that when you can go above and beyond this, you create a connection with this person that really lasts forever. You create like loyalty that is will never die in many ways. And I imagine our listeners, if they have any objection to doing this is, I can hear them right now in my ear saying, but who has the fucking time?

Who has the time to go and source these things, find these things, get these things designed, and so like how do you find the time, Matt? Like I said at the beginning, systemizing learning about your members goes a long way is really helpful because then it’s just a part of the day to day, right?

It takes several months. To, this isn’t something that you can just do tomorrow, right? Like it’s, this is a long process. It’s a real slow burn. Where do I find the time? I don’t know. It’s kinda an unfair question, but I had to ask cause I know that’s what the reaction’s going be. As things come up I’m, we try to do it once a quarter if we can.

[00:16:00] Sometimes it’s a little more often, sometimes it’s a little less. It just depends on the person and who’s due. So once a quarter, we’ll sit down and we look through the member list and we’re like, all right who’s gotten a gift? Who’s due for one? Yep. Maybe it’s nobody.

Maybe it’s a couple people and we have to spread it out. So I think if you just sit down once a quarter and think about it, just think for, spend. It doesn’t take that long. If you really know the people, it’ll come to you pretty quick. And then systemize it. So in our s o P document, we have how to make all of those things in the event that we wanna make something like that for somebody else.

Like we’ve given away, wait, at this point, several golf bags. And now it’s easy cuz you just go on there and it’s already done. I know exactly where to go on Fiverr. I know exactly where to go, to get the things done. And so now it’s simple, but I would say once a or once a quarter or so, just sit down for 15, 20 minutes and think about the members that mean the most to you.

Not that they, not that anyone means more than are meaningful using that criteria you mentioned earlier, which is they’re real cultural in [00:17:00] influencers in the gym in some way. They bring people in, they keep people there. Exactly. They build connection. I think it’s so smart and I love making it just a quarterly ritual.

I lot, a lot of our listeners and a lot of our unicorns and members do a quarterly planning process and so this could be a great thing. Just insert in your quarterly planning agenda or if you have regular team meetings, this can be a part of a team meeting just once a quarter. Or if you don’t have any of those things, just a reoccurring calendar on your appointment.

Really? I said that backwards. A reoccurring appointment on your calendar every quarter. Just, 15, 20, 30 minutes just to sit down and think through. I will say this, that in my imagination remind me, your model at the gym is what your one-on-one training. One small group. Semi-private.

Gotcha. Semi-private. Yeah. So I think when you’re doing one-on-one or small group, this is, exactly what you mentioned I think is a no-brainer, easy approach. I think the one thing I will I’ll share is that we have a lot of listeners who are large group and in large group, you don’t always have the ability to know people at that level.

You won’t always know people as deeply. Some of us do and some clients stay on for so [00:18:00] long. You absolutely get to know them. And so what do you say to those folks who have maybe a large group maybe with a little bit more turnover, where you don’t have as much one-on-one time? Can the same thing work, you think?

I think so. It might just take a little bit longer to develop, make, it might take longer to get to that. To get to that level with somebody. And I think, even if it’s a large group setting, our goal is always to keep people coming back. Yeah. Because we know we can help them.

And you may just have to yeah, you may have to. You may not be able to go as personalized, but as long as it’s something that Yeah, people are gonna use a lot and think of you like you mentioned earlier, like the Yeti, right? Yeah. That’s a pretty simple one. It’s something that everybody uses.

If you can customize it, that’s great. Just avoid putting your logo on it and it doesn’t take a lot, it just. It has to be something that you know somebody’s gonna use. Totally. Yeah. I love that. I love that. And I think there’s some folks who are gonna wanna put their logo on it, and I think in some cases that’s probably fine, but it can’t be the always, it can’t be the default.

It [00:19:00] can’t be. Every gift you always give is about you with your logo on it. But I think once in a while, especially for large group folks, having some high quality items that happen to have your small logo on there, I don’t think it’s gonna be end of the world, but I think it’s a really great role to follow, to really make sure it’s personalized.

I love that one. Yeah. Alright anything else people should be considering who are gonna try this? Any other like stumbling blocks or things you’ve recognized? I guess I would say the presentation is one thing that, that could use some work. You obviously don’t want to do this in front of everybody else.

You wanna make it, you want to make it personal to them. So the presentation is important. That’s something that maybe we didn’t talk about and. So I would recommend finding a time and place where it’s, it is just you and that client. Whether it could be at the end, if they’re in their last session of the day and they’re the last ones.

Okay, that might be a good time. Or you might meet them for coffee, or you might, some of these I happen to give. Yep. At Juujitsu, I, we had just got done [00:20:00] training and we’re feeling good. The endorphins are flowing and I just pull ’em off to the side and be like, Hey we wanted to thank you for being such a great member at the gym and being such a great, part of the culture and for.

Helping helping create the kind of environment that makes people wanna stay. And so for that, we decided to do something for you. And, here you go. And then I think so I think the presentation, both the timing and the way you frame it. Yeah. That’s beautiful. I’m so glad you added that.

Cause I think you’re right. It is so important. You don’t wanna make a big presentation in front of everyone. Some people don’t like to be putting on the spot, but it also signals to everyone else in the room they didn’t get a gift. And to make it highly personal and share a little bit of the, highly personalized kudos you want to give them is better to do in person, so you can have that real moment of connection.

Yeah, I love that. So I, that’s such a great idea. Let’s wrap it up. I really appreciate you coming and sharing this strategy. It’s a topic that I don’t think we’ve covered much on the podcast. And the fact that you’re doing it so well and it’s working so well for you, I think is great for our listeners to go experiment.[00:21:00]

Dear listeners, go experiments. See if you can’t, follow Matt’s footsteps here and find some highly personalized way to give gifts. I think it’s a really smart thing to, to experiment with. If people wanna learn more about you, Matt, or your gym, where can they find them on the intro webs?

So my personal Instagram is at Matt dot jit hu my, the gym Instagram is at Victory High Performance. So you can find on my own personal Instagram, there’s business stuff, juujitsu stuff. There’s I’ve been making some sketch comedy stuff Nice. With one of my buddies. We’ve been filming our own little series.

So if. You’re in need of a laugh. There’s some stuff there for you, even if you’re not a juujitsu person. Yeah, I think you’d find it funny. Then like I said, the gym is at@victoryhighperformance.com. That’s awesome. Yeah. Listen, if you wanna ask Matt any follow up questions or, dig deeper into this topic, find him on the Instagram, go DM him, ask those questions.

I just wanna say thanks for being here, Matt. It was so good chatting with you. So I appreciate your sharing your insight. Yeah, of course. Thanks for having listeners. If you love this podcast, please leave us a five star review everywhere you listen to your [00:22:00] podcast. And email me mike club business unicorns.com.

Let me know who you want me to talk to next, or what you want me to talk about. Have a great day. Talk to you soon. Thanks again, Matt. Yep. Thanks Michael.