Episode 268

Top Insights from our Latest Unicorn Society Retreat with Pete Dupuis

In this episode, Pete Dupuis joins me to talk about the top insights from our latest unicorn society retreat.

[00:00:00] Hello, my friend on today’s episode, I’m speaking with Pete and what we do in today’s episode is we kind of peel back the curtain and give you a little inside scoop into what we just did in our most recent Unicorn Society retreat, which was in Philadelphia. We are recording this just the few days after the weekend retreat, and we share some of our takeaways from the speakers that we had at our retreat.

Some of the things that Pete and I’ve been thinking about ever since that really stuck with us. And we think there are really great lessons that you might enjoy too. So Unicorn Society retreat, enjoy.

Welcome to the Business for Unicorns podcast, where we help gym owners unleash the full potential of their business. I’m your host, Michael Kehler. 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 unicorn in the [00:01:00] fitness industry.

Let’s begin.

Hello, fitness, business nerds. What’s up. Welcome to another episode of the business unicorns podcast. I’m here with Pete today. What’s up, my friend. Hi there, Michael. How are you? So good. Good to have you, my friend. And before we dive into today’s topic, which is gonna be a little bit of a recap of our Unicorn Society retreat, which was just this past weekend, I just want to give a very quick shout out about Unicorn Society, because you’ve heard us talk about it a ton on this podcast.

It’s basically our mentorship group. We do work hand in hand with me and Mark and Ben and Wheels and our whole team, and we do retreats. We just had one this past weekend and We only open up enrollment for Unicorn Society twice a year, but if you go to our website right now, businessunicorns. com and you click on the page for Unicorn Society, you can get added to our wait list.

It doesn’t mean you’re committing to anything. It just means that you’re going to be in first in line when we open enrollment and there are spots available. And truly, we do tell those people first, we talk to those people first. So even if you just want to gather [00:02:00] more information by visiting our website, go do that.

Put your name on the wait list. Again, you’re not committed to anything. You might not even reach out until we have a spot, but it means that you’re on the list to be first in line when we do. So if you ever want to work with us, make sure you’re on that wait list, which brings us to a quick recap. So we just had our unicorn sidey retreat just this past weekend from recording this in Philadelphia.

It was fantastic. Our retreats are usually like people arrive on Thursday, all day, Friday, all day, Saturday activities. We go home on Sunday and this retreat was all about. The topics were all centered on the client experience. So we talked about everything from onboarding clients to client retention strategies, to client membership policies, to client conflict.

We thought today, Ben, Ben, Pete and I spent the week with Ben too, Pete and I. We give you a few of our core takeaways, things that we took away from the retreat that we thought were really valuable lessons learned that we wanted to share with you. Pete, take us away. What’s one of the first things you’re taking away from this retreat?

Yeah, I’m [00:03:00] a poor man’s Ben. This retreat was different for me because I’ve never attended one of these where I wasn’t asked to lecture. And so I was a participant this time around. It was cool. I don’t often go to events of this nature where I can just learn. So I was more of a student this time around and it’s not that you guys don’t give me the opportunity to learn in this setting But I have this bad habit of showing up at speaking Engagements and being buried in my own slides while everyone else presents as I have a certain amount of anxiety building toward it this time around I had a couple of takeaways.

First, I don’t know that this educates the office or the audience in any capacity, but we typically do a structured gathering on Friday night, and this time around we moved our Perform Better sponsored gathering to Thursday night, and I thought it was such a game changer for the way the room interacted on Friday.

It’s like we, we fast tracked the quality of the communication and [00:04:00] the relationships and things like that right out of the gate during this meaningful part of the seminar. So in between, say, showing up and grabbing your cup of coffee or presentation one and presentation two, the room was just buzzing.

It just felt like there was already a rapport with almost 100 percent of the people in the room. And I have to attribute that to that strategic shift. I don’t know if that was the intent. But yeah, it changed the whole field to me. I’ll say this that I think there’s a really great takeaway for our listeners when it comes to how they, how they build rapport amongst their team and how they build rapport amongst their community, right?

The reason that went so is because people got to connect on a social level before they got to do anything else together. They got to hang out outside of the gym, so to speak. And if you do that with your team or with your clients, you create real opportunities for them to connect outside of the gym.

Then their engagement together in the gym is going to be even that more. dialed in. So I think there is a really great parallel. Yeah. And it wasn’t like an uptick in [00:05:00] resource expenditure so much as just a shift in where it was distributed. So that was a fascinating takeaway for me. First one I’ll give you from being in the weeds, Brittany gave a great presentation on onboarding and it was like many presentations I see in this field where I sit and I listened to this lecturer who is like clearly a rock star at their craft.

And I think to myself, I can’t do that much volume. I’m sorry. Um, if I may be exaggerating this, but I think she suggested as many as 43 touch points in the first 30 days with new clients. Yeah. And all I could think to myself as I was hearing that was in what world is it okay for me to have 43 points of correspondence with a 14 year old athlete in the 30 day window.

And it got me to realizing that the way that we consume information, really quality information. This is best practices stuff. She, her numbers don’t lie. We can’t treat it all as the [00:06:00] recipe so much as a collection of ingredients that can work together in different ways. And so for me. I needed to course correct how I was interpreting the information, what was going on and not be like I call bullshit.

That’s too much. That’s too much. Instead, just be like, what can I extract from this? Where can I model what’s working and what can I throw away and say, Hey, it just doesn’t speak to my operation. And it took me 5 to get there. But once I did. She hit us with like a hundred things that ended up in my notes.

And so I needed to turn off the skepticism just because it didn’t purely match my shop. And I think that’s a mistake that a lot of us make. Cause that was some of the initial feedback that this is like drinking through a fire hose. I can’t do that at my place. And I had to say to them, no, this is exactly, it’s the whole menu, pick what you want from the menu and use it.

That’s it. That’s it. And I, you’re right. If I see this all the time with gym owners is that they’ll immediately discredit a strategy they hear from someone else because of X. Oh, we couldn’t do it like that. They’re in a big city like [00:07:00] New York. We can’t do it like that. They only have. 20 clients. We have 200.

The reality is if you ask yourself, you say open and you say, this is their version. What can I learn from their version? And what might my version look like? If I was inspired by their way of doing things, if you go with that kind of open energy, you can learn from anyone that’s doing literally anything.

And someone like Brittany is so dialed in her kind of client. Kind of onboarding process that like clearly there’s stuff to learn and you know, you stayed open minded long enough to find those little nuggets And some of them were big ass nuggets. I’m sure I unintentionally started closed minded got myself to open minded and ended up with a lot of to dos That’s amazing.

That’s amazing. Yeah, i’ll share a few We had another unicorn setting member mike brannis present as well, and he’s got a place called stoked athletics And he presented on client retention strategies. And the thing that I was, we’ve had to pick one thing from his presentation that I’m really walking away with is that he talks about all the things that we all try [00:08:00] to keep clients around, which we do events.

We do, we reward them. We have like milestone celebrations. We do all these things to try and keep clients engaged longterm. And the reason why I see a lot of those initiatives. Fall flat on their face is because there’s not someone in the gym who’s responsible for doing it. And in Mike’s presentation, he called them captains.

So for every initiative you have in your gym, that there’s a captain and that captain has a clear way that they are held accountable for making sure that thing happens. For example, if you’re going to have a captain who’s going to do, if you’re going to do, for example, a run club. For all your clients and once a month, you’re going to get your clients together and they’re going to go for a run.

It starts and ends at your gym or maybe at a local brewery that if that’s going to be a successful initiative, long term, someone needs to be responsible for making sure that it happens. You need to be a captain of that project who’s then held accountable. To making sure that they are doing their job to keep that thing alive and working long term.

What happens with a lot of these [00:09:00] retention initiatives is that everyone kind of participates. So no, everyone owns it, which means no one’s really responsible for it. And the thing that Mike drove home so clearly in his presentation. Is if you want to do a bunch of different things to keep your clients around long term, there’s got to be real clarity of accountability and real clarity of kind of ownership for each of those initiatives.

Not really resonated with me. Yeah. My favorite thing in his presentation was highlighted in a prior episode of the podcast where you interviewed him. He talked about his fun run and I couldn’t possibly off the top of my head remember what the title is because I believe it’s 14 different words. But yes, it was a big long title.

Yeah, the Stoke fun run, a play on the office, I believe. But yeah, he did a really good job of illustrating in that podcast and in this presentation, how big of a spend this was, but how you can recoup the cost almost to a point of 100%. And at the back end, you need to look at the reach that you had.

Because he scaled his email [00:10:00] list by 300 names and they weren’t just 300 names. They were 300 people from his immediate community. And I mean, in a gym that doesn’t have 300 active clients, that’s a really big deal. And I admired that he was willing to spend in excess of 20, 000 to generate about that much money, but being able to see big picture what all the upside was because so many of us are like, how can we run an event for two to 400 bucks?

and generate 200 email leads. And the reality is you just can’t, you can’t do it. Do a 20, 000 event, find a ton of sponsors to help offset that cost, partner up with other local business owners. Maybe you wind up spending a couple thousand like in his case, but then you. Reap all the rewards of that risk by growing your email list by hundreds of people at a single event.

It’s a, it’s a great model. I think the other, another presentation I’ll call out that had a great takeaway for me was actually Ben’s our beloved Ben Pickard presented on membership policies, which is [00:11:00] one of the least sexy topics in gyms is what are your policies for your membership? But there’s a lot of great takeaways in that one.

But the one for me was that it really stuck with me was that it’s more important how you communicate your policies than almost what they even are. Right, that the how you explain it and if you explain to your clients, why the policies are the way they are, if they can hear it out of your own voice, if you’re changing your policies, you’re not just going to send a boring email.

Maybe it’s going to be a video of you explaining what the new policy is. If your policies in real human language and not in some legalese on your contract. Like there’s a lot of ways to really make sure that you’re communicating your policies in a way that are like in line with your values in line with your.

And you don’t turn into some robot the minute you’re talking about your membership policies. I think the other thing he said that, which we all know, but it’s really a great reminder is that we have all these policies, but we never reference our policies, right? We’re never saying we can’t do that because we have a policy that X.

The policies are really a [00:12:00] shared agreement we have with our clients about how we do things around here. Cultural agreement about shared expectations and the more human and relatable we can be in the communication of those expectations, the easier they are to follow and digest, even when they’re about really unsexy things like membership freezes and, and late show fees, there’s still a way to communicate those that are human and kind and direct.

And that really, I think, stood out to me as an important message for all gym owners to hear. I’m credit to Ben for taking what was a fairly vanilla topic. On assignment. It wasn’t like he raised his hand and he said, I’m fired up about this. I handed him that one. And making it entertaining and relatable.

I’ll give you my last takeaway before we wrap. We had one of our, I believe, ten outside guests, because we sold some extra seats for this one, approach me and say, hey, I’m in. Who do I talk to? Is it Ben? Who do I talk to? How do I sign up for Unicorn Society? And I said, Oh, that’s awesome. I think you’re a fit after the correspondence up to [00:13:00] that point.

And I said, out of curiosity, what prompted the call? And he said to me that he had been reading my newsletter since 2016 and it felt about time he spent some money with me. And I thought that was really funny initially, but then I, it got me to thinking about all of the times that I was grinding through creating that newsletter.

And especially in those early stages when he was reading it, there were less than a hundred people reading that newsletter. And thinking to myself, All that work doesn’t always show tangible results early, but our content strategy can bear fruit six, seven, eight years down the road. And so we need to think bigger picture than what open rates were on a single email or a handful of emails before we emotionally pull the trigger on canceling an initiative.

Yeah, so my friend I think that’s such a great lesson for us all to so some things just are a long haul investment And we’ve had we all have stories of people who’ve been on the email list at Cressy or email us at mark razor [00:14:00] fitness And they come in one day and they tell us like I’ve been on your email list for five years I just now had That kind of the stars align where I felt confident enough and secure enough or ready enough to come in and walk through your doors for the first time.

And don’t give up on that content, my friends, whether it’s email content or social media content or whatever it is, because there are people out there looking at it and watching it who just have not come in yet. And so stick with it. I think that’s a great story. That’s a great story, Pete. Yeah. Let’s wrap it up.

I think this was just meant to be a real quick one just to give you, uh, our dear listeners, a quick download on what we were up to this past weekend and just give you a little peek inside what a Unicorn Society retreat looks like. So if you want to jump onto our Unicorn Society waitlist and be the first to know when registration opens up again, go to businessvigorns.

com, click the link down there in the show notes and join our waitlist because we’d love to hear from you and maybe work together one day. Thanks for a great call, Pete. This was a really fun one. And, uh, I’ll talk to you on the next one. Talk soon, Michael.[00:15:00]