Episode 286

Yearly Tasks You Might Be Missing with Pete Dupuis

In this episode, Pete Dupuis joins me to talk about yearly tasks you might be missing.

[00:00:00] Hello, my friend on today’s episode, I’m speaking with Pete and we’re recording this podcast in Q4 of 2023. And as we’re approaching the end of the year, Pete and I wanted to share with all of you some really critical tasks that all of you as business owners should be thinking about. And these are tasks that only happen once per year, or for most of you only happen once per year.

These are things like checking your lease. For your space. Uh, these are things like raising your rates. These are things like having performance reviews with your team members. And so if you want to make sure you’re not missing any really critical annual tasks, this is a great episode 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 [00:01:00] 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 fitness industry.

Let’s begin.

What’s up fitness business nerds. How are you? Welcome to another episode of the business for unicorns podcast. I am so stoked to be back again in your ears with Pete. How are you, my friend? I’m doing very well. Thank you for having me as always. I don’t know how we categorize me at this point. Are we calling me a co host?

Sure. Or am I just like the recurring guest of all guests? You can, you can be called whatever you want to be called. Yeah, but it’s, it does feel like more co host than anything else these days. Because I feel like you’re pretty on, uh, pretty regularly. Fisher’s on pretty regularly. Ben is maybe the guest still

He’s, he’s maybe still a guest star ’cause he is on a little less and now these days I think it’s really only ev once [00:02:00] every fourth or fifth podcast. I think we wind up having an actual external guest. But I just put this pace. I hope you listeners like it too as we reflect in real time on, on the content we’re making for you.

But I think it’s really, I’ll be honest, when you told me you wanted to scale up the frequency, I thought, no way Michael and I have enough to talk about . Oh. Here we are. We keep showing up. Here we are. 100%. Yeah. And now when we have real guests, it’s like, I get really excited for it again. Not that I wasn’t excited about like real external guests in the past, but now because it’s less frequent, it feels more special even to me to prepare and ask questions.

But yeah, welcome, welcome back. fellow co host. Before we dive into today’s topic, I do want to do give a quick shout out for a really cool tool we have on our website right now. And it’s our raise your rates template. So for those of you, this is actually related to our topic today. For those of you who have not raised your rates at your gym in a while, It’s time, my friend, this is a thing that we, we think all of you should be doing once a year.

And we know it can [00:03:00] be a fraught process. It can be hard to think about how to communicate your value and keep asking for more money year after year. But it’s essential that you do, if you want to maintain a healthy profit margin, we try to make it easy for you. One of the tools we have for you is called the raise your rates template, and it’s available for you right now on our website to download for free.

So if you click the link in the bio, go to businessunicorns. com, one of the buttons at the top of the website there. Is a link to download our raise your rates template. And in there, we gave you, we give you actual emails that you can fill in and customize and send to your clients about the fact that your rates are raising.

We also talk about what percentages we think you should raise your rates. And it’s an essential annual tasks task that everyone has to do to make sure that you are maintaining a healthy profit margin. And so I’ll leave that there as my quick pitch, but go download that free tool. We made it to make your life easier.

And I hope. You use it, which, um, actually is really easy transition today’s topics. Pete and I went today. We want to talk about the fact that we’re recording this at the beginning of [00:04:00] November. It’s going to come out probably in the middle of November and it’s getting towards the end of the year. We’re getting towards the end of the year.

And what we want to talk about today is a list of things that we think needs to be on your radar as gym owners that are. Annual tasks. These are things that you don’t do every week. You don’t do every month. You don’t do every quarter. You don’t even do it twice a year. These are things that only have to typically be done once a year.

And they’re very easy to forget about. They’re very easy to make. It’s very easy to not make. time for them. It’s very easy to feel like these things sneak up on you every year. And I think the things we’re going to talk about today are mostly things that if you miss them, it’s going to be a problem. And I think raising your rates is one.

So we’ve already captured that one. What else is on this list for you, Pete? The raise your rates one ties a little bit into what we discussed prior to the show, which was reassessing your lease. And for example, we just signed a new lease and we see an incremental increase annually [00:05:00] of in the vicinity of 3%.

And if that’s not an impetus to raise your training rates annually, I don’t know what is. Because it’s a significant blow to absorb if you’re not prepared for it. So, that’s one of the things I’ll suggest. Pull out the old lease, assess where you’re at. This also goes for taking stock of where you are in relation to the conclusion of the lease.

And asking yourself, is it appropriate for me to approach my landlord and potentially renegotiate now? In a position where I’m not up against a calendar. I don’t want to call it giving you leverage, but putting you in. In a less compromised position, depending on where the market is at. And so, for example, a couple of years back, my property owner came to us and said, I’m looking at selling the property.

Couldn’t tell you where this is going to go, if and when that happens, and you’re no longer going to be negotiating with me. If you’d like, I’m happy to discuss re evaluating where you’re at and signing something longer term. Makes you [00:06:00] happy and you’re excited about it because it if assuming it’s not offensively Unlevel agreement.

It’s a good thing for him because showing occupancy Makes the makes the property look more valuable and in hindsight. I wish when he asked me that I renewed for the next 30 years Because negotiating with him was a whole lot more fun than negotiating with the new guys. But things like that are appropriate annually to ask yourself, where am I in this?

And if it is the place I want to be long term, and I really do like the footprint, and I feel like this is the appropriate size and space and the other. How can I put myself in a position to extend it at the most favorable way possible? And that’s a once annual conversation I will have with myself. In the near future, we are literally a handful of months into a five year agreement right now, but I’ll probably start asking myself that question after year two every single year.

I think it’s a really great one. It’s so smart to think about, can I start negotiating earlier? I have a little more leverage by [00:07:00] not Being so panicked by not being up against such a strict deadline. And I know a lot of leases are tricky where things do change every year. Not only will your rent go up, but in some cases, how much, how much you’re paying in your share of taxes will change throughout the year, the kind of money they will give you towards maintenance is something that sometimes changes over a year, just being familiar with your lease once a year and seeing should, is there some conversations I should be having with my landlord?

And if not, it’s a good reminder of how much more you’re spending year over year, and it might. be that kind of extra motivation you need to really raise your rates that extra couple percent that will make a meaningful difference. And while we’re on that lease topic, this isn’t necessarily an every year thing, but one little piece of information that a lot of landlords I’m seeing are burying in kind of the language is a specific date by which you need to notify them of your intention of picking up a tenant option.

Or some sort of renewal of sorts and it’s in some cases nine months sometimes 12 I’ve seen 13 [00:08:00] months specifically a couple of times and they Assuming they see it as favorable, or they want a certain domino to fall, they love not mentioning it until after the fact. You need to keep tabs on what that date is, because, for example, we had a very favorable tenant option.

We signed a three year deal with three individual tenant options on the back end of my last lease. And they were well below market and the landlord who I mentioned before when he was outgoing, he knew I had one more tenant option that I could pick up and he made it very clear to me when he walked out.

He said, just so you know, they are praying that you don’t contact them in a written format prior to X date to let them know you want that because they want it to lapse and they want to course correct you a year earlier than you have to. And had he not said that to me, There’s a very real chance I would have let it slide because I had such a [00:09:00] favorable relationship with him to date That he would just assume we were gonna pick it up every year and say it will shoot me a message and say hey It’s coming up next week.

We want to hit the go button on this and I’d say yes Thanks for the reminder and that’s negligent on my part But that was part of the relationship we built and had he not said it it would have cost me thousands of dollars And they were hoping that I didn’t send that message. So something to think about.

Yeah, you never know what shady stuff is in your lease. So being familiar with it and touching base once a year, I think is a really great one to start this list with. So we got really, we got two already. We got raising your rates once a year, it’s gotta happen. And we got a playbook for that. So go download that, my friends.

The second one is taking over your lease. I’ll add one that, I think for most listeners probably happens once a year, which is team performance reviews. I think most of you are probably doing some touch bases throughout the year, hopefully some regular one on one meetings, but most of you are not doing a formal sit down performance review, anything more than once a year.

I think that’s totally fine. I think a long term, I think many of [00:10:00] you should consider this being something that happens twice a year. I think every six months is better, but for a lot of us, it’s not a reasonable expectation. So if it’s once a year, that’s great. But the reason this one goes on the list for me is because once a year is a really good pulse to make sure you’re sitting down with everyone on your team, every employee and having a real.

Great, a really big picture conversation about how overall are they doing? What are all the things they’re doing? Well, what are the things that they’re not doing well? What are their opportunities for growth and development as a contributor? What does the career path look like for them in your business or out of your business, what are their dreams and goals this year compared to what was last year?

And this is also the moment where you often will have a conversation about any raises. How you manage these conversations really matters because let’s just say, for example, you have a team of five people and with each of those five people, you need to sit down for an hour and have an hour long conversation and to prepare for that hour long conversation, you’re going to spend another 30 minutes.

We’re talking about eight or nine hours of work to do this, right? That’s a [00:11:00] whole day and some change of work that you’re going to try and squeeze in this third quarter when the holidays are happening. When you’re selling for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when you’re trying to pre sell for January, and so it’s a lot of work to do employee reviews, I think they’re really important conversations, and you have to plan to spend the time doing it because it’s too much work for most of you to squeeze into the last minute.

And I think when you do squeeze them in the last minute, the conversations suffer, your preparation to talk about their performance and your preparation to talk about whether they’re getting a raise or not suffers. So these are conversations you need to be well prepared for. They take time. And I think getting ahead of that and making sure you’re scheduling these in advance is really critical.

Annual task. Anything you would add to that, Pete? Yeah, I’ve discussed on the show a couple times that we like to sign our entry level coaches to two year deals. That’s the cadence that works well for us. And we prefer to do meetings at the 6, month mark. [00:12:00] And I have a habit of saying I’m going to do things and then just not doing them.

And so when we onboard employees in this context, I typically like to say, what’s exactly six months from today? Let’s schedule a meeting in the calendar and that’s just to protect everybody from Pete’s best intentions going ignored. Now from there, I would suggest this because There are two kinds of annual meetings.

There’s the one that the employees, employer schedules, and then there’s the one where the employee comes into the boss’s office and is like, I think I’m due for a meeting. Can we get one on the books? Which creates a very different dynamic because that is, that kind of feels had like a raise, when are we going to talk about it?

And that’s a lot different from saying, Hey, we’ve had a scheduled. Sit down. We’re going to sit down and talk about a number of things, that being one of them. And, it’s nice to feel like you, the boss, put that one on the to do list and not the other way around. And so, I’d suggest that habit. Just, not just [00:13:00] doing it annually.

But right now scheduling your 2024 iterations, in addition to the one that needs to happen in the next week, eight weeks, if you haven’t done one already. I love that suggestion, Pete, just like getting right ahead of it, putting on the calendar. It really does. When you, as the boss are saying, I want to sit down and talk about your development, your growth, your pay, it sends the message.

This is something you care about. It sends a message. You really are interested in investing in them. You’re interested in their growth and their development. And like when you can be proactive, it really sends a really strong, positive message that you give a And I think that’s really important. Yeah, that’s a great one.

What else is on this annual one? I know before we started recording, you mentioned one that was specific to, to gyms that work with athletes and coaches. Do you want to share that one? I thought that was really good. Yeah. So in the performance training space, I think most gyms who work with the athletic community have a sport or two that they feel like they identify with or they’re known for.

CSP is a baseball gym, and assuming that’s the case and you have the ability to [00:14:00] focus specifically on that segment of the market, I think it’s a really good idea to keep a spreadsheet of sorts with a clear explanation of who’s who in the market from like a team coaching standpoint. Members of the team, like who are the head coaches at the 10 varsity baseball programs surrounding my gym.

It’s important that we have that information on file. It’s important that we track down that email address and Annually, you’re gonna want to revisit that list. Yeah, like it’s it can be tiring and problematic but it’s worth keeping it as current as possible and right now is a great example because we are As we record this, we are about, uh, eight days out from an event that we host called the night with the pros.

And I’m finding that the biggest collection of RSVPs that we’re getting for this event are coming from people who got it from their high school coach. And that’s a really great thing because I keep an updated list and we have good goodwill with people in that community. And [00:15:00] we just fire it off and say, this is a great event for your athletes and their parents.

It doesn’t cost anything. And we try and resolve a lot of the problems or the uncertainty they have surrounding things like college recruiting and. Playing in showcases and things like that. We’re going to answer a lot of questions and to them, it feels like a given, not a take, and they very quickly put it into the inbox of their community.

Cause it’s a great excuse to get into inboxes during a time of year when they’re not really coaching them. And if I didn’t have that list constantly moving. I wouldn’t really know where to start. Every time I went to promote an event of that nature, I’d be starting from square one. So, right now, I’d say, if you don’t have that list, start it.

But if you do have it, I’d suggest picking a specific time of year over year where you stop and you set aside an hour or two to take stock of it and update it. Yeah, I think that’s huge. I think for any listeners whose business depends on a network of other professionals, like coaches, Then you have to keep that list fresh and up to date because people change jobs, people move positions.

And I [00:16:00] think, and I don’t know much about every market when it comes to this sort of thing, but I hear from unicorns and members all the time that there’s new programs popping up in their neighborhood for athletes all the time. They have to keep their finger on the pulse of what’s that new, that new program that just popped up in this last year.

And so I think it’s a really great one, Pete, that if you want to keep track of it, and in that circumstance, what you were doing with your list is you’re reshuffling names. Because every new program is a product of a failed relationship between a program director and his director. Yeah, they left somewhere else.

They are all, they’re all made up of guys who got into an argument with the guy and said, you know what? To hell with you. I can do it better. So you’re really just like moving parts around the board. What very rarely does someone come into the market who you’ve never heard of? Who’s Hey, I’m here. I’ve started this thing.

It’s a very small little, yeah, that’s it. You’re copying and pasting that, that name. Yeah. We got burned on early on in our. Our career [00:17:00] of working with professional athletes. We’ve had this brilliant idea that our website was going to include an active pro page where it was, look at these athletes we work with.

And that was awesome. In theory, first iteration was flawless. It was beautiful. It was all of these affiliated guys that listed what organization was the parent and where they played their most recent season. And then we very quickly learned that players are released and traded and re signed. All the time.

It’s like a part time job keeping track. My whole job was just tracking this list of people who weren’t even with us for two thirds of the year. And so we let that page on the site go dormant pretty fast. But that was an example of a list I don’t suggest you keep outside of just like managing your Rolodex really.

Yeah, 100%. Don’t publish that stuff if you’re going to avoid it. That’s so funny. Yeah, I can imagine that changes all the time. Yeah, I’m going to add one more and maybe I’ll do this as a Twofer, because we haven’t talked about this, this group yet, but I think there’s things with your clients that happen on an annual basis.

And I’ll just name two quick [00:18:00] ones that I think are useful. One that I think absolutely happens often in this fourth quarter is some annual client appreciation event. I think that’s pretty critical. I think it often happens around the holidays. I know at MFF, we always put extra love and time and attention into our kind of holiday party.

We usually have parties throughout the year and for our Snatch in Six Weeks program, but the holiday one was always one where we went did a little something extra, where we did some extra fun, exciting things like bringing in music or food or all kinds of shenanigans. And I think that thinking about that on an annual pulse is about right.

Certainly you can do more than that, and you probably should do more than that. Throughout the whole year to show appreciation for your clients, but the idea of a once a year holiday or festive party where they really feel where they can come together as a community and feel celebrated and connect, I think is huge.

And the second thing I think that exists for clients on an annual pulse is probably a survey. Like doing an annual client survey of, hey, [00:19:00] who are our clients right now? What do we know about them? And I think you can do just a regular feedback survey for how satisfied are they with their last year of fitness?

What are they looking forward to in the next year of fitness? But you also, once a year, might take a slightly deeper dive and ask them some other questions to help you improve your marketing. And your marketing materials, you might ask them a little bit of demographic information. How much money they make, what jobs they have, what are their places in the neighborhood they’re shopping or frequenting, what else they do for their fitness, right?

So you might want to take a slightly deeper dive than just a satisfaction survey once a year. But I think that’s another thing that probably happens on an annual pulse. Bigger kind of satisfaction survey, or you might even think it like, I think of it like a census survey where you’re like, who are, who is our client community?

What more can we learn about them? And how do we ask questions that we can, we can benefit from having that answer by improving our marketing targeting or content better speak to their needs. I think that’s a thing that probably deserves its own podcast as a, as a topic. But I [00:20:00] think it’s a thing that probably belongs on your.

kind of annual cycle, would you, what kind of color would you add to those two ideas? I think they’re both imperative. I’ll say that the performance training gym owners out there who are listening are saying, sorry, Michael, that’s crazy. My 13 year olds aren’t filling out surveys. And to that, I would say, this is your assignment.

To maintain a well segmented list and survey the parents of your biggest demo. If they’re too young to be making the buying decisions themselves, and it doesn’t mean you can advocate yourself with the responsibility of putting your finger on that pulse, it just means that you’re doing it on a smaller scale, but with the people who are influencing the way your revenue moves.

And I, I will agree with people that. A little Johnny 13 year old who shows up in the gym and it’s hard enough to get them to make eye contact with you, let alone fill out a survey. Yeah, I don’t think we need to be collecting that data at this moment. But their parents do have opinions and they are [00:21:00] impacted by how we correspond with them.

And how much friction there is or is not in their user experience. And they have opinions that we should be collecting. Honestly need to be much better at this. I think that’s, it’s a really great point. I’ll also say this, and maybe this is again, another idea for another podcast, but I love the idea of trying to find ways to collect feedback from 13 year olds.

Cause I bet that if, as they walk in the door, if you handed each 13 year old to post it and said the one thing you like most about training here. On the post it and hanging on the wall. They probably got opinions though. Yeah. And take a green post and write the best thing to your red post it and write the thing you don’t like about training here and give that to me.

Um, but I bet there’s a way to engage them in their satisfaction and their opinions, but you’re right. It’s not sending them a link to a Google survey, right? There absolutely is. And you’re right. I’ll tell you, I’ll finish with my favorite story of mine from the last couple of months. We had a college kid who was historically.

Or over the course of the summer, he was in our immersive program. He was around a ton and he just didn’t talk much. He was known [00:22:00] as like the silence assassin in our gym. Didn’t have a lot to say and as he was walking out the door on his second to last day or so, I was in the gym talking to John and John just likes to mess with athletes on their way out the door.

And he pulled this guy over and he’s get over here for a second. The guy comes over and he’s Pete was just telling me that he was here to collect some critical feedback from you on your training experience this summer. So just give them your top three and thinking that the kid would get stumped and be like weirded out by it.

He could have barely talked to me the whole entire summer and the kid turns and he squares me up and he looks at me and he gives me. three incredibly specific critical pieces of feedback about our operation to the point where John went from trying to joke around to being like, shit, this went sideways on me.

I feel like I should be taking notes. Be careful what you wish for. I love that story. We’ll, we’ll end it there. We’ll end it there. Be careful what questions you ask 13 year olds. That’s amazing. All right, friends, hopefully, dear listeners, you found this valuable and you got some ideas for things you might want to put on your radar to do as we turn over to a new [00:23:00] year here in this fourth quarter.

And if you specifically, again, want help raising your rates, go to our website, busyfeedinghorns. com, download that, that playbook, and we give you some really helpful tips there to how to raise your rates when the time comes next. And if you love this podcast, please give Go back and leave us a five star review everywhere you listen, especially if you’re on an Apple podcast app.

It really makes a difference in helping new audience members find us. So please leave us a great review. Thanks for the conversation, Pete. I’ll see you on the next one. Pleasure as always. See ya.