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Episode 105: Selling Hybrid Memberships, with Dr. Brian Strump

By Chris Cooper & Greg Strauch

Dr. Brian Strump is the owner of Live Active Charlotte, CrossFit Steele Creek, and a few other companies.  An early adopter of the prescriptive model, Brian was one of the first to offer hybrid memberships in a CrossFit gym. His current top membership rate is $919 per month. Part of my mission on this podcast is to change the perspective of scope for other CrossFit Affiliates: to show where the high bars and gold standards sit, and demonstrate to listeners what's possible. Just like seeing an athlete deadlift 600lbs and then run a sub-six-minute mile, we all need models of what's possible at the top end. If you set your rates based on what other local affiliates are doing, or what you think "the market will bear", you're probably guessing. I did it too. And it's probably killing you, like it almost did me. Obviously, you can't jump from a $150 membership to a $1000 membership overnight--at least, not with the same service, and not with the same mindset. What makes a difference? A larger view of your business. And mentorship. I ask Brian to walk us through his facility, because while he operates two significantly different businesses under the same roof, I want listeners to realize they don't need a clinical waiting room or a white lab coat to sell high-value services. After all, the service we all sell is the highest value of all: we're saving lives. I ask Brian first, "What are you actually selling?" He says "a healthier lifestyle", and that's an important distinction. Part of a healthy lifestyle is fitness. One great path to fitness is CrossFit. That means "sign up for CrossFit" is really his client's third decision, not their first. Brian has zoomed out from "selling CrossFit" to "selling fitness" to "selling a lifestyle" - at least two levels above anyone else in his area. That means his prescription--a word Brian doesn't actually use, to avoid confusion with his chiropractic practice--can include workouts, nutrition and measurements. Those workouts might include CrossFit groups, or 1:1 training, or a bootcamp. Are all of those people still doing CrossFit? Absolutely. Like me, Brian uses CrossFit because it's the most effective exercise model in the world. But like me, Brian knows CrossFit isn't a business model.  Brian's business model includes dozens of possible combinations for membership. He avoids client confusion by hosting a 1:1 intake meeting and regular, scheduled goal reviews with his clients. Then the coach makes a prescription that's tailored to the client. It's not sales, it's responsible coaching. Brian puts his membership prices on his site, because (like me) he's been around long enough to know that he doesn't want to attract people who can't afford his services. Since we can't invest our time in everyone, we let the website filter price-sensitive clients. This isn't always the answer for every gym, but mature founders will probably be nodding along at this part. Brian's clients are also frequently moving between memberships at his gym. It's important to note that they make these decisions with their coach, NOT with their banker, and certainly not alone. If an affiliate only has one membership option, and a client thinks it might not be for them...they can go elsewhere, or they can try a different membership option. More visits or fewer visits to a CrossFit class isn't a different membership option; the hybrids Brian mentions are very different options.  Brian is very outspoken and doesn't hold ANYTHING back. This is an inspiring and actionable episode. 

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