Ep. 14 - How Kate Laird Has Grown Her Fitness Business by 31% During COVID-19
During a tough time for the fitness industry when a lot of gyms and studios are closing, Kate Laird, owner of Love Your Body Fitness in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada has been rapidly growing and expanding her business.
March was her Best-Month-Ever (#bme). Revenue is up 31%, she’s added 35+ new members to her roster, and she’s also signed a new corporate client.
How is Kate’s business expanding when others are contracting their operations? We cover that and a whole lot more in this episode.
In this episode, you’ll learn…
- Previous challenges always prepare you to take on new (and bigger ones!)- How Kate worked through a toxic relationship, bankruptcy, job loss, and more over the last several years
- Some of the big lessons she’s learned (and shifts she’s made) in her business the last 6 months with regards to her mindset around pricing, packaging, and contracts
- Why it’s critical you INCREASE the value to your clients right now, and don’t devalue yourself and your business by lowering price or trying to give everything away for free (you’ll just set everyone up for failure on the road ahead).
- The steps she’s followed to powerfully lead her clients, team, and community to transition from OFFLINE to ONLINE services delivery during COVID-19 (and how she’s achieved a 100% retention rate as a result)
- How she’s been able to add 35 new clients to her business (including a new corporate client) and increased revenue by 31% during the last 3 weeks
- And much, much more…
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Sean Greeley: All right. Hey guys, this is Sean Greeley back with an interview with NPE Academy client Kate Laird from Ottawa, Canada, owner of Love Your Body Fitness. A little fact, I just learned Ottawa is the capital of Canada, while people think Toronto’s the capital. Nope, it’s Ottawa. And Kate, we’ve been working together for some time now, actually, since last August. It’s April as of this recording. Very excited to have you here today, and to just kind of kick things off. Share a little bit about your business, your [inaudible 00:00:30], the market you serve.
Kate Laird: So I call myself Love Your Body Fitness because, unlike the way a lot of fitness businesses go about bringing in clients and taking care of their clients, I teach people to love their body and take care of their body. So instead of doing the, get ready for bikini season, it’s more like, this is the practice that we do every day because we love ourselves and we deserve to be at our best. Which is great because I serve primarily moms, right around the pre, post-natal school age children age. Which is a hard time for women, especially when it comes to body image and stuff like that.
Kate Laird: So I always tell them the cherry on top is that you end up looking really good, but we do it because we want to feel good. We want to have energy and function well and, be able to keep up with our kids, and do whatever sports we used to do before we had kids. But it’s really all about that, love your body into being its very best self. And taking care of women in the time when they’re taking care of everybody else the most.
Sean Greeley: Awesome. I love that. And especially now during this time we’re doing this recording in the middle of all the COVID-19 craziness happening around the world. Loving your body is even more important now than ever. Loving yourself and self-care, and certainly as a new dad, my wife and I had our first child, our son, he’ll be at one actually this month. So that story is very relevant, to our family today, and all that is involved for new moms and fitness and more, so fantastic.
Sean Greeley: Okay. Well, we’re going to have lots of talk about, and I guess kind of what is the preface, a lot of story is your business is not just surviving, but it’s thriving during this time of, really craziness or industry. When a lot of businesses are shutting their doors and out of business, your businesses is thriving. And we will say that you are having your best month ever in business, 25% higher revenues than previous months you’ve been able to, pay your gym rent, and support your landlord.
Sean Greeley: So there around, you’ve been able to support your staff, and keep them on board and keep them paying. You’re paying yourself more than previous months. So, we’re going to talk a lot about that in this interview.
Kate Laird: I actually paid my staff more this month and paid myself the same amount because they lost all of their [crosstalk 00:02:44].
Sean Greeley: That’s fantastic. Okay. So even better, even more of a champion, taking care of everybody else out there, supporting your staff during a difficult time, which is fantastic. So we’re going to talk about that. But to preface this, part of what you and I talked about in kind of the prep for this interview is your story starts a bit further back. And I think everyone needs to understand context because, a lot of things that we work through in our lives prepare us for certain moments in time, and certain moments in our life.
Sean Greeley: And you’re certainly like, this is all just been easy for you, and piece of cake and everything’s just been smooth sailing for you in life and business. And a lot of the challenging, difficult things that you’ve been through, have prepared you well for the success we’re having now. So I’d love to kind of start back and just share a little bit about your journey in fitness. Where did you start? Why did you start your business and how did you get to where you are today?
Kate Laird: So I started when I was about 20, I’m trying to think 22, 23 years old. I finished my economics degree, and realized I had no desire to go and sit at a desk in a cubicle somewhere like my parents wanted me to. And instead followed my passion, which was fitness. At the time I was actually really looking forward to having a family and thought that teaching fitness part-time would be a great business to have while I raised a family. I can work around someone else’s schedule and still be really present with my children. So I wasn’t really planning a huge career. I was planning more kind of a hobby that brings in a little bit of extra income, and that’s how it all started.
Kate Laird: Now, fast forward, I think I was fairly anxious on the having kids things and got married pretty young and had a couple of gorgeous little girls, but it ended up being let’s call it a very toxic relationship. And there were a few large issues there, and one of them was gambling. Not my own gambling but he had a bit of a thing with gambling. So there was a lot of factors that made me leave the marriage. But all of a sudden, I was on my own with the two-year-old, just turned two-year-old and a four-year-old, freshly coming off of maternity leave without a full-time income and bills to pay and… It was really hard.
Kate Laird: I had a couple of years there where I would come home and not be able to turn my lights on, because I put gas in my car instead of paying my electricity bill. And I’m a bit stubborn, there were family members I could have asked for help from, but I tend to be the type that just kind of figures it out on my own and got myself going as a manager of a fitness center, and did that for a while.
Kate Laird: Unfortunately, it was a city run building and the city took it over. So my whole organization ended up getting laid off. So just when things were hard, things got harder again. And actually that year that I’d been managing the place, I had doubled the membership there in a year. I said to myself, “I love what I do. I love teaching. Also, I’ve just learned the business side and love that as well. I don’t know why I’m not doing this for myself.” So I went back to square one and started calling all my old clients and that year, I think I made about $35,000, for the whole year.
Kate Laird: But it was only slightly less than I was making at the community center and I was having way more fun. And that year was 2016 so that was four years ago. So I’ve been plugging away. I currently have, six amazing staff and we’re making a little more than $35,000 a year, which is great. I pay myself every month and my staff as well. But I think like you said, it was those really, really hard times where I had to reinvent myself, rebuild myself, plug through some really hard things, that gave me the ability to pivot my business very quickly, when all of this virus stuff started, so that we could just keep going.
Kate Laird: Because the thing I realized going through all those hard times, the part that kept me the most sane of course was my fitness. I’ve been obsessed with fitness my whole life. I don’t know if I’ve ever worked out harder in my life than I did those couple of years that I was in the real worst time. And that’s what kept me sane. And right now my clients are stuck home with their kids, either trying to work or not trying to work. Either way, it’s really hard. And now they’re telling me the same thing. Their workouts with me are what’s keeping them sane. So we need it. We all need it right now.
Sean Greeley: Oh, well, I just had a killer workout this morning, it’s keeping me sane. So we’re all needing it right now, for sure during a busy time for everybody. So, I want to kind of jump to when we first met in August. So we met at a one-day workshop we held in Toronto at the Tampa Pro Convention. We held a one day, more clients, more profits workshop. You came in, to the workshop for the day with about what, 25, 30 people in the room. And within the first half the morning you were like, “Yup, this is great. Sign me up and I’m going to lunch, see you later.” And it was really awesome. You’re just like very decisive action taker and didn’t even care to stay for the whole workshop. You were like, “Yup, I get it. Sign me up, I want to full program, let’s go to work.”
Sean Greeley: Let’s talk about that for a moment, because that is really a trait of successful people is, you came there looking for information. You saw the opportunity, you had trust in us, in our community and our work we do to support you, and you made a decision you took action and went to work. And it’s not like you had tons of cash sitting around either to just pop it down and sign up for a program either. You had to work through a little bit here. So, take people through that process. Before you came to the event, what were your thoughts coming into it? What were you looking for and then what changed for you during those first few hours of the day?
Kate Laird: So arriving at the conference that year, I had just hired my second coach, to work with me. And my business had grown to the size that everything going into my personal bank account no longer made sense. And I realized I was going to start needing some real systems, that I didn’t need before when it was a smaller business. I think the year before from 2018 to 2019 I doubled my revenue that year. So I knew I was growing, and then I was at a stage where I was like, “Now I actually need some help because I don’t really know what I’m doing here”. I was excited to be there, but not really sure what I’m doing here. So that was one of my goals at the camp at Pro Conference, because I knew just like I have programs for my clients that will bring them to their goals, I knew somebody out there had a program for me that would bring me to mine.
Kate Laird: So I had researched, there was a couple of different options similar to what you were offering. And I’m so glad that yours was the one that I chose. But yeah, it’s funny because you started to speak and within about an hour, I sent my boyfriend a text message and I said a bad word. I said, “Oh shit, I think I’m signing up for this, and it’s expensive.” But he’s amazing. He’s like, “Of course, just tell me what you need.” One of the great things about being a bankrupt, I went bankrupt in 2015, I think. So that’s still on my credit rating and will be until, I think it’s 2024, before it’s wiped off the way it works in Canada.
Kate Laird: So I have a credit card that is secured that has $2,500 a month on it and that’s it. I can’t get more credit. If I need to buy equipment, I have to buy it with money I have in the bank. So running large payments through that is a challenge because I have to run my whole business. I pay it off like once a week, because I run a business through this teeny tiny little card. It’s not a bad thing not having any debt, not bad at all, and learning to live in a way that you don’t need to have it. But he was great.
Kate Laird: He’s “Yup. No problem. Tell me what you need. Here’s my credit card number. I have faith in you. If you think it’s worth it. I think it’s worth it too.” So it’s great. Runs on his card every month still, and I just e-transfer him. But I was really excited when I started to see all these systems. You sounded just like I do when a client comes to me and says, “Here’s where I want to go.” And I’m like, “Okay, well, no problem. Well, we have to do this. And the first thing have to do is this, and here’s our basics.” You know it all backwards and forwards.
Kate Laird: And I believed everything he said, “I love your story of all the hard things that you went through that brought you to where you are.” And then actually I was so excited about it that I went back to my hotel room and rather than spending the day in the conference, I was all signed up so I could get right into the program. I started working on the homework that you had given me that afternoon and it was fun. I’ve loved every second of it all, every second, all the things I’ve learned.
Sean Greeley: Awesome. Okay. Fantastic. And there’s been also a few big things I think we’ve been able to achieve together working on your business from August till now, that have really prepared you well. And one was moving from one-time sales to recurring membership, recurring revenue, which meant you had a base that was turning over the first of every month regardless of what else happened in the world. And that also prepared you well to pivot, now rather than trying to do teeny tiny transactions.
Sean Greeley: So, I know that’s been a big piece and maybe you could speak to a little bit around, you’re working through that for you and your clients, and any other kind of big rocks you think that have prepared you before we talk about really the last few weeks.
Kate Laird: Well, that was a funny one because I was anxious… I mean, changes are always hard, and I was anxious about broaching this change with my clients, worried that they wouldn’t like it or, I had prided myself for years on not needing to hold people in contracts like the big gyms do. And it’s true, most of my clients, some of them have been with me for 13, 14 years. My clients are very loyal and don’t really need a contract to be locked in. However, what ended up happening is that everyone was like, “Great, sign me up. No problem.” And it seems to work out better for my clients as well, because they don’t have to worry about when they need to buy more sessions, especially the people that were on the larger contracts.
Kate Laird: It’s nice not having to worry about a large expense that we kind of surprises them every two months. Instead, they know exactly how much it’s going to cost every month so they can budget for it more easily. And anything that brings you a bigger commitment, is helpful. Right? They’ve all come to me with goals in mind. I mean, they all have different goals, but it’s just created more commitment to their goals. They’re really just committing more to themselves. Right? So, I think it’s actually worked out better for me, because I can plan my business a lot better around knowing how much money I’m making, but that allows me to serve them better.
Kate Laird: And they’re getting more committed and budgeting more easily for it. So it makes sense all around. In fact, I did a talk recently at a women’s retirement planning conference, and one of the things we talked about there was budgeting. You know, people always think planning for retirement. They think about putting money in a bank account. But part of that is having a budget for health and fitness because, what are you going to do when you retire if you don’t have a healthy body to do it with?
Kate Laird: And if health issues arise later in life, you need to have a budget built in, so that you can tackle those things and not stop doing the things that you love. So the budget piece is a big one. Yeah.
Sean Greeley: Yeah. So it’s a good concept that everyone needs to think more about… And I think every business owner needs to speak to their community more about this. Everybody needs a budget for health and fitness. You just got to be making some type of investment, and money side that supports your health and wellbeing, or what’s the point of stocks and real estate and bonds and whatever if you don’t have health. So we’ve got to invest in that, financially and not just time and effort, to be the best we can be.
Sean Greeley: So fantastic, and I should share, this is always the scariest part for everybody. We talk about raising the rates, we talk about redoing pricing and packaging. We talk about moving to contracts and moving existing clients over to a new kind of vision for how we connect and engage and make payments to engage services for the business. Everybody’s scared, everybody’s uncomfortable, everybody’s worried. Everybody’s going to hate them or think they’re greedy or want to leave or cancel and all those things. But from your experience, none of those things happen. In fact, everybody was happy to support you and was like, “Yeah, let’s do this”. They’re ready to go and had your back.
Kate Laird: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s great because when the gyms all closed down, rather than saying, “I need to put everyone’s memberships on hold”, I just said, “I need to figure out how I can still take care of them.” They’re all stuck at home now, which is even worse than… I mean, I shouldn’t say maternity leave is… Maternity leave is hard. I always say it’s the best time of your life, all wrapped up with the worst time of your life, right? Moms feel like they’re going crazy doing the same five things over and over again, like trying to get somewhere in a treadmill.
Kate Laird: Everyone’s still hungry. Your house is still messy? You still have to cook dinner. Still need to take a shower, you still need to do the laundry. Like you never feel like you get anywhere, and then throw in the fact that we’re locked at home now… One of my mom says she feels like it’s… Remember that movie Groundhog Day? Like waking up to the same. I’m like, “They’re going to go crazy. They’re going to go crazy at home.” So what can we put in place for them right away so that we can help?
Kate Laird: And so that first week we weren’t doing live classes yet, but the first day that the gym shutdown, I had taught a class that morning, this last class I taught. But I put up programming that day for the people who were too scared to come into the gym and put out another program for the next day so that no one missed a workout. And I was getting on videoing them all and saying, “We’re going to do this guys. It’s going to be great. It’s going to help.” And I heard from so many, many of them that that first week was so stressful, because no one knew what was going on and it happens so fast in Canada.
Kate Laird: And that those workouts and the connection that they were getting in our little private members Facebook group, were one of the things that really helped them mentally get through the week. Which made me feel like $1 million, and of course motivated me to… You know, what else can I do here? Right? So we started doing live calls the following week, but it’s been man… Trying to roll with the punches through this has been quite exciting.
Sean Greeley: Yes. Yeah, it is. And I want to point out, I think one of the best things you just talked about, really your mindset as a leader and as a coach and having the client’s needs, the center of all your decision making really, for leading the business. A lot of business owners their reaction is, “Oh my gosh, my billing’s going to stop. How do I keep my billing going and make money?” And that question is really easy if you focus on the answer to what are my client’s needs and how do I best serve the needs of my clients today?
Sean Greeley: And if you wake up and focus on it every day, whether you’ve got one client or you’ve got 5,000 clients, then you’re going to be leading your business in the right direction, because your focus on serving, delivering value to your customer.
Kate Laird: Absolutely.
Sean Greeley: So you had that mindset out of the gate, you went right for it, and you were confident in telling your community, “Hey, we’re still working on health and fitness. This is just how we do it. Now. We do it differently than we do it face to face for the foreseeable future.” And everybody followed you. Literally everybody followed you. And I’m sure as you spoke about, sure that took some rallying and cheerleading, and helping people to work through their fears. But as they are just anchored in the movement, and the connection of the community, those being really the two big pieces for you, as being the community and the anchor of plan and movement.
Sean Greeley: Then, they are getting tremendous value, arguably more value now than they ever have because, those bonds increase during times of challenge, not decrease during times of challenge.
Kate Laird: Yeah. I mean, any time that things are hard. I mean, one of my closest friends is… One of the girls who got divorced the same week that my marriage exploded, her marriage exploded too. We have kids the same age and we sort of knew each other. But she’s one of my closest friends now, because we went through something really hard together. And what’s happening in the world right now, it’s hard. So we all need, like you said, connection and community, and we can’t be around each other. So if we can create a place where people can still connect and support each other and get all the things they need to feel a little better and get through the day, we’re going to be closer on the other side of this. And as hard as COVID-19 is… I mean, we have four kids in our house, and we’ve got two people trying to work from home.
Kate Laird: I’m not going to say that it’s not hard. It is very hard. But there is an opportunity here, and the opportunity is that people need us more than ever. So as fitness professionals number one, we know from a purely physical perspective, we need to stay healthy right now. The virus is much harder on people who haven’t taken… Whether they have an underlying health condition or if they haven’t made time for health and fitness, they’re more vulnerable. So right now physically we need it more than ever, but mentally we need it more than ever. This is going to be hard.
Kate Laird: I think we’re slowly realizing that this isn’t going to be two weeks. It’s not going to be a month. We’re probably inside until at least the summertime and maybe longer. So we have to find a way to stay fit and stay mentally healthy, and stay connected. And so that opportunity is, it’s time for us fitness professionals to just come out and say, “How can I take care of you? Tell me what you need, tell me how I can help.” And then create that place for their clients. Seriously, they need us more than ever. And it’s our time to go out and give as hard as we can.
Sean Greeley: Yeah. Fantastic. I love it. And that’s been the rallying call we’ve been talking about every week here. Every day as we’re on a lot of calls together. And you’re doing a tremendous, tremendous job of that with your community and more. So talk about how important that is to you. And a lot of people are having to cut staff and they’re negotiating or not paying rent. And that’s just due to some of the circumstances, the businesses reduce revenue and cashflow. But I think a lot of people also still question.
Sean Greeley: I’ve seen some folks say, “It’s COVID-19, I don’t have to pay my bills.” It really reminds me of this thinking where they can get out of responsibilities and potentially profit from this experience in a greater way. And that’s not your mindset. Your mindset is how can I invest in the relationships, and the things that are important to us now, and in the long-term. Meaning your landlord, your staff and other investments you’ve been making in the business and to really grow the business for this time. So speak to that a little bit, your mindset and thought process there, because I think that’s a really important piece.
Kate Laird: Well, as a business owner, we are all really scared about what’s going to happen to the economy right now. And smaller businesses are going to get hit harder than many. And so what I’ve been trying to do is number one, keep my business rolling through serving my clients, but, then I pay myself and I’m trying to keep my community going as much as I can. I found a local girl that makes skincare products and I’m out of moisturizer, so I’m going to buy from her. The local bakery has some special treats for Easter. I’m going to buy those for my kids.
Kate Laird: My massage therapists and massage therapists are hit so hard by this. They cannot give virtual massages. I dropped off some money the same amount I would have paid her last month for the two massages I would have had. Same thing with my cleaning lady. So I have been very inspired watching people in my community who are… Especially the people who are able. We have to realize some people have lost their jobs. I know I’ve had conversations with a few clients and made some special arrangements with people who have kids, and both partners have lost their jobs and we’ve figured out a way that makes sense because they need it more than ever. And they’ve been loyal to my business for a long time.
Kate Laird: But I’ve been so inspired watching people who are able to give, give. Right? Keeping the economy rolling through this, is really important. So it’s not how can I make as much money as possible right now, so I can put it all in the bank. It’s like, how can I continue to give in my community? I bought coffee from the local coffee shop who delivers right now, big bags of coffee I posted on Facebook. Thanks Equator Coffee appreciate you guys. Supporting each other as much as possible is the way we’re going to come out of this the other side.
Kate Laird: I think when we all do well, we all do well, right? So the more we can boost from your staff to your clients, but also the businesses around you. And I’m in a really special neighborhood here in Ottawa called Westboro. And in this little neighborhood, you’ve never seen more boutique gyms and studios all close together. And the really cool thing here is that, rather than competing with everybody, you will catch all the studio owners going to a class at the other studio owners place and then posting about it on social media.
Kate Laird: So everyone here helps each other. We communicate with each other a lot, and everyone boost each other up. Because rather than pushing each other down, right? We do this and it helps our whole industry. So I think that just like you said, it’s not about how can I take advantage of the situation. It’s how can I help, how can I give, and that will help you keep your business strong, right? Like that will help you keep your business strong and come out the other side of this.
Sean Greeley: Yup. Absolutely. Okay. So I love what you said there about supporting and everybody lifting each other up, which is fantastic. Two things I want to talk about. I want to get a little round some of mistakes being… Sort of more the mistakes being made right now. Which you and I talked about really being devaluing yourself, trying to give things away for free and do all this free online, engagement promotions, which is just terrible. So we’re going to talk about that for a minute, and then I want to get into talking about new customer acquisition growth because you’re not only just transitioned existing numbers well, you’ve been ramping up massively new customer acquisition, and corporate clients as well, through this transition which is fantastic. We’re going to pack it in a second.
Sean Greeley: Let’s talk about right now, the mindset around maintaining your price point, increasing value customer versus just, it’s free, it’s cheap, it’s easy, giving everything away, which seems to be the case for a lot of fitness businesses and coaches that just don’t know what to do.
Kate Laird: Well, do remember that old saying, “Why buy the cow and you can get the milk for free?” They’re totally devaluing themselves. That’s right. If they are putting it all out there, why would anybody pay for it? And I get it. I even remember saying, I was probably pre-children. “If I wanted to make money, I would have gone into another line of work.” But we get into because we love it. We like taking care of people. We like helping them. But the reason I’m still a trainer 15, 16 years down the road, and I am able to care for prenatal and postnatal women’s special needs.
Kate Laird: And I’ve gone through people’s pre and post hip surgeries and knee surgeries. I’ve got dozens of certifications and I’ve learned something from every client and every coach I’ve had over the years, which means I have a lot to give. Many of my clients have special needs that need a lot of extra support, and they’re not going to do well with, no offense to the 22-year-old trainers, but with a 22-year-old inexperienced trainer who doesn’t understand.
Kate Laird: The reason I’m able to serve my clients the way I do is because I’m able to make a living at it. If I couldn’t, I would have five kids. I would have to support my family in another way, and I would be doing something different. Before COVID-19, we know that trainers I think burn themselves out and on an average of 18 months. Is that right? Yeah.
Sean Greeley: Yeah, 18 months.
Kate Laird: So we’re spitting out new fitness instructors like crazy and none of them lasts in the industry, because it’s designed to undervalue them and burn them out. And the result is that it’s really, really hard to find a good experienced trainer. Right? It’s hard. So we are valuable. We know how to bring you results. And if we want to stay in the business, we have to treat it like a business, right? You want to do what you love for the rest of your life. You have to treat it like a business so that you are able to. Right? If we’re giving it away for free on the internet, how long does that last before, I mean, you have to go get another job and then why would you?
Sean Greeley: It’s crazy. Yeah. Yeah. And I really want to… Hopefully, you can send a message out there, to those people that are just trying to give everything for free, don’t know what they’re doing. They’re just kind of scrambling right now. That might feel good for a week or two when you’re getting some likes and comments and you think you’re a hero. But when you can’t pay your bills and you can’t continue to run a business, and now your clients are being served, you’re not helping anybody. It’s not sustainable.
Sean Greeley: And if you really care about the market, you got to care about positioning and establishing and communicating your value to the market. And holding the line on that, because that’s what allows you to continue in a sustainable way to serve and serve at a greater level as you’ve grown in the way you serve, people over the years and continue to expand the way you serve people and the number of people you serve now as a result. So, what are we really committed to? Is it likes and attention, or is it really service and be able to grow and expand the way we serve in a powerful way.
Sean Greeley: Which takes money and profit to do so. Which means you have to learn how to manage yourself and your business to create and grow that over time. Okay. Very important point and we can’t overstress it enough. I think we’ll slice out these few minutes and just hopefully play them a repeat for the entire industry, with everybody needs to hear that again and again. But let’s shift into talking about new customer acquisition. And again last we spoke, I don’t even know what the number is now. Like last week it was like 30 new members since this started plus a corporate client. Where are you at now?
Kate Laird: Yeah, we’re at about 33 to 35. I haven’t done my exact calculation since the gym’s closed. So in there we have a new corporate client. We have a new personal training client, and then the balance would be group fitness. Yeah, it’s amazing that they’ve been coming in through friends referrals. We’ve got someone’s mom who signed up. And because my older business model when it was just me, I only worked eight to four, nine to five, because I have kids. So I was taking care of moms primarily on their maternity leave, and then they’d go back to work, and then they’d come back with their next baby and send their friends in between. It was crazy.
Kate Laird: But the result was that old business model, I didn’t have my clients staying with me, they would just come back every two years with their next kid. So we’ve been messaging all of them to let them know what our new offerings are, and they’re all thrilled to be back in our programs. I was talking to one of my new old clients today who now lives in Montreal and she’s so happy that she can keep doing it, because she misses the classes so much. But of course she lives in Montreal now, so she can’t.
Kate Laird: And I even have someone in Belgium who used to be in my classes, moved to Europe and now she’s back in my group again. And then there’s a bunch of new faces that I’ve never met before that are coming in just from… I have not done my homework right now Sean. I haven’t done the referral campaign, and I have not done the reactivation campaign. So that is purely organic through my clients talking to each other and me posting a couple things online about what we’re offering. So hopefully when I do my homework, there will be a few more new ones.
Sean Greeley: Oh, there will definitely be a few more. We’re going to work on that in the next few weeks ahead. But I want to point out the most important thing that you’re doing which is, when we talked about three steps to lead through COVID-19. One is get your head right to lead yourself and others. Number two, protect the business and that’s really about cashflow business, and then protect the client, which is really about moving operations and increasing the value stream to your customer.
Sean Greeley: And you’re focusing on increasing that value from the customer you’re creating wow. And when we create wow, like you don’t have to know marketing just to create, wow, things are going to happen, right? And things have been happening for you through, all the options that are available now through just the buzz. So people talking about you and through people who now through remote coaching online training are able to… If they stop working with you, if they moved out of town, if their family lives far away but couldn’t engage now, everybody can engage through this platform and your virtual location which is available wherever you live, as long as you’ve got a connection you can plug in. So fantastic.
Sean Greeley: And just talk a little bit about the corporate side. That’s something I think a lot of people don’t consider thinking about. They think really about one-to-one, growing through direct consumer customer acquisition. Here you’re going B2B to sign up a bigger account, and custom account in the corporate side. And maybe just share a little bit about that for people, just to understand some opportunities that may be available to them, especially now when businesses are going through their transition and employee, mental and physical health and wellbeing is critical to employee productivity engagement right now.
Sean Greeley: I mean, you’ve got all your staff working from home. There used to be in an office. Again, people are losing their minds, and we become an anchor and key for them to connect, engage and thrive during this time. So I’d love for you to expand on that a little bit further.
Kate Laird: Yeah. So that’s something we’ve always offered is we’ll go into an office or a park close to the building, and run a class like just for your group. Some of our corporate groups have equipment, some of them don’t, but we’ll kind of work with you wherever you’re at. And lots of offices are tiny, we’ll have two to five people in the classes, and some of them have 50 plus. So this was one of my private clients. She owns this company and she said, “Well, my staff are all going crazy at home right now. I know you go into other people’s offices, so could we offer this to my staff?” And I said, “Of course we can.” And we did keep all of our other corporate clients rolling through this as well.
Kate Laird: And it’s definitely one of those things where they’re like kind of surprised that they can still do it, and not really sure how it will work. And then after the first class, they’re like, “Oh, wow, I’m so glad we’re still doing this.” It’s a pretty neat… For the companies that are able to take on a small extra expense right now, it’s really nice way to thank their employees are still coming to work, and getting through working at home with kids crawling all over them, or I know there’s a lot of people that live by themselves and when we talk about isolation, like they are isolated.
Kate Laird: So to get on a screen and see all their coworkers faces, and have a little interaction at the beginning and at the end and feel like you’re all together during the class. It can be a huge mental health saver. And of course on the business end for us, daytime hours are amazing for coaches and staff. So it’s one of those things that I love to be able to give my staff. I love to be able to give our corporates as well.
Sean Greeley: Yeah. I mean its unused inventory, right time during the day when we’ll see we’re not having people come in, consumers come in to engage us. We can sell that time. We can provide tremendous value for companies. I mean, what better way to keep connected, engaged and create community for your team than this. Than creating a place to move and to have mental health, physical health, well-being and connecting, engage in a fun way with your team. So I love that. And we’re going to be working a lot on more for new customer acquisition in the weeks ahead.
Sean Greeley: You mentioned a few different marketing strategies that we’re laying out. We’ve giving you some homework on, but you’re busy. You haven’t gotten to them yet, but that’s okay. You’ve already signed up 30, 35 new clients in the past couple of weeks in corporate. So we’re doing just great.
Kate Laird: Good.
Sean Greeley: We’ve got a lot more to come in the weeks and months ahead by just doing the right things in front of you one day at a time. And I think I’d love for you to, as we kind of wrap up this conversation to, maybe speak a little bit to that. I think it’s very overwhelming for business owners depending on where we’re at and where the state of your business is today, versus where it was maybe a few weeks ago or a month ago, to think, “Oh my gosh, how am I going to handle all this stuff? What can I do? What am I say? What decisions to make? How to make those decisions?”
Sean Greeley: And one of the messages that I’ve been sharing a lot on every call and conversation I have with teams and business owners is just take it one week at a time. I’d love for you to speak to that, really a little bit further around how you’re keeping yourself focused when you… It’s not like you’re 22 and this is your only thing. You’re mom of five kids, you’ve got a relationship, you’ve got a business, you’ve got employees, you’ve got clients all over Canada now. How do you keep yourself focused and grounded in the week and in the work to be done, and keep things in a good state so you’re not losing your mind?
Kate Laird: Well, there’s a lot there. I have a great big list and I have to highlight the things that has to be done, because we have new information every day for how we’re dealing with everything. There’s always a whole bunch of unexpected things on my to do list usually every day that I wasn’t planning on doing. I am surrounding myself with my coaches. So I have you, my business coach that I see weekly and often talk to you more than that. I have my fitness coach, that’s been keeping me fit all along. I still have him keeping me fit now.
Kate Laird: And I have my workouts built into my day the way they always were. Because if I let those slide, that’s where things really start to crumble, right? And then it’s really just thinking outside of the box, right? We right now are faced with all these things that no one is prepared for. No one has done this before. And so just really trying to think about how the best way to handle each situation. As one of my newest challenges is that the government’s giving $2,000 a month to people who are making $0. Each of my five staff, my five coaches work several other places.
Kate Laird: So up until now, they only had a few hours to give to me every week. They didn’t really have availability for more. Now they’ve lost all their other work. They’re all available to work more. I don’t have extra hours for them, but I also can’t pay them $2,000 a month each. So that’s my next challenge to get through this week is figuring out which is best on an individual basis for all of my coaches, which may land with me coaching 14 hours a day if they all decide that taking the benefit is the best solution.
Kate Laird: So it’s really just about, don’t look at all of the things you have to do. Figure out what the couple of really important things are and get those done. Keep taking care of yourself, keep yourself accountable with the other coaches you have. If you are a coach, you need a coach or two or three. So keep yourself accountable by keeping people in your life that will help you do that. And then just one thing at a time and get it done.
Sean Greeley: Awesome. I love that you talked about having a fitness coach, having a business coach, everybody needs to make those two. And just because you’re a fitness business owner doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a fitness coach and you know it all. And you shouldn’t have a business coach. You need those two things. Always and I will share. I mean, I invest in those two things always. I have a fitness coach and a business coach and continue to work on those things myself. So if you sell it but you’re not buying it, then we would argue you are a bit of a hypocrite.
Sean Greeley: And you’ve got to invest in yourself. And certainly those two key areas are critical. Have a budget, make the investment. Right? Not optional, mandatory. That comes first off, the list when you’re looking at your expenses to make those investments. And regarding your staff piece, a lot of businesses are facing staff pieces. This is the time, and we’ve prepared you well for this week and that you’re going to have some great conversations and some people are going to decide to step up. Some people might decide its time for them to move on and that’s okay.
Sean Greeley: But you’re going to lead through this and you’re going to be able to inspire and lead. Your future leaders are going to rise to the occasion through the conversations you’re going to have this week, which I’m very excited to hear in our next coaching call further about. So you got this.
Kate Laird: Me too. Thank you. Your words keep rolling through my head, which you said a couple of weeks ago at a call. And you said, “Just like a muscle, we all get stronger under stress.” So as hard as all of this is, if we do the work, we are going to come out the other side stronger. So thank you for continuing to motivate and inspire me even when things are challenging.
Sean Greeley: Awesome. Well you got this. Keep up the great work you’re doing. And yeah, let’s just wish everybody the best out there. If you’re listening to this, wherever you’re at right now with your business. We encourage you to invest in yourself, get support where you need it and keep going. There is opportunity everywhere right now. If you focus on best serving the needs of your customers, your clients who need you now more than ever. So Kate, any final thoughts as we finish this interview today?
Kate Laird: No, just keep passionately serving, right? That’s what this is all about. It’s the biggest opportunity for that and don’t undervalue yourself. We are more valuable than ever right now.
Sean Greeley: Awesome. Okay. All right, thanks so much, Kate. And we look forward to speaking to you again soon. I’ll talk to you tomorrow or something, so speak soon.
Kate Laird: Sounds good, bye.