David and Trey of Crossfit Ankeny talk about Client Retention

Good morning Fringe fam. This is Peter Keller from Fringe Sport, and today I'm really excited because we've got a two for. I'm talking with David Schabold and Trey Lovell from CrossFit Ankeny in Ankeny, Iowa. How are you guys doing today?

David Schabold:  Doing well.

Awesome. I love to hear about that. So, David, we were talking a little bit in the pre-show about Ankeny and about Des Moines. Tell us a little bit about your box. Where you guys are geographically, and kind of the demographics of your box. Who goes to you guys?

David Schabold: Sure. We're actually a suburb of Des Moines about 15 minutes north. Ankeny's a town of about 65,000 people, so a pretty good population. As far as our box, we're about 5,000 square feet, so we have a decent amount of space. Demographic-wise we're kind of all over the board to be honest with you. We have a good contingent of younger members, but then we go all the way up to the 60 plus. Have some really good members that are 60 plus that come here and that have been coming for a long time.  So, it's pretty exciting. We are a wide range which we enjoy.

Awesome. Now I always find it interesting when you've got a wide range in the box. Before we get in a little bit to how you came to CrossFit Ankeny, what is it like to program for such a wide range? Cause I presume that the scaling is quite a bit different for, let's say, a 65 plus athlete versus a younger athlete.

David Schabold: Yup, I'll actually let Trey answer that. He does all of our programming for us. So, he can kind of speak on that.

Trey Lovell: So, with the programming with the wide range of people, a lot of it's just me as a coach and the other coaches we have here just being really attentive to the members. Making sure that we know what they're capable of. The best thing that helps is we try to have the same coach cover that same class every day, so they get to know whose going to come to that class, and what they're capable of. Just consistency with the coaching is the best thing for it.

I love it. So, is that very much individualized then? You'll say, hey, this is John, he's an athlete, the coach knows John pretty well. The coach will scale down for John, or are there standardized kind of scaling across the board that a certain class of athlete would go to? Sounds like the former, right?

Trey Lovell: Not really. It's more of just, like, their coach knows whose in that class, what they're capable of. We kind of implemented that for a little while and it just didn't work out to well. It didn't, the members like it better having the more personal scaling options for them.

Got it, I totally see that. David, back to you a little bit. Tell us a little bit of the story of CrossFit Ankeny. Where did the box come from, where did you come from before coming to the box, what does it look like?

David Schabold: Sure, so we are not the original owners of CrossFit Ankeny. There was a pervious owner which started it around eight years ago. Then me and a couple others took over from him. We purchased it about two and a half years ago and we've been running it for the last two and a half years in the new location. So, it's been around a long time. We've carried over a lot of the same members. We still have some original members here from eight years ago, which is always encouraging. Means you're doing something right. Yeah, it's been great two and a half years and, you know, hopefully we'll continue to grow it over the next two and a half years.

Can I dig in a little bit to the process. Where did you come from before? Were you a member of the box? How did you become aware that there was an opportunity to purchase the box? What did that look like in terms of the transition?

David Schabold:  So, I had been a member of CrossFit Ankeny for probably about four years. We knew the owner well. He, you know, had a lot of things going on with family - his kids were involved in a lot of activities. He had a side business that kept him pretty busy. So there just got discussions going regarding moving locations and potentially some of us purchasing it from him. Just mainly because we loved it. We wanted to see it stick around. We knew he was getting busy with stuff and we wanted to keep it around for not only ourselves, but the members. That's kind of how it came about to be honest with you.

What was the most difficult thing about that whole process with transition?

David Schabold: You know probably the most difficult thing is any time you transition ownership and locations is keeping as many members around as possible. I mean obviously with change is gonna come a little bit of change in membership as well. The other biggest, I would say, obstacle for us who purchased it from him, is we all are running other businesses as well. So, just incorporating running this business along with our other jobs has been a little bit of a struggle, but that's one of the main reasons Trey is so important to us. He's here, he does our programming. He's just a highly skilled coach, and it really helps us out as far as running the business, having him here with us.

Would you characterize Trey as like a general manager, or what do you, what title do you call him? Trey what's your title?

David Schabold: He, just does a little bit of everything. I guess we don't really give him a title. I mean he  does a little bit of the day to day management of the place. He does all of our programming. He coaches pretty much all of our classes from about 11 AM until 6:30 PM at night. He also runs our barbell club, so, yeah he does a little bit of everything. You know as far as the day to day running, the customer inquiries, things like that, I handle most of those things because I have a little bit more flexibility in my other job. So, I would say Trey not necessarily a title, but he's definitely our head trainer and programmer, and helps us on the day to day side of things, just running the place.

I love it. Well, in the pre show we talked a little bit about the fact that you guys do run a barbell club, and that you have three USAW certified coaches that run that, and that you think that that's a pretty unique thing that you offer in your area. So, talk to me a little bit about what the experience has been running that, how you guys decided to start a barbell club, and what that looks like now.

David Schabold: Yeah, we'll let Trey speak on that one.

Trey Lovell: Well, starting it was, there's just a couple members that were interested in weight lifting, and I personally compete in it, so I just started training those other people just to do it. Then we started doing some competitions, we liked it, and we started wanting to collect points for USAW. So, started the club, and then after that just kind of grew. A lot of members from the CrossFit side started to come over towards to do it just to learn technique and get better with it like that. Really outside the gym there's not very many because weightlifting really isn't that big in the Mid West yet, but CrossFit definitely has helped with that. That's the main way it started. Just a couple of people started to get into it and then it grew from there.

Awesome. When you started it, do you guys offer it as a, let's say, core offering, or is it an upcharge and kind of a separate class from your CrossFit, or your other offerings, in terms of classes?

Trey Lovell: Well, it was an upcharge, just an extra fee on top of your CrossFit membership, but then the more interest we've had from outside the gym we started changing it to a, like, its own separate deal. Whatever you called that earlier.

David Schabold:  Yup, so we have two separate structures on that for our CrossFit members that pay a CrossFit membership fee. They just do an add on monthly. If they want to attend the barbell club classes we have some equipment that's specific for barbell club. Then because of the fact that we're getting people that are coming here from other places that are specifically interested in the barbell club we have a separate membership that's specifically for barbell club, those people.

Wow, that's pretty interesting. Do you have any idea on the numbers or percentage of people who just do barbell club and are not involved in the CrossFit, or kind of whatever GPP programming you guys are doing?

David Schabold: Percentage would be tough. I mean, I would definitely say we lean more heavily towards trying to keep more CrossFit members, but we do have quite a few - 15, 20 percent between outside members and members from CrossFit that do barbell club as well as their CrossFit membership.

Wow. Pretty awesome. Sounds really great, honestly. Lets broaden again a little bit and talk about your demographic. You guys mentioned that you're in a suburb of Des Moines, but that Ankeny has about 65,000 people. Are you guys mainly pulling from the local Ankeny area, or because of the barbell club and because of other things that you offer, are you getting people who are coming in a little bit further to go to the box?

David Schabold: You know, obviously, a majority of our members are in Ankeny or within 10 miles just outside of Ankeny.  You know, some of the smaller towns, Polk City, Johnston. You know, where they work in Ankeny, we do have quite a few members that live outside of Ankeny that come to Ankeny for work. It's just convenience for them to stop here either before or after work and work out. So, majority definitely live in Ankeny, or just outside of Ankeny though.

Awesome. Yeah, well, and this is a question that we just recently started asking. This is for David. What is something you wish you knew before you got involved with CrossFit Ankeny as an owner?

David Schabold: Sure, you know, that's a good question, honestly. I would say the thing that's taken me most by surprise, you know, being that I run a business outside of this one is the turn over rate at gyms, you know, it's a little bit higher than I would have anticipated. Generally when we lose members we don't lose them because they aren't enjoying what they do, they aren't enjoying the workouts. We're losing them because they're too busy with, you know, other activities. You know, cost is always somewhat associated with it. Even though we are one of the more reasonably priced CrossFits around here.  You know, I would say the thing that surprised me the most is we, you know, we could lose five, six members in a month and then gain ten members the next month. It's just, it always seems to kind of be up and down and that's taken me a little buy surprise.

Wow, that's really interesting. What do you think is something that you've discovered that's really good to combat that turnover, or minimize it?

David Schabold: I think one thing that we started doing that has helped retention is offering of the fundamentals that's going to teach people the movements. You know, what we see a lot of times when  people come into CrossFit is they're a bit intimidated. They don't think they can do what we do. They think it's crazy intense. They're not in good enough shape to get started and I think through our fundamentals, and Trey is such a huge help there because he's so good at the technique side of Olympic lifting. I think that's what scares people a little bit more than anything. The fundamentals, and we actually have offered a longer trial period after the fundamentals that has helped with retention for people starting in. You know, if you give them a week trial or two week trial of the fundamentals, it's hard to get the concept and the point of CrossFit in a two week period. Just because, you know, the workouts are always changing. One day we might have something that's a short burst of a work out. You know, the next day might be longer, but if they're only coming a couple days a week in that two week time period it's hard for them to really get the point of what's going on there. So, I think the fundamentals, teaching them the movements, and then offering them a little bit longer trial period has helped the retention rate quite a bit actually.

I love it. Thanks for sharing. Well, believe it or not, we're about out of time. David, Trey is there anything you'd like to say to our audience before we go?

Trey Lovell: Not that I can think of.

David Schabold:  No, I mean, we appreciate the opportunity to speak with you and, you know, like the idea of pulling information from other box owners. Honestly, I think it would be a great thing for me to get into listening too and pulling ideas from what other people do and to help us improve our space.

Awesome. I love it. So, I found you guys online at crossfitankeny.com, that's C-R-O-S-S-F-I-T, although I think everybody's listening, or reading this knows how to spell CrossFit, and then Ankeny, which is, A-N-K-E-N-Y.  Is that the best way for a client, or a potential colleague, something like that to get in touch with you, or is there a better way, say on Facebook, Instagram, something like that?

David Schabold:  Yeah, so following the website through the email link is going to be the quickest way to get ahold of us. I'm pretty good at responding to emails as quickly as they come in. When people call the phone number it's loud in here, it's tough to hear the phone ring and so definitely through the website, and through email, or Facebook message is the quickest way to get ahold of us.

Awesome. That sounds great. We'll go ahead and make sure to link all that up in the show notes and in the blog post. So, this has been Peter Keller from Fringe Sport with David Schabold, am I pronouncing that correct? It's killing me here.

David Schabold: Yes, that's correct. You got it.

Awesome. And Trey Lovell from CrossFit Ankeny, and reminding everybody go out there and lift something heavy today. Have a great day.

David Schabold: Thanks Peter. 

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