How to Evaluate and Add Value to Your Service Offerings

Chalk Board EvaluationShifting Lifemoves from a  large gym in 2011 that had a lot of sales team support to a few different smaller independent studios and now finally having my own clinic space has forced me to re-evaluate my marketing strategies as Lifemoves is rebuilt towards being a leader in the health and rehabilitation field.

The new space I have is 900 square feet and I am using half of it on a regular basis. Since, my company has been built with kinesiology as the primary services offered I am also looking to add various complimentary services such as physiotherapy and message therapy.  Even under the umbrella of kinesiology we offer various programs which to an average consumer  can be confusing.

I have often felt like Kinesiologists are in between Personal Fitness Trainers and Physiotherapists in terms of our skill set, but also how to describe our profession and sell our services. Nearly 10 years of direct involvement in a gym has kept me selling my services on a per session basis with discounts based on number of pre-paid sessions.

We can sometimes get caught up in doing things just because that is the way it has always been.   Online advertisers can be aggressive with pursuing the upgraded listing.  If you don’t have a marketing plan these sales calls can push people into doing things that take them off their original path.

Perhaps there is another way? Here are some of my thoughts:

  • Simplify Services Offers – get clear on what you do. Can you pare down your programs then become excellent on providing the ones that are making you the most profits?
  • Add Value – is there a way to add value to the programs? Educational products or tools enhance results and build relationships.
  • Create Specific Programs – instead of selling per session basis, create a program with additional service, products etc that are designed for your clients
  • Evaluate Your Website Lifemoves Health and Rehabilitation is so 2008; it will be getting a complete overhaul. When was the last time you delved deep into your website using Google Keywords or Google Analytics? Is what you offer clear on your website? Are there pages that drive clients  a way or that are no longer useful? Is it mobile friendly?
  • Create Tactical Partnerships – are there people or companies in your network who have similar practice philosophies, share client demographics and offer complementary services? Maybe, just maybe there is a program that can combine both organizations’ expertise (start with one first).

Create a yearly marketing plan based on an analysis of where your top clients are coming from as well as solid analysis of online marketing.  I started to take a look into this recently and made some interesting discoveries, such as my home page being very unclear about what we offer and the long-tail keywords that competitors websites are using.

What will you be doing differently in the next few months?

When to End a Strategic Alliance to Grow a Business

A strategic alliance or business partnership only works when both parties are doing their parts to make it function. When one side becomes disinterested or hindering by their lack of attention or action then it is time to move on.

The company I originally made my strategic alliance was bought in late 2009.  In 2010,  the new owners by lack of action, unwillingness and new operating environment made it difficult to grow my business. We survived because I was determined to lead us into a new direction and I know the value of my business.

Sometimes we get stuck in what is safe even though we are unhappy,  and no longer progressing. It is important to turn the page to get unstuck. Having a plan helped me successfully navigate the big change of breaking Lifemoves’ strategic alliance with Steve Nash Fitness Clubs (Fitness World) to grow my business. 

Tonight I delved a little deeper into the next chapter of my working life by saying goodbye and good luck to a number of work colleagues who are now friends.  In early 2000 I joined the Fitness World Cambie club to get a job as a Personal Trainer; twelve years later I moved my independent business out of there.

End of a Strategic Alliance

There are times in life when everything comes to its rightful conclusion and we are ready for something new. For me I think I held on a little too long because I tend to see the best in situations rather than the worst. At times this means that I refuse to see the situation for what it truly is.  A strategic ally who doesn’t respond to your request to have a meeting for over a year kills any grand potential the alliance has.
In the Cold Hard Truth, Kevin O’Leary makes that point clear as well.  When one side is no longer providing the services that are required under the agreement it stalls your growth, make sure you don’t wait too long before changing your strategy because if you do it could sink your business.  In 2010, I waited patiently for all the dust to settle from a merger while I was under the impression that the new owners liked what we were doing and saw our potential (all smoke).

A nearly eighteen month stalemate nearly killed my business. It was finally in May 2011 that I was able to get a meeting to sort out what my next steps were. We mutually decided that it was in both businesses best interests for Lifemoves to move-out as soon as possible. Thankfully due to the circumstances we had until September 2012 to find the appropriate space.  

 If you own your business it is up to you to take action and pay attention to your financials so that your business thrives instead of dies.  In time like these pay very close attention to your financials, perhaps even monthly if not more often so that you can make micro adjustments to steer it straight. If you wait too long it is going to take a massive hard RIGHT or LEFT to stop you from crashing.
I am disappointed because I thought that by aligning with a larger gym which had plans to go national that I would have more influence in the design and programming of future facilities so that they would be more inclusive for clients with disabilities – this is a legacy that I wanted (and still want to) leave.  In business and life you can’t be partners with someone who doesn’t have very similar philosophies as you. However, when you truly believe in your dreams and have a vision that is ingrained in your psyche it will manifest itself because you will take subconscious and conscious steps towards it.

Lifemoves’ Bright Future 

In January we started to move our North Vancouver location to 1350 Pemberton Avenue. During the first week it was apparent that even though we all run our businesses out of that location we all work together to provide a professional, clean, tidy and friendly atmosphere for us and our clients.  We have pride for the space, unlike at our old location where equipment would disappear and tools would be strewn around floor well after someone was done with them. 
The final phase of the move happened today as well. With a lot of patience and elbow grease I removed the branding decals from the windows. I will miss the clients, members and Personal Trainers who I got to know during the last seven years plus years in North Vancouver and previous years with the original club owners.  
The future’s chapter began with our first monthly meeting at our Coquitlam location. We are part of a wellness clinic in which many practitioners share space.  Andrea, Hardip and I were all there to meet a few of them and get to know how all of our services can benefit our clients’ wellbeing (a common purpose).   Afterwards we had discussions with a designer, a glazier and a painter to help us put the finishing touches to the space.  I am really excited and I am looking forward to showing off our new space.
Moving on from the strategic alliance with Steve Nash Fitness Clubs is what I needed to do to grow my business and renew the passion I had for it.  Remember when one opportunity ends another starts.

Be Proactive. Take Action Early.

How to Combine Strategy and Tactics to Achieve Success

Are you having trouble thinking because of all the noise? Often we get so stuck in the noise of doing that our minds become so clouded and foggy that we no longer know why we are doing what are doing or understand if what we are doing has any positive bearing on achieving our goals.

An over-abundance of inputs such as our cell phone, emails, phone calls, knocks on our office doors, social media sites and in my case the noise of people in the gym combined with the overhead drone of satellite music without the time to process leads to an overbearing number of inputs, feelings of being overwhelmed and then a system crash (burnout). Setting aside time to review goals, strategy and tactics is important to achieving sustained success.

My friend recently posted the following philosophical and inspirational quote from Sun Tzu :

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”

How often do you take time to review, goal set, evaluate tactics and strategize? Find time to turn off the inputs to figure out what outputs to need be met to achieve victory.

A strategy is the plan for achieving our goals, while tactics combines the art with skill of employing a available resources and are the means to accomplishing our goal. Firstly, Sun Tzu is implying that having a plan is only part of achieving our goals and reaching victory.

Secondly, it is important to clearly know what resources are available and understand how those resources can best be implemented to execute our plan. Victory is often assured by aligning our goals, strategy and tactics.

For example it makes absolutely no sense to have a great employee without knowing what they are best at, nor does it make sense to have a plan that doesn’t implement their strengths to help achieve business objectives. Tactics could also be financial resources – a fantastic marketing plan with all the bells and whistles could sound great, but the cash might not be available. Try adjusting the marketing strategy so that it still meets the business objectives while matching the available resources.

Victory is more likely to happen when there is plan, but Sun Tzu is saying that without adequate resources victory will be slow to arrive. On the other hand having all the best resources without a plan to implement them will in the end leave you confused and defeated by all the noise. There is also an art in knowing when to use the appropriate resource.

9 Steps to Victory: Align Goals, Strategy and Tactics

  1. Set the Goal – clearly define what is to be achieved.
  2. Evaluate and List – resources needed versus resources available
  3. Define the strategy to achieve the goals.
  4. Define the tactics to implement the plan.
  5. Set target interim dates and mini goals to evaluate progress towards achieving the goal.
  6. Adjust 1 – 4 as the situation changes, new resources become available or the environment changes.
  7. Figure out what you next action is. Do it.
  8. Repeat until the bigger goal has been achieved.
  9. Celebrate the Victory!

Each week take some time to unplug yourself from all the inputs to review your goals, measure your progress, re-evaluate and then adjust your strategy.

What do you do ensure victory? What do you do stop the noise and unplug?

Need some help with goal setting from high level to lower level next actions? Read David Allen’s 6 Horizon’s of Focus from Getting Things Done.

How to Keep a Clear Mind After a Computer Failure

People often panic after a computer failure for several reasons: 1. we have developed so much dependence on them and we aren’t sure how to live without them; 2. they don’t have adequate back-up systems; 3. they don’t have an alternative system in place that can be used.

As David Allen of Getting Things Done says, our minds become cloudy when know there is so much to do, but are not clear on all that needs to be done, how to do it or even where to begin. My mind became overcast when my laptop which I am dependent upon to conduct my business wouldn’t boot up at 9:00 PM on Sunday.

Just before I purchased the five year old Toshiba, I also bought a desktop – exactly for this type of occasion. Since the screen was at my work office I had to cart the tower, keyboard and mouse on the bus to North Vancouver. After booting it up, I discovered that it had not been updated in a long time. Nor did I have a written system for getting back up and running.

How much work that needs to be re-done depends on how often computer files are backed-up. Having redundant systems in place minimizes the amount of downtime businesses have when one system crashes. This past week this lesson hit me squarely. After nearly five years my laptop decided that it no longer wanted to boot-up on Sunday night. Luckily the last time I backed-up most of my files as a few days earlier and some of the work information is located on a cloud system, accessible from anywhere.

Operational downtime also included going to get the problem laptop diagnosed. It was really bad but, thankfully they were able back-up the hard drive. Since repairs would have been $500, even with an unstable computer it was time to buy a new one. Having the desktop enabled me to continue operations at a minimal level – because I had access to our cloud, the files on the external hard drive and our online booking system. This process was clearly going to take most of several days, days that I had planned to use for writing my articles for IMPACT.

My mind was cloudy trying to make decisions on day-to-day operational tasks because dealing with this situation required a multitude of decisions including researching laptops available then purchasing it, figuring out where all my software was to reinstall and how to retrieve lost passwords that are so often conveniently stored in the browsers. The process of getting the primary system back up and running was a big distraction which would have been a lot easier had I made sure that my desktop was updated at least once per year, had a systematic back-up and if I had printed instructions of what needs to be done to get a new computer loaded. In my boxes of original program disks it is difficult to figure out what is still useful versus what is left-over from past systems.

A regular back-up system needs to be in place to ensure that all non-program files are saved on a regular basis, maybe once a week or even once every couple of days. It really depends on how much data changes on a daily basis. Keep back program disks together in a box or if they download files now often file downloads on a USB drive and store with their registration information in a text file or spreadsheet. Solutions also include a larger external hard drive or investing in an online cloud so that back-ups off-site and are safe from fire and water disasters (think of Australia).

What did keep my mind clear is that my own physical training sessions took priority. Completing each session gave me confidence that something on that day was done well. Taking physical breaks clears the mind. Take heed, make sure that you have a system and where all files are organized in a systematic way. Also, think about how many different ways your business could keep running despite various disasters.

Doing so will drastically reduce your mental fatigue and stress level by giving you piece of mind when something does happen. After all, it is only a matter of time. Another piece to have organized is passwords in a safe secure place so that you only have to remember one of them to retrieve the rest. Having a system in place that deals with the initial computer crash all the way to reinstall will make the process a lot quicker, keeping your mind clear.

Avoid a Mental Tantrum: Persevere and Be Resilient

On Christmas Eve I TRIED to go snowshoeing, some things that were out of my control got in my way, but I did not throw a mental tantrum. Resiliency and perseverance are traits of successful entrepreneurs. Every day we are thrown various curve balls that might also be on fire. How you handle them changes your perspective, outlook and feelings of success. What do you when your plans don’t work out? Do you have a plan B or C? Or do you adjust your goals? I chose to do both on Christmas Eve.

Heading up to Grouse Mountain with my new snowshoes in hand I was eagerly anticipating what the fresh snow would feel like under my feet. For the first time would I feel like a penguin, a duck or like I going for a regular everyday hike? It was drizzling, about 1° C and slightly windy in North Vancouver which often means it is snowing on the North Shore mountains. The resort was operating the blue gondola Christmas Eve because the red one “acts as big sail during high winds,” as quoted by a friendly Grouse Mountain staff member. He also informed the long line of Japanese tourists, locals and myself that there was a possibility of us being “stuck” up there for a couple of hours due to high winds.

This I didn’t mind, all I wanted to do was get up there – even if it was a bit wet; I didn’t have anywhere to go afterwards until later in the evening. Several gondolas later, it was now my turn; six minutes later I would be putting my snowshoes on. Just as the gondola doors were opening, they closed again. They announced that the mountain was now closed. Yes, I was disappointed, but why get stuck in this emotion? I turned around, thanked the staff, wished them a Merry Christmas and set a new goal of completing my 30 – 45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise that day in the gym, after an early lunch.

However, when I tried to open up the doors of the lunch place at 10:40 AM, the owner said they were closed until noon. Not wanting to wait around I decided to console myself with a wonderfully sweet hot chocolate at Brazza then head to the gym. So, just like water flowing around a boulder in the river, I too went with the flow without throwing a mental tantrum. I finished with a solid 45 minutes on the treadmill and feeling great that I had moved my body during the holidays – a time when most people abdicate responsibility for their own health, chalking it up to “the way the holidays are.”

I didn’t mind not going snowshoeing, there would be another day. I managed do the second part of the plan for the day which was 30 – 45 minutes of physical activity, just on the treadmill instead of snow. Success!

Resiliency gives you the ability to bounce back and feel successful, while perseverance gives you the capability to accomplish great things!

(Author note: mental tantrum was coined by a Grouse Grind friend)

How to Build a Thriving Health and Wellness Practice: Review

Building a thriving and growing health, wellness and rehabilitation business is something I am always striving for.

As a Kinesiologist I know that we graduate from our Kinesiology or Human Kinetics programs with very few business skills; they all learned as we practice. During the last ten years I have had to learn through weekend workshops, business coaching , reading and watching videos or listening to podcasts as well learning from what succeeded and what didn’t.

This weekend I attended an all day workshop on how to build a thriving wellness practice at the Vancouver Yacht Club, organized by Lotus Counselling Services and Chasidy Karpiuk & Associates. This series of seminars started with accounting and bookkeeping, progressed through business planning and finished with building and branding. We also had the unexpected pleasure of having our headshot photo taken. I think it was well worth going to as an opportunity to network with a variety of health and wellness professionals including another Kinesiologist from Fort St. John. This was really a quick business bootcamp which gave wellness professionals a kick start and some of the tools to build their practice.

I remember being in the same place as some of the participants who were starting to transition from being employees to being the self-employed. This was when I was having great difficulty finding work in my industry so I decided to start my own business. This business struggled even after I participated in a Small Business BC Self-Employment program. I still didn’t entirely understand what it was going to take to succeed. Lifemoves® is my second business which I am very focused on making it a success. I folded my previous one I rebranded in 2007 the company brand no longer met my current personal brand’s needs.

Whether or not they stay on their own or build to multiple practitioners is up them and what they want to get from being self-employed. Building a thriving practice is a continual process of trying different things, searching for new knowledge and continually making changes as you progress towards greater success.

Keys to Building a Thriving Practice

  • Pay attention to your financials, in the beginning every month. This enables you to make adjustments as needed.
  • Maintain good bookkeeping habits. This helps your accountant at the end of each year to complete your taxes.
  • Set Goals, create a business plan with strategies to achieve them. Re-evaluate.
  • Be clear on who your market is and isn’t.
  • Save money by doing a waste audit. Sometimes it is time to pull the plug on a project that is draining resources
  • Be aware of your billable and non-billable hours. Earnings / Non-Billable + Billable Hours = Hourly Rate
    • Look for ways to be more efficient during your non-billable hours
  • What are your political, environmental, social and technological constraints?
  • Define your strengths and weakness. Play to your strengths.
  • Understand key threats and opportunities.
  • Build a story around your business which is the core of your business brand. Communicate that in as many ways as you can, but stay consistent.
  • Ace customer/client service – this is how you gain long-term clients as well as referrals.
  • Use social media as one portion of your 7 touch points: Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogs, YouTube, Twitter are just five ways to contribute to the conversation and communicate with your clients.
  • Have a website and blog at a minimum. Referred clients will search for you and evaluate your level of professionalism and whether or not you can provide the appropriate solution for them. This is part of brand a reputation building.
  • Use images that are appropriate to your market and that create emotion and connection. Ensure these are consistent with your brand’s story.

As an entrepreneur I always set goals, create a plan, evaluate progress and then redefine the goal or the plan. During these sessions we shared our goal and suggested different strategies to meet them, mine is develop a team of 5 Kinesiologists at the Steve Nash Fitness World in North Vancouver. This weekend’s workshop helped me to identify some areas where I can focus to take Lifemoves® to the next level. I do recommend that this workshop to anyone who is trying to start/build a wellness practice; click here to find out when the next one will be held.

Did you attend this workshop at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club? Can you think of any other ways to create a thriving health, wellness and rehabilitation practice?

Breaking Through Plateaus to More Growth

This past week I hit a very frustrating brick wall and plateau and I was all out of ideas of how grow my business. I know this brick wall I am facing is a big opportunity to refresh my business model, but how to do it remains unknown. Lifemoves® is very successful thus far and I am confident that we have an outstanding concept, however just like athletic training, we have hit a bit of a plateau. When I hit plateaus in my career and training I know it is time for a change.

It is time to break the plateau to achieve even more outstanding results. This means breaking out of the mold and trying something extraordinary that challenges myself, my team and the industry. When I am fresh out of ideas I read or go to continuing education sessions. Can-Fit Pro this weekend in the spectacular Vancouver Convention Center was the perfect opportunity to meet up with fitness industry experts and regain some perspective so I could figure out how to break our current plateau.

Our minds are much like spider webs as each piece of new knowledge weaves itself into our current knowledge as we make connections and becomes a new ring on the web. This weekend I felt like an explorer, searching for some answers. Since this weekend was a last minute registration my session choices were more intuitive than deliberate. Each session had its own nugget or two which I could take away and apply. I still haven’t found the way to break this plateau, however I know that I am close.

I need to take some time to digest all the information I received, review my notes and attend “Building a Thriving Wellness Practice” on November 27th. All the stimulus of conferences with 1.5 hour sessions on different topics and then networking with colleagues takes a lot of energy. I will be taking time to recharge by going to the infrared sauna and yoga during the next week. After that it will be time sit down in a quiet space and re-write my business plan.

I know change is needed, I know change is happening. What does change look like? I will know when I am there. To achieve great change and break plateaus we need to disrupt our regular patterns. What do you to create disruptions?