The top three coach retention tips from successful affiliate owners

While some people believe cheaters will always be cheaters, others swear they only cheated because their relationship was on the rocks anyway.

The same theory can be applied to coach retention: A happy coach—one who is is motivated, who will do anything for the business and the clients, and who is making enough money to live—has no reason to look elsewhere for work.

Peter Egyed, the owner of the 15,000 square foot, 500-plus member affiliate CrossFit Fury, in Goodyear, Arizona, knows keeping his coaches around, and turning them into career coaches, is incredibly important to both his clients and his business.

“I always want to make it worthwhile for coaches to stay with me and build something so they won’t go off on their own,” said Egyed, whose coach retention in recent years is nearly 100 percent.


Peter Egyed from CrossFit Fury has gained experience not only as a games athlete and elite level coach, but also as the owner of one of the most successful CrossFit affiliates in the world. 

Other experienced coaches, Zach Forrest of CrossFit Max Effort in Las Vegas, Nevada and Devin Glage of RAW CrossFit in Penetanguishene, Ontario, agree:

Coach retention is key for creating and maintaining a world-class facility.

For these coaches, keeping coaches around for the long haul comes down to providing them opportunities that are more enjoyable and lucrative than they could get elsewhere.The keys to doing this are:

TIP 1: Investment

Glage believes people become more invested when they feel ownership. He applies this theory to his coaches. He has turned his two full-time coaches into self-sufficient entrepreneurs within his affiliate. This means they make a percentage of the revenue they generate based on their personal training, specialty program, and group class membership sales. They essentially own their own clients as if they had their own gym.

“Pay them what they’re worth, but make them earn it. There’s no room for entitlement in this business” Glage said. Making them earn it leads to appreciation because they then understand what it’s like to be a business owner as they have to build something—their client base—from the ground up, Glage explained. And since his full-time coaches aren’t paid by the hour to coach group classes, there’s no ceiling on either their creativity or their financial compensation.

Egyed, too, pays his coaches a percentage of the revenue they generate on any specialty program—outside of the regular membership—they create.

“(Greg) Glassman talked about the 70-30% revenue split,” Egyed said. “So whenever someone creates a program they make 70 percent (of the revenue it generates).” Some of the programs his coaches have created have included summer camps for students, personal training, and corporate wellness training.

Egyed believes this helps his coaches feel more invested in his affiliate and in their careers, and gives them freedom to create.

Zach Forrest believes in offering coaches opportunities to grow and develop in their jobs with flexibility in order to keep them from burning out doing the same thing every day.

“I definitely try to run a democracy and a meritocracy, and I try to give people freedom. I want them to feel ownership as much as possible. They need to feel like this is their gym as much as it’s my gym,” Egyed said. 

TIP 2: Broad Workload

Forrest believes ensuring his coaches don’t get bored or burnt out from doing the same thing every day will keep them hungry and motivated.

“We allow them opportunities to grow and develop within their jobs by offering extra-curricular work outside of coaching classes. Research for blog posts, structuring a movement clinic, individualized programming for certain athletes,” Forrest said.

Egyed agrees motivation and a breadth of different kind of tasks is important—for the health of his coaches, his business, and for himself.  

“It’s the same as working out,” Egyed said. “You can’t always just go hard on a metcon every day, all year. I have found the same to be true in business.”

He added: “There are times when I’m super motivated for physical improvements in the facility. Other times, it’s about cleaning up the financials. Other times, still, I’m really in the mix with the membership and get involved in as many classes as I can.”

Forrest added: “A career coach will become bored if all they do is show up to lead classes.”

TIP 3: Appreciation

There are different ways to help coaches feel appreciated, but coaches agree financial compensation is one of them.

If you’re not able to pay your coaches a living wage, how long will they stick around?

“Compensate them as professionals. We want our full-time staff to treat this as a long-term career path, so we offer salaried pay and full benefits packages to include health, dental, vision, 401K (retirement planning), continuing education and paid vacation,” Forrest said.

Egyed, too, has gotten to a point in his business where’s he’s able to offer medical insurance and a retirement plan to his top coaches.

Financial appreciation aside, coaches are human beings who also need to feel emotionally appreciated.

For Glage, this means mentorship. He mentors all his coaches as he’s developing them, teaching them all he knows about both the coaching and business side of CrossFit.

“Mentor them for a long time,” Glage said.

Meanwhile for Egyed, appreciation means staying involved in his coaches lives.

“It is important to make these guys and gals feel like family. We stay up-to-date with their personal lives so we can offer support because we are a family,” he said.


Much like the members at any CrossFit affiliate, feeling like a member of a community is one of the most important aspects of coaching. Support personally and professionally from both members and fellow coaches create an atmosphere of family and acceptance that we're all looking for in a career.

Forrest agrees: “Ensure they are being taken care of,” he said. “We make sure they avoid burn-out, we’re flexible with the class schedule, we focus on athletic development, and we make s
ure we know what’s going on in their lives outside of the gym.”


He added: “We’ve always had the mindset that if we take care of our coaches, they will take care of our members.”

 

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Steve

Steve

This a great article. Obviously gyms, markets and clients are all different, but what types of programs have you seen work best as a “specialty” program, outside of the regular membership. If newer coaches are looking for a way to earn some money outside of regular classes, are these specialty programs directed to more new prospects for the gym, or within the existing membership? I get that it could be both, but just looking to see if there have been any that you have seen at multiple gyms that have had some success. Thanks!

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