On this episode of the gymOS Podcast, Mike Wuest, UpLaunch, shares his lead generation strategies and tips to help you convert, engage and retain your clients!
Mike Wuest is a man of the people! He started his first CrossFit gym, CrossFit COMO, back in 2013 and then helped create UpLaunch in 2017. The mission of UpLaunch is to help gym owners build world-class client experiences through marketing automation. As the Director of Customer Success, he knows exactly what it takes to convert, engage and retain your clients.
Who is Mike Wuest? [0:54]
The customer lifecycle. [1:37]
Biggest mistakes gym owners make when it comes to leads. [3:37]
Best tactics for getting back to a lead FAST. [5:07]
It’s like making eyes at someone at the bar…[12:07]
Be CUSTOMER focused. [13:51]
How do you effectively re-engage someone you may have lost? [15:16]
3 minute tactic. [20:51]
Trends in communication. [24:50]
Dan Uyemura 0:00
Welcome to the gymOS Podcast, helping fitness professionals become better business owners one episode at a time. Hey everybody, welcome back to the gymOS Podcast, Dan Uyemura here, CEO of PushPress. And I'm here today to talk about everyone's favorite topic and that's leads. I've got someone who is a domain expert in this Mike Wuest from Uplaunch joining us. Fun fact, for those of you guys who don't know, Mike actually used to be an employee of PushPress, a long time ago, and Uplaunch, snagged them away. We lost a good guy, but he's still fighting hard for gym owners out there, and affiliate owners out there, and we of course, wish him the best, still friendly, and we love the guys Uplaunch. Mike really quick, why don't you introduce yourself to our guests, so they get to know who you are.
Mike Wuest 0:54
Yeah, my name is Mike Wuest. I am a CrossFit affiliate owner, owned my gym since April of 2013. And one of the original employees, founders of Uplaunch, it's a tool that helps gym owners, you'll manage their entire client lifecycle, it's a great tool that a lot of gym owners need in their business to really run an effective business. So I've been in the industry for a long time, I spend a lot of time helping gyms to really maximize their potential. I think a lot of gym owners, you know, want to have these really great client experiences. And they do a great job in the gym but there's definitely opportunities to improve their systems and their processes.
Dan Uyemura 1:37
Right on Yeah, a lot of people when they talk about Uplaunch, they talk about it as a CRM, and I can see they're coming from, I've always called it customer lifecycle management system, which I don't know, if I just made up that term, I really don't know where it came from. But that's what I've always called you guys. And to me, it's because it maps directly with, well, the lifecycle of a customer, right, they come in as a lead, they get sold in as a client, there's a point where you're trying to get them bought into what you're doing and part of your your community. Then there's the retention and probably like an upsell, cross sell or referral component to it. And then there's maybe a reactivation, they quit, you know, they find another gym or they for whatever circumstances they quit, and then you get them back in the gym two years later, right? Do you, how do you see that?
Mike Wuest 2:23
Yeah, I think you actually nailed it pretty well, you know, you need to have those three stages of the lifecycle. Right? So the lead management portion, you know, what do you do with the lead? If they're, you know, super engaged and ready to get started to somebody who maybe comes in for an appointment but doesn't purchase? How do you handle or manage that, you know, when it comes to clients, you know, you have your your onboarding piece, right, you have your your foundations, your fundamentals, their first three to three months in the gym, what to do with them, but then what do you do you handle a long term members and keep them engaged and satisfied with your offering? And that's, you know, the final piece is, is that reactivation, you know, what do I do with old members? You know, I built these relationships with people they left for whatever reason? How do I re engage them and get them back in the door, and we see a good two to 5% of those people, you can get them back on in the year.
Dan Uyemura 3:14
Right on. Yeah, so one of the big topics we're going to talk about in today's episode is going to be centered around leads, leads in general. I know it's a hot topic among gym owners, because it's the sexy part of the sales funnel. It's like it's more fun to talk to new people and help new people than it is to deal with the end of your funnel, which is like re engaging customers and stuff like that. What do you see the biggest mistake people are making when it comes to leads?
Mike Wuest 3:39
Yeah, that's a great question, great point. People don't respond quick enough, they let leads linger. And what I mean by that is, if you say you're running ads, or you're, you have a form on your website, in a lead op-in, you know, you you put a barrier in front of them, like maybe somebody is super excited to get started, they've finally decided they want to put fitness into their life and you don't reply back to them for hours. It's they're just in this limbo, you know, and if they're looking at multiple options, you know, in a lot of our cities, a lot of our areas of the country, there are multiple options. There might be multiple CrossFit gyms, there might be multiple martial arts gyms. And if you go and opt in and say, hey, I want more information, I want to schedule an appointment and you don't have those tools set up. You know, the gym down the street probably does in the gym down the street may get back to that leave within, you know, just a couple of minutes when you don't get back to them for hours. And so if you think about that, if you're ready to spend a decent amount of money every month to invest in your health and your fitness and somebody thinks you're more important that gym is going to be more likely to convert that lead than if it takes you hours to get back to them. And that's a big deal.
Dan Uyemura 4:57
That time to response, it's really an indicator of how important that person is to you how much respect you have for that person's money time or or business. Right. So that being said, what do you think the best tactics are for actually getting back to a lead fast?
Mike Wuest 5:11
Yeah, so automations huge in that regard, right, you can do things like set up an automated response, you know, that's kind of bare minimum, you know, automated email gets back to a lead as soon as they opt in, automated text message, to invite them to engage in more conversation. The one thing I think gym owners aren't doing consistently is actually making phone calls. You know, that's as silly as it sounds like we don't call and actually tried to build start to build that relationship with leads. When I left full time career to do the software side of things. I was looking for health insurance. So I went on to marketplace, I signed up to get more information. And I got, I can't tell you the number of text messages and phone calls from people trying to sell me health insurance. Same thing, when you buy a car, like car dealers that really have their game on, if you're looking at a specific car, they get back to immediately or super fast, and they're going to they're going to reach out to you multiple times until you purchase a car from them. When it comes to gyms go opt in to the big names in your area, you know, the franchises and see how what their process looks like versus how you guys follow up. That's actually one of the things the strategies we learn when we're building Uplaunch. We benchmarked other industries to see how quickly were people getting back to me as a lead. That was one thing I did, because I wanted to see what were best practices and, and how we could leverage that in the gym industry.
Dan Uyemura 6:37
Yeah, I'm gonna actually challenge you on that. So I actually recently was helping someone buy a car. So I put in my information. And then I got a shit ton of phone calls from every car dealership within 20 miles of me, right. I'm actually now of the person where like, unless you're in my contact list, I don't even let my phone ring, because I get too much spam. And it kind of was a turnoff to me. And I'm just curious, like, how do you handle like, you can't know if somebody could I can also see if you call someone they're like, wow, they actually took the time to call me so that there's a probably a very polarized split there. How do you handle that? And not piss someone off, but also hit the people who appreciate a phone call?
Mike Wuest 7:17
Yeah, that'd be some people, it just really depends on the spectrum refilling, but I think with gyms, you know, what keeps people around in a gym, especially a micro gym that doesn't have hundreds of members, they have maybe 100 to 200 members, you're building relationships. And so when you can get on the phone and talk to them and start that conversation, you can really break down any barriers that they might have preconceived notions about themselves, preconceived notions about the style of training that you have. And so you have to go into that with that mindset. Because if you think everybody's going to reject you, because you make phone call a phone call to them, it's just gonna put a barrier on yourself, and you're gonna have like, a one day I can tell you what's by staff at my gym. At one point we had, we were doing great with lead gens, we were getting people to come in for appointments, but we weren't converting. For some reason, we were just going to this weird phase for like a month. And when I went reviewed it, I found out that our salesperson was actually projecting her feelings on the leads and said, Oh, this is too expensive for them to purchase, and so we found that issue out and corrected it pretty quickly. But I think that's really the key thing there is just to not to project what you think that person is going to feel. Follow your process. Follow your system.
Dan Uyemura 8:37
Yeah, I've always been a believer that people and if you're listening right now if you listen to this, you might you might relate to it. I feel like people in general fall into a preferred communication bucket. Some people prefer to text, some people prefer to do phone calls, some people prefer email. So you kind of got a scattered out there. I thought of something while you're talking. I'm curious what your feeling is, what if I had an automated text come out of my lead form? That said like, Oh, hey, first name, super excited that you're interested in my gym name. Would you be free to do a quick call right now to talk about your options? Because then you're asking permission right? Which you know if I was at work filling this out, and I don't want to take a phone call at work talking about personal gym stuff, and I'll be like, cool. Yeah, give me three minutes. I'm gonna go in the stairwell. You know what I mean? What do you think about that type of a tactic?
Mike Wuest 9:21
Yeah, I think that's great. You know, one of the things over the years we've been working with different gyms they all try different strategies. And so we can actually benchmark different things across accounts if we want to do that. So one gym owner shared a really cool thing that he did he instead of having that initial welcome text, he actually put Hey, is this so and so? No first name and that got that goes he got a lot of leads actually engaged to verify that was their, you know, their name, their phone number? And that started the conversation because you feel obligated to reply when you get that and so I think you're Is your tactic is, is one worth testing out for sure.
Dan Uyemura 10:04
Yeah, that's one of the biggest marketing hacks I learned is, you always just ask a question. And it's in, it's not around sales, you know, like, that one's perfect. Hey, is this Mike Wuest? Because it honestly like that's a very organic response. Like if you got a call from somebody or a message from somebody, and you're like, Oh, hey, is this so and so like, you're trying to figure out who it is, right. And the second marketing hack I got was, like, always be organic. So a lot of times when we type up these automated emails, and these automated texts, we type in a way that is not conversational. Like it's super structured. And it's very, like formal. But so I always try to talk to people in my emails as if I'm talking like, you're talking right now. Just chill. Honestly, sometimes I purposely even like, we'll put a punctuation error or like a one return to the to or something, something like that, to make it look like it's totally organic. And I'm in a rush, right, but that's just me.
Mike Wuest 10:59
And you're actually absolutely right, probably the digital marketing space for many years now. And, and some of these guys will send out the incorrect link, so they can send out a second email. Yeah, just to hit that inbox a second time. One of the strategies we actually deploy in our campaigns is a difference between some of those emails that look like they're templated, you know, with content, and then other emails that look like you pulled out your phone and just wrote it real quick and sent it? So it's definitely a great strategy. And it makes a lot of sense, especially when you talk about relationships, you know, with your members, or even former members, from the strategy of reactivation, you know, those more personal written copy looks and performs a lot better than something that's smart, templated or standardized.
Dan Uyemura 11:44
Yeah. Yeah, there's a time and place for both right? Obviously, you got to use deploy the right weapon for the right, battle, I guess, is the way we want to praise that. All right, cool. I mean, in general, the way I see leads is like, there's a couple different buckets. Now actually, there's not there's what it is, is when a person actually fills out your lead form on your on your gym website, they want to know about your gym, like they're telling you that. And you made an analogy, which I'm going to, I'm going to steal and just drop, it's like, it would almost be like you're sitting at a bar. And a person, the opposite sex actually, like kind of makes eyes at you, like, hey, I'd like to talk to you. And to your analogy, like, if you don't get up and go talk to them right away someone else, they might start making ice somewhere else, right? Like the way it would feel like if you use this bar analogy, if someone made eyes at you, and you don't go talk to them right away, they're gonna be like, oh, they're not interested, I'll go, I'll look this other way. Right? And that's basically what you're doing your leads, if you're not communicating right away.
Mike Wuest 12:37
Yeah, it reminds me of college, right? You know, like, you know, see somebody you're interested in, you start walking over. And then if somebody gets in front of you, guess what you sit, you turn around, walk away, you don't go engage, right? Or I mean, I think it's the same thing.
Dan Uyemura 12:49
To take that analogy further, like, someone's indicating they're sitting talking to you, and you're like, hold on a second, I'm coaching a class and I'm doing some other stuff, and I'm gonna do my groceries first, and then I'll come talk to you. And it's like, what do you expect that person to do? Right? It's, it's pretty hilarious when you put it in that lens. That's basically what it is like they're asking to talk to you. They're, they're signaling interest, you're not ready to deal with it. Right?
Mike Wuest 13:14
Yeah. And they think about it, that lead is in a heightened state right there, probably some type of emotional, I can tell you personally, at my gym, I get a lot of leads at 9-10 o'clock at night. And those leads, you're probably sitting around and ready to make change, they finally decided to get more information from you. Now making a phone call at that time, maybe it's not the best thing. But it might be a great opportunity to send a personalized text to them and say, Hey, I saw that you opted in, you want to capture that person when they're in that emotional state, because they might fall asleep The next day, oh, I change my mind.
Dan Uyemura 13:51
And I'll tell you this, from the from the PushPress side of things, we have a live chat on the front end of our website. And it's pretty much a mandate within our company that whenever humanly possible, if anyone's around, you reply to anything that comes in off that as quick as you can, ideally within minutes. And so many times like I'll go into try to reply and someone on my team's already got it. And then I'll watch the conversation. The person will be like, holy crap, you guys actually replied, half the people out there don't even expect you to reply because customer service sucks so bad across the board and most businesses, that when you actually perform people like oh my god, these guys are on. It's pretty nice. Yeah.
Mike Wuest 14:29
Yeah, being a customer focused business really crushes it. And I always, you know, my background was in the food service world in marketing. And I always share like chik fil a crushes customer focus, and they can take 15-16 year old kids and deliver a consistent experience like you're working with somebody that's been there for 20 years that just loves their job. And there's so much to learn from that you know from other industries and chick fil a didn't skip a beat when COVID happened, right? They closed down in the inside part of their restaurants, you go through the drive thru, you're still gonna get through even if there's 30 cars in front of you, within five to 10 minutes and have hot fresh food. You know, it's so important.
Dan Uyemura 15:14
Yeah. Cool. So going back to that analogy, lead comes in, you don't deal with them right away, or you do deal with them. And whatever they dry up kind of on the vine, maybe someone else got in between you and that, and they're kind of sitting in your system. Or the other thing I could not even be your fault is this happens to me all the time. Like, I'll be on a site, I'll be on Amazon, I'm like, I'm gonna buy this thing. I'm gonna buy this projector for my back yard, I'm put up movie thing during COVID. And then a meeting comes up and then this comes up, and then that comes up and it's sitting in my cart, right? That's basically what happens when a lead comes in on your gym is sitting in the cart. How do you effectively reengage this person back to talking to you because they were emotional at one point life happened, they forgot about it, they're back on their couch eating ice cream. Now what?
Mike Wuest 16:00
Yeah, so that's, I think your Amazon example is a great analogy for for that. So if you do that in Amazon, what's going to happen, that product that you're looking at is going to follow you around the internet for a while, and then it's going to disappear, and then it's going to reappear at some interval that's very intentionally designed that way, what I would recommend from a gym owner perspective is to have that process built out, whether that's, you know, automated communications that happen over time, a year's worth of reactivation for lead content, you know, one of the things we see in the Uplaunch world is 20% of leads, convert, actually the two to three week mark. And so gyms that have that built out where they're engaging, those people are going to convert more people over time than a gym that doesn't have that, you know, and you can take that same thing you can build through a zap, you can push in a Facebook audience, and reactivate people with ads that were leads previously, or the content or the strategy. You know, maybe at the three month interval, when you send out that automated email, you actually generate a task for yourself, make a phone call or send a manual text. And so that's super important. I have a good example and I share this with you earlier is we have a gym owner who had somebody that was in the system. And it was eight months after they opted in, they got prompted to schedule an appointment, they came in for that appointment, and they sold I think it was 18 $100 personal training package. And he would never have had that opportunity if he had not been sending that lead content consistently over that time.
Dan Uyemura 17:38
Right. I think it's just something that we overlook, because they're not engaging, but they're still consuming, it's still a relationship that you're building, whether even if they even open the email, or they see that you've sent them something they understand that value is being attempted to be delivered to them. You know what I mean?
Mike Wuest 17:54
I'll give you another example real quick...
Dan Uyemura 17:56
Go for it
Mike Wuest 17:56
Before we hop hop on, there's a guy in my town, his name is Steve pest control. He's, uh, he basically built his business in our town, he competes just as well, or if not better than any of the national chains that do pest control in our town. All he does is has he has these red branded trucks that you'll see around town, he has a great jingle on local radio. So you never know when you're going to need pest control. But then something might happen if termites, for example. And the first person you think of when you need pest control is Steve's pest control. It's branding. And so just being out there and having your name heard, you know, dozens or hundreds of times over a year, that could be through email automation, that could be brand awareness campaigns on social media. That's huge. And that's people are gonna choose you first when it comes to, you know, when it comes to making that decision. And so, a lot of gyms don't do that long term, lead generation, you know, that branding piece, they just do like, these quick hit lead generation campaigns, they'll spend a bunch of money for a challenge or something like that. And that's, it's really short sighted. It's not a branding. It's just a tactic.
Dan Uyemura 19:12
Yeah, I mean, again, different weapons for different battles like that, that can solve a short term problem. But it's not a long term strategy. I don't think you can't run a challenge forever. I think one thing that's important when we're talking about this long term nurturing and this concept of we've all been there, like leads come into your gym and then you get kind of butthurt they ghost you or, you know, it's like, why did you reach out if you don't want to join a gym, and what you have to remember is they did want to join a gym, like that's why they're in your lead funnel, and for whatever unless they joined another gym. That pain that they felt when they filled out the form is they're carrying around with them, so you need to stay present to them. It's easy to be like ah, screw this guy because he just ghosted me and or this girl was totally interested in now. Now she's not but as long as that person didn't join a gym, they're still on your fishing line, you got to lose that ego and keep engaging with them.
Mike Wuest 20:05
I can tell you with a lot of small gyms, it's really easy to get emotional. When it comes to our business, right? A personal, we do. And we, it's, we need to take a step back and say, Look, this is just what happens even when people leave your gym, it's the same thing. Like, it's really easy to get emotionally built a relationship with that person, you see them multiple times a week, and they leave for whatever reason, it may not be because they had a bad experience with you. It's just their life has changed. And so if we focus, I think a lot of times, we just get too emotional in our business, and we don't look at the raw data and operate it like a business, I think you would see some some major movement for people, right? Like, look at the business slightly different.
Dan Uyemura 20:51
Cool. So I'm gonna take a break right there, I'm gonna do that I'm I'm trying to work on something new in the podcast I'm excited about I'm gonna call this the three minute tactic. And the idea of this is I want I want to ask subject matter experts like yourself something around what we're talking about. So we're talking about lead generation or nurturing, something that a listener can take right now and go and do hopefully, in a not a major tasks like a 30 minute task, and get immediate results out of. Do you have anything try to put you on the spot here? But do you have anything you can drop on our listeners right now that they can go? once they're done with this podcast, walk over to a computer or walk out to on their gym floor, deploy and get results right now?
Mike Wuest 21:28
Yeah, I have a good one, actually. And this one you can do with former clients or with old leads, if you have old database of leads, shoot them an email, it's called the nine word email. Now the strategy I developed was a strategy I discovered. This is a good one a couple of years ago. And so basically, you would send an email like that subject line would be like, hey, first thing, and then all you write is are you still getting are still interested in getting fit in 2020, or 2021. And you'll be amazed at the number of responses that you'll get from that simple email. So for former clients that do that, hey, I was thinking about you, how are things going? You know, that's a simple nine word email, I sent this list probably four or five years ago, when I first discovered this strategy, I sent this out to about 300 or 400 former members. And I had 50 to 60 responses within I think two hours of sending that email. Now some of those people had moved, some of those people were still in town. But it was so awesome, just to see the responses. And it was really good for my I would say my emotional state, because we were like, this is the best gym I've ever been a part of, I miss I miss the train, I miss the coaches. And it's all this great stuff. And guess what happened? I converted two of those people that reactivated those members. So you don't think about your average client value. You know, people stick around for a year, on average, or maybe two years and you reactivate those people, that's a significant impact in your, your bottom line, just from spending just a few minutes writing that email, finding your list and sending it out. So it's a great strategy. It's a simple strategy, but it works. And it works really well.
Dan Uyemura 23:08
That's a good one. One thing to note about that you can only do it like once a year, though, you can't hit that list one every month saying are still interested in whatever. But I mean, it was was cool is as you're saying that I was thinking and it actually talks to two of these concepts we just talked about. One is if somebody was interested in your gym, or was a member of your gym, this is a nagging pain, like no one ever solves fitness. You know what I mean? Like it is a decaying thing no matter what you do, Unless Unless you're training. If you're not training, then it's decaying, right? So these people have to be still interested to some degree. And Damn. Well, the second one was, you're just asking a really simple question. It's not front loaded with a sales offer. It's not pushing anything on them. It's just like, hey, how can I help? Hey, you know, you want to have a conversation. And people literally when they get hit with a question, and nothing more feel obligated to answer. That's, like the biggest marketing, you can learn. Cool. Last thing before we skip out, this has been a great conversation so far. This is, to me, whenever I think about communications, I always think about two things. One is the one we already talked about. What type of person is somebody and how can I make sure I without overly manufacturing it, make sure I get in the channel that they like. And the second thing I'm always worried about. And this is an ever changing thing is what are the trends of communication? Like email was huge 10 years ago, maybe not as much. So now, text is becoming really big. But is it about to not become big because everyone says text is big. You know, SMS is big now like what where do you see communication going? And what do you see like the 12 to 24 month play of it looking like?
Mike Wuest 24:48
Yeah, so text just kind of in the industry. Our industry has been really pushed out by a lot of digital marketers. You know, text is read like a second. Significant higher amount doesn't mean they always reply, but they at least read it because they have their phone on them. 24, seven emails a little bit different, right? Email, open rates are good open rate would be probably 15 to 20%. You know, for your members, it would be higher typically, because they're more engaged with the brand. I think from a communication standpoint, you need multi channel, multi channel meaning email, text messages, it could be social groups, like Facebook groups, or you know, some people, I see people using slack or WeChat, or any of those types of things, you really kind of get to meet people where they're at, I have people that don't have Facebook accounts that come to my gym. So how do I communicate with them? versus I have other people who, you know, don't use their cell phone? They don't answer the phone. So you don't call them...
Dan Uyemura 25:45
This goes back to the first problem I was talking about where like everyone has their communication channel, and how do you get to them?
Mike Wuest 25:51
Yeah. And so you kind of get an you get to know that like, especially with the people you're serving on a day to day when it comes to leads, though, like it needs a multi channel approach. Like, just imagine if somebody opted into your website, they get this automated email and they get a text that prompts them to reply. Maybe the next day, you send them a success story from your gym, you know, somebody possibly like them. And then when they go read a story on the New York Times, they see your brand in one of those ad spots, right? And then over time, they're just your brand is consistently out there and having that multi channel approach really can differentiate yourself and you see this when you look at certain websites, you know, they follow you around the internet. You know, the channels are trusting in terms of what you know, people do I still think emails really valuable. I still think I obviously text messaging is super valuable. And people are always discovering new ways to communicate. And that's your since the dawn of time.
Dan Uyemura 26:52
Right on. All right, Mike. Well, thank you for joining us is super cool to catch up. I feel like we haven't had enough chances to talk over the years but I know you've been busy it Uplaunch and Lord knows I've been busy at PushPress so its good to catch up.