I have opinions.
I try things. I succeed. I fail. I keep; I discard. I'm quick to change my mind, but very loyal when loyalty is warranted.
None of these companies pay me to recommend them, but I DO recommend them anyway. Every week, I tell between 15 and 20 Affiliates how much I like them. They don't give me referral fees, and I wouldn't take them. These thoughts are based on my personal experience, as well as the collective opinions of hundreds of Affiliates who have shared their histories with me.
Equipment - Again Faster
I like Jon Gilson. I spelled out the reasons why here. Like me, Gilson's a skinnier guy, and seems to love learning and being coached. He's incredibly smart. He writes - he puts himself out there. His company, Again Faster, does video and Journal stories and competitions. When he started out, there was no promise that any of these things would help in the long run; he did them anyway.
Again Faster Canada just opened, as well as Again Faster UK and Again Faster Australia. He wrote about his fears about expansion here...and then did it anyway. Awesome.
*this is NOT a knock on Rogue. I love Rogue. I wear Rogue T-shirts, but not as often as my AF ones.
Tracking - SocialWOD
It may not seem so now, but there's going to come a day when your time is worth more than the cost of a tracking system.
SocialWOD was started by CrossFitters a few years ago. They sought advice from Box owners, and I can't imagine anything simpler. Take a picture of your whiteboard, email it to them, and they track your clients from there. They post to facebook; they allow for goal-setting; they track PRs. They send me a weekly attendance report to give to my Case Manager, even. Fantastic.
They've got a big announcement coming up, which makes them even MORE awesome and easy to use....
Booking/Billing/Revenue Harvesting - MindBodyOnline
The MindBody/ZenPlanner discussion is always lively. The best part: no one ever says anything negative about either. I've been with MBO for five years; I get a live agent on chat 24 hours per day. The service increases your revenue (I'm sure ZP does, too.)
The debate seems to balance between the idea that MBO is more feature-rich, but tougher to set up, vs the easy-to-start but more limited ZP. For me, MBO is just too easy: folks ask for information on my site at the front end, their data is stored in MBO, and pushed to my newsletter list on the back end. Wonderful.
MindBody also worked with my bank, without my involvement, to have my autopayments set up for me over the Christmas holidays back in 2007. That's unbelievable service.
They write a Front Desk Staff handbook for me to include in my Staff Handbook, in case my staff have trouble with the software while I'm away. Perfect.
You can get a free month of MBO by clicking the logo on the 321GoProject site. There may be a free ZenPlanner trial there, too - try them both and see which you prefer. Just pick one and get going!
Insurance: AffiliateGuard (US) / Joanne Legal (CAN)
Imagine this: you own a CrossFit Box. There are two insurance companies available; one won't cover you because "Crossfit does tractor pulls" - whatever those are - and the other is owned by your Globogym competitor. Not an idyllic situation....but the very one I faced in 2008, when we opened our second gym.
A client came to our rescue for the first year. Our premiums were high, but at least we had insurance. Soon, though, the big premium had me looking around...and in walked Joanne Legal, a new CrossFitter, who put together a solution that MANY Ontario CrossFit gyms use.
I can call Joanne and ask anything - can we cover an event, 40 miles away, with 100 people, on the side of a mountain? - and the answer has always been "Yep! Included with your policy!" She KNOWS CrossFit. She even competes!
In the US, I'm often asked to recommend an Insurance provider for new Affiliates, and 100% of the time, I give them Vaughn Vernon's number. This guy is extremely passionate about CrossFit. He covers CrossFit Kids, events, and a ton of other stuff that Affiliates don't even realize they NEED until they need it. They speak our language, they don't do slimy stuff, and they don't try to scare you into buying more insurance.
I'm 100% biased on this one. Yes, I work for 321GoProject as their Business Mentoring Coach. Yes, I'm a huge Speal fan. But working inside the company has given me insight into how these guys operate. Clay is told, deservedly, that's he's the best in the business by EVERY client we speak with. He's too humble to put all the stories up, but the praise and joy coming back from clients is unreal. Take 5 minutes, grab a snack, and browse through the portfolio.
Now imagine being PROUD of your site. Clay did our IgniteGym site, and I LOVE to send people there; it scales easily for cell phones, iPads...most sites don't. Like Affiliate Guard, Clay takes care of the stuff I don't even KNOW that I need.
Over a year ago, a reader of this blog suggested that I begin to 'monetize' the content. I argued that I didn't want to break the Social Contract that I share with you, the reader, by schilling services who would cough up the advertising revenue. I won't allow GoogleAds here; I won't post about services that I don't use myself. With the exception of my own book, there's nothing here from which I'll profit. Try them. Use them. Try to break them. TRY to prove me wrong....or benefit from my own experience. That's why we're all here, right?