How Culture Built One of the World’s Fastest Growing Fitness Franchises
In 2016, Fit Body Boot Camp was placed on the Inc. 5000 list for the fastest growing private companies in the U.S. As the CEO and founder of Fit Body Boot Camp, I want to make sure I understand what got us there, because as much as I take pride in that accomplishment, I really see it as a stepping stone to our next big leap. I’ve analyzed the past year very carefully, and here I want to share with you the number one thing I’ve found that has allowed us to come this far: culture.
Now I know a lot of people hear the world “culture” and they immediately picture carefully written statements of purpose, huge office parties for birthdays and holidays, and a “Kumbaya” atmosphere among team members. I’ll admit, all of that applies to my team at the Fit Body Headquarters, but those things are ultimately secondary. They’re just byproducts of culture, and you can’t reverse-engineer a winning culture just by enforcing surface-level habits like those.
Instead, you need to dive deep into yourself and into your team to find the source of your company culture. This is involves asking yourself some tough questions, but once you unlock your company’s authentic culture everything is going to take off like a rocket. 2015 was a good year for us, but it wasn’t as explosive as 2016 was. I made a serious commitment to turning around our culture towards the end of 2015, and in only a year we’ve enjoyed a stunning acceleration in our growth.
To help you out, here are four key insights and practices you can use to unlock your company’s culture:
#1 Recognize that Culture Starts at the Top
For many years, I held extremely high standards for myself in terms of my health, mindset, and performance and business. Without that, I never would’ve had the business expertise to found Fit Body Boot Camp in the first place.
Lately, however, I’ve been paying careful attention to how my own habits naturally spread out across the rest of the organization and using that to reverse-engineer the behavior I want to see from my team. For example, if my team isn’t showing a proper attention to detail in their work, that means I need to show a greater attention to detail.
Sure, everyone makes the occasional mistake, but if there’s a persistent problem or shortcoming in your organization, there’s only one place it can possibly come from: yourself. At that point, it’s your responsibility to change your own habits, because if you don’t then your team never will.
#2 Make Culture a Daily Conversation
For my team and I, culture isn’t just something I stuff into an email signature or leave taped up on a wall. Culture is something we talk about every day. How to refine our culture, how our culture is evolving, who are the culture experts we can learn from—my team and I have passionate discussions about these topics every day.
On top of that, I’ve also organized several massive, culture-steering moments with my team. The most successful by far has been the Fast Track program, which I hosted last November. For this program, I invited my entire staff to come out to my house on paid overtime and receive the same professional coaching that my business coaching clients normally pay premium rates to receive. Only a few team members missed the event, and everyone else told me afterwards that it was life-changing for them. And of course, I have seen substantial improvements in all their performances since then. Interestingly, those who didn’t make it to the fast track program at my house ultimately ended up leaving our team. There’s a big lesson in that.
#3 Ruthlessly Remove Negativity
In our quest to create the ultimate positive atmosphere for our company, we’ve had some team members turn entitled and defensive. This happens with all businesses. Frankly, not everyone is up to the challenge of living with generosity and fully committing to service and a higher standard of performance.
Though I never enjoy saying goodbye, I have been diligent about removing these negative members from our team. I have given each of them opportunities to turn things around, but ultimately I recognize that our team culture is too valuable to slow down for everyone, and it’s my job to protect the team members who I value from the negativity of those who are simply not meant to be on our team.
#4 Remember That Culture is Made of Individuals
Though we do have a set of core values that drive everything we do, my team is not a hive mind. My team is a group of unique, fascinating, often wildly different people. Whenever I can, I try to get to know each of them personally, and to remember their own most important values and interests.
Embracing diversity, in terms of lifestyle, background, interests, and experience, is a huge part of our culture, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It keeps us dynamic and creative. It’s also an enormously important part of how we sell so many franchise locations.
Though we are certainly dialed into the unique psychographics of the potential Fit Body franchisee, I often explain to my team that any personal trainer out there should be able to see an example that looks like them. No matter where they are now or where they come from, I want every personal trainer to see an example of a successful Fit Body owner who they can identify with. We have a huge library of case study videos that make this possible, and I owe that as much to my diverse headquarters team as I do to my franchisees.