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David and Goliath

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Michael GelfgotMichael Gelfgot

In his book, David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the art of battling giants. What's interesting about the story is that everyone else besides David fought Goliath, Goliath's way. Goliath's way was up-close, hand-to-hand combat, with a sword and a shield. Goliath outpowered and annihilated every opponent. David knew that, if he were to fight Goliath, Goliath's way, he would lose. David was a sheep farmer, not a veteran fighter with tremendous strength and size, so David implemented guerrilla tactics to beat Goliath. David fought Goliath, David's way, and took down an undefeated giant.

If you were to think about Goliath from a business perspective, it would be Apple in the tech industry, Starbucks in the coffee industry, Walmart in retail, Amazon in online shopping and so on and so forth. If you are a studio, who is your Goliath? If you are a fitness-only gym, who is your Goliath? If you are a big box, who is your Goliath? What might even be a better question is: are you competing with your Goliath, Goliath's way, or are you using guerrilla tactics to take down the giant?

In my fitness-only space, low-budget competitors, particularly a certain one, is THE Goliath. When this particular competitor enters the market place, 20 - 25% of our members cancel their membership. The biggest challenge with membership-based facilities is that they are too leveraged in memberships. Even though in our 22 clubs we are averaging about 16 - 20% penetration with personal training, that still leaves 80 - 84% of members not working with a coach. For the most part, we are running a fixed cost business, so to lose 20 - 25% of members directly cuts into our profits.

As we've noticed our clubs being affected by THE Goliath, we started asking ourselves more empowering questions. The fact of the matter is that we all know the only thing we can control is our own thoughts, feelings, emotions and reactions. It's what we do with what happens that matters most, not what happened because that is in the past. Tony Robbins puts it best, "It's in our moment of decision that our destiny is shaped." This was the question that set us up to generate $370K in ancillary revenue over a period of 12 months using guerilla tactics: What is the lowest hanging fruit in our business that we are not picking because we think we are too busy, or we are just not seeing it because we are too focused on our day to day?

In his book, Linchpin, Seth Godin talks about thinking along the edges of the box, not completely outside the box. Godin goes on to say that, when you are completely outside the box, you will get no support and no buy-in and it takes too long to "ship" the project. We took that advice to heart and thought of two fruits that we were not picking:

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