Last summer, he sold the business. But that didn’t mean he wanted to step away from the industry. “I wanted to stay involved in the community and stay involved in CrossFit,” said Sterle. “A friend of mine approached me with an idea and we got the wheels spinning and that’s how we came up with Box Traveler — from the concept we had here with our three gyms.”
Sterle said he is prone to a busy schedule and often finds himself paying CrossFit Box drop-in fees when he travels, adding up to an amount equivalent to his regular monthly membership at his home gym. So, Box Traveler is a network of Affiliates. The members of the Boxes that are part of the network are then able to drop-in for free at the gyms in the program.
For a fee, Boxes can join the network. However, Sterle said in the spirit of CrossFit, Box Traveler then lets each Affiliate decide how he or she will handle charging members. For instance, this could mean a Box increases its overall monthly membership and allows any of its members to sign up as a traveling athlete in the Box Traveler network. Or, an Affiliate could charge $20 to any athlete that wants to be part of the program. “We left it up to the owners to really look at the economics of their gym and realize what they could see profit wise from it,” said Sterle.
In the future, Sterle said they will charge Boxes $50 a month to be part of the Box Traveler community, but currently every Box that joins through December 2015 will receive six months free. “We want to make sure it works for everybody before we ask for anything back,” he said.
There were three key benefits of Box Traveler that Sterle pointed out. First, an Affiliate would have a predictable monthly income stream, as it would know how many members were paying for the membership. This is different from drop-ins that often can’t be predicted.
Second, there is market presence and visibility. Sterle spoke of the future and plans for various social media plugins, check-ins and the ability for people to leave reviews on their drop-in experience.
Third, it comes down to exclusivity. Box Traveler plans on capping the number of Affiliates in its network at 3,000 Boxes from around the world. “We want to grow this big, but we don’t want to grow this so big that every gym offers it and the service is completely watered down,” said Sterle. “Once that is capped at the 3,000 number, it’s going to drive athletes that travel to their gym because they’re going to have this service where others don’t.”
When questioned if this replaces drop-ins, Sterle said no. It is instead a steady stream of supplement income that he sees can benefit Boxes with already a lot of drop-ins and those without many. In the end though, it ultimately comes down to building a better business. “We’ve got people that don’t get a lot of drop-ins and they’re looking at this as an increased presence in the market,” he said. “We’ve got people that do have a lot of drop-ins, and they’re looking at this as just another way to set themselves a little bit higher from other gyms in the area.”