Mamma’s Pancake Business Breakfast

Talking business strategy over pancakes can help your Box.I was well into my third pancake, syrup dripping off the edge of my beard, listening to my friend JB teaching the rest of us about the art of customer service:  “Remember personal details … especially their name,” and “Everybody who engages with you is special, and you may be the only person in their life that treats them that way. They’ll remember that,” etc.

JB is the CFO at ARGI Financial Group, which is a consulting and financial planning business. He’s answering a question raised by my friend Josh who owns Redtree Photography and Redtree Albums. It’s a company built around quality photography as well as premium photo albums. Quietly listening in is my friend Greg who owns Taylor Bookkeeping (he does my books) and Tiny Tot’s Nursery, a daycare and preschool. Finally, I’m the fitness guy dripping in syrup. My business is CrossFit Regeneration.

Every other Friday morning, I meet with these guys and other leaders from various different fields at Cracker Barrel to discuss our businesses. We talk about ways that we can improve our products and services. We learn from the collective wisdom of each other’s successes and failures. It’s a blast. I’ve taken so much from those meetings that I’ve been able to apply in my gym, even though none of them operate gyms.

What we do isn’t a networking group, though we each benefit from the relationship network that we have. It’s more like a mastermind group. We have a purpose for meeting that transcends exchanging business cards: It’s about wisdom. It’s about knowledge and application.

Some concepts and practices transcend the fitness world and can be applied to most, if not all business, and some things from outside the fitness world can render incredible benefits in our gyms. How to handle unruly employees, taxes and government issues, marketing, customer loyalty and countless other aspects of business are beyond our little fitness world, and sometimes meatheads can learn a thing or two from the ranks of leaders in other fields.

When was the last time you sought advice from someone outside the CrossFit world?

Hiring a consultant can cost thousands of dollars, and while I’m sure that they’re probably worth every penny, it’s likely that there is some gold to be mined from some successful people within your own sphere. People who would love to share their experiences with you over pancakes. At least that was my assumption, and I was right.

Think through who you know – people from your gym, your church, former co-workers, folks you went to school with, etc. Then cast a vision. You have experience that they can benefit from as well, so offer your expertise! Form a plan and send out the invites. That’s what I did, and all it has cost me is around $20/month for pancakes and coffee, but it has paid off with thousands of dollars in both saved and earned revenues.

Maybe next time I’ll get into the meat of JB’s customer service lesson, or maybe you’ll have to come learn it from him instead. There are good pancakes involved.

Charlie Sims was the owner of CrossFit Regeneration in Louisville, Kentucky.