The Secret of the Tribe


The show “Shark Tank” is based upon the British show, “Dragons’ Den.” The kinks of the show were worked out on the Canadian version of “Dragons’ Den,” and it grew to be a hit series. One of the members of the cast, Brett Wilson, was the first person in Canada to graduate with an MBA in entrepreneurism. The main takeaway from Wilson is that as entrepreneurs, we see risk differently.

If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Owning and operating a CrossFit Box comes with a never-ending list of challenges. Conquer one challenge and there is another waiting to replace it. Sometimes, it feels like you are playing whack-a-mole at the state fair, but it’s one of the greatest jobs in the world. Why wouldn’t you do it?

The tendency is to get into a business because we are passionate about the sport we have come to love. It is seen all the time in other industries: the marathon runner opening a local running store, the ex-ski racer opening up a ski shop and the pro cyclist a bike shop. Without these people, specialty retail as it currently is wouldn’t exist. Without you, CrossFit as it currently is wouldn’t exist. The network of CrossFit Affiliates is alive and thriving only because of the passionate people behind the program: you.

You’re passionate, view the business as low-risk and you know that hard work will make it a success. Yet, as in all businesses, the challenge is real. Customer acquisition and retention for each CrossFit Box matters. Clients have choices and will normally seek out an environment in which they feel comfortable, understand the programming and/or have a personal connection with the Coaches. Clients also have discretionary dollars to spend on their lifestyle.

You have six hours of programming per day, six to seven days a week and you can generally fit 10 to 15 people per class. With the number of monthly members the Box has, along with drop-ins, the revenue model becomes quite clear. Now, the challenge is very real and the question becomes how do you do what every good business does and maximize the dollars per member that walks through your door?

The key is to create a “tribe.” Clients that train with you are yearning to be a part of your “tribe.” You and your trainers live the life some athletes would like to lead, and many might be envious of your lifestyle. In addition to the top-notch programming you provide, each one of your tribe should be able to find value in the products you offer. Ideally, you need to find manufacturers to work with that can offer inventory at little to no risk. Ask around, as they do exist and are usually willing to help.

Give your tribe a reason to spend their money within your CrossFit Box by providing them with options for not only their nutrition, but also their equipment and gear needs. You will probably be pleasantly surprised by the client retention rates and financial results that you find come from doing just that.

By Jay Taylor, the CEO of LALO Tactical. To contact Taylor, call 619.876.5256, email or visit