I believe that the Affiliate community is under threat from forces both internal and external.
We compete with each other on price while large corporate entities (with superior economics, derived from scale) prepare to drastically undercut us with one-size-fits-all group classes.
We are complicit in a rapid race to the financial bottom, accelerated by our own strategic and tactical ignorance.
We charge semi-boutique prices (from the customer's point of view) without truly customizing the product to the individual client. We refuse to take the time to enforce a culture of goal setting and accountability, whether due to a lack of time and resources or simple ignorance of the need to deliver high-touch service.
We own huge swaths of social media territory, yet we use it ineffectively to engage current clients and recruit new ones. We blame each other for our public reputation, the phantom "bad gym owner" bringing us down, when the true culprit is our own inability to organize.
This needs to be remedied. Not by a higher power, not via some drastic change to the Affiliate agreement, but from within.
We must act together rather than apart. We need to fix ourselves.
I don't stay these things from a position of ignorance (or malice). I've spent my days over the last two years working directly with Affiliates to improve their respective businesses, and I can count on one hand the number that check all the boxes necessary for success:
Cooperation and integration with other local Boxes
Virtuosity in coaching and programming
A culture of individualized goal setting and accountability
Robust attendance monitoring and intervention
A pervasive nutrition culture
A habit of establishing expectations amongst beginning and intermediate athletes
Strong accounting knowledge and regular P&L and Balance Sheet monitoring
A business model based on high tuition and low overhead
Attention to key business metrics and comparison of those metrics against stated business goals
A diversity of income from group classes, personal training, member education events, and retail
A commitment to developing, training, and furthering the careers of employees
A sales-oriented website with excellent user experience and intuitive navigation
Production of expert-level content, incorporated into social media, newsletters, and paid advertising
A daily attention to personal professional development
I believe this can change, and I intend to do all I can to help.
I know there is a contingent of people in this Community that believes (as I do) that we are not doomed to compete with each other over tens of dollars, that we need not open on top of each other, that there is a world in which the individual Affiliate competes successfully against the encroaching Big Box corporate gyms.
Let's make it happen. Let's professionalize the Affiliate.
We'll do it not because there's money to be made, but because CrossFit is the single most effective, life-changing, intelligent fitness methodology ever created.
We'll do it because we shouldn't get snuffed out for temporarily losing our way. We'll do it because there is no way that anyone should ever confuse CrossFit with a group fitness class at Lifetime Fitness.
We need to create a culture of cooperation amongst the Affiliates rather than one of competition. We need to lift each other up instead of knocking each other down.
Until this happens, we'll never achieve the critical mass necessary to succeed as a group. We'll never win.
Let's begin the change right now.