If you’re an entrepreneur, then you know: You’re not an island – no matter how much time you spend trying to operate like one.
It’s one of the toughest lessons for business owners to learn.
As visionaries with big missions, we can’t accomplish all of our dreams without the right team of people to help us get there.
That’s why this conversation about building, growing and retaining a strong team is so crucial.
Don’t miss this powerful look at teamwork, as Amanda Benson-Tilch, host of The Ask Amanda Show, sits down with industry-leading fitness coach and consultant Rachel Cosgrove, who co-owns Results Fitness and Results University in Santa Clarita.
Together, Amanda and Rachel discuss the key decisions that helped Rachel build two successful teams. They also share their secrets to success in this comprehensive team-building guide that covers everything from hiring the right person, to growing and keeping them.
Let’s dive in.
Growing Results With The Right Team
The power of teamwork has driven Rachel’s business ventures from the very beginning. In fact, when Rachel and her husband, Alwyn Cosgrove, opened their gym, the industry approach to teamwork was one of the things they wanted to change. They got so good at it that today their second business teaches other fitness professionals to harness the power of teamwork through coaching, coursework and more.
Their two businesses are a perfect example of how you can grow your business with the power of teamwork.
Building Results Fitness
“Over 20 years ago, my husband and I opened Results Fitness to create a new standard in the fitness industry,” Rachel explained. “We had worked at a number of different gyms and been part of a number of different teams. So we pulled what we liked and learned from what we didn’t like.”
With their past experiences and future mission as their guide, the Cosgroves set out to build a gym that felt comfortable and gave people a great experience, even if that meant doing things a little differently.
“We wanted to change the way fitness is done – for our clients and for our team,” Rachel explained. “We knew we wanted to do that from the beginning.”
They didn’t just want to change the way their team worked; they wanted to change the way the world saw their team … and the industry altogether.
“Twenty-five years ago, there wasn’t a career in fitness, and now it’s a career path. That’s really exciting. And that was part of our vision as we built Results Fitness,” Rachel explained. “At the time, personal training wasn’t taken seriously. It wasn’t a ‘real job,’ but we wanted to give them a career. We wanted our team to set a new standard for the professionals in our industry.”
And that they did.
In fact, they got so good at it that they eventually opened a coaching business to teach other fitness professionals to do just that.
Building Results University
“Every business comes out of a solution to a problem,” Rachel explained. “We started getting a lot of other fitness trainers reaching out to us and asking how we’re running our business and if they could come and watch.”
Rather than being afraid of the competition, the Cosgroves recognized an opportunity and turned it into a business. Today, Results Fitness University teaches other fitness professionals how to run a successful business using the same principles the Cosgroves put into practice with Results Fitness.
“It grew out of our first business. We started speaking at conferences, consulting, and really building a name for ourselves in the industry,” Rachel explained.
Once again, their team was vital in their second business.
“Getting that first key person on your team is so important,” Rachel explained. “We hired an administrative manager, and getting her on board was a game-changer for us. She’s still with us after 21 years.”
How To Hire The Right Person
Hire For Your Weaknesses
“A lot of people make the mistake of hiring someone who’s just like you as your first employee. If you’re a personal trainer, the first thing you do is hire another personal trainer. But pretty soon, you get stuck doing all the stuff you’re not good at – and you don’t like it. Really, you’re better off in your sweet spot,” Rachel explained.
Many entrepreneurs make their first hire based on their own strengths, when they should really be hiring based on their own weaknesses.
“We made that mistake. I found myself in the office calling people whose credit cards had been declined, while our trainers were out on the floor having fun,” Rachel said with a laugh. “I was doing an entry-level job, while I could be billing at a much higher rate if I was working in my area of strength, as a personal trainer.”
Before you hire your next person, first figure out where you need to be in your business to make the most money and have fun. Then find the people you need to support you in that role. It’s going to be someone who’s good at things you’re not good at.
Identify & Own Your Core Values
The first step to finding and hiring the right person for the job is to know what you’re looking for. That’s why it’s absolutely crucial to identify your core values.
What do you stand for? What does your company stand for? What’s the mission of your business and your team?
If you can’t answer those questions clearly and definitely, then you won’t be able to identify those traits in the person who applies for the job either.
As Rachel says: “A successful business runs off of your core values.”
Here are three tips to creating powerful and authentic core values:
1. Put some heart into it.
This is not one of those business exercises that you can check off your list and stick it in a drawer somewhere. For your core values to work, they have to mean something to you. They have to set the course for success, by your definition.
So do what you need to do to create a list of core values that actually resonate with you. If that means you invite your friends and mentors over for wine and brainstorming, then do it. If it means you reach out to your network with some questions, do that. If you just need an hour of uninterrupted time and a view from the front porch, then give yourself that moment.
Remember: You actually have to use them to direct and manage every aspect of your business. So mean it.
2. Make it a team effort.
Once you have your core list, you might want to consider opening that list up to the existing members of your team.
When the Cosgroves asked their team, a personal trainer with 15 years under his belt suggested: “Be we not me.” It was so good that they still use that core value in daily conversation at the gym.
“Invite your team to be part of it, so that list of core values is ours,” Rachel explained. “Then they take ownership of it, too.”
3. Make them memorable.
“All of our core values are very short and memorable,” Rachel said.
Why? It’s easier to incorporate them into every aspect of business if you can remember them all first.
To help your team remember your core values, use them whenever you can: on the wall, on your website, as part of your team language, even in team meetings. The Cosgroves focus on one core value during each team meeting to make sure the conversation is top-of-mind and constant.
Turn Values Into Culture
Once you have your core values in place, you can use them to guide your company culture, from your hiring process to your management to your leadership skills.
1. Let them guide your hiring process
“Our entire hiring process is designed to see if you share our same core values, and if you’ll fit well with our culture,” Rachel explained. “I don’t actually care whether you can do the job from the very beginning. I care if you have the right attitude, share our core values and will fit in well with our team.”
For both businesses, the Cosgroves’ hiring process and interview questions are designed around their core values.
“For example, one of our core values is: Have fun and a sense of humor. So one of our interview questions is: Tell me a joke,” Rachel said with a laugh. “Sometimes it really catches them off guard and they freeze. So we’ll tell them a joke and see how they respond to the whole situation. We’ve even had people email us afterward with a really funny joke.”
Though it might seem unconventional, this approach helps the Cosgroves clearly understand one thing: Does this person fit with our company culture? Can they help us accomplish our mission?
“Once we got our core values dialed in – and built our hiring process and interview questions around that – it was a game-changer,” Rachel explained. “Then you get the right people on board, and they understand who we are and what we expect right up front.”
2. Let them guide your team.
Once you’ve hired someone who shares your core values, it’s crucial to manage them with the same guiding principles.
“We joke that we speak in ‘core value-ese.’” Rachel said with a laugh. “Any decision or question that comes up, we answer it with a core value. It becomes part of the language and creates a sense of ownership. Everyone becomes invested in making the team and the culture as great as it can be. So the team starts to manage itself because they know their core values match the culture from the very beginning.”
3. Let them guide your leadership.
If you ask your team to work by a set of core values, it’s crucial that your leadership and work ethic reflect those same core values. Leading by example is mandatory for this to work.
“You have to be the exemplary example of your core values,” Rachel explained. “You can’t have core values and not live by them. As a leader, you have to take total ownership.”
How To Grow The Right People
Systematize To Grow
A happy, growing team is not a frustrated one. If you want to harness the power of teamwork to grow your business, your systems and processes have to support your team. They can’t perform their best if they’re not given the best support. Otherwise, it works against both of you.
“It’s happened to all of us before. You hire a team, and you still end up doing all the things,” Rachel said. “Why? We’re entrepreneurs, and we want to be in control of what we’re creating.
The easiest and quickest way to solve that is with systems.”
You have to have systems in your business if your team is going to operate well without you. That’s why every system and process should be broken down into a series of: checklists, templates and/or scripts.
“For example, if a team member comes up to me because they don’t know how to cancel someone’s membership, that means I don’t have a system in place. So as I’m teaching them how to cancel a membership, I’m creating a checklist. That way, next time, the system is already in place. Then, as you’re talking to the customer who wants to cancel their membership, write down what you’re saying to create a script. And on it goes.”
Any problem or situation that you find yourself being repeatedly brought into needs a system of checklists, templates and scripts.
“If you create one system a week in your business, you’ll have 52 new systems after a year. That will get you to the point where you don’t have to be there – and it will still run – because you have systems in place.”
How To Retain The Right People
1. Give Them A Mission
“In the book ‘Good to Great,’ Jim Collins talks about getting your team on board your company bus, which is moving toward a mission. I’ve always used that analogy because, when you have really good visuals, it can be very powerful for people,” Rachel shared.
The bus can be an analogy that becomes part of the language and culture – but it needs a mission.
“At Results Fitness, everyone is on the bus heading toward the mission of changing the way fitness is done. Everyone has a different seat on the bus, but sometimes those seats can change. And new seats will open up.”
Once the team understands the analogy, it can make tough conversations clearer because everyone is communicating from a place of shared understanding.
“If I feel like someone is drifting away from the mission, all I have to say is: ‘I feel like you’re kind of looking out the window. Do we need to pull the bus over? Is everything ok?’ Right away, they understand and can say: ‘No, I want to be on the bus.’ And we’re back on the same page.”
And it all comes back to the shared mission.
“If you don’t give them a mission, they’ll come in, clock in, clock out, and stay a while. But eventually, they’ll leave because they’re not a part of something,” Rachel explained. “If you show them they’re contributing to a bigger mission, they’re going to be with you as long as they can be.”
2. Share Your Vision
Once you’ve figured out your core values and given the team a mission, you need to give them a clear picture of how you’re going to get there. And keep them updated on their progress.
“They know the shared mission. Now they need to know the shared vision,” Rachel explained. “How are we going to get there?”
This means sharing your goals and updating the team on your progress. Make this a regular part of team meetings.
Again, your systems are important here, too. Proper systems give your team a clear, achievable process to follow, so they’re set up for success. They have everything they need to share your vision and help you get there.
3. Discuss Compensation Together
Once your team is on the bus riding toward their mission, and has clear directions for how to get there, they need to feel like it’s an equitable exchange. It’s time to have the compensation discussion.
“Obviously, part of hiring and retaining good people is paying them. It has to be enough for them to pay their bills and live the life they want to live,” Rachel explained. “That’s definitely a discussion you need to have with each team member. Ask them: Where do we need to be so you’re not worried about money?”
If a team member is worried about money, they’ll have a hard time focusing – and they’ll likely be looking elsewhere.
“You have to look at your resources and figure out what you can afford, but once you figure that out, then you can have the conversation together.”
4. Motivate With Rewards Not Incentives
With a solid foundation for your team, the next step is to maintain motivation. Rachel suggests motivating your team with surprise rewards rather than incentivized programs. Her strategies are based on lots of research including a favorite book, “Drive” by Daniel Pink.
“There’s a lot of research around dangling a carrot and if it actually works,” Rachel explained. “They found that having an incentive is actually a distraction. Instead of having a team that’s focused on the mission, now they’re focused on the carrot.”
Instead, the Cosgroves motivate their team with unexpected celebrations and rewards.
“If you know your team well enough, you can do something personal. Does your team love Disney? Take them all to Disneyland. Stuff like that means the most to them. So talk to them to find out what’s important.”
5. Make Team Building Meaningful
Finally, one of the best ways to grow and retain a good team is to simply have fun together. Create team building experiences that are fun and meaningful by getting to know your team. You can also create opportunities to get involved in the community together. Results Fitness will occasionally host fundraisers, or they’ll form a team in local races.
“We do a lot of mud runs and local races as a team. We train for them together and run them together,” Rachel explained. “We figure out a shared interest and bring everyone together that way.”
Meet the Experts
Rachel Cosgrove – Fitness Coach & Consultant
For over 20 years, Rachel Cosgrove has been the co-owner/operator of Results Fitness, a gym she owns with her husband, Alwyn Cosgrove. Together, they lead their team on a mission to change the way fitness is done. The gym has quadrupled in size since it opened and was voted one of the top 10 gyms in the United States by Men’s Health Magazine three years in a row.
Rachel also works full time in their second business Results University, a business consulting firm where they help entrepreneurs create successful businesses. She’s made her mark on the industry by authoring two books – ”Drop Two Sizes” and “The Female Body Breakthrough” – and writing for numerous professional publications including Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Precision Nutrition and more. Rachel is a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
Ready to commit to your fitness in an environment that understands teamwork from every angle? Check out the gym and meet the team at Results Fitness with this special offer.
Amanda Benson-Tilch – Small Business Consulting
While you may notice her first by her wit and second by her infectious sense of humor, the next thing you’ll learn about Amanda Benson-Tilch is: She’s a problem-solver. Owner and Growth Strategist of Ask Amanda Consulting, she offers the skills, tools and network it takes to get the job done — no matter the task.
Working with each client differently, she helps identify blocks, present solutions, implement them, and execute. And if she can’t execute, she’ll connect you to someone who can. She’s helped past clients improve their branding, operations, customer service, marketing, company culture, and more. She’s organized a company-wide rebranding and restructuring after it was bought out. And she’s helped local small businesses increase their growth without increasing the headache. From consulting to full-scale project management, Amanda steps in to help your business level up with ease.
In addition to her work with Ask Amanda, she’s also the Director of Business Development for Thomas Realty Co., a property management company in Burbank, where she oversees the growth of select tenants. Currently, she’s serving as the Managing Director of both Burbank Fitness Club and Burbank Center Apartments. Over the last year, she helped completely rebrand, renovate and rebuild the gym, and she recently started the same process with their luxury apartments.
About The Ask Amanda Show
On any given day, small business owners and entrepreneurs spend most of their time putting out fires, solving problems and asking themselves questions like: “How do I brand this? How do I reach more people online? Why can’t I break through my revenue ceiling and reach the next level of business?” They often feel like an island – holding it all together without support, clarity or feedback they need to finally achieve their vision. That’s exactly why Amanda Benson-Tilch created The Ask Amanda Show. As a small business consultant, not only does she have the answers to the questions you keep asking, but she’s also created a podcast community that reminds you: You’re not alone in this journey.
Tune in once a month to get access to small business experts, nuggets of inspiration and answers to those burning questions preventing you from growth. Enjoy powerful guest interviews as Santa Clarita small business experts share their stories and provide actionable steps to help you grow your business. Whether you’re a business owner, aspiring entrepreneur, or someone looking to get more involved in your community, this is your show!