I met Dalton in 2006, and if I had to describe him in a word, I'd choose, "serious." At one point, I thought he was going to smile... but I dismissed it as gas. He certainly wasn't going to win the Happy Camper of the Year Award, at least, not when I first met him. After a seminar of mine, he handed me a folded-up piece of paper. It read simply, "I need help. Please."
Dalton is a disciplined professional, a father, husband and stand-up guy. He has been a personal trainer for six years, collecting $65 per session. But he was being managed by his clients, his commitments and his prospects. He wanted to believe he was a business owner, but the harder he tried to get over the top financially, the more he felt burdened by other people's lack of commitment, time restraints and absence of reliability. His CV was stellar: he had a Masters in Exercise Physiology; he maintained three of the most recognized certifications; he had extensive health club experience; he was a board member for various committees and agencies; and his continuing education could have served as a complete curriculum for even the most critical student of fitness training.
The Missing Element
Dalton and I sat down at a table, and he almost burst into tears. "I work harder than anyone I know, but I'm exhausted, burnt out and feel as if I'm failing everyone. What's crazy is all the trainers around me praise me and believe I'm rolling in the dough. Nothing could be further from the truth."
Dalton shared his vision: "If I just had 40 sessions a week, I'd be on top. But I can't find solid clients who don't flake out after a month or so. I wind up working 70-hour weeks between marketing, bill paying, training and program design. And I'm lucky if a week generates 28 or 29 sessions. With over $15,000 in credit card debt, how can I get to 40 sessions and finally make ends meet?"
Dalton appeared stunned by my answer. "You can't."
I continued, "If 40 sessions is your goal and your revenue generation is limited to the hours you personally train, when '40' becomes a reality, you'll still have to invest additional hours in travel, program design and the financial aspects of your business. Your vision and your plan are not in synch. Unless you master the missing element, you're always going to feel the future you want is out of reach."
There was about a minute of silence. My nose was still on my face so I suspected I was opening his mind up to possibility. Dalton swallowed hard and asked, "What's the missing element?" My answer was instantaneous. "Spillover."
Here's the good news. In February of 2007, Dalton sent me a card postmarked in Maui. Inside were photos of his family enjoying a luau at the Grand Wailea resort. The card read: "One word changed my life. Spillover. I want to give you one word in return. Thanks."
The Three Elements
I've already, in this series, introduced and addressed the elements that contribute to professional prosperity. But in brief summation, the first, the Reach, is a strategic marketing output intended to continually draw attention to what you do and how you help people. The second of the three elements, the Funnel, is a vehicle for maximizing the dollar return on your time. It requires a forum or a presentation that brings people in a group to invest in your services with an opportunity to commit ongoing. In essence, your funnel turns curiosity into commitment.
The final element the Spillover is a simple concept, but I'd be lying if I told you it was simple to implement. At first, it requires lots of your time, careful scrutiny and the development of some management/leadership skills, if those traits aren't yet at the top of your personal talent arsenal. To understand the concept of the Spillover, envision a funnel with a narrow bottom tube suspended over a collection jar. Imagine a waterfall of gold coins being poured into the top of the funnel, and you'll see coins falling to the sides, the funnel overflowing and a small percentage of the gold coins landing in the collection jar below. Those gold coins can stand as an analogy for client sessions. The ones that never make it into the top of your funnel are sessions that you'll never own, but the real trick lies in managing the collection jar below. When it starts to fill up, if more gold is to be acquired, you will have to find a way to increase the volume capacity. Ditto for your professional calendar.
Generating Profitable Spillover
There are limits to the number of clients you can personally train, but there aren't any limits placed upon the number of prospective clients you can reach. In that lies the futility of Dalton's original vision. If he's reaching more clients, but they're simply replacing those sessions that are dropping off of his calendar, his quest to acquire 40 sessions is going to be continually hindered by the drains on his energy, his need to train every client in order to generate enough profit to meet his financial obligations and a recognized need to market anytime a client drops out.
Essentially, the Spillover serves as the collection vessel. Your Spillover is best built by the recruiting of an apprentice, who appreciates the opportunity to work for you, and then the successive recruiting of underlings. Think of it in its simplest application. If Dalton can charge $35 once a month for a seminar that he conducts and attract 100 people to each seminar, a few hours can generate $3,500. And if he keeps his client load conservative and only trains those clients he feels a genuine rapport with, he can train 15 sessions per week, spend time marketing his monthly seminar and work a total of 40 hours loving most of the time he spends "working." At his rate of $65 per session, 15 sessions per week can bring him $975 per week. That is far less than the $2,600 he hoped to generate with his wishful "full 40 session week," but putting things in perspective, he wasn't actually earning $2,600 weekly. That was simply a "want." In reality, his income stalled at $60,000.
If making $975 per week, Dalton's income would near $50,000. And if you add $3,500 per monthly seminar, you can tack another $42,000 to the personally generated revenues. Training only 15 sessions per week and working fewer total hours, he'd increase his personal income by almost as much as he'd hoped for with his flawed vision. And here's the best part: when the Spillover is created, revenue can grow without any ceiling at all.
I don't know the details of Dalton's growth, but I do know how the simple word Spillover changed his life. I'll use him in a hypothetical example one I hope will open your mind to a new way of thinking about your growth potential. If Dalton, with a $90,000-plus income, a commitment to 15 sessions per week and one seminar per month, hired an assistant who was at the back of the room in each seminar, it wouldn't be long before the assistant had a 30-session-per-week client load. If those sessions were paid at $50 each and Dalton arranged a clean 50/50 split with his new hire, his trainer would earn $750 per week with immense potential for growth, and Dalton would passively collect an additional $750 per week of his own. That's another $35,000 annually, without any commitment to a 40-hour client load. Once the apprentice has a full calendar, it's time to recruit and bring in another trainer. If each new trainer increases Dalton's revenue (or yours) by $35,000, the potential for exponential income increases becomes glaringly obvious.
Creating Effortless Prosperity
With this information, you will hopefully begin creating a new alternative for the future of your business. One in which you train fewer hours, but where each training hour is rewarding and productive, and build a team to catch the coins that fly through your funnel.
There may appear to be a contradiction between the idea of the Spillover becoming a vehicle to reduce your required work time and my earlier statement professing the Spillover requires lots of your time, careful scrutiny and the development of new leadership skills. But despite first impressions, this is not a contradiction at all. Effortless prosperity, as I mentioned in the very first article of this series, is not "prosperity without effort." It is, at least as I've come to recognize it, a state where you love what you do, you're rewarded as you deserve and "work" feels "effortless." If you're going to build a strong and valuable Spillover, you absolutely must develop systems, recruit with painstakingly critical eyes and ears and train your new hires until they understand not only why you want them to do things in a certain way, but what you would do in almost any work-related situation. They have to understand your approach, your message and your mindset and they have to buy in fully. That takes effort, but if you pull the pieces together, this effort will come back to you a thousand-fold. When you turn the Reach into habit, you master The Funnel and you create your Spillover. There are few growth opportunities in any service business that will rival your new potential.
Phil Kaplan's newest program, "Change Your Mind, Change The World," is available at www.philkaplan.com.