Better Doctors. Better Care.

Month: April 2019

Networking for Beginners: What You Need To Know?

Today, networking is not just about talking to trade groups or creating refer-a-friend programs to gain a foothold in your community. Today’s consumers are a little more savvy, so that means if we want to become the go-to gym in our areas, we need to get creative with how we network and advertise our services.

Here are 5 out-of-the-box ideas you can implement TODAY in your facility for $0 to raise awareness and 1 that costs a little bit, (but even that is negotiable).

Barter Organizations – Look, I know most of you will skip right over this idea due to the fact that you’re not getting actual cash, but please hear me out. I am involved in several groups of business organizations in my area who barter their services for the equivalent in trade dollars for other services. The businesses involved range from printers and security service providers to landscape designers and dentists.

At any rate, I don’t have any need for landscaping at our facility, so I would be given the equivalent amount in barter bucks to use for something else like painting, office supplies, or janitorial services. You are not getting actual cash, but you are also out a lot less money for services you would typically pay for out of pocket.  At any given time, I have between $2-$15k in barter bucks to use for those expenses that pop up unexpectedly. I can now save the actual cash for services and use my barter instead.  This keeps cash in the bank for operating costs.  Think of barter as a separate bank account that can be used for just about anything.  It’s a real no-brainer in my opinion, you just have to think outside the box!

What happens in these organizations is that businesses seek out others for services they need and offer to trade with you. If you don’t have a use for their service, you are given an equivalent amount of trade dollars to use with any other business in your organization. For instance, if a landscape designer approaches me with interest in providing his 3-person team with personal training services I would tell him how much that would cost. The key here is that these are new clients that would otherwise NEVER have come in to see us. And from these new clients, I can set them up with paid services such as daily smoothies, supplements or nutrition programs.

Fitness Marketing

Fitness Marketing

There are many barter organizations across the U.S., it just takes a quick Google search and an email or phone call to screen them.

Discounts for Local Businesses – This one isn’t actually that novel, but it’s something that’s often overlooked and for me, has been quite profitable. When we moved into a new business center, I personally visited each and every company in the complex and offered them a great rate for their employees. More than one business took us up on the offer, which is great, but one company purchased memberships for all of their employees. We have continued to show great value to the organization by helping promote a healthy workforce and have now been approached to design a nutrition plan for their company as well.

Joint Venture (JV) with Other Local Businesses– The idea behind this suggestion is to partner with another company who may share a similar client demographics, where you each trade special offers for your clients. Let me explain. Say you share a shopping center with a day spa. You approach the management of the spa and tell them that you would like to offer a discount to their clients for one free week of training. You offer to write the emails from the spa’s point of view, allowing the customer to draw the conclusion that they (the spa owners) care so much about their clients that they “went to bat” for them with the gym to get them a special offer, only available to them. The spa sends out the emails that you wrote to their own list, themselves.

Create a free, private Facebook group such as Healthy Living, Scottsdale, where you are the creator, the administrator and resident expert. Post relevant articles, blogs, recipes and local fitness and outdoor events. Make it a fun place for the community to interact with each other-somewhere they want to comment and learn and ultimately invite others to do the same. But, DO NOT pitch anything in there and do not allow anyone else to do so either. People will eventually figure out who you are and what gym you own and visit you there.

Reciprocally, the spa then creates an offer to extend to your (the gym’s) clients. They will write the emails for you from the gym’s point of view and you send their discount out to your client list, however you can offer to write the emails for them as well.  This way, both companies look like they are going above and beyond for their clients AND are able to reach potential customers to whom they previously did not market. Neither partner in the venture compromises their own email list because you don’t hand it over.  It’s a value add for both partners, yet it can be potentially difficult to explain to other business owners who may not be savvy marketers like you are. Done correctly, however, this can be a very successful campaign for both you and your partner company.

Community Facebook Page – This suggestion is a straight ninja tactic. You know how I always talk about providing valuable content to your clients and prospects alike? That’s the idea behind creating a community page. It is just is an undercover way of reaching your target demographic without coming straight at them with advertisements or marketing copy.

Grow your followers by running contests – give away shaker bottles when you reach 1000 followers; offer tickets to spring training for getting the most people to follow your page. One of the best things about this is that you can add all of your local friends to the page without them even knowing about it. Then, your content shows up on their feed and they can add their own friends from there. Slam dunk, also a $0 cost play!

Charity Workouts – This is a win-win for everyone. Create a fun charity fundraiser at your gym by offering a paid workout to the community at large. Allow the charity to help market the event, reaching a potential client base that wouldn’t have come in otherwise while also allowing your members to bring in family and friends. Donate all of the proceeds to the charity, but collect the contact information from all participants. Several hours after the event, send an email to the entire list with a note that says “Thank you for coming to support the charity. With your help, we have raised $X to be used toward research for a cure. Here are some pictures and videos from the event today. Please connect with us on Facebook and as a special thank you for coming out today, here is a FREE 7 day pass to come in and give us a try. We would love to see you again.”

Mud Runs – Races of all types are still hot and a great way to build team camaraderie with gym members, their family and friends. We participate in several every year and always have a great turn out. The best ones are when our teams are comprised of even numbers of members and non-members because not only do we have a great time training for and participating in the event itself, there is great word of mouth publicity for us along the way. While there is usually a fee involved to sponsor a team in addition to the nominal participation fees, you may be able to get them to waive it if you bring a large enough team to participate.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of out-of-the-box networking opportunities, but they are all suggestions that you can incorporate easily into your fitness marketing plan and most will not cost you a dime out of pocket. Good luck!

Free HR Templates

Five Free Tools to Help You Grow Your Small Business

There is only one common piece of advice I have received from nearly every mentor, friend, and peer when starting our company: Keep overhead low.

Cash is king. It can be easy and tempting to spend money on every subscription and service out there because you need it. Your monthly overhead can start to ring up quickly.

Finding the right tools and resources to manage your business can help you to work more efficiently and utilize your capital elsewhere. We all know there a lot of great resources available for companies and teams, but we are a small business, so we love free stuff.

So, when is free for me?

There are times when a free solution is great because it helps you to fix a problem and operate more efficiently. There are other times that free solutions can be a huge gamble and the liability makes partnering with a pro more cost effective in the long run. In the beginning when your needs are simple, you might be able to find free tools to get you started.

Let’s check out a few of the free tools we have used to grow ERG Payroll & HR:

Free CRM– Zoho offers a free basic CRM for up to 10 users. We used this when we were first getting started to load new prospect information. They also have many other solutions that integrate, including their Campaigns and Customer Service tools. I used for many years and I find Zoho’s CRM easier to use and nearly equal in functionality (on the paid version).

Free CRM

They also offer free email for up to 50 users. Their email is very easy to use, has a great mobile app and met our needs for over a year. We now use paid versions of their apps and they are still more cost effective than most CRM’s on the market. They do a very good job offering freemium products with real value.

Free Project Management App– I started using Trello as a personal “to-do” list and now we use it to collaborate on projects for our team. We use this to share information for implementing new clients and for software development. You can create lists that you can re-use later, create cards and boards to follow the progress of projects, attach documents, comments, and give multiple team members access.



Trello is very simple to use and offers a free version that we have yet to outgrow. The mobile app is awesome and allows you to get notifications to your phone every time someone mentions you. We have been using the free version for over two years and have not needed to upgrade. This tool (or one like it) is a “must have” in my book.

Free Research Tools– Your local library likely offers more free research tools than you will ever need to grow your small business. The Richland County Library has an entire section of their website dedicated to Small Business research tools and if you go into the library and tell a librarian what you are trying to accomplish, they can point you to the right tools. We have used several of their research tools and still use Reference USA regularly to research prospects.

Free Research Tools

If you don’t have a library membership, go get one. Whether you are preparing your business plan, researching the market opportunity, your competition, or your prospects, they likely have the sites available to help you (for free).

Free Virtual Meetings– Google Hangouts is a great tool to keep your virtual team in front of one another or stay in front of clients. This app can help to create higher engagement levels amongst a dispersed team. We have a few team members that don’t sit in our office and I have found this to be a great way to keep “face to face” contact.

Google Hangouts allows you to have a video conference with as many team members as you want where you can share your screen, share documents, and use other Google Apps inside of the tool.



You can read here about how many people are also using Google Hangouts as a webinar platform to market their solutions and provide educational opportunities. If you have ever researched webinar tools, you know they are expensive. This is a great way to get in the game for free.

Free Conference Calling– Uberconference is a free conference call platform for up to 10 users per call. It offers some great additional features like seeing the location of the people involved in the call , but if you need a free tool for conference calls, this was the best I have found. I found very little limitations for a “straight up” call and even found the ancillary features like texting me when people joined the call to be better than some paid services I have used.

As a small business owner, it can be difficult to find the right tools to grow your small business at the right price. The above tools have great upside for small businesses and can help you to automate processes or get access to information. I hope that you are able to use at least one of these and it helps your team.

Our website also has a free stuff section with HR templates, tools, and webinars. These HR tools and templates would cost you hundreds of dollars to have created by an attorney. We are growing this section all the time. If you join our newsletter below, we start you out with “Five Free HR Templates” including a performance management template, employee file checklist, and more.

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franchise opportunities

Swim School Offers Strong Financing Options for its Solid Investment Opportunity

With startup costs that can range from $1,825,500 to $3,687,000, Big Blue Swim School is a franchise opportunity that requires strong financials. That said, the swim school brand provides plenty of funding options for its franchisees and has many safeguards in place that not only justify the expense but also contribute to a higher ROI because of it.

“The investment is relative to the returns,” Big Blue Swim School Chief Development Officer Scott Thompson said. “If the returns are there, the money will follow. If you’re interested in becoming a franchisee with us and believe in the brand and want to be a great operator and bring Big Blue Swim School to your community, there are multiple avenues to secure funding.”

Funding options available to Big Blue Swim School’s prospective franchisees include Small Business Administration (SBA) loans.

“Big Blue Swim School is SBA-registered and -approved,” Thompson said. “Our FDD was reviewed by the SBA, which makes it faster and easier for our franchisees to get the funding they need. If you’ve got a 401K making a 4 to 5% return, you can roll that over as your capital injection into the SBA loan.”

The brand can also provide assistance to prospective franchisees who are looking to partner with others on a Big Blue Swim School fitness franchise.


“There are ways of putting together small placement memorandums to raise outside capital which we have experience doing,” Thompson said. “There are business plan templates and pro formas that show the returns and make a case to friends, family members and other business associates to try to partner together.”

As one potential avenue to help prospective franchisees secure funding, Big Blue Swim School partners with Benetrends Financial, a 37-year-old full-service funding provider to the franchising industry. Benetrends works with more than 100 franchising brands that have locations in all 50 states and Canada.

“We basically serve as a funding partner for Big Blue Swim School,” Benetrends National Account Manager Storm Miller said. “We work with franchise candidates who are looking for comprehensive funding solutions to open a franchise location. We let franchise candidates know that there are banks out there that will finance their franchise.”

Miller pointed to Big Blue Swim School’s unique model as a major draw for Benetrends to work with the brand and said the unit economics are strong from an investment perspective.

“We don’t really work with any other education franchise brands that play in the same space as Big Blue Swim School,” Miller said. “They’re kind of playing in a ballpark of one. Big Blue Swim School is bringing people to their front doors. They have solid marketing and their pre-opening sales are excellent. They do a good job of making sure markets are well-aware of their presence through leading marketing strategies, and they make sure customers are lined up at the door before the locations even open up.”

One of the first things Benetrends does for prospective franchisees is work toward financing pre-qualification, Miller said.

“Financing sometimes holds people up so we have a very streamlined process to get candidates financed through loans,” Miller said. “We give a two-page financial assessment that takes most candidates between 15 to 20 minutes to complete. It will not negatively impact their credit. We have prequalification for financing within 24 hours and we do not charge a dime for that. We try to have that prequalification ready so that candidates can have their financial information in-hand on Discovery Day and be able to just focus on the brand.”

Benetrends is especially strong at helping franchisees secure multi-unit financing. The company connects franchise candidates with banks that are willing to fund multiple locations, which saves them the hassle of having to go back and secure financing for a second location, Miller said.

“We’ve been able to pretty consistently connect with lenders and meet a more aggressive development schedule for franchise candidates,” Miller said.

In terms of safeguards that help set franchisees up for success, Big Blue Swim School works exceptionally close with franchisees as they navigate their territory. The brand even ultimately chooses the building’s location after extensive study of the market.

“The real estate support we provide is very empirically driven,” Thompson said. “When we go and strategically map out a market, we will tell you exactly where we need to be. If you’re opening three to five locations, we will tell you where to open first in the market, which will set up the rest of the units for success.”

Ultimately, prospective franchisees should know that Big Blue Swim School is in a league of its own and provides an opportunity for franchisees to really make a name for themselves in their market of choice.

“Money will follow great operators and a great opportunity,” Thompson said. “You’re not asking for money to open up a fly-by-night retail store and you’re not competing with Amazon. A Big Blue Swim School franchise is backed by private equity and the brand has been around for 10 years. We’re not going anywhere.”

Big Blue Swim School offers franchise fee discounts for women and military veterans. To learn more about franchise business opportunities with Big Blue Swim School, visit

Self Storage Sunnyvale

San Jose Residents | Special Offer

Our El Camino Self Storage facility has grown in San Jose, California since early 90’s.

We’ve grown from our humble beginnings and from a small storage facility to over 2700 storage units located at Memorex Drive and De La Cruz in Santa Clara.  Few values which sets us apart from our competitors in the city of San Jose are:

To Our San Jose Community Customers – “Drive A Little, Save A Lot On Your Storage.”

As an added incentive to all residents in San Jose and only upon request, we will offer 4 months at 50% off on our standard rates instead of 3 months! Please make sure to bring your valid ID at the time of reservation to fulfill the offer. To reserve your unit, please click here!

Self Storage San Jose

Self Storage San Jose

High Security & Outstanding Conditions

Largest public storage in Santa Clara area. 100 plus high definition cameras, security system which records 24/7, security patrols, nice lightening, and very clean.

Personal Account & Variety Of Payment Options

Create a self storage account with El Camino Self Storage San Jose. You can easily manage your accounts online. Different payment options are available vie Phone/Check/Online.

Excellent On-Site Kiosk & No Force Insurance

You can make payment, rent a unit or buy a lock easily with our great on-site kiosk. We do not force our tenants to buy insurance from us. You can choose to (1) Self insure; (2) Use your own insurance agent; or (3) Insure through Deans & Homer. We have Deans and Homer brochure available for your asking.

Different Storage Options & Flexible Access Time

El Camino Self Storage has different storage options, and you are able to access your space everyday from 6:00am-10:00pm!


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How To Hire Professional Security for Kidnap and Ransom

Our Executive is Missing:  Kidnap and Ransom Basics for Security Professionals

The third of a three-part series to help protective professionals understand how K&R can be successfully resolved

It may happen when you are least able to prevent it – when your executive or his family are alone and most vulnerable. Learning what to expect in the hours and days after an abduction will help you avoid becoming a bystander at a time when your leadership is most needed. The first article of this series focused on the early hours, activating your plan, confirming a kidnapping, engaging an expert consultant, establishing a negotiation operations center, and selecting a communicator to receive ransom calls. The second article dived deeper into negotiation techniques and financial criteria. In this last article of the series, we address engagement with law enforcement, victim families, and the media.

Law Enforcement:

One of the early critical decisions needed during a kidnapping is the degree your company will engage with law enforcement in the likely foreign jurisdiction of the incident. Law enforcement’s priorities, including the identification, apprehension, and prosecution of the kidnappers, may impede effective negotiations. Police pressure can have a significant and negative impact on the time/money correlation that is present during all kidnappings for ransom. Corporations should strongly consider obtaining the services of a security consultant with a proven track record in ransom negotiations. These consultants already have established liaison with law enforcement and military in the countries where kidnap is most prevalent.

The taking of a U.S. citizen hostage or a ransom demand made against the U.S. Government, regardless of the victim’s citizenship, is a violation of U.S. federal law. The FBI, through their Crisis Negotiation Unit, is recognized as the official negotiation arm of the American government. Under the direction of the U.S. Ambassador, the FBI is the lead agency for Development and implementation of negotiation strategies; Conduct of investigations; and, Collection of evidence. The FBI will coordinate the government’s response to kidnap but will not take over decision making. Key decisions, such as whether to pay a ransom, always remain the responsibility of the victim family and/or company. The FBI will not provide the funds nor make the delivery of any ransom payment outside the United States. Corporations and families still must make these tough calls while managing the incident.

Know the Law

Some countries require mandatory notification to authorities that a kidnap occurred. Some countries mandate that you obtain their permission to negotiate with captors. Learning in advance the legal requirements in the countries where you have a presence could save precious time. A robust exchange of information with country authorities can result in permission to make a ransom payment when there is no other recourse for the victim’s safe release. The strong liaison can also help authorities realize that a kidnap negotiation is an investigative tool that provides intelligence and creates potentially exploitable options for law enforcement. Accommodation can be reached wherein authorities agree to wait until the victim is safely recovered before pursuing the abductors. In turn, a victim company may promise to provide all available evidence and make the victim available for debriefing.

In most cases, cooperation with authorities should be the preferred option of a victim company.  Cooperation is a two-way street that can build trust. A strong liaison with authorities can increase the company’s ability to influence law enforcement actions. This is most critical when there is a need to restrain officials from attempting high-risk rescues. Continuous contact with high-level trusted officials can reap both short and long-term benefits.


A company should prepare to expend a considerable amount of time and resources supporting, advising and protecting the victim family. First impressions are critical, and a company should give serious consideration as to which executive protection level official will make the initial in-person notification, and who will be assigned as the full-time family liaison for the duration of the incident. The victim’s family will feel isolated, perceive that information is being filtered, and that the company is not doing enough to obtain their loved one’s release. These sentiments are quite common and understandable. It is essential for the company to form a united front with the family and to provide them with realistic assessments and genuine assurances that they are equal players at the table.

As soon as possible there are two areas to address with the family. The first area is how to handle contact with the captors. The second topic involves the best approach to media inquiries. Contact from the captors with the family is very common and should be expected. Captors realize the emotional impact they can have when they manipulate victim family against victim company. They know the family can pressure the company to quickly acquiesce to the captor’s demands. A company that provides the victim family with concrete guidelines can minimize the likelihood of orchestrated manipulation. Additionally, the family’s confidence in the company’s knowledge and competence increases when they can anticipate the adversaries’ strategy.

The family will also need media guidance and someone to act as a buffer during the kidnapping. Educate the family on the potential damage to negotiations that can be done by a spontaneous statement to the media. It might even be necessary to relocate the family for the duration of the incident to isolate them from a media onslaught.


A Crisis Communication Plan should be an annex of your Crisis Management Plan. The media will ask three basic questions: What happened? How did it happen? What are you going to do about it? It is in your company’s best interest to respond to media inquiries. Failure to respond or delaying response makes the company look irresponsible, unconcerned or incompetent. Again, an experienced negotiation consultant can assist you with the best responses to media inquiries.

Your company’s communication department should craft holding statements for various crises in advance. Innocuous holding statements can help a company buy time to gather critical information. Financial details, ransom policies, insurance coverage, and negotiation status should never be discussed with the media. It is also a good policy to not publicly criticize any government’s response efforts.

Always provide information to the victim family before providing it to the media. Also, focus on internal messaging for the “corporate family” of colleagues and co-workers who will not appreciate learning information through the media. There should be only one authorized spokesperson and statements should be cleared with key partners before release. Don’t lie to the media. Take control and portray a posture of calm and confidence. Proactively anticipate media events and stories rather than merely reacting to them.

Companies responding to an international kidnapping will face the challenge of dealing with multiple governments, interacting with law enforcement agencies, victim families and the media. The safety of your victim employee may depend on your ability to successfully navigate the internal and external complexities of the crisis. Will you be ready?

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