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The 3 Pillars of a Coaching Business and the Work Week

BY Mike Ricci

Addressing the three key points to a successful business every week is a challenge. Like athletes, coaches benefit from having a schedule. Mike Ricci, who has owned D3 Multisport for 14 years, gives his three keys to success and shows you how to manage them during the week.

As a coach, you’re in the business of teaching your athletes how to manage their time properly and to get their workouts in while juggling the rest of their life. You don’t take excuses from your athletes and you expect them to execute the workout as written on the day it’s supposed to be done. Granted, there are exceptions when life gets in the way, but for the most part, that athlete expects you to hold them accountable.

Now if we turn the tables, how are you managing your work week? Are you following the same discipline in your work tasks as you are expecting your athletes to attain? Are you following the same discipline in your work tasks as you do in your own training? What does your 8-to-5 look like? Ok, I know you all work harder and longer hours than 8 to 5, so just know it’s a reference point!

I know that it can get pretty hectic as a coach, managing your athletes and your business. I’ve owned D3 Multisport for 14 years and have a solid sense of what it takes to achieve an organized week and to arrive at the weekend feeling accomplished. It comes down to one main point: Structure your work week just like you structure your athlete’s training weeks.

One of the most important aspects of running your business smoothly is to be consistent, just like you tell your athletes to be with their training. The more consistent you are, the more you’ll get out of your workouts and I have come to understand this also applies to operating your business. Like your athletes need to be consistent in key areas, you do as well. There are three key pillars that I focus on to be successful:

1. Get Athletes in the Pipeline

In order to get athletes in the pipeline, you have to be credible and have a good reputation. You do this by helping your athletes achieve the results they desired, writing articles that are beneficial for everyone, sharing a new workout you created and so on. It’s important to realize that you can’t keep these things to yourself! You need to share them on your website, through social media, in a monthly newsletter and other marketing strategies you have identified.

Many years ago, I set out to write a list of 50 ways to get athletes into my pipeline. I was stopped cold in my tracks at 25 ways. I’m still working to create the next 25, but now, eight years later I’m still working on the initial list of 25 things to get athletes into our company pipeline. It’s a reference list that has helped to build D3 Multisport.

2. Retain Your Customers

First and foremost- it’s all about the customer experience!  And, unfortunately, this is where most businesses go wrong. Whether an athlete has a great race, a great season or lays an egg, more than likely they will stick with you and your coaching if they feel you are genuine and taking good care of them. Every customer has that one ‘thing’ that’s important to them. You need to figure out what that is and build a relationship around it.

It may be easier said than done, but learning how to build a genuine relationship with an athlete is unequivocally one of the most important things you can do for your business. In this business, you are helping athletes achieve their goals and for some of them, they are dream goals. Establishing yourself as a partner in that goal is essential. Helping an athlete achieve something is what motivates us to get up and do our jobs!

Attention to your customers is another critical skill in building your business. Responding within 24 hours to emails, returning phone calls in a timely manner, answering questions and delivering more than is expected will go a long way. Think about what businesses you like to patronize. What do you like most about the experience you have at those places? Model that for your own business.

A few other ways to retain your athletes would be: put on training camps, clinics, group workouts, travel to races with a group of your athletes, athlete recognition and so on.

3. Educate Your Sales Team

You wear two hats– a coach and a business owner.

With the coach hat on: Are you taking new classes or certifications? Are you learning to work with athletes who may be a challenge to you (be it in their potential or other)? Have you educated yourself about the new products on the market? I encourage you to create a list of five qualities of a great coach and see which ones you can work on to make yourself a better coach.

With the business owner hat on: Is your billing as efficient as possible? Do you block out time each week to create your athlete’s training schedules, or do you do it on the fly on Sunday night? Learning good habits and being consistent with your approach to business will produce better results and keep your athlete retention up and turnover down. I encourage you to create another list of five – write a list of five books about entrepreneurship or marketing you can read this year.

If you can develop a strategy where you are consistently focused on these three things, in an organized manner, you will succeed.

A Sample Week

So, how do you bring all of this into a single week and not feel overwhelmed?

Here’s a very simplified example of how I have helped other coaches set up their workweek. Each day of the week should be a little different just to keep it fresh. Based on what ideas you have from the three points above, you can begin to build your own schedule to help you achieve success.

Monday: Check email from the weekend. Check athlete results before reaching out to them, know something about your athletes’ performance before contacting them. Are there any athlete fires to put out (did anyone have a bad workout or race)?

This builds on point No. 2 – Customer Retention.

Tuesday: Create athlete schedules for the next training block. In the afternoon, take scheduled phone calls with current or prospective athletes. Keep email inbox clean.

This builds on point No. 1 and No. 2 – Athletes in the Pipeline and Customer Retention.

Wednesday: Write articles for your monthly newsletter or other websites, take scheduled athlete phone calls, and tidy up any outstanding business work.

This builds on point No. 1 and No 2 – Athletes in the Pipeline and Customer Retention.

Thursday: Scheduled phone calls with athletes, work on marketing material for the website, social media and any upcoming events. Spend time working on planned upcoming group workouts, clinics or camps.

This builds on point No. 1 and No. 2 – Athletes in the Pipeline and Customer Retention.

Friday: Catch up on anything I missed from Monday through-Thursday (there are always emails). Email potential athletes I haven’t heard back from and take scheduled phone calls.

Spend a couple of hours reading business articles and create ways to make the business side of your company run a bit smoother.

This builds on point No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 – Athletes in the Pipeline, Customer Retention and Educate your Sales Team.

Weekend: Work on small projects that you’ve been meaning to get to and will help you run your business more effectively. This is catch up time and really bonus time for you and your business.

This builds on point No. 3 – Educate your Sales Team

Trying to create the perfect week is very hard. Like training, your goal should be to try to create a week that is repeatable week after week. Don’t try and do too many things in one day and try to get the harder work done earlier in the week. If you enjoy writing articles, maybe save that until the end of the work week. If you find it’s hard to get through your financials maybe you’ll work on that earlier in the week. It’s important to be aware and mindful of the tasks you like to do and don’t like to do. Balancing those throughout the week will keep you loving your chosen profession even more!

I’ve come to learn that the better position you put yourself in for success, the more likely you’ll have success. It sounds simple, but it’s true. I challenge you to organize your week based on the tips in this article and you’ll be able to better tell your athletes that you apply the principles you coach not only to training but in your business as well!

Learn more about how TrainingPeaks can help you grow your business. 

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About Mike Ricci

Mike Ricci, USAT Coach of the Year, USAT Level 3 Elite Coach and a Training Peaks Level II Certified Coach.  He is the owner and founder of the D3 Multisport coaching group, through which he coaches all levels of athletes from beginner to elite. One of their key coaching philosophies is no junk miles.  They help athletes utilize their time effectively as they pursue their goals.  Mike’s credentials include the University of Colorado Triathlon Team and guiding them as the Head Coach to four consecutive collegiate National Championship titles from 2010-2013. Mike has written training plans for Team USA several times, was the USAT World Team Coach in 2017, and has helped many athletes to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona. You + D3 = Success (Learn More!).

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