Affiliate Interview #2: Brad Bristowe from CrossFit 3000

Recently, I was fortunate enough to steal some precious spare time from a super nice guy and someone that is very quickly proving to be a real mover and shaker in the CrossFit Affiliate scene – Brad Bristowe from CrossFit 3000 in Melbourne.

While only six months old, CrossFit 3000 is operating well above forecasts and this is pure testimony to the fact that Brad (and Julia) is a meticulous planner, as well as being someone that realises a plan is only as good as it’s action – and he’s proving to be one heck of an action-taker!

Check out what Brad has to say about his journey to date…

Tell us a bit about your background Brad?

Both my partner, Julia, and I come from a military background. I spent 10 years as an Army officer posted around Australia and overseas and Julia clocked up almost 15 years in the Air Force. After leaving the military I spent 3 years working in the Middle East, where I was first exposed to CrossFit by some ex-military mates of mine. After playing water polo, rugby and running a few marathons CrossFit resonated with me from day 1. I had previously spent a lot of time in the weight room of various establishments with mixed success.

I started seeing results almost immediately and from that moment, I was hooked. I started reading everything n the journal and watching all the videos I could. Shortly afterwards I did my Level 1, more with a view to improving my own performance and movement than anything else.

After moving back to Australia a few years ago, I began coaching and training at an established affiliate. I was still working full time in a logistics role (and still am) but coaching became a much bigger part of my life. This was when I found that I really enjoyed coaching and helping people improve their lives. So I completed a number of specialist course and certifications and made CrossFit a central part of my life. As I did this, it became clear to me that this was where my passion truly lay.

Why did you decide to set up your own Box?

Julia and I see CrossFit as an incredibly positive influence in our lives and the opportunity to make our passion our business was simply too good to pass up.

Running our own box is something that we are absolutely loving, and the community we are building is fantastic. It sounds like a cliché, but it is so rewarding to see people achieve their goals and having fun together – I love that we have helped this happen.

What were your biggest fears to setting up your own Box?

Our biggest concerns were having the skills and knowledge to build and run a successful business. We knew we could coach, but we weren’t 100% confident that we would be able compete against other gyms successfully and grow our business.

Our other major concern was having the time to run our box while we continued to work full time.

What were the three biggest challenges that you faced when starting operations?

Our biggest challenge was (and probably still is) time. There is always something that you want to do or improve (sounds like CrossFit in general doesn’t it?). Finding time to do all the things you want to do (such as organising events, apparel, social events, new classes etc) while running the business and coaching and working full time has been a big challenge.

How did you overcome these challenges?

Jules and I spent time establishing clear processes for all the different aspects of running the box, from handling new client enquiries to managing existing members and writing the programming and running the website. We have very clearly assigned responsibilities and most importantly we communicate with each other all the time. As a result, we have become extremely efficient and we have kept the workload/stress well under control.

What do you see as being the biggest challenge that new CrossFit Affiliates are going to face?

I guess that would depend on the owner’s background – it may be financial (if it is a full time pursuit, or they may be time-poor if they are still working). However, I believe that the biggest challenge that will be at the heart of every affiliate is – how do I attract and retain members. Do that successfully and your business will grow.

How do you feel your Box is going?

We are really happy with the way the box is going. We have a great group of amazing members (now our friends) who are walking, talking billboards for our box. We are now getting friends, housemates, partners and work mates coming to check us out. As a result of the support of our community, we are well ahead of where we expected to be by now when we originally put our business and financial plans together.

There will always be something that you want to do around the gym (as I cross something off my to-do list, there is always something that replaces it), but I think we are in a really good position and I am super excited about the future.

Where are you wanting to take your box over the next 12 months?

I would like to see our members continue to develop and mature as athletes and continue to make progress. To ensure that this happens, I want to make sure that they have access to great coaches, facilities and equipments. To this end, I want to add more classes, specialist classes/coaching and I would like to “grow” and develop coaches from within our community to continue to build the culture that we have.

Having additional coaches will also allow me to spend more time on the planning and development side of things. This includes; programming, courses and coach development, events and generally sorting out cool things for our members.

What have been the three most rewarding things with becoming a CrossFit Affiliate?

Seeing people making progress and surprising themselves with their progress and abilities is great. I love having a positive influence on people’s lives and seeing people making friends and having fun at the gym always makes me smile. Today I received an amazing FB message from one of our members that has had me smiling all morning.

What do you know now, that you wish you’d have known before starting your own Box?

I wish we had known that we would grow so quickly – I would have signed a shorter lease or got a bigger box. No seriously, we haven’t had too many surprises so far (touch wood).

In hindsight I would have allowed more time for the fit out and set up. It all worked out in the end, but we set ourselves a very demanding timeline and as a result we had a very intense few weeks from signing the lease to opening the doors. Everything always takes a little longer and costs a little bit more than you think it will. Make allowances for this and reduce the pressure and the stress that you put yourself under.

What three pieces of advice would you give to someone that was interested in starting up their own CrossFit Box?

1)    Do your research. Read everything and talk to everyone that you can about running a business and running an affiliate. Our friends at different affiliates (massive thanks to CF Sandringham, Richmond and Perth [and of course yourself]) were incredibly helpful and forthcoming about their experiences and through that advice we were to avoid a lot of pitfalls that we wouldn’t have otherwise. Other people have gone through the same process – learn from their mistakes and aim to get it right first time. This advice helped us get a very accurate budget and financial plan and also ensure we had realistic expectations about what to expect (time, money, stress, workload etc)

2)    Ask for help. You don’t have to do everything yourself. I have been overwhelmed by how supportive and helpful all our friends and members have been. Everyone out there wants you to succeed and people will surprise you with their willingness to help or be able to point in the right direction for trades, equipment, accountants etc etc. Give people a chance to help you.

3)    Get coaching – In line with the above two points, get business coaching or a mentor. We get coaches for sports, CrossFit, Oly Lifting etc. Approach running your box the same way – find an expert and seek their advice. Don’t learn the hard way.

4)    I know I was only asked for 3 points – but this one is important – Have an awesome partner. I am incredibly lucky to have my amazing girlfriend Julia as my partner. Having someone that you trust implicitly makes a huge difference. I would never have been able to do this by myself. Julia and I have different skills and strengths and are able to contribute to the business in different ways. It is great to have someone to discuss ideas and problems with – it also helps to share the workload and coaching.

So there you have it folks!

CrossFit 3000 is a great story for those that are looking at setting up their own box while juggling in employment elsewhere.

Congratulations Brad and Julia – it’s awesome to see genuinely nice people kick arse in business.

We’ve got some killer affiliate interviews coming up, so make sure that you subscribe to our weekly email updates so you don’t miss any of the gold.

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