Chapter 4: A Coming Shift
Our business life was going through as many changes, as was our personal life.
When Lynda first left nursing, she initially stayed behind the scenes, focusing on the organizational end of our business by taking care of scheduling, and bookkeeping. This was a huge improvement over what I had been doing, and the business was really starting to flourish.
But there was always this underlying restlessness on my part. I just felt that we were here for a greater purpose.
We ran a service business that catered to the home furnishings industry. Our primary niche was the installation of window coverings. What made us stand out against the competition, was the fact that I was very adept at thinking outside the box and problem solving.
For a time, I had multiple employees working for me, but it became evident, that the reason I was successful, was my ability to think on my feet. It became just as evident, that my employees didn’t quite share those same attributes. Lynda decided that she would try her hand at working on the road with me. We turned out to be quite the team. The dynamics between us was also fairly entertaining. The clients we worked for would routinely tell their customers that while they paid for the installation, the show was free LOL.
1992 would prove to be a turning point for us. In a year and a half, we had almost tripled the amount of business we were doing, as we went from simply installing window treatments, to supplying and fabricating them as well. However on one of our biggest projects ever, I made the mistake of trying to use a different supplier in order not to lose a job to one of my major competitors. This turned out to be a disaster, as we ended up with faulty product that would’ve cost us about $30,000 to rectify. This mistake eventually cost us not only our business, but our house as well.
It really wasn’t in my DNA to give up, but this setback really put a damper on my enthusiasm. Clearly a change was in order.
Then Lynda and I came up a great new idea. We would put our new personal training certificates to good use. We had built a beautiful gym at our house. We thought that this would be the perfect place to train some clients, but we really weren’t sure where to start. We clearly needed some exposure and experience with others besides ourselves.
In reality, all we had to our names were certificates of completion as personal trainers, but not an actual degree in exercise physiology. It didn’t matter to potential employers that we had 10+ years experience in training ourselves and helping out a few friends here and there, but our knowledge, results, and sales experience were a major plus and couldn’t be denied. Then we got a break.
A major health and racquet club chain hired us as a team. I would work in membership sales and do some personal training on the side, and Lynda would work in the fitness room. With Lynda’s background in nursing, she was quickly put in charge of all new member health assessments. The good news is, between our personalities and the chemistry between us, Lynda and I quickly became the hit of the facility.
We had A 10-year-old picture of ourselves from our chubby out of shape past. This served as great motivation for not only new members, but old members that hadn’t gotten the results they were looking for. We had done what they wanted to do, totally transform themselves. We truly walked the walk, exercising every day, conducting demonstrations on healthy eating and cooking, and educating the members about the value of proper nutritional supplementation.
The club even allowed us to set up a small side business selling vitamins and protein powders, as it was something the club itself didn’t offer at the time. It didn’t take Lynda long to be the most popular personal trainer at the club, and for me to rise to the top of the sales department because this was something I truly believed in.
I not only signed someone up for a membership, I would take them through their first workout, call them after the first month to make sure that they were enjoying the club and using it, and nag them if I saw they were not coming in and getting the benefit of their membership. As part of an eleven club franchise, I was routinely at the top of the sales charts. The only problem, was the fact that Lynda and I were so used to being self-employed that we somewhat took over the facility.
I would get reprimanded for spending too much time with prospective members, even though I had the highest retention rate of any other sales associate, and Lynda would get approached about being too friendly in the fitness room. But we didn’t care.
We were both getting great results.
We were making a huge difference in peoples lives.
Because of our influence, we were helping people with all types of health issues. We now had a captive audience for our ideas. People that had suffered for years with fibromyalgia, arthritis, heart disease, weight issues as well as other health challenges were all starting to make progress and get results for the first time in a long time, but things would soon change.
The club had entered into a partnership with the local hospital, and was more interested in appearances than results. Lynda and I didn’t share that same belief. We knew if you created a friendly atmosphere, and helped people make meaningful changes in their lives, the bottom line would take care of itself. But this difference of opinion would eventually cause us to part ways. One thing for sure, it gave Lynda and I some time to hone our skills, have some fun and earn some money in the process.
Underneath the surface, there were things happening that would have a huge impact on us. Our son was in college at the time studying exercise physiology, and immersing himself into college life. Our daughter, a senior in high school at the time, also worked part time at the club in their daycare center. Then we got a call early one morning during spring break, that our son was involved in a horrific accident. It was also a very difficult time for our daughter who was struggling to find herself.
Our son would survive the accident unscathed, but two of his buddies weren’t so lucky. One suffered serious injury, one didn’t make it home. As you can imagine, this was a difficult time for all of us. But we did what we had always done, and that’s stick together as a family and be there to support each other in whatever way we could. At the same time, the financial fall out from the old business was starting to catch up with us.
Why is all this relevant?
Because the stress from all of this would somewhat undermine some of the positive things we had done for our health.