The essence of life is growth. The soul of a business is growth. Chris George is putting the blood, sweat and tears into building a business which has changed his life—because it is changing the lives of other people first.
“When I came over to USHEALTH Advisors in 2016, I told the leadership team I wanted to be a builder,” says Chris. “I’ve always been a manager or a leader, and I was working as the general manager at an LA Fitness club in Orlando. I remember telling them I want to come on, but I want to build a team. I said, ‘If you take a chance on me, I promise you I will finish #1 in the country.’ They ended up letting me do it but told me you have to bring in a certain number of people and build right from the get-go. It was a blessing and a curse, because I had to learn to write business and produce and bring in a lot of people.”
True to his word, in his first full year at USHEALTH Advisors in 2017, Chris was the #1 Field Training Agent. He was then promoted and finished #1 Field Sales Leader in 2018. Currently, he’s the #1 Satellite Division Leader.
Chris has built it and they have come—to the tune of nearly $70 million in team sales in less than three years at USHA. USHEALTH Advisors is a subsidiary of USHEALTH Group, which offers benefits, including flexible health coverage and supplements to the self-employed, individuals and families.
“My philosophy is you’re going to come into the business for yourself, but you won’t be working by yourself,” says Chris. “I work for you, you don’t work for me. If you’re not bugging me, then I’m worried about you. But if you show up every day and work, then I’m there for you. That’s what really motivates me is helping other people be successful. I really like to put the needs of other people before mine. It was Taraina McCants (Regional Sales Leader for USHA) who told me the more people you help get to where they want to be, the more you will get to where you want to be.”
It has taken Chris some time to figure out just where he wanted to be.
“It was my father who told me my biggest challenge is I have never been content,” says Chris. “He said I have always wanted to go against the grain and learn things the hard way. I was never happy or content in anything I did.”
And Chris has done a lot. Growing up, he and his family lived in a log cabin on ten acres out in the country in Geneva, Florida.
“I was outdoors all the time, mainly fishing and running around,” says Chris. “There were not a lot of neighbors and it was a good 30 to 45-minute drive into town. That was how it went for the first 12 years of my life.”
“About the time I turned 13, my parents separated, and my mom and my older brother and I moved to Oviedo, Florida. My mom worked a couple of jobs to support us and was always big in the church. My dad was always there for us too, he was not an absent father. Lucky for me, my mom and my dad get along and they are both my best friends. They are the closest people I have in my life, even to this day.”
Once he became an adult, Chris decided to venture out on his own.
“I turned 18 and moved out and got my own place,” says Chris. “I was just always eager to move forward in everything I’ve ever done. No matter what anybody says, I learn the hard way. No special reason, I have just always wanted to be independent. I moved in with one of my buddies and started school at Seminole State. I studied business at school, because that’s what everybody who didn’t know what they wanted to do studied. I got my two-year Associate and Arts Degree from Seminole, but then I was eager to get out and start a career and make money.”
The rush to move forward and find a job put Chris into a position where he had to work day and night. Sometimes to get to that greener pasture in life, you have to get through the weeds first.
For Chris, it was a job selling cars in a business where you work “bell to bell.”
“That’s what they called it,” says Chris. “You worked 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. six days a week, with only one day off. It was a 70-hour plus job and you learned a lot. You had to sell the car, take in the trade and help do the negotiations on the deal. I did well, averaging about 15 cars a month, sometimes 20. I did that for almost two years, then I ended up getting promoted and going into the service department and an assistant sales manager position.
“I went from selling to service. I was the one who would greet the customer, bring them the diagnosis from the service tech and then sell you on the service that needed to be done on the car. It was a real challenge, because I didn’t know a thing about cars. I’m 23 or 24 years old and these tech guys are in their 40s and 50s. They had to teach me what was going on with the car, so I could translate that to the customer. It was a really cool process of learning about the vehicles. It was lucrative, and I ended up doing really well. I was one of the top guys in the shop.”
But never one to stay too long, car sales ended up being just like school, another two-year run. Chris left the business, entered into another venture that did not work out like he hoped and enrolled back in school. But he also found another love: Bodybuilding.
“I was going to school and working out two times a day in the gym,” says Chris. “I didn’t love school, but I loved working out, so I started begging this guy, Johan, the sales manager at LA Fitness in Orlando, to give me a job there. I gave him my resume and then never heard from him. But I was persistent, kept asking for the opportunity and finally, he hired me.”
Within six months, Chris moved up to assistant manager at the club and then got an offer to open a brand new LA Fitness in Melbourne, Florida. Always one to do it the hard way, Chris accepted the challenge.
“I made the move out to Melbourne, because it was a new market and we had no competition,” says Chris.
But what Chris didn’t realize was, there was also no club. Nothing was built, yet he had to get people to sign on to join.
“I was the general manager, but it was all pre-sales,” says Chris. “I had no idea when I got out there. They put me in a 5000-square-foot office with six desks, and I had to recruit and go about the business of selling a gym that had not yet been constructed. We got through it, though—did the ribbon-cutting, opened the doors and within six months, my team and I were crushing it with new memberships.”
Then management at the club made a move, which improved the bottom line but crushed the commissions for Chris and his sales reps. A classic move by big business—putting the numbers first, before the people.
“LA Fitness struck a deal with a local health system,” says Chris. “The club decided that it would offer free memberships to anyone who had this certain health insurance plan. My employees and I made commissions off of the sale of memberships, and now at least half every week were 100 percent free! They couldn’t make any money, neither could I. It was crazy. We just started spiraling downward, so I got out and moved back to Orlando, running the gym back here.”
Throughout this journey, Seth Dorne, a friend Chris had made while working out at LA Fitness, kept trying to recruit him to come and be part of USHEALTH Advisors.
“I knew several people at the club had made the move, but I felt a sense of loyalty to the club and I didn’t want to be a follower,” says Chris. “I like to blaze my own trail, and didn’t want to do what everyone else was doing. I ended up in a late-night meeting with Seth and his soon-to-be wife, Mara, but I didn’t contract at first. I had a few interviews scheduled with other companies, but then Seth and Mara invited me to a Friday meeting.
“I remember looking around and seeing how happy everyone was and the culture of the company. Everyone was smiling, hugging, the leaders were doing recognition for the top performers, and I was sitting back and watching and thinking, ‘Wow, this is really different.’ I remember going up to Mara, Seth and Taraina and telling them I want to come on board, but as a builder, not just an agent. They finally agreed, and I became one of the very few to come into USHA this way.”
Chris says he and Seth and Mara have become best friends.
“I got to speak at their wedding,” says Chris. “And when I found out I was going to be a father, I remember calling Seth and telling him the news. A few weeks later, he called me to tell me he and Mara were pregnant, too. It’s been really cool to have kids together right around the same time.”
Chris’s daughter, Sadie Ryan George, is now 15-months old and he says she’s the love of his life.
“My greatest accomplishment these past few years is becoming a dad,” says Chris. “There’s nothing like it.”
But a close second for Chris is building his business. It is grown just like his daughter Sadie has: Day-by-day.
“Johan, my friend and first manager at LA Fitness, was actually the first person I brought into the business,” says Chris. “From there, I’ve brought on a lot of other people I know, including members of my family, even cousins. The list goes on and on. Directly or indirectly, it’s about 50 people I know, the team is 90 percent organically grown. I’m still trying to get my brother Ryan (which is where Sadie got her middle name) into this career. I’ve asked him many times, he’s one of the last pieces of the puzzle to get my family over here. He’s two years older and we are best friends, and I’m still working on him.”
For Chris, it is hard work, growth, systems and processes.
“Now that I’m a Satellite Division Leader and we have such a big team, I do even more of the recruiting,” says Chris. “I show up to the office at 8 a.m., and the first hour of my day I’m mapping it out. I have to be organized and write out everything I’m doing during the day because if you don’t, you will get pulled in different directions—10 a.m. is recruiting, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. is training.
“We have a very structured training process as well. We break it up into sections in how we train, so new agents aren’t trying to learn everything at once. It is all focused on making them successful. We set the standard here that you are not fully converted to a new agent until you issue $100,000 in business (annual volume). Doesn’t matter if you do it in two weeks or it takes the full 13 weeks, it’s that you have to hit the milestone no matter what. We track it and push them through all the way.”
The new successful agent then becomes Chris’s greatest recruiting tool.
“The secret sauce is how we are recruiting,” says Chris. “We build the culture. It’s not the old dogs that bring in as many recruits, it’s the new agent—excited about the opportunity and thriving and making a good living—who sells the opportunity to other people. We now have 12 Field Training Agents and we are aggressively recruiting all the time. We build a culture of family and want to help them and care about them being successful and making money. Then they want to bring others into the fold.
“We do a lot of Facebook postings and share what we are doing to get other people excited about it. Personally, I like to do the recruiting, to share my story and do recruiting events with people who know other people. We’ll do a recruiting event and have every agent come in and talk about their experience—how happy they are, how they are helping other people every day, making money and want others to be a part of this.”
“I really do care about people,” says Chris. “I want to bring them over here and make them successful. There’s nothing special about me, I just care and I love it here at USHA. I’m not going anywhere. I look forward to getting up every morning at 5 a.m., taking the first few hours for me to work out and meditate and then get to work offering this opportunity to others in a big way.”
A big way indeed. Chris and his team are riding the wave to #1 again in 2019.
Build it and they will come.
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.