Ashley Francis

A native of Atlanta, Ashley Francis coupled her love for fitness with an appetite for entrepreneurship to open the first boutique indoor cycling and strength studio in Sandy Springs. Her self-motivated drive to succeed in both sports and business have culminated in her latest venture, TURN Indoor Cycling + Strength Following graduation from Clemson University, a burgeoning career in medical sales led Francis to San Diego where she spent years honing her business expertise and learning the value of customer relationships while promoting a healthy lifestyle. In 2017, drawing upon her business prowess and enthusiasm for wellness, she took a leap of faith and returned to Atlanta to build a place with everything she craved: intensity, inspiration, and a community of hard working hustlers getting an empowering workout. That place is TURN Studio. Francis is a powerhouse of positivity and hopes to build positive change in the lives of her clients through inclusive motivation, engaging fitness classes and active charitable involvement within the Sandy Springs community. She is certified through Stages Cycling and an international presenter and trainer. A respected leader in the boutique fitness industry, Francis is a living, breathing example of taking your passions seriously without taking yourself too seriously.

BUSINESS, CONTRIBUTORS, HUMANITY, PERSONAL GROWTH, SALES

How Communicating Can Cost Seconds but Save an Hour, and Your Job

By Ashley Francis, Contributor and Owner, TURN Studio

In a world today where there are more ways to communicate than ever before, one of our biggest issues as a society is communication. I have spent a lot of time venting about this in my past career as a sales consultant, however, now that I have ventured out as an entrepreneur and started TURN, I realize that we lack communication in every type of relationship, on a much deeper and serious level. Let’s explore.

First off, it might be necessary that we define communication. Merriam-Webster defines it as “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior. Personal rapport.” Over the last 9 months of developing my own company, I have learned that people must have simply forgot this ever so simple definition…that people have either become so lazy that they can’t exchange or perhaps people have too many options on how to communicate so they get overwhelmed and give up!

Let’s dumb it down: smart phones have text messaging, emailing, direct messaging, and messenger, to name a few. Throw in the laptop and you double the above choices! I’m a little hesitant to mention phone calls because today’s society fears actual conversation…don’t worry, you are not the only one silencing calls.

So where am I going with this? My hope is that you have already had a moment of shaking your head in agreeance. If not, then you must be an extreme introvert who owns your own company that needs no one else but yourself to operate and you must work from home. If you shook your head in agreeance, look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself how many excuses have you have made as to why you have lacked in communication? I will help here: I’m too busy. I forgot to reply. I have kids!! I was in a meeting and then I got busy. Let me insert a motivational line I recently read that hit me hard: “it is not that you are too busy, it is that it is not a priority.”

Let’s first discuss why communication is so important in a professional setting. Every single one of us relies on other people to function, every single day. I personally need so many different people operating at full potential to start TURN, my Indoor Cycling and Strength Studio. From a full detailed marketing plan, an architectural design plan, a budgeting plan, to a simple “yes or no” to a question. Communication is the most important role in starting a company. When I need an answer, regardless of it’s the one I want to hear, I want an answer. I’m sure you can relate to this; simply think about the time you asked an employee to cover a shift for you and crickets…oh the anxiety, right?!

Think about the time you sent an email to your boss, your employee, your coworker, or to your vendor and then from the time you pressed send to the time you finally got a reply you had stirred up so many (negative) thoughts because “you just need a simple response, what in the world is taking the recipient so dang long?!” When someone takes the time out of their busy schedule to write to you, no … you’re not the only busy person, simply reply! Even if it you write “I got your email, I will reply within 24 hours” or “I will get back to you after this conference”! The amount of time it takes to reply, maybe 11 seconds depending on how fat your fingers are, is worth it. You will rise above your colleagues, you will gain more trust from your boss, and you will earn more business from your customers. (read that sentence again but in your King Arthur voice)

Communication is so lost in our world today that the simple examples of showing that you can reply to an email, answer a text, reply to a DM on Instagram or to a message on Facebook, will make you shine like the little star that you are within your company! For the record, just in the last few minutes of me venting, I have replied to 3 emails and 4 text messages. Instant gratification! Not to mention, the most important part of it all, I make that person feel important which then leads to them feeling inclined to do business with me. Let me conclude this segment from a business owner’s perspective, the ones who cannot communicate in a timely matter or the ones that I am constantly having to resend emails to or ask, “did you get my last text?” (because you know, technology these days might lose a text) will be and should be replaced. If you are too busy and if you have reached your max on excuses, then I, the owner of a startup company, am too busy to employ you.

Go on, take a moment now to answer your emails and to reply to your texts. Hell, get crazy and call back the missed calls!

Now let’s entertain myself and discuss communication on a personal level. A quick roll of the eyes and shake of the head because this is the most challenging and intense issue between two people, yet it is SO simple! I’ll start by asking you this: at any given moment during your day, how far away is your phone from your hand? 99.9% of you answered, “in my hand, my pocket, or extremely close to my body at all times.” Even when you go to the restroom, your phone goes with you. Slightly gross but I get it, we all are glued to our phones. The point is, if we are so good at having our phones always on us, then why are we so bad at communicating with people? This is not to ignore the deeper, philosophical reasonings behind why people respond to some things over another, but its simply a time for you to stop and to think about all the times you were “too busy and forgot” to respect another human being enough to answer or to reply. I laugh a little just writing that because Apple clearly has the same pet peeve as me and prove it by making it as simple as double clicking on a text message and boom, you can thumbs up, thumbs down, love, laugh, hype, and even question a text. How simple is that?! Takes less than a second and then you will have proven me wrong, communication is alive!

What crawls under my skin the most is when someone has the audacity to make up some bs excuse as to the why I was not an important enough priority over however long the time was between my initial communication and their reply. Because when we finally are together or are effectively communicating, the person is on their damn phone! Literally, right in front of me, the person is texting, emailing, on social media, or whatever it is on their phone that is more important than the communication taking place with me! I’m guilty of it, you are guilty of it, and unfortunately, us as a society has come to accept it. And yet we wonder why divorce rates consistently rise and why self-worth is constantly being compromised!

Think about how many arguments, whether with your loved one or a friend, could have been avoided if we were better communicators. If instead of ignoring that text or okay, forgetting about that text, you would have replied. Perhaps you would have avoided the hour-long argument. Just one 30 second reply, to avoid an hour-long argument. Time is money, people! Perhaps a simple reply would not make the friend of yours feel insignificant in your life. Have you ever wondered why he didn’t return the communication or why she didn’t just tell you she had other plans and can’t hang out with you? Hurts a bit, right?

My next thought might come across as cold, but then maybe that means it is true for you. We will see. Think about someone you have lost. Whether it was expected or a sudden, traumatic death. Did you find yourself wishing you had more time with that person? We hear stories all the time of the regrets we have when someone passes away. Well then why the hell do we not live each day like it’s whoever it is in our lives’ last day and communicate better?!

Point of my rant is simple: if someone or something is important to you and of value to you, communicate. Be the boss that makes the time to answer your staff. Be the rep that your customer can always depend on for an answer. Be the coworker that your associates can rely on for guidance. Be the employee that your boss can always trust. Be the spouse that your loved one expects to be there. Be the friend that you simply wish your friend was to you. Everyone is busy, everyone is rushing to the next appointment or to carpool. Your excuses, my friend, should be left unread.

At the end of the day, if we learn to communicate, given all our means to do so today, our relationships will be healthier, our partnerships will be stronger, and our sales will be greater. More importantly, you will limit your regrets when someone is no longer here to communicate.

#staygold

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CONTRIBUTORS, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH, WELLNESS

Paying Ourselves the Biggest Commission Check

By Ashley Francis, Contributor and Owner, TURN Studio

Your alarm goes off. Maybe two, maybe five times depending on the type of person you are in the morning. Regardless of the amount of times it takes, you get up. You get presentable enough to make the person you are selling to think you cared enough to be there. You make your pitch, shake your customers hand in hopes you closed the deal, now off you go to grab a coffee. Another call or two and yes, it’s lunch time! You hurry and eat just to repeat the morning all over again in the afternoon. You are finally home, traffic was exhausting. Ah, the wine glass awaits you while the crock pot’s perfect timing strikes again, and you sit down with your slippers on to forget about the oh-so-stressful day. You binge watch the addicting tv show that you and your friends are texting about. Your eyes start to fade so you crawl in bed, only to repeat the day’s work all over again until Friday at five o’clock. Sounds borderline close to a typical day in the routine of a sales career, right?

We are habitual with looking the part, closing the deals, boasting our chests as we walk out of the meeting we crushed and let’s be honest, we barely prepped for it. We are great at being a boss and everyone knowing our name…because we are simply just that good. I feel you! What I don’t understand then, is why are we not habitual in an overall healthy lifestyle? Why are we more motivated by recognition and commission checks than by our own self health? The one thing we can control (by means of diet and exercise), yet most of us have no control.

Before I continue I think it is important you understand a bit about me. I am a successful sales representative who proved all the territories wrong and grew them to the top. I was genius at working smarter, not harder. Meaning, I worked less hours than the average American employee (which is 42 according to my google search) and made a significant amount more than the average American (google search again). I work out six days a week and I eat mostly healthy. I am a believer in spoiling myself with queso, wine, and tailgate food for sure, but in moderation! My point in sharing that with you is so I can gain a little credibility in this blog. You can be better than average, regardless of where you are today, and I hope we all want to be better than average.

I have worked for five different sales companies before finally giving in to my inner entrepreneurial spirit begging me to start my own company, which brings us to where I am today: Owner of TURN Indoor Cycling + Strength Studio. During my time with those five companies I worked with hundreds of different sales reps and thousands of customers, but one thing was consistent: the conversation around working out and eating healthy. Regardless of who the conversation was with, I always got asked: “How do you stay so fit? What do you eat? When do you work out? How do you have so much energy?” Inside I was thinking, “What do you mean, how? How do you not work out and eat healthy? How do you go more than a day, okay I will give you a few days, without some sort of physical activity?” Most of the time I would fight the urge to reply with that and instead, I would just say, “I make it a priority.”

Let’s circle back to the over-excused story above. We are all extremely busy, especially today. Over the years we as humans somehow have grown to multi-task better than ever before and the demands from companies have made us clock over sixty-hour work weeks. Whether the drive thru is all we have time for and even then, the four-car line is going to make us late, or the candy bar in the desk drawer screams our name and we have to eat it or our work just will not get done! I get it, I really do. But what I don’t get is why we accept it. I challenge you to take the next bit of this article to inspire you (if you are living the “too busy” life I have described) and become better than average.

Instead of living for your company, living for your boss, and living for the paycheck, I encourage you to live for you. Prioritize yourself over everything else. The benefit: an overall healthier personal and professional life. I understand you have a family and bills to pay, they will love you even more and your bills will still get paid. If you do not have a gym or a fitness routine, google will guide you or ask a friend or colleague where they enjoy working out. Find a community gym that welcomes you and motivates you to show up each day. Find a workout routine that you cannot wait to put on your workout gear for every day, maybe one that motivates you to go buy new workout gear! I challenge you to not give up if you don’t fall in love with prioritizing fitness right away. It ain’t easy falling in love, but once you do, the sweet spot is worth it. With time, your meetings now go without yawns and the meetings are more invigorating…your energy has increased! You feel stronger, you look more fit…your priorities are in the right place. Your mirror selfies make you smile, not sigh…commitment looks good on you. Okay you get the picture. I know this is not easy for most people. According to the CDC, 21.7% of adults over the age of 18 meet physical activity guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity. Be better than average, prioritize you.

Living life as a sales representative we are constantly on the road and “wining and dining”. Nothing cute or scientific about this part: eat clean, eat consistently healthy, and your body, mind, and spirit will change. Your sleeping habits improve, your skin looks better, and your mind becomes sharper. Yep, all great traits to possess to help reach your quota and earn that rewarding commission check. Eating clean is hard, no doubt about it. We live in a world surrounded by temptation. If you aren’t currently eating healthy, the beginning of this era in your life will seem impossible. Just trust the process and stay committed to the meal plan just like you are committed to replying to your customers email, and over time eating healthy
becomes as easy as the email.

If you train yourself to prioritize your own self, the results are beyond worth it. Not only does the couch and whatever show you binge watch sound less important to you now, you crave the high of a good sweat or the smell of the city on your run. Instead of fast food, you find yourself meal prepping or asking the waiter to hold the butter. You prioritize your schedule around your healthy lifestyle. Now I get it, all this isn’t just as easy as it is me writing about it. You have the drive and the desire to be better than average at work, so why not have the same drive and desire to be better than average in life? Your company, your boss, your coworkers, and even your family will all crave your energy and positive buzz surrounding you. Just watch.

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