Fit for Leadership: Growth is a Team Sport at Title Boxing Club

Fit for Leadership: Growth is a Team Sport at Title Boxing Club

In 2015, when opportunity came knocking, susan boresow answered the bell. At the time she was CMO at Massage Envy. Today she's president of Title Boxing Club, the boutique fitness franchise that specializes in boxing and kickboxing fitness classes with more than 160 locations in the U.S. and abroad.

Boresow knows her way around franchising. Before Massage Envy, she served as vice president of marketing at Pump It Up and BounceU, and has spent time behind the controls in both marketing and leadership positions at Cold Stone Creamery, Godfather's Pizza, Mr. Goodcents Subs & Pastas, and at McDonald's, where she began her franchising career in 1985 with an entry-level marketing job.

Since she joined Title Boxing in June 2015, Boresow has been instrumental in developing the strategy guiding the direction and evolution of the brand, strengthening franchisee relationships, and helping spread the news of the brand's mission of health and wellness. As president, she has helped lead the development of the brand, which was recognized in 2015 by Inc. magazine as the nation's fastest-growing franchise. She says you can expect that rapid pace of development to continue in 2017 and beyond.

Building a great team and making allies is important to her leadership style and success. It's vital for the corporate team to work together in close harmony with franchisees, she says, and imperative to stay focused on the big picture and achieving the brand's goals and objectives. Communication is critical to Boresow, who relies on a collaborative approach with a skilled team she looks to for input and perspective when making decisions.

Boresow says in the near future she expects the company will continue its fast growth track, both domestically and internationally. Demand in the boxing/kickboxing fitness segment is growing fast and the market should continue heating up this year.

And she loves being part of a brand that changes the lives of its members for the better. "Our mission is to be the best hour of someone's day, and our focus of ensuring the experience is at a premium level is what we will deliver."

Susan BoresowName: Susan Boresow
Title: President
Company: Title Boxing Club
Units: 160 open, 250 in development
Age: 56
Family: I come from a very large family. I have 8 brothers and 5 sisters and 52 nieces and nephews.
Years in franchising: 31
Years in current position: 1.5

Leadership

What is your role as president?
I joined the Title Boxing Club executive team in mid-2015. Since then, I have put my focus on developing a strategy that is guiding the direction and evolution of our brand, strengthening franchisee relationships, and evolving Title Boxing Club's mission of health and wellness. Building a collaborative, skilled team to achieve the goals of our company has also been a focus.

Describe your leadership style.
As a leader, I pride myself on my ability to listen and learn and I have always tried to remain down-to-earth and grounded. Franchising is such a collaborative business model, so naturally my leadership style tends to gravitate toward connecting with people and working together to devise solutions that are scalable across a system. You have to take the time to build relationships, especially in this business.

What has inspired your leadership style?
I have been very fortunate in my life and have had several wonderful mentors, leaders, and coaches. My current boss, John Rotche, CEO of Franworth and Title Boxing Club, is such a down-to-earth person. His vision and style is so incredibly inspirational to me. I learn so much from him. I also would add my parents to the list of the most influential people in my life and in business. My values came from them, and not a day goes by that I am not influenced by what they taught me.

What is your biggest leadership challenge?
One of the biggest challenges I face as a leader is keeping everyone--both franchisees and our corporate team--focused on the big picture and achieving the goals we have set. As a leader it's important to stay focused on what we have committed to. There are always so many new ideas to explore (which is good), but we have to stay the course on what we believe is best for the brand.

How do you transmit your culture from your office to front-line employees?
I believe that company culture is organic and that it has to come from the people and the team. When it comes to culture, communication is key--from communication days to informal staff meetings, it is imperative to hear what everyone else is doing and be able to feed off each other.

Where is the best place to prepare for leadership: an MBA school or OTJ?
My experience with leadership has been on the job and having great mentors and coaches in my career. I have also found value in conferences and networking with other leaders in the industry.

Are tough decisions best taken by one person? How do you make tough decisions?
Tough decisions can be made alone, but my theory is that it is best to get input from other experts and use that information to help make the decision. It's always good to get others' perspectives but I always remember at the end of the day, it is most important to stick to your values and make decisions based on what's best for the brand and the franchisee.

Do you want to be liked or respected?
Both. As a leader in the world of franchising, I make decisions that affect hundreds of small-business owners every single day. In light of this massive responsibility, I've come to realize honesty and fairness are two of the most important qualities a business leader can possess. While fairness runs the risk of upsetting someone, staying true to your values and knowing at the end of the day you believe in your decisions is just as important.

Advice to CEO wannabes:
Don't let others define what your boundaries are. Everyone can have their own opinions. Dream big!

Management

Describe your management style:
Same as leadership style outlined above.

What does your management team look like?
My management teams consists of great leadership and skill. CEO John Rotche is our visionary and leader who constantly challenges our team to think outside the box to make the brand the best it can be. In our Kansas City office I am surrounded by other driven leaders including marketing, training, operations, finance, IT, and franchise development professionals. We all work together toward the common goal of propelling our brand to the top of the industry.

How does your management team help you lead?
I pride myself on listening to and learning from those around me. I am the first to admit that I don't have all the answers, so I take advice and thoughts from my management team in order to execute and lead to the best of my ability.

Favorite management gurus: Do you read management books?
There are many management books I have read including Good to Great, Leading Change, and I reread The New One Minute Manager each year!

What makes you say, "Yes, now that's why I do what I do!"?
Since joining Title Boxing Club, I have been absolutely blown away with the life-changing attributes that this business has on not only its members but its franchisees. I wake up every day thinking, "Wow, I am part of a brand that is truly making a difference," and that is what motivates me.

Operations

What trends are you seeing with consumer spending habits in your stores?
A recent Nielsen survey of consumers has shown that more Millennials are doing gym-type activities than any other generation, making them one of our most important target markets. Millennials want to be around like-minded people, and when it comes to exercise they want to get in, get results, and get out. This mindset fits perfectly with our business model as we have designed our workouts to be results-focused and time-efficient. Because of this, spending habits or memberships have been on the increase as people are looking for shorter workouts and more bang for their buck.

What are you expecting from your market in the next 12 months?
2016 was a tremendous year for the fitness industry, particularly the boxing fitness industry. In fact, according to a recent Popsugar.com article, boxing overtook cycling as the "go-to" choice for workouts, and the outlook for 2017 is just as bright. Demand for these types of workouts isn't showing any signs of slowing down and we expect this to be a big year for the boxing fitness segment. With celebrities' influence and awareness around the sport at an all-time high coupled with the calorie-torching workouts, we are confident 2017 will be a record-setting year for us.

Are your franchisees bullish or bearish about growth and adding additional units?
Our franchisees absolutely want to grow the brand and ensure that we continue growth in the system.

Personal

What time do you like to be at your desk?
When I am at my desk it's very early in the morning. The majority of my time is spent with my team collaborating and in the field with franchisees.

Exercise in the morning? Wine with lunch?
I prefer to work out in the evenings, sometimes at lunch. When I am out in the field, I will take morning classes and try to get a workout in 5 or 6 days a week. I don't drink wine at lunch. I'll save that for the weekends with dinner.

Do you socialize with your team after work/outside the office?
Our team has become a family. We have the occasional happy hour, dinner, and team-building events but we don't overdo it since it's important to continue to keep a happy work/life balance.

Last two books read:
Coming Back Stronger by Drew Brees and Competing Against Luck by Clayton Christensen.

What technology do you take on the road?
My iPad, 2 iPhones, and my Fitbit!

How do you relax/balance life and work?
I love what I do and I enjoy working out and spending time with family and friends. I am a big believer in planning, prioritizing, and being efficient with my time and that of others. Working out has always been a part of my lifestyle so I make time for that.

Favorite vacation destinations:
The Caribbean is one of my favorite destinations. I love any place that has sun, the beach, and great food.

Favorite occasions to send employees notes:
I write handwritten notes regularly. I like to acknowledge my team's milestones, achievements, appreciation for their hard work, and the little things they do to enhance each other's lives. I also believe in the importance of sending notes to franchisees. It's not old-fashioned--it's classy business!

Favorite company product/service:
Our Power Hour is a phenomenal workout and I love it. In addition to the Power Hour, I enjoy our Technique Training because it helps me with not only my technique but my strength and endurance.

Bottom Line

What are your long-term goals for the company?
I am most looking forward to continuing to help grow the brand, increase profits for franchisees, and help them find innovative ways to help their economics.

Where can capital be found these days?
There are so many banks and firms today where capital can be found as long as you have solid balance sheets and are on a growth platform.

How do you measure success?
By my team's success. As a leader, you are only as successful as the people you are leading and managing. And, because of that, each and every day is another opportunity to help make my team successful, in turn, making Title Boxing successful.

What has been your greatest success?
My greatest success has been centered around the people side of my career. After 32 years in franchising, I pride myself on still being connected with old colleagues, and I have forged strong relationships. It is so gratifying to me to run into someone I used to work with who has grown in their career and they say to me, "Hey, I will never forget what you said to me." That is so rewarding.

Any regrets?
I've had lots of lessons in life, but no regrets. I am so fortunate to have a wonderful family, great friends, and a career that has been so rewarding as I work with phenomenal people every day. I wouldn't trade any of it.

What can we expect from your company in the next 12 to 18 months?
Our company will continue to grow, not just domestically but internationally, with great franchisees and team members. We will continue to change the lives of thousands with our product. Our mission is "to be the best hour of someone's day" and our focus of ensuring the experience is at a premium level is what we will deliver.

Published: April 19th, 2017

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