How I Made the Jump From Fitness Lover to Fitness Franchise Owner
Tips for successfully making the leap
If you are considering opening a fitness franchise, you most likely have a strong personal interest in fitness and consciousness about health. But if a lack of a fitness or business management background and the education to match are keeping you from making the leap of faith, you may want to reframe your thinking.
- What kind of business you would like to own. Not what kind of business you have experience in, but what is going to get you out of bed each morning.
Currently serving as the chief operating officer for the Fitness Together® and FIT36® national franchise brands, I didn’t come to the company as a trainer, or even someone with a fitness background – but I’ve had a passion for fitness my entire life. I originally made the jump from corporate operations and manufacturing to fitness after moving from Texas to Colorado in 2001. At that time, my wife and I were simply looking to be our own bosses and had been shopping around for different franchise concepts we could get behind. We came across Fitness Together® based on a referral from a close friend, which leads me to my next two pieces of advice when evaluating a franchise ownership opportunity:
- Get to know the brand inside and out. This means not only meeting and shaking hands with the executives and fellow franchise owners, but observing the culture and experiencing the service as a customer.
- Conduct your own competitive analysis. How does this business stack up? If you were shopping for this service, what options would you consider? Then go try them as well.
Before we chose to join the Fitness Together® franchise system, we met with the leadership team and we saw Fitness Together® through the eyes of the client. We noticed the fresh flowers on the counter when we walked in the door of the studio and observed the personalized and private, one-on-one training sessions. We thought that the brand had found a niche within the industry and quite simply, was doing it better than anyone else. In my opinion, the personalized approach was - and still is - unmatched.
Once we had done the inside and outside research, we felt confident we could make this work. It was the feeling of reassurance that everyone looks for when embarking on a new business venture.
That being said, we had a family to support, bills to pay and limited capital to get things up and running. But we trusted each other and the business model. So, here’s my third tip:
- Ask about the revenue model as well as the operational and marketing resources that will be provided to guide your success. Is there a strong support system in place for you?
Fitness Together had the groundwork already laid out for us. We were given best practices to hire the right staff and build a steady revenue stream, the marketing materials to connect with and attract the right clientele and the roadmap for what to expect on the journey ahead. This allowed us to focus on sustaining the culture that Fitness Together® had designed and gave us the room to engage with clients on a more personal level. That’s where we found our success; not because we knew how to use a gym or had an MBA, but because we were really able to improve people’s lives through fitness.
Ultimately, the key to success is to focus on the client experience. It can be as simple as asking, “how was your vacation?” or acknowledging their birthday. People will notice and continue to come back as a result of how you make them feel when they are there. And to be successful, you have to keep people wanting to come back. Sure, expertise is important - hiring the right team with the proper skill sets is vital to your success - but that expertise means nothing without the extra service element. This applies internally as well. Trusting the franchisor and staff is imperative.
As a franchise owner of a Fitness Together® studio, you and your staff see your clients typically three to five days a week. Inevitably, you build long-lasting relationships with these people. Franchising really is a team sport; if the franchise owner fails, the staff fails, and in turn, the franchisor fails. You rely on each other just as much as you do on your clients returning to be successful. This means treating people as more than just a number, whether it’s a studio employee number or member identification number, the ability to build and sustain meaningful relationships is more important than anything on your resume.
Being a business owner is a tough job, especially in the beginning. You are excited and terrified at the same time. It’s a rollercoaster. Regardless of what industry your business is in, it’s going to stretch you in ways as a person that you could never imagine, regardless of your background.
You have to take pride and ownership in what you are offering – and demonstrate that to each person that walks through your door looking for help. My wife and I learned so much during our humbling first year as franchise owners and made mistakes, but most importantly, we turned our passion for fitness into a business. If you find a partner who you can trust and rely on unconditionally, and an established business that you can relate to and is filling a need in the world - like we found at Fitness Together® - then you will find your path. You’ll be able to confidently look back after your first year and say, “I’ve accomplished something that most people are too scared to even try.”
About Fitness Together®
Fitness Together® is a one-on-one private, personal training franchise focused on changing clients’ lives with improved fitness and health. Whether the aim is to lose weight, tone and tighten muscles, or simply achieve better health, Fitness Together® pairs clients with a personal trainer and a workout plan tailored for the individual’s goals, and focused on results. Clients receive the accountability they need and the privacy they desire with Fitness Together®.
Fitness Together Franchise, LLC began franchising in 1996 and has approximately 150 locations across the United States with additional locations planned for 2017.