Lessons Learned: Advice from Successful Sports, Fitness and Gym Franchise Owners

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advice fitness sports

We’ve collected some of the best insights from those who have seen success in the fitness industry. Keep reading to find valuable advice from franchisees running gym and sports businesses.

Running a business can be tough. Franchises offer a fantastic level of support, with initial training schemes and ongoing guidance to make sure you’ve got all the tools needed to succeed. But seeking advice from those who have experienced what you’re about to can be incredibly beneficial.

Why start a fitness franchise?

Thanks to growing interest in healthy living, there’s great scope to launch a profitable fitness franchise business in the UK today. At the moment, there are 62,000 fitness instructors coaching 6.5 million people throughout the year. Combined, the UK’s fitness facilities generate £2 billion annually, attracting 17 percent of the population.

As fitness and sports centres offer increasingly diverse services, from state-of-the-art workout equipment to outdoor wellness classes, they can reach new customers and new markets. This wide variety of fitness businesses also makes it easier for entrepreneurs to find an investment opportunity they’re truly passionate about. So, it’s a great time to get into the gym, sports and fitness industry.

Advice from successful sports, fitness and gym franchise owners

Before you get going…

"Research the sector well. Visit lots of different chains and ask yourself where each fits and why someone would commit to the brand and pay money to use it. Ask yourself where will this brand be in five or 10 years? Arrange to meet the existing franchisees to understand their first-hand experience.

"Review the franchise contract with a solicitor and your family and then finally, once you have exhausted every aspect of the business plan, go for it! Remember, eight out of 10 franchises succeed and eight out of 10 start-up businesses fail!" – Tom Norbury, who runs an Anytime Fitness franchise with his dad, David

“If you have the opportunity to work or volunteer at another franchisee’s location to learn the ropes from within, do it. It’s invaluable experience. Many of our hands-on franchisees also get certified as instructors so they’re able to jump in and teach when there’s a staffing problem.

“If you can be the person who can fill in for any type of role in the business, it will make you more self-sufficient in a time of staffing emergencies. It would also help you hire better people if you’ve done the jobs yourself. Lastly – get to know fellow franchisees! They’re best equipped to lend a helping hand or a friendly ear.” – Katya Stromblad, Club Pilates franchisee, Los Angeles

Nobody is going to look after the business the way you would, you need to be an active franchisee.

Finding leads

“If you personally go out and get one more lead every single day, that will result in a few extra sales, which all add up.” – Josh Waters, énergie fitness franchisee

“I don’t believe in luck – the harder you work, the luckier you get, but if you’re willing to put the work in, the rewards are there – it’s a great business model.” – Joe Evans, Leisure Leagues franchisee

“Choose your venue and advertise, advertise, advertise! It’s hard going at the start (especially if you’re still working another job) but the highs are so well worth it! You can actually see the joy that you bring into so many [people’s] lives, and at the end of each class when everyone leaves with a smile on their face … you know that you’ve done that!”– Lin Green, Strollercise franchisee

Creating a community

“It’s also important to understand that your team are your greatest asset, staff selection is one of the biggest parts of our success. Out of our current Hoddesdon team, six … are still with us since our pre-sale in September 2015, which is fantastic and undoubtedly a key contributing factor to our success.” – Jo Gunter, énergie fitness franchisee

“We create a community – Shred becomes part of people’s lives. Our approach has enabled us to attract, engage and, of course, retain members from the ages of 16-69 years old.” – Hannah, The Shredquarters Co-Founder

“You definitely need to love what you are going to be doing. I run nine classes a week and absolutely love every single one of them. If you are not enjoying what you are doing, neither will your class members. The satisfaction of seeing others happy is all part of the reason I will never regret becoming a franchise owner.” – Lyndsey Cutler, Strollercise franchisee

If you personally go out and get one more lead every single day, that will result in a few extra sales.

Running your franchise unit

“Remember that nobody is going to look after the business the way you would, you need to be an active franchisee. We have found that this approach has worked best for us, however every franchisee is different and it’s a case of finding out what works best for you.

“If you put in the hard work and the hours, you’ll get results. When we started, we were working 12 hours a day, Monday to Thursday, and half that over Friday to Saturday. We saw it as an investment, doing everything we could to be a success.” – Kathy Cummings, who runs a Plus Fitness franchise unit with partner Trent

Looking to the future

“An asset for a fitness franchise is the brand equity that comes with the journey when an investor is ready to move on. From the popular boutique start-up to the iconic giant, and all the brands in between – the exit strategy for the business should be just as important as the price for entry.

“Whether it’s a resale, a nest egg that gets passed on to future generations or other exit options unique to the business model, look at the staying power for a franchise opportunity long past the desired time you plan to stay involved yourself.”
– Ken Phipps, Director of Global Franchise Development for Gold’s Gym Franchising LLC

Learn from others

You’re not the first to be interested in the sports, fitness and gym franchise industry – and that’s a good thing. It means there are plenty of entrepreneurs with advice to give. So, however experienced you are, take the time to talk to other business owners and fellow franchisees and learn from their mistakes. They’ll have no reason to keep anything from you, so you’ll have the chance to protect yourself from issues further down the line.

For more information, read our other articles on starting up a fitness franchise:

>> Read more articles on the Fitness sector

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