(This post, “Lessons From a First Time Fitness Franchisee,” was written by Paul Goldsmith, a trusted Guest Contributor)
“Pursue your Passion” is terrible career advice for most people.
I live just outside Nashville, Tennessee, where a good number of waiters, waitresses, and Uber drivers are people who moved here to follow their passion, a career in music. And there are just more dreams than paying gigs to go around.
However, there is one area where pursuing your passion can actually pay off more often than not, and in my experience, that’s through a franchise.
It’s Not Easy
Buying a franchise is not easy, but it’s a lot simpler than creating a new business idea from scratch. By definition, a franchise is a proven business model with actual numbers to show what’s possible with that very concept.
That said, being passionate about the franchise concept you acquire is a strategic advantage because when you’re just getting started, you are the local face of the business. No one is going to represent it better than you. Plus, you have to learn how it all works. Each of us does better at something and has more energy, and thus is more likely to succeed when we’re working on something we have a natural interest in.
When my wife and I decided we wanted to explore franchising, we knew it’d have to be something we could get passionate about.
Our Wake-Up Call
Like millions of other Americans, the COVID-19 pandemic was a wake-up call to start being more proactive with our health.
As such, when sitting down to brainstorm what franchise might make sense for us to own, the first thing that came to mind was a buying a specialty shoe store franchise. I love the store, but the closest one is around 25 miles away.
So after several weeks and ZOOM calls with franchise company leadership, it became apparent that this particular business was not a good fit for us to own. Passion alone was not enough.
Disclosure: we went back to the drawing board and hired Joel Libava to guide us in the right direction.
Joel helped us to expand our search and ask better questions, which led us to consider reaching out to the owner of an existing fitness franchise in our town. The good news was my wife was already a member and knew the concept well.
When we contacted the existing owners, we found out they were open to selling. At that point, we contacted corporate to get the Franchise Disclosure Document and interviewed* existing franchisees to learn their experience.
*We got the right questions to ask franchisees from Joel’s franchise research guide.
Lessons From A First-Time Fitness Franchisee
Due diligence completed, we purchased the gym, then the real work began.
As a first-time franchisee in the fitness arena, there are so many systems and processes to learn while keeping the business running at the same time.
We were faithful to watch all the videos from the training portal provided, my wife attended a week-long training session at HQ, and we are in the gym every day.
It should be noted that I still have my day-job…a consulting business. That provides an income while we are on the job learning the franchise.
The First Few Months As A Franchisee
For the first four months of ownership, we did our best to retain the current members and spent a significant investment back into equipment and building repairs.
While this was noticed and appreciated by current members, it didn’t translate to increasing membership or revenue.
We’ve learned that while a critical benefit of owning a franchise, rather than starting new business, is that the franchisor will provide you with a proven business model and support system, that still doesn’t make it turnkey.
Nevertheless, as a franchisee, you are still 100% responsible for running the day-to-day operations and marketing of your business.
At around month five of ownership, we began interviewing digital marketing companies and hired the one that specializes in our type of franchise. That has made all the difference in lead generation and booking first-time appointments.
Lesson learned: there’s always a WHO out there that can solve any “HOW Only wish we would have looked sooner” issue.
Ask Local Franchisees If They’re Open To Selling
If you’re considering a foray into franchising, you may find that the owner (franchisee) of one you currently patronize are open to selling. Just make sure it’s a business that has growth potential and can’t be easily replaced by a website or big box store.
Finally, in my opinion, since you’ll be spending a considerable time working in the business, do yourself a favor and make it one you’re passionate about.
(Paul Goldsmith hosts the weekly Next Simple Step podcast where he documents his journey and lessons as an entrepreneur and first-time franchise owner.)
About Guest Contributors
(Guest Contributors for The Franchise King® website/blog are only people I know, like, and trust and are experts in their fields. They write to provide you with helpful information and insights regarding your future or current business. That said, if you find that the products or services their companies provide interest you, by all means contact them! Finally, unlike Sponsored Posts, no money ever exchanges hands when guest contributors write for this website.)