Learning and developing as a business doesn’t end once you become an enterprise brand. As ex-CEO of Rockstar Fitness, VP of OrangeTheory, LiftBrands, and the sixth-ever hire at Snap Fitness, April Fisk has the fitness franchise tips that can help you take your enterprise to the next level.
Here’s what she had to say.
1. Your Suppliers & Processes Are Your Backbone
“You have to have really good suppliers and you have to have such great processes and procedures in place.”April Fisk
April was the sixth employee to join Snap Fitness. They had an incredibly small yet ambitious team that knew their end goal was to present their franchisees with a business in a box. In the end, that’s essentially what you’re providing as an enterprise or franchise: the brand authority and reliability that guarantees a following and a certain statistical degree of success.
However, as a franchise, you need to ensure that your suppliers are absolutely stellar. When you get a new franchisee and they need all the equipment, decor, and branding to get themselves set up, your suppliers need to already be on their way.
Take a clear, analytical look at your supplying process, find out where the gaps are, and create solutions that make the lives of your franchisees easier.
As for processes, this comes back to the idea of the business in a box. Your franchisees need to be able to open that box and know exactly what they need to do and when – not just on day 1, but on day 1000. Be meticulous in your approach to these processes, but also be creative. A fitness business is no longer about the equipment, it’s about the feeling it gives the members. Each location you have should provide the same feeling and experience, no matter the circumstances.
This brings us to the second point, the most important element of the fitness industry today: community.
2. Customers are Craving Community More Than Ever
“Our staff have to be really intentional about creating that community and making sure that every member feels accepted and is excited to come in.”April Fisk
People join fitness clubs, gyms, and studios for two reasons: dependability and community.
As a franchise, you’re already providing the predictable and dependable experience that all your members need. As for community, this is something that has become extremely important in recent years and can be a little harder to perfect.
Community, and a sense of community, can come in a variety of forms, and it’s up to you and your team to discover what form of community best suits your business model. If you’re a high-volume gym with a large amount of floor space, it doesn’t make sense to create a more intimate, personal feel on your premises.
Instead, you can focus on something more tangible, such as trainer-member touchpoints. These are the times when your staff or trainers interact with members in a social, educational, or motivational setting. This can be something as small as encouraging your staff to make more rounds of the gym floor, taking their time to notice regulars and their routines.
Scaling a sense of community and belonging may seem like a difficult task, but it is far more achievable than most people think. Create more touchpoints, and create more in-person events that allow your members to boost their connection with your staff and other members. One of the easiest ways of doing this for your franchisees is by nurturing their discretionary effort (more on that later)
A final point, and one that many franchises leave on the table, is creating a sense of community outside of your locations.
Something as simple as an automated message congratulating a member on their 10th workout is astoundingly rare in the franchise space, and is far more attainable than most businesses realize.
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3. Your Online & In-Person Clientele are Separate
“The people who are going to come into the studio and want to work out in the studio are not the same people who want the digital experience.”April Fisk
Digital fitness has exploded in popularity over the past number of years, and it can often be difficult to discover how to pivot and capitalize on this trend without losing the key product offerings of your business.
April has the essential (and often overlooked) point that your digital market and your physical market are almost entirely separate. People coming to your physical location are looking for a sense of community, a place to let loose, and a secondary location to exercise. Your digital clientele are either not near one of your locations, too busy to make it there, or have a preferred space at home they can work out in.
As a business, you need to see your centralized digital fitness offering as entirely different from the more local and community-focused approach of your locations. Your Unique Selling Points may even be entirely different for both markets, and this is something that many businesses have learned the hard way.
4. Forget Vibes, Focus on Revenue
“It’s not often that you have a studio that’s really successful that also has a bad vibe”April Fisk
The fitness industry is fortunate in that there is a high correlation between excellent management and exceptional revenue. Something has to be fundamentally wrong for a talented team of passionate trainers following your business plan not to achieve success in a populated area.
As a central metric, you can use revenue as your core indicator of everything else. If a particular location was performing exceptionally, but then is slowly starting to trend downward, you immediately know that a piece of the puzzle is missing. More importantly, if a business is trending upwards, you can immediately pinpoint the changing factor, and then (if possible) you can replicate it in other locations.
This ties into something that April also mentions, Discretionary Effort.
5. Discretionary Effort Can Make or Break a Business
“That’s the extra that it takes that nobody is asking you to do. You just know you have to do it. Our trainers who get that, that’s when you get that crazy good culture within a studio.”April Fisk
Discretionary effort can be difficult to define as it’s different for every employee and location, but essentially it boils down to going that extra mile. Customers notice when someone is adding their own personality or touch to a franchise’s business offering, and they usually appreciate it. If you see a trainer or a manager go the extra mile, give words of encouragement to new members, and take that extra few minutes to sweep the gym floor, you will see it appear on the balance sheet down the line.
Discretionary Effort can’t be taught, but it can be encouraged. April explains that you provide a clear business plan to your franchisees, but it’s natural that their own personality is going to be sown into the social media, daily practices, and coaching styles. Essentially, as a franchise, you’re empowering your franchisees to be their best selves by giving them the dependable and proven foundations they need to truly excel as a fitness business owner. You give them the canvas and the paints, they paint the picture.
Successful Franchises Facilitate, Not Delegate
If you force your franchisees to approach their jobs in a rigid, unsustainable fashion, they will be unsuccessful.
April summarizes perfectly by saying that as a franchise, you need to be:
“Creating a really fun environment, working hard and playing hard, and creating that culture of empowerment of making sure everyone knows that they have a place in the business and that their voice matters.”
April explained that a highly effective method of achieving this is by hosting meetings with every cohort of your staff, ensuring they all have their time to speak, add their ideas, and air their grievances. Head trainers and GMs have entirely separate needs, and you need to be able to listen to and facilitate both.
This can be difficult, especially if you’re a franchise offering a physical and digital fitness service – but it’s certainly not impossible, especially with the right business partner.
If you’re part of a franchise that needs a better hold on its revenue streams, franchise management, or a more cohesive member experience, ABC Glofox can help you.
Ready to move to the next generation of fitness business management?