Every fitness entrepreneur has ambitions of growing their business and, for many, developing into a franchise is a long-term goal of theirs. Daniel Farah of Posto Nove Studio has achieved this goal and he shares his story with us.
The common trait held by most successful fitness entrepreneurs is ambition. From the very moment you embark down the path of owning and running your own fitness business, the goal is to grow and be as successful as possible.
How you proceed with that next step in growing your business, however, is an essential decision you need to make.
In reality, there are two main roads you can go down.
You can choose the multi-location model, where you open two or more other locations under the same management team. Alternatively, you can leap into the world of franchising and allow an outside person to use your business model and branding for a fee.
Three elements define what a franchise is:
– The franchisor allows the franchise to use any branding, trademarks, and commercial symbols.
– The franchisor provides support and assistance and has a certain amount of control over the operations of the franchise
– There is a fee charged by the franchisor
Fitness franchises have exploded in recent years, with the likes of F45, Orange Theory and Fit36 paving the way and laying the groundwork on how to open a gym franchise for the boutique space.
Managing this type of expansion means you need gym management software that can handle multi-location development and give you a simple way to maintain an ever-growing fitness empire.
For Glofox customers Daniel and Georgia Farah this was the first in a long list of things he needed to successfully franchise out his business. We talked to Daniel about the path Posto Nove has taken from a small suburb in Beruit to opening its first franchise location thousands of miles away.
The Background to Posto Nove
Poste Nove is a Pilates studio based in Beirut, a sprawling and vibrant metropolis located on Lebanon’s Mediterranean coast. The city is a hotbed for the young, fashionable, and health conscious, and Posto Nove services the needs of those looking for a Pilates experience head and shoulders above any other in the area.
Georgia, a native of London, arrived in Lebanon and found that she couldn’t find the type of Pilates studio that she would like to attend. A licensed and experienced Pilates instructor herself, she decided to take the plunge and open a studio along with Daniel.
They named the studio after a famous area of Ipanema Beach in Rio De Janiero in Brazil. Posto 9 is traditionally where the fit and health conscious of Rio congregate, and it is here where Daniel and his wife originally met.
The studio began in a suburb of the city in May 2013 but soon found that they lacked the profitable evening business of the city worker. They opened a second location in downtown Beirut in January 2016 to cater to this and haven’t looked back since.
When it came to franchising the business, there was hesitation on their part with Daniel explaining that initially, they weren’t thinking of how to open a gym franchise.
“We were nowhere near ready at all. Until someone comes knocking at your door, you try to focus on bettering the business and solidifying it instead of growing. However, when the opportunity comes along, you end up working 24 hours a day and making it happen” he explains.
This opportunity came in the form of a member of their studio who was visiting Beruit for the summer. She wanted to take The Posto Nove experience home with her and open a similar studio in the Ivory Coast.
So for some, the idea of franchising out their gym can be something of a long-term ambition, while for others, it can happen through a chance that presents itself.
Deciding If You Are Franchise Ready
Before franchising your gym or fitness studio, you need to take time to review the state of affairs with the business.
A good foundation is the Three Rs.
Refining: Make sure your business model is ready to go. Document how all aspects of the business work and get any bugs out of the system.
Researching: Research the target market and the competition. As well as that, you should research franchises in fitness and other industries to learn more about their process, support systems, and brand value.
Replicating: Build a business model that can be easily replicated and sustainable without the immediate presence of you or another management figure. This is key to the success of the franchise. It must be able to travel well.
While Posto Nove was at first hesitant about taking the franchise path, they had a solid couple of years behind them and had successfully moved from their original location and then opened a second location. The believed their business model could be replicated successfully and it was the case of making sure they had the right person to do this.
Choosing the Right Franchisee
When one of their members approached Daniel and his wife with the idea of taking on a franchise of Posto Nove, they knew they had to make sure she was in it for the right reasons.
Distinguishing between who is serious about being a fitness entrepreneur and who isn’t is very important. It is a choice between someone in it to get rich quick and someone who is committed to upholding the reputation of your business and contribute to the success of the franchise.
After taking time to consider the franchise offer, they contacted a lawyer to help them draft up a franchise agreement. This process of drafting a contract and going back and forth on the terms can take a long time, which is necessary to make sure both sides are satisfied.
Abidjan, which is the capital of the Ivory Coast, lies on the west coast of Africa, approximately 8,000km from Beruit. It is here in the affluent suburb of Cocody that the newest iteration of Posto Nove sprang up. The Ivory Coast traditionally has had a large Lebanese expat community, and it was this market that the new franchisee wanted to focus on.
The franchisee stayed in Beirut for an extended period of time in the run-up to launching but once she returned to Abidjan the distance between the home location and the new franchise was challenging at times, especially in terms of providing training and support.
And while she ticked all the right boxes regarding who she was, she initially wasn’t prepared for the level of work involved to maintain the high standards Georgia and Daniel his wife had set for Posto Nove.
They underestimated the workload they had placed on her, and while she boomed for the first three months of business, she fell off due to the intensity of doing the work. “It’s not that common for people to work that hard”, Daniel jests.
However, after these issues arose, Daniel and Georgia came in with more assistance and the Abidjan studio is now thriving. The missteps they made in their first franchise venture has only made them stronger and the key lessons they learned will be implemented into their next investment.
Training and Support Is Key
One of the main reasons that a franchisee takes on a franchise is that they are not taking a total plunge into the dark with the business. It is assumed that there is documentation in place that covers all aspects of operating the business.
With a fitness studio like Posto Nove, there is the added training need to cover the specialty of Pilates.
Daniel points out that while it is excellent fun opening a Pilates studio but making it successful is hard, with the person required to have skills in both teaching the discipline and in running the business.
For their first franchise in Abidjan, the team provided many forms of support in a lot of areas of the business, from the intensive training in their teaching methods to putting them in contact with their suppliers and developing a tried and tested marketing plan they could follow.
Again, the vast distance between the two locations caused difficulties and, therefore, the various aspects of support they provided didn’t have the effect they would have liked. Their next franchise will be located in Lebanon, allowing for a more hands-on approach in making sure the franchise is fully supported from day one.
Future Franchising Plans
Now that Posto Nove has successfully franchised out to one location with another in Lebanon opening very soon, they are starting to receive offers from others hoping to replicate Posto Nove’s success. They are considering these at the moment, making sure that each person they choose is fully bought into the vision of what Posto Nove represents. The lessons they have learned on how to open a gym franchise have made them better placed to make a clear decision.
However, they are in no rush, having spent considerable time and effort to learn their craft and grow their business. Whoever decides to take on the Posto Nove name next needs to be willing to put in that time and effort also.