Are you sitting on the fence thinking about your next business move? Boot camps are booming right now and many fitness entrepreneurs excitedly want a piece of the action. But when it comes to opening a boot camp, how do you decide the best route between opening one through a franchise or going for it on your own?
Entrepreneurship has always been a promising source of income and an exciting challenge especially in the fitness industry. As with any business venture, along with this comes a few important decisions that one should make. This means that prior to venturing into any business one should consider doing a complete business analysis as well as a feasibility study to determine the risks and benefits involved. Experienced entrepreneurs will often do the SWOT method: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis, to weigh the overall performance of any business in the industry. As fitness entrepreneurs we should practice the same method.
If you are considering opening a boot camp then you must look at the pros and cons of every aspect. When it comes to owning a boot camp, this as with any business has its share of risks involved. Again, the question is should you open a boot camp through a franchise or consider the option of owning one independently. There are many things to be considered, which includes everything form the benefits and profitability, to the disadvantages and challenges that one might face in this fitness industry.
The pros and cons of owning a boot camp through a franchise can be evaluated by first looking at the basics: putting up the business, having a support structure, calculating maintenance costs, as well as marketing and branding. The positive aspects of a franchised boot camp include the assistance one will receive with marketing and branding, as well as recognition and business support. When owning a boot camp via a franchise one will not need to start from scratch and have the added challenges that a new business venture usually provide, since new franchise owners are usually given assistance and support by the franchise owners…I said USUALLY:) Things like competitor analysis, location availability, market research, budget planning and business plans are often already covered by franchises to help their new owners have a successful start. This makes the process of opening a boot camp easier when all the essentials are already outlined and prepared.
Franchises often have standing agreements with suppliers, and they can pass their discount rates down to their franchisees, which is always very welcomed, especially if one needs to purchase training equipment. This allows the boot camp owner to have a variety of choices and discounted prices. The marketing process of a newly owned boot camp is essential to the business’ success, and this is already taken into account by most franchises. Proper marketing of boot camps at the right time and right place to the right people is assured with experienced marketing efforts and targeted advertising. With this, the business owner will have more time to focus on other aspects of the business, such as signing up new members and training the staff members. Another major reason to have a franchised boot camp rather than a solo operation is recognition. Consumers often go with national brands since these established brands inspire confidence and trust regarding the quality of service and products offered. Boot camps that have a recognized name are almost assured to get their businesses going quite fast since the marketing has basically already been laid out for them and potential customers already know what to expect.
On the other hand, having a privately owned boot camp might in many ways be better than opting for the franchised type. For most entrepreneurs who are new to the fitness industry, capital is usually a big issue. With franchise fees taken from the monthly sales of these businesses, it will make a significant difference in the net profit that one will show. Although being part of a franchise has its benefits, they come at a hefty price. Another reason to go for a private boot camp business is because when one’s franchise fees are based on sales, which it usually is, it will increase the tax bracket of the owner as well. It basically means that the boot camp business owner will need to pay a higher franchise fee when he makes more money during the month. These fees may cause negative balances in monthly cash flows; eating away at the business’ profit. Also, the true sense of ownership may be absent in franchised boot camps. This is due to the franchise contract being set up so that the owner has no control over the basic business aspects.
Creativity may too become an issue in franchised businesses especially when creativity plays a major role in marketing and branding. Boot camp business owners who wish to have a say in marketing materials, policies or logo designs might have a problem, since these materials and branding have already been decided on and cannot be changed by a franchisee. Paperwork regarding the procedures and policies of the business can also become a sensitive issue in this aspect. Lastly, keeping up with the standard of a national brand can be frustrating for some business owners, especially when their target market may not be identical to another branch’s market.
There are many rewards involved in opening a successful boot camp. While franchised boot camps have a lot to offer, it does come with a hefty price tag, and not a lot of personal control, which isn’t too appealing to many fitness business owners. Entrepreneurs who want to be in control and have complete flexibility over their business operations are best left with a privately owned operation. This will ensure that no one can take a cut from the profits, and your efforts will be greatly rewarded.
Georgette Pann: owner of NutriFitness Personal Training Studio and Bootcamps. She is author and creator of the best selling “Sure VictoryFitness Bootcamp Kit” http://thefitnessbootcamp.com and
Sure Results:The Ultimate Book of Bootcamp Workouts http://fitnessbootcampworkout.com
Well obviously I have a different perspective on franchising;)
While some simply are in business to extract as much money as possible from their franchisees – there are others – Fitness Revolution for example (didn’t see that one coming did you;)) that work tirelessly to support their franchisees. Obviously, we’ve taken a different approach though – allowing franchisees to maintain their own brand, waiving the upfront franchise fee and basically allowing franchisees to keep their individuality while enjoying the support and systems we provide.
So you could say that the concerns Georgette shared about franchises – along with the ones Sam added – were at the core of why we developed FR.
With all that being said – Franchises are NOT for everyone, but assuming they’re all the same would be like assuming all bootcamps are the same. I recently did a post on this topic here:
My suggestion when it comes to franchising or licensing is simple – you need to identify whether that solution is the bridge to get you from where you are to where you want to be. You do that by assessing your needs and communicating with the franchisor or licensor – and also communicating with some of the people that are already franchisees or licensees. Do your due diligence and see if they’re the missing piece that will help you achieve your goals. If you’re not completely confident the answer is yes – pass.
Franchising in fitness can be a tricky obstacle to tackle. Most fitness business owners have a strong connection to their brand and their business. If they are a successful fitness business owner it is likely that they also enjoy having control over their business.
In my mind a great franchise allows those people to shine, continue building their brand as well as the franchise’s, and gives them control over most aspects of their business and training. A great franchise will help to take a great entrepreneur to even great heights.
Business is too tough to go at it alone. All of the successful fitness business owners that I know have great coaches or are a part of a team, or franchise that helps them grow their business.
While there are many franchises and licenses out there run by those that wish to give you a lot of hype there are others that provide an incredible amount of substance and proven systems that will only enhance your ability to grow your business.
I respect all opinions here but I think the point of the article was not really to decide what franchises are best and which aren’t but to give the NEW bootcamp trainer the pros and cons of starting a bootcamp as a franchise or not as a franchise .
Couldn’t have said it better than Pat and Ryan. It’s hard when people generalize and compare your product that you worked so hard for to another product that someone just threw together.
There are actually good franchises out there that actually care about their franchisees.
I can say without hesitation that I have never heard a negative comment about Fitness Revolution. I have heard nothing but good things. I CAN’T say that about others. The one Eirith was involved with is just garbage.
The simplest thing to do for anyone is to randomly call 10-20 franchisees of ANY product in ANY market. If they are all happy then that’s a good sign :)
Hell I bought a $47 a month product from Pat and I get a monthly phone call asking me if I am using it or if I have a question.
Pat didn’t Fitness Revolution just get some prestigious award?
As a former professional athlete I’ve always had the mentality that I would do it on my on and didn’t need the assistance of anyone and certainly not some Franchise that wanted me to where their name. This is one of the reasons I hated working in a large corporate gym.
however, as I started to put countless hours doing anything I could to figure out how to run a business, market, sell, operations I realized that I was a trainer and not a business person and I needed a ‘coach’ just like I relied on a coach for leadership and advice more entire playing career.
Long story short- this is where Fitness Revolution, Pat, Nick, Ryan, etc came in and my decision to “pay” for their coaching and experience has completely changed the scope of my business and bank account. The money I’ve invested with them has paid for itself 20x over.
So, my two cents is that if a new trainer is thinking about franchising to me that says they are looking for coaching and are sick of trying to do it on their own (even if they’re capable). Having said that, I can only speak to one franchise, Fitness Revolution, and say that they will give you every opportunity possible to improve your strengths and work on your weaknesses and the way the franchise is branded you can still proudly wear your name.
I don’t think the decision of franchising or not is solely about money either. Of course, you should get paid and if I wasn’t getting paid a lot more than I used to when I wasn’t a franchise I wouldn’t be posting this but it’s also about your values, relationships, and doing sh** the right way. But if your only deciding factor on whether to franchise or not is money I’ll say this. I’m making a shit load more of it as a Fitness Revolution Franchise than I was as a sole prop.
This is a very interesting debate for me… I started my own fitness business in late 2008. Even though my degree was in Kinesiology and I had no formal business training, I thought I knew it all.
Though I had a fairly good amount of success and a sustainable business for 2.5 years, after attending a few seminars and learning what other successful business owners were doing; I realized that I was not reaching my potential as my skills were not being utilized where they should be.
That’s when I decided to investigate franchising.
I agree that not all franchises are created equal, and I’ll add that not all fit pro’s should franchise. But if you find a franchise that gives you all the tools necessary and consistently gives you more; a franchise whose leaders genuinely care about your success, your business, and you personally; and if you are a fit pro that is dedicated, hard-working, and can follow directions, franchising may be for you.
Since I’ve teamed up with Fitness Revolution (FR), in less than 6 months my gross revenue increased over 25% on a monthly basis (and continues to increase now) and my automated payments DOUBLED! The business systems taught to me by FR has allowed me to do what I know and love best – train. I can’t tell you how much easier it is to sleep at night knowing that I am guaranteed that money for months at a time.
The FR team treats its franchisees like family. They make you want to work harder and be better.
Sam – we were named #1 Midsize franchise in North America, #2 Overall, and #1 in Fitness by Franchise Business Review: http://topfranchises.franchisebusinessreview.com/
Thanks for mentioning that! :)
No real need for me to rehash everything that’s been said, but obviously I agree with Pat/Ryan and appreciate the intention of the post.
I will say that when looking at the ‘traditional’ franchise concept the cons are pretty clear, as Georgette listed. HOWEVER, more recent trends – of which we are focused on being at the front of – provide more flexibility and options for each of those objections. That flexibility has allowed those ‘cons’ to instead become benefits to our franchisees and for us to be able to offer.
Basically franchising (like a lot of things) is a completely different ballgame now than it used to be. Even as recently as 5 years ago. Don’t let the stigma or the traditional viewpoint give you a preconceived notion of what franchising is. Do your homework on each opportunity and in some cases you may be very surprised with what you find is actually involved.
I love debates like this, because it gives both sides the opportunity to discuss in a civil manner.
Pat makes a great point, as he has radically changed what most of us perceive as the meaning of a ‘Franchise’. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of this hybrid approach of allowing personal branding while being part of a franchise, but it is intriguing.
Georgette nailed it when she talked about the ‘control’ factor, as that is the driving force for most fitness professionals.
I completely see both sides of this equation and…I Stand Firmly On The Fence!
Yes but another factor here is that I am talking about the bootcamp business model only. Not studios not gyms not McDonalds lol and that does make a difference and my opinion may be different regarding each business model
Ha another thing to think about :)!
Having spent many years in big box gyms and being “handcuffed” to doing things a certain way, it was such a relief to go off on my own and have total control over my business. Success or failure…it was all on me.
With that being said, having the help of a franchise like Fitness Revolution gives me the support I need and makes me feel part of a TEAM again. The best part is, I still get to keep my identity and ultimately make the decision of how I want to run and market my business. It’s the best of both worlds. :-)
HAVE FAITH & TAKE ACTION!
Justin Yule, BS, CPT, FMS
Owner, Fitness Revolution – Chanhassen, MN