Like any other business, succeeding with a fitness franchise depends on how you handle a wide range of issues, from staff motivation to member satisfaction. Don’t buy that first fitness franchise until you’re read this, from multiple Orangetheory fitness franchise-owner, Jamie Weeks
Throughout the process of growing 20 Orangetheory Fitness franchise studios and then partnering with a private equity firm to expand my operations further, I’ve learned a few lessons on how to succeed in the fitness franchise world. Here are the five most integral pieces I’ve learned over the past few years of building my businesses.
1. People and process go hand-in-hand
As fitness franchise owners, there are three things you can easily focus on: revenue and expenses, human capital, and process. It’s easy to get caught up focusing on revenue and expenses, but what you really should be focusing on is human capital and processes, because those take more time and skill to build.
Building human capital isn’t easy – it means spending the time to hire the right people who are humble, passionate, and hardworking, and then training them and focusing on helping them grow professionally. Building this kind of world-class team doesn’t happen overnight; you must make it your top priority. To do so you have to take a close look at how and what you delegate to managers and team members so you can focus on recruiting, hiring, and training.
Learning how to appropriately motivate your team is an ongoing journey. I offer my team clearly spelled out incentive structures that motivate hourly employees with month-end bonuses that are tied to specific KPIs, such as member satisfaction measured through customer surveys. I also offer equity in the business for studio and regional managers who are helping drive profitability and have a significant impact on the performance of each studio.
It’s no secret that happy, motivated employees who are paid well to perform well will keep your members happy and your business growing, so don’t make the mistake of overlooking human capital and building a great team. Working with my team is my favorite part of owning my businesses, and I am committed to helping them grow and making them happy every day.
2. Know what you don’t know
Owning a business is a humbling experience. You’ll quickly learn that there are certain tasks and activities that fall far beyond your domain of expertise. Truth is, you won’t be the best, most qualified person to execute each and every task. For these activities that fall beyond your purview – such as accounting and taxes or search engine marketing – don’t waste time trying to learn them when you could be building your team and your company processes. Find an organization that specializes in helping franchise owners with these aspects of business and outsource it to them instead.
Though it will seem cheaper to do it yourself, the time you lose that you could be growing your business or building your team is enough (and more) to justify the cost of outsourcing. For me specifically, I lean on the franchise specialist accountants and bookkeepers over at Ceterus. They understand what it is like to be a franchise owner and can get me my financials soon after the month ends. Plus, I see franchise benchmarks and all of my financial data all in one place saving via their portal which saves me time and energy from tracking down those details myself.
3. Centralize operational documents
To that end, if you ever want to sell your businesses you’ll need to have all official documents ready to hand over to a potential buyer. I recently took on an investment partnership with a private equity firm to grow my operations further, which is a similar process, and from that experience I learned the best way to manage all those critical documents is to upload every lease, every legal document, every financial statement to a cloud account. Don’t keep these separate with each person who manages each piece of the business; instead leverage technology solutions to centralize all your paperwork.
4. Being in the weeds won’t help you grow
It’s tempting to get in the weeds of your business a lot of the time, digging and drilling into problems as they arise. However, once you’ve opened more than two businesses, this will start to consume your life, and your business will suffer from a lack of leadership and high-level analysis.
One of the best things you can do as an owner is hire managers you trust, incentivize them correctly, and give them the reins to be in the weeds. With 20 fitness studios under ownership currently, I have several layers of managers which gives me the ability to zoom out to 30,000 feet and look at the health of the businesses holistically and deal with problems only as they are escalated to me.
By focusing on the human capital aspect noted above, it becomes easier to let go of the details knowing you have a trusted team in place to get the job done. This type of management structure allows me to have a clear mind to analyze the business from a strategic standpoint, make decisions, and be a leader for my team members.
5. Members first, always
Are you focused every day on making it about the members? For some people, opening the door to a gym is scarier than you know. When I first stepped into an Orangetheory Fitness franchise, I noticed immediately that I didn’t feel intimidated; quite the opposite, it was incredibly welcoming! Every member was comfortable and I knew I wanted to bring that feeling to more people. No matter how many businesses you have, making it about each and every member who comes through the door to your studio is the key to having a successful business.
Happy employees also make for happy members. Keep your team upbeat and motivated and you’ll see the same attitude reflected in your members. Using member feedback tools and tying incentives to the results of customer satisfaction surveys also motivates team members to go above and beyond. Creating a company culture that prizes a welcoming, friendly community of people invested in their health takes time and effort and is the most important thing you can do as a fitness franchise owner. Make it about the member or someone else will!
The fitness market is only growing. Millennials and our children have been raised with fitness as a cultural value and will demand the same from the market. This presents an incredible opportunity to bring something beneficial to people and capitalize on a new cultural phenomenon.
How to Create a Winning Company Culture Within Your Franchise
1. You care because you are an owner of the business; make your team owners too. Sharing ownership with your leadership team ensures they understand you are as vested in them as they are in the business, and collectively, you’ll feel like you are all in it together.
2. Set monthly and quarterly attainable goals for bonuses. With millennials, we need to be able to show progress in minutes, not years.
3. Outsource tasks that aren’t human capital related. If it’s not growing your business or focusing on developing employees, it is time to outsource it.
4. Invest in employees early – don’t wait until it’s too late.
5. Make it about the member/client/customer. If you focus on them by creating a warm, friendly, community, your employees will focus on that as well.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jamie Weeks is CEO of Honors Holdings, which owns and operates over 25 Orangetheory Fitness studios across the US and UK. Before moving into the franchise world, Jamie was a Senior Vice President at Morgan Stanley’s Southeastern Wealth Management Group and prior to that he was a Director at Barclays Wealth and an Executive Director at UBS. Jamie received his B.A. in classical rhetoric from Huntingdon College and an MBA from the University of Georgia.