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What To Expect in Year 1 as a Fitness Franchisee

What To Expect in Year 1 as a Fitness Franchisee

The first 365 days of your gym or studio will be about driving memberships and getting into an operational flow

Knowing what to expect in your first year as a fitness franchisee can help pave the way for your success.

Your first year operating a fitness franchise can be both rewarding and very challenging, and the amount of success achieved will be a direct result of the amount of time and energy you spend on building a solid foundation from which your fitness franchise will continue to grow and thrive in your local marketplace. You can expect to spend significant time working in and leading two core parts of your business—building an initial membership base and working and troubleshooting various potential operational challenges. 

Build Your Membership Base 

One of the most critical aspects of your first year of operations is building and maintaining your membership base, and one of the best tactics you can leverage to start strong right from day one comes down to how you select and train your team. Knowing that you will not be the one to take care of all of the members in your fitness club, it’s vital to hire and train the best member-focused, fitness-minded individuals you can find; it’s the single most crucial part of how you will deliver excellent service in the vital first year of your operations.

Once you’ve hired and trained the best possible team, it’s crucial to ensure that you actively lead them every day and every shift. Set clear expectations for how you want your members’ experience to come to life and then role-model that behavior for them whenever you are in the club interacting with your members.

“If you want to be the best in the industry, you can expect to spend up to sixty percent of every day communicating with your team. This is where time is best spent as a fitness business owner—investing time, energy, and resources into the team—helping them however you can,” says Jamie Weeks, the 2017 Orangetheory franchisee of the year.

Navigate Operational Challenges

It’s wise to expect your first year of operations to be a little bumpy and have some stressful moments. If you selected a strong fitness franchise, you will have experienced robust onboarding and training from your franchisor before you arrive at your grand opening day. While this training will have helped you build a strong foundation, you cannot expect to become an expert operator during the training period.

On top of the stress you may experience while you get up to speed on your fitness franchise programs, systems, and tools, you’ll also need to build and execute a recruiting and training program to get your employees up to speed. That’s a lot of newness in your first year as a franchisee, and it’s wise to anticipate some friction along the way.

“The first year as a franchisee can often be the toughest as you get up to speed on the franchisor’s business model, build your customer base, and recruit employees,” says the expert team at Franchise Business Review.

While you may have already anticipated that there will be a steep learning curve for both you and your new team during the all-important first year, what you may not have expected are some of the additional operational challenges that you may be unprepared for. 

Typical fitness facilities have an extensive suite of equipment that must be well taken care of to ensure you get the maximum life span from this large portion of your upfront investment. You’ll also need to ensure that any classes offered in your facility are well organized and that instructors do a great job working with and engaging your members.

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“As an active operator, I also spend a significant part of each day running the business – from broken air conditioners to managing the class schedule, overseeing marketing campaigns, and engaging with our clients,” says Weeks

The best fitness franchisors in the industry understand the complexity that often comes during the first year in business for their newest franchisees and will have a strong support plan in place to help you adapt to any challenges that come your way. 

Plan for Some Long Hours

While you will surely experience many rewarding moments in your first year as a fitness franchisee, the best advice is to prepare yourself for a bit of adversity. Be ready to invest many hours working alongside your new team to ensure an excellent member experience is delivered right from the start; this will go a long way when it comes time for the first members of your club to renew.

“When it comes to running a successful fitness franchise, there are no shortcuts to the top. Instead, you’ve got to put in the work and be patient,” says Rick May, founder and CEO of Alloy Personal Training Center, with over 2000 locations worldwide.

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