When did you open?
How many members did you have on opening and how many members do you have now?
We had 748 members on opening and 2248 members as of now (21 May 2013)
How does this compare to your sales targets?
We are two years ahead of our sales targets and the site is currently turning over approximately £20,000 a month instead of our anticipated £4000-5000 by this stage.
Provide a brief summary of your background – what were you doing before running your own Fit4less franchise?
Upon leaving university, Torban and I opened our first Subway franchise in 2005. By 2012 we owned five Subway franchises, one of which we have since sold.
Why did you decide to open a gym, and specifically within a franchise model? Why énergie?
In July 2011, we visited the National Franchise Exhibition at the NEC where we first met énergie. With an interest in health and fitness but no experience working in the industry, I had never envisioned that running my own gym was a realistic possibility – until I spoke to énergie!
Having been a part of a well-established franchise model in Subway for a number of years, we are very experienced in running businesses using this model and so are fully aware of the opportunities and benefits of doing so, provided you get it right.
We attended an énergie Discovery Day where we met the team; both Torban and I were immediately very impressed with the business model, and crucially, the support network provided to its franchisees.
By January 2012 we had signed our franchise agreement and in September we signed the site lease. Our site opened in December 2012.
The énergie Group
What levels of support were you provided with by énergie, both pre-sales and since opening?
By our own admission, with Torban and I both new to the fitness industry, we needed a lot of ‘hand holding’ throughout the pre-sales process and for the first few months of opening and énergie were fantastic.
The ‘Getting into Business’ team supported and assisted with everything that we asked of them; from advising on a suitable site to the equipment and available leasing options, from maximising the features within the management systems to how best to incentivise our staff.
We still speak to Tom Burke, our dedicated support, on a very regular basis and as a Fit4less franchisee himself he’s very well placed to provide us with support and guidance. Also, with our experience as part of a global franchise network, we are able to share our understanding, best practice and alternative solutions with énergie which in turn benefits other Fit4less franchises.
We’ve recently employed a full time manager, allowing Torban and I to split our time between Fit4less and our existing businesses.
Who do you think a Fit4less franchise would be best suited to (previous experience, interests, personality)?
When we all get together at our quarterly development meetings, one of the things that stands out is the diversity of Fit4less franchisees – there’s a real mixture of backgrounds, those with experience in health and fitness and many others like Torban and I who are new to the industry. So there is no one stereotype I would say was best suited to owning a Fit4less franchise.
To make your franchise a success you have to be prepared for a lot of hard work; being a ‘people person’ and having excellent communication skills are also imperative.
What has surprised you the most from the ‘Getting into Business’ process to opening?
How much money the franchise is making! At over two years ahead of our sales target, the business is going better than we could ever have anticipated, although this isn’t without a lot of hard work.
Managing our members’ expectations has become really important – we might be a ‘low cost’ alternative to more expensive health clubs but that doesn’t mean our members expect any less, so learning how best to manage this in a way that ensures they still get excellent value for money has been an important learning curve.